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Purchasing Used Vehicles

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  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    The dealer will do the paperwork for you, for a fee(which is almost always far too high). If you live in a state where insurance is required, you need to have insurance, obviously. Contact your insurance agent for exact info as it may vary from state to state.

    The typical method with a private party sale is: Buy car. Get insurance (seller or dealer has to have it smogged if required - it's NOT your job to do so). Go back to DMV or Auto Club to register it. It's a little cumbersome, but if you already have insurance (on any car at all), going to the Auto club is as simple as it gets.

    Bring the seller and yourself to the local office. Do the transaction (usually cashier's check, sometimes cash for very cheap cars), and they verify insurance and smog and register it all in one 10 minute session. Since it's a good idea to have membership anyways, I actually find it easier to buy a car private party than from a dealer.

    My local Auto Club office will also give me new plates on the spot if the car needs them. No dealing with days or weeks for the dealer's paperwork to clear. In and out in 15 minutes (vs 3-4 at the DMV!) and I don't see them for two years until my next smog check.
  • orlando_morlando_m Posts: 19
    I assume smog check means a pollution emission check?

    So in case I buy a car from a dealer, do I get a 'temporary' tag or plate to drive the car with till I get the permanent one? Or can I drive down to the local Auto Club without the plate / registration in place? Some of the cars on the lots don't seem to have any 'current' plate etc.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,837
    A dealer will place a temporary tag on your vehicle. In most places, they are good for 30 days.

    The dealer will hand you ALL of the paperwork that you need to get the car registered and licensed.

    They will not let you drive the vehicle off the lot without insurance, though, so you will want to be ready to get insurance right there and then.

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  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    edited May 2011
    Note - I meant 3-4 *hours* at the DMV. Some dealers will take that long, almost, to negotiate and fill out paperwork as well. As you might guess, I'm a big fan of private party sales as I get history and paperwork, can see the lifestyle and cleanliness of the owner, and save huge amounts of money in the process. IMO, the only reason you go to a dealer is to either get a near-new CPO vehicle instead of a new one, or a new vehicle.

    Buying used from a dealer is handing them potentially thousands in extra money just for the convenience factor of saving yourself a couple of days of leg work. \

    Note - a place like CarMax is a special case to be aware of - with 500-2000+ cars on their lots, it can give you a lot of choice all at once. But their "no haggle" prices are extremely high, even by dealer standards. They're just about the only place you'll still find used cars being sold for full Blue Book. That said, CarMax *is* good for locating new and CPO vehicles at good prices due to their large network in several states and fairly straightforward shipping of vehicles between them. Perfect if you have to have a specific option and/or color that none of the local dealerships have.
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 14,278
    If you don't (as it seems) have an existing policy, then you really need to shop around in advance and get set up with that. They can get your policy in place, even without a car, pending your purchase. Then, you (private sale) or the dealer just has to call the insurance agency to give them the vehicle info.

    vaires by state, but normally if you buy at a dealer they do all the DMV paperwork. Some states they give you the plates then, in others, a temp tag and you get the plates later after they send someone down to the DMV for them.

    private sale, you take the title, etc (and proof of insurance) to the DMV to get it done, and they will hand over the plates.

    2013 Acura RDX (wife's), 2007 Volvo S40 (when daughter lets me see it), 2000 Acura TL (formerly son's, now mine again), and new Jetta SE (son's first new car on his own dime!)

  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    edited May 2011
    This is also why you don't want to negotiate or deal with a purchase late at night if you can help it, as the banks and your insurance company are usually closed by then. Optimally you want to call both of them directly from the dealership and get the basic information to them.

    You then will have to likely drive the car over to the local insurance agent's business as well ,since insurance on a car loan (unless you paid cash) always requires full insurance coverage, and that requires a visual and sometimes mechanical inspection. Just something to be aware of as another "step" in the process.

