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Importing Canadian Vehicles to the U.S.



  • gerapaugerapau Posts: 211
    rroyce10: In a recent post you stated "Honda will not honor the warranty work. Some GM dealers will give you a hassle, VW won't warranty the work, etc.. etc...". Are you sure about this? I know that if a Canadian buys a Honda, GM, or VW and has any problems while driving through the U.S. the manufacturer's warranties will be honored at any of the manufacturer's dealerships. A friend of mine (an owner of a Chrysler dealer here in Canada) tells me that if he sells to an American that the original warranty WILL be honored in the U.S. at any Chrysler dealership no questions asked(my friend, on the other hand, will be fined heavily by Chrysler.)
  • prayerforprayerfor Posts: 161
    I've checked into this situation and here's what I've learned:

    On the vehicle I'm looking to purchase, a 2002 Nissan Maxima, the savings I could realize from importing from Canada would be a minimum of $3500, and perhaps as much as $5000. With the options I'd want the US invoice is ~$27500 USD. I know of folks that have purchased the same vehicle, with identical specs, in Canada for $36000 CAD (~$22500 USD). Let's say duties and transportation come to $1000 USD. That's a net savings of $4000. I could save even more if I got the price down from $36000 (that represents ~$1800 over invoice), or if I could get there and back for less.

    Now, if I plan to keep the car forever, such that resale value is a moot point, that's basically the end of the story.

    However, if instead I try to sell it in, say, 5 years, the questions to ask are 1) how much is it to convert the gauges, such that the car is indistinguishable from US versions (my conservative guess is <$500); 2) can I do so without being branded TMU (my guess is "yes, no problem"); and 3) how much less would the car sell for if I left the gauges unchanged (I'd almost certainly need to seek a private buyer, and at a discount ($1K? $2K?) off the going rate of, say, $12000 for 5-Yr Old Max's).

    Given all the above considerations, it seems pretty much inconceivable that I'd lose MORE than the ~$4000 I saved originally (which, incidentally, I invested and is now worth ~$5600 @ 7% ROR).

    Terry, your point is well taken though -- I've never actually tried this, so who knows what unpleasant realities might await. Also, as has been mentioned, this works great for Nissans, but other manufacturers go to great lengths to put up barriers to this sort of transaction.

  • rroyce10rroyce10 Posts: 9,359
    ....... I'm not disagreeing that there is Canadian vehicles sold in the States.. because they are.

    And this is not any type of Canadian bashing .. Me personally, I could care less .. IF, the market warranted it.

    But the reality is ... the nice folks in Seattle and Tacoma, when or if they try to trade that vehicle in SF, New Orleans, Boston, Miami, will or are, in a state of shock.

    When you convert the mileage, the title will show TMU ... Carfax will show TMU, the service records will show TMU.

    There is enough problems with a 2 yr old Lexus, BMW, VW, Chevy etc, etc (that's a Stateside).. that if the Odo bust's and they re-new it, the new miles start at -0- . The Federal stamp in the door, from the manufacturer that shows the time, the day, the Tech who did it, is on a worldwide computer system from the manufacturer, those vehicle themselves are hard to sell.

    I probably go to 6/8 auctions a month, from Florida to N. York and I see Canadians all the time, but each and everyone sell (depending on the vehicle) for $2/$3/$4,000+ less.

    When a dealer has to "try" to explain away the "mile" discretpency it turns customers Cooold. But, if they can buy it for, let's say $4,000 less than the one next to it ... and they can prove all the facts, which is time consuming and then try to prove that the re-sale is just super (when they are buying it for much less) .. it's hard to get the consumers faith.

    Hey, then when you get into the warranty issue ... woooof, that can kill it in 5 seconds.

    I understand that one of the "Human" trait's is greed. I understand that most of the dealers selling the vehicles across the border are making $1,0/$1,5/$2,000 more than if they sold them on their own turf .. Hey, it's business.

    The only point is ..... I have been done this road in 88/89 .. 92/93, and when the smoked all cleared, there was just a couple of thousand buyers who couldn't get the warranty and got killed at trade time.

    I feel, the Manufacturers and both Govt's should address this. I really don't feel that they are both on the same page --- and until they are, the consumer takes it in the "you know what" ...again..!

    I hope this makes sense ...

  • lofquist,

    I can't seem to get your e-mail address. Can you e-mail my profile about the ins and outs of this process. I'm going to get an Altima in Montreal if I can
  • landru2landru2 Posts: 638
    Not a big deal, but all the labels on the car will likely be in French.
  • lofquistlofquist Posts: 281
    Yeah every once in a while someone says they can't get my address out of the Edmunds db. I'll just start adding it as a tagline. Email is [email protected] (don't shoot me for the 'aol', - it's a long story). :-)

    But a couple comments. Nissan is not currently letting the Canadian dealers sell Altimas to the US. At least that's what the dealers I trust are saying. Too hot a vehicle. Maybe a little later. It's ok for Pathfinders, Maximas, QX4s, I35's, Q45's. On all of those you'll find selling prices are way under US dealer invoice. As much as $5600 at my last look.

    Also Quebec is the only Canadian province that charges you the provincial sales tax, but then won't refund it. For example, Ontario refunds it, and BC won't charge you at all as a non-resident. Toronto is the hot spot for the best prices in the 'east', Vancouver in the 'west'. The exchange rate hit a new al-time high last week. So much the better for us!