    The bank will be sent the actual title, as the car is legally theirs until your loan is paid off. 5 minute call, tops (usually the dealer calls your bank in addition), and then the dealer sends them the paperwork in the mail. Sometimes the bank will also request a copy of the key or door code in case they have to repossess it, depending upon your credit rating. Just something to ask about when the loan is over, since duplicate keys are expensive.

    Often if there's a delay in the paperwork at the dealership, it's because the previous owner's bank still has the title and hasn't released it yet or there are legal issues over money owed on it. Be sure to ask the dealership on any car that you buy about this and verify that they have the actual title in their hand. (if you are going to buy *that* specific car, ask to see the physical title, when it comes time to sign the paperwork) Otherwise you may be looking at 2-3 months or longer in a worst case before the title actually is in your hands.

    note - CPO and usually on most dealership lots, this is all taken care of. On smaller independent lots, often they will put a car up for sale before they even get the title cleared/in their hands.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,686
    You then will have to likely drive the car over to the local insurance agent's business as well...

    Really? I've never been required to get a physical inspection of any car I've purchased or leased over 35 years of car ownership. I simply give the particulars to my agent over the phone, including VIN, and he takes it from there. My son just got insurance for his car and it was a Web-based transaction--no inspection.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    Mine has always requested a quick visual inspection for full coverage, but then again, I generally have a $100 or so deductible. With a $500 or $1000 limit, they probably don't care all that much, especially for most online quotes.
  • fushigifushigi Posts: 1,233
    I, too, have never had an insurance agent/company so much as toss a glance at my vehicles. New (since '93) or used (before '93), I've provided the VIN and make/model/trim for verification and that's it. For the past two cars ('99 and '10) I just gave the info over the phone and received updated policies via mail. My agent said that, at least here in Illinois, your existing policy automatically covers your new car for something like 10 days to give you time to do any insurance paperwork. This held true even though my old car only had liability while the new, of course, got comprehensive.

    That covers both Indiana & Illinois FWIW. So maybe it's a state thing or maybe just one way your insurance company is attempting to reduce fraud.
  • tallman1tallman1 Posts: 1,874
    I agree with not having to have an insurance agent look at a car. In fact, I've been with this particular company for over 30 years and I've never set foot in any office nor met anyone in person. I've done everything over the phone.
  • bolivarbolivar Posts: 2,316
    My State Farm agent changed a few years ago. She, or an employee, does a walkaround on used cars.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    Maybe it's a State Farm thing, since my agents does it as well. It takes maybe 1 minute, tops.
  • michaellnomichaellno Posts: 4,300
    Maybe it's a State Farm thing, since my agents does it as well. It takes maybe 1 minute, tops.

    Agreed. My SF agent, who I've had for almost 18 years now, wants to do a walkaround and take photos of any used car I buy. New cars - nah, just give her a VIN and the updated policy info shows up in the mail.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,202
    edited May 2011
    NJ Manufacturers has requested different things at different times. I remember having to take my car to an agent once. At other times, I've had to take a pic or 2. But never when buying from a dealer, for some reason.

    In the case of Hagerty, they always ask for a couple of pics.

    '13 Stang GT; '86 Benz 300E; '98 Volvo S70; '12 Leaf; '14 Town&Country

  • orlando_morlando_m Posts: 19
    I finally bought a car - a 1999 Acura RL with nearly 110,000 miles for $7,900 OTD from David Maus Toyota at Sanford, FL. It drove quiet and well during the test, and the carfax was clean.

    I consulted KBB and paid slightly under the trade-in value of this car, but couldn't get the $699 dealer fee waived off. In fact that number is hard-printed on their financial paperwork. So you can only negotiate on the selling price at this dealership.

    I know I could have hunted some more for a private party or a better deal from another dealer, but I didn't have the time. Hopefully the car will live up to its 'Acura' reputation.

    The experience was good at this dealership. I'll likely go back when I want to replace this car.

    I bought insurance online with Progressive and took printouts at the dealership itself. They took care of the title/tag right there at the dealership. The financial paperwork did take about 1 hour to complete.

    I thank everyone on this thread for their useful tips - really appreciate your time and concern for helping a newbie. :)
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,202
    enjoy.
    good luck with it.

    '13 Stang GT; '86 Benz 300E; '98 Volvo S70; '12 Leaf; '14 Town&Country

  • yogirgbyogirgb Posts: 1
    Hello everyone,

    I purchased a '95 Eclipse from a private party. Two days after this the car died, most likely due to the timing belt. The previous owner had not smogged the car and I had heard from an unreliable source that I can use this to get my money back. I am in California if that makes a difference. Please help as I am now carless and after putting tires on the eclipse I have 2k less for another vehicle.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    The car is yours. Sorry. The only thing that you can really do is to take the person to court and force them to pay for the smog fees and repairs as 100% of that it their responsibility to take care of before they sell the vehicle.

    Any such liability on his part only covers federally mandated safety items such as non-functioning airbags and so on, which need to be working properly (will trip the service engine light or show up as a separate light). They can sell you a vehicle with major safety problems, but it must be disclosed at the time of the sale as a parts vehicle or as salvage. (can't get it insured without these working, so isn't legal to drive on the road any more)

    This is why you make sure that it has a smog certificate in hand before buying the vehicle. But even then it's court time(tm) and they are backlogged a full year almost in most of the urban areas here in CA.

    If you bought the car and the service engine light was not on/no ABS or Air bag lights/etc, the only recourse you have is to recover smog fees.

    Hopefully the repair bill on the engine isn't too much. They are nice cars, and rebuilding the engine on one isn't that difficult. They are classified as interference engines, but the overlap is merely enough to bend the valves a bit. People have reported little or no damage at times, so hopefully it isn't a major rebuild.
  • euphoniumeuphonium Great Northwest, West of the Cascades.Posts: 3,321
    If you don't request some financial participation from the Seller, you're not going to get it and he's not a mind reader.

    I sold a Town Car to a local person who advised me several months later that it cost him $200 to have the power window repaired, a week after I sold it. He thanked me for giving him $100 towards the repair.

    A day after the new owners moved into our former home, they had to replace the water heater. I found out about it and paid for that one too because we sold a used home with a working water heater.

    It's O. K. to ask. ;)
  • mcrrtmcrrt Posts: 88
    Which Chrysler Town & Country/Dodge Grand Caravan would you buy, and why?

    1. A 2008 (known for it's first-year teething problems), approx. 30K miles, one owner off lease?

    2. A 2010 (3rd year of production, hopefully worked out some of the first-year problems), approx. 30K miles, ex-rental vehicle with dozens of previous drivers?

    Equipment, condition, and price all being equal, which is the better pick?

    Thanks!
  • orlando_morlando_m Posts: 19
    I have driven rental vehicles for months (as part of my travel in US and subsequent arrival on work visa). I didn't find any 'issues' in the vehicles I rented from Alamo / Hertz in economy / compact / mid-size classes.

    So my thought is - if it didn't give any problems when I rented it for 4 weeks, why should it give any problems over 52 weeks, or more? I know some people don't like rentals but I think they're quite well maintained, and if it's an automatic transmission, well how much can you 'drive different'?

    I'd go for the 2010 vehicle as it'll have the latest safety measures and hopefully a higher rating - but it's worth checking that on the individual models.

    Hope it helps.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    I drove one of these as a rental for a week (needed a minvan for the extended family for the reunion drive). Absolutely horrendous in terms of how I'd mash the accelerator and almost nothing would happen. It felt like the transmission was a CVT out of an Alitma. Terrible in side winds. Seats that were actually worse then GM. Gas mileage was no better than a typical SUV.