    [email protected]
  • lameslames Posts: 14
    I don't know how this would play, but my brother bought a pathfinder in Canada, and is looking now at a Toyota Sequoia. The Dealer up there said no problem. For an additional $750 or $800 they would meet him south of the border, in the USA, and change out the Speedo for him. So from day one the car would be in miles, not kilometers. The savings due to the exchange rate is something like $5,000.

    So if the car is delivered with a speedo showing miles, how is he going to get hit with a TMU loss?

    Also if a certified shop changes out the speedometer why would the car be hit with TMU lable?
  • rroyce10rroyce10 Posts: 9,359
    ..... It's been titled, and the klicks will show.

  • prayerforprayerfor Posts: 161
    You seem to be saying that it's impossible to convert an odometer from kM to Miles without the car being labeled TMU -- no way, no how.

    I thought the whole reason a repair shop would obtain certification to perform odometer repair/replacement is that so they could do their work WITHOUT rendering a car TMU. Otherwise what good is the certification, right?

    What am I missing here?
  • lameslames Posts: 14

    I don't get it. The dealer is going to install the speedo with miles, so from the get go the car will be in miles. How will that show klicks?

    Just because you keep saying the same thing over and over again does not mean it is correct. Given that all 50 states have differet rules for vehicle titles I don't see how you can universally claim all cars from Canada will be branded TMU.
  • lames you make a valuable point: each state has its own set of rules regarding what constitutes TMU and what doesn't. Terry's suggestion that any odo work whatsoever will cause a car to ring up TMU may in fact be correct in some states, but clearly that's not the case in all states.

    I called the DMV here in Wisconsin and found out the conversion from kM to Miles can be performed by a certified shop (they gave me a list) without negatively affecting the car's title. I figured best to get it straight from the horse's mouth...
  • Assume a Canadian vehicle is titled in the USA without being labeled as TMU, it appears that the warranty is the only snag. If I could get a guarantee that the warranty will be honored, I think that buying in Canada is the thing to do, especially since from what I've seen option packages are more to my liking north of the border. Hmm...
  • rroyce10rroyce10 Posts: 9,359
    ....... There is a lot of qualified Techs that can and will change it over ...

    See, the problem happens when you go to trade it ...

    The original paper work will show, let's say ..168 kilometers (I'm not good at this conversion stuff) ... then the following paper work will start at -0-. The question that always arises is -- when was this .. who did it .. how long til this took place, etc.

    Customers get reeaaallly hinky about this point -- then you have to try to explain it away. By that time, they are either lookin' at the vehicle 3 rows down ..or, there at the dealership across the street.

    I have shipped a lot of vehicles to Wisconsin, no way, no how, does a legitimate dealer want the "brain damage" that goes on with a flock of "Canadian pigeons" as they call em.

  • Terry --

    What *paperwork* are you referring to? I thought the only document you need to trade in a car (or sell it privately) is the title. If the odometer conversion is done properly the title will indicate miles are actual, with no mention of anything else.

    Also, the point of having the odo recalibrated professionally is to have it reset to the equivalent # of miles, NOT to -0-.

    Please walk me through the scene at the dealership at trade-in time. I show up with my car (which has been reading in miles and MPH since it was a week old), and my clean title. And then...?
  • Good point about warranty coverage. Naturally, each manufacturer has their own policy regarding importing from Canada, and some are more friendly than others. The make I'm interested in, Nissan, makes the process very easy and there are no warranty issues with them. Nissan warranties cover anywhere in North America. I've heard the same is true of Subaru but I'm not 100% certain.

    Honda/Acura, on the other hand, will void your warrranty if you buy in Canada and title in the US -- this is their way of trying to discourage this.

    Ford also discourages the movement of their new vehicles across the border, although they do so by punishing the dealers that sell to US buyers by revoking their profit from the sale, and in some cases reducing or eliminating the dealer's allocation of *hot* vehicles like the T-bird.

    I'd suggest contacting the corporate HQ of the manufacturer you're interested in to get the lowdown on that particular maker's policy. You could also try calling a high-volume dealer in a place like Toronto, or a dealer in a border city... they should know what's up too.
  • dustidusti Posts: 36
    if the buyer saves 5-6 k on the initial purchase..

    EVEN if the vehicle is worth UP TO 5-6 k less on the US market in say 3/4 yrs...

    In the meantime he can invest the difference over the 3-4 year span (that's his/her savings)


    drive it until the wheels come off rendering meaningless the difference since the vehicle is no longer even worth 5-6 k

    Either way he/she makes out like a bandit.
  • jaclazjaclaz Posts: 37
    Hi all,

    Jack here, I'm in Victoria, BC spending the winter. Truly beautiful here.

    I went to the boat show last weekend in Vancouver and the prices were firesale on some bargains if you take into account the exchange differential. It's funny how some manufacturers price with the exchange rate and others don't. Meaning just like the cars, some have a dollar for dollar relationship while others are priced to the market.

    Anyway, happy motoring, happy cycling, happy boating, etc.
  • I just spoke to the Corporate Headquarters of American Honda Motor Co.
    wich is located in Torrance California (no local car dealer in New York State had any reasonable answer).

    I was told that a car purchased in Canada by a US resident is considered a "grey" market vehicle therefore voiding all warrentees.

    Now, even though Honda's are great car's, At 20K+ it'sjust too risky. So I'll either have to buy the current US version
    or wait for 2-3 years for an "SE" CRV
    which will have the accessories the Canadian EX model has now. Bummer.
  • Yep Honda's one manufacturer that will void your warranty. Many others will not, though