    But it was a good van-shaped-thing. Nothing more than that in any way. It was a box that got a lot from A to B. In fact, I'd rather have been driving an actual van conversion or better yet, my cousin's Suburban.

    A: Just don't buy one. At least not the previous generation models.

    So what to get? The Honda is a better vehicle, but they are having transmission issues right now. The Toyota is consistently rated just behind them and is built like a tank. Win-win. GM? Their idea of a minivan is a Suburban. ;)
  • mcrrtmcrrt Posts: 88
    Thanks for your input, Orlando! :)
  • mcrrtmcrrt Posts: 88
    Thanks for your reply, Plekto

    I do like the Odyssey (and to a lesser degree, the Sienna), but they are quite spendy, even used.

    The GC/T&C twins, while unexceptional, are plentiful, well-equipped (compared to a similarly priced Honda or Toyota), and their heavy depreciation works in my favor.

    We've been driving a 2003 Venture for almost 8 years now; we've grown accustomed to "unexceptional". ;)

    The main concern I have about the Chrysler vans is that my wife and I can't afford a ton of downtime for repairs.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,202
    edited May 2011
    We bought an '08 back in January.

    Not sure what teething problems you are referring to. No issues in the service history of ours or since we purchased it. And, depending on which model you buy, the drivetrain has been around for ... oh... I dunno.. . must be decades. We bought the limited, however, which has the 4.0 and 6-speed, which is a relatively new drivetrain in '08. Again, though, no problems for us so far.

    Given the cost difference, the '08 is the way to go, IMHO.

    '13 Stang GT; '86 Benz 300E; '98 Volvo S70; '12 Leaf; '14 Town&Country

  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,837
    I had a T&C (2003-ish) and it was fine. Not special, but it worked for our needs, and honestly, the seats and seating position were so comfortable for me, it was like driving in my living room. Lots of things to knock about Chrysler, but that was one comfortable minivan.

    Not sure what warranty is left for 2nd owners of Chrysler vehicles right now, but if there's anything left, it will be on the 2010 rather than the 2008.

    I'd be inclined to stay away from ex-rentals of certain models, especially the smaller cars - those, in my mind, are more likely to have had a multitude of short-term, around town driving rentals, and they're the cheapest to rent... not very practical for long journeys with families.

    I'd think a minivan would largely be rented by families for long trips. One would hope that that group of people would be more likely to take care of stuff rather than trash it. You never know.

    Then again, you never know about ANY vehicle, for sure. I'd guess that rental companies at least do regular maintenance to preserve their investment. I'd be more inclined to go for the rental in this particular instance.

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  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,837
    Oh... I thought he said roughly the same price.

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  • mcrrtmcrrt Posts: 88
    Kirstie,

    You make an excellent point about the type of use a rental van would see, compared to say, a rental compact car.

    I'm leery of an ex-rental from the standpoint of the numerous drivers it has seen, but I'm also concerned that an "off-lease" vehicle had only the bare minimum in maintenance (since the user planned on returning it at the end of 2-3 years).

    Oh, the decisions....
    ;)
  • mcrrtmcrrt Posts: 88
    edited May 2011
    Gbrozen,

    Thanks for your reply.

    Sounds like you got one of the "good" '08s. From what I've read, the '08s had a high failure rate for brakes and A/C, as well as numerous recalls.

    The advantage for me going with an '08, is that (in my local market) the same money that will get me a 2010 ex-rental with cloth interior will get me an 2008 with leather and dual DVD. :)

    Similar money in a Honda or Toyota gets me an '07 or '08 with cloth, more miles, and no power anything.... :(
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,837
    Hey, it would not hurt to ask both sellers if they have maintenance records. Some leased vehicles are maintained very well, and that's probably true if it's a company lease - they usually pay for the maintenance.

    There's always a gamble with used vehicles, but asking questions might help. Oh, and of course looking at & driving each vehicle! Never know if there's a feature or two in one of them that might push you toward one over the other.

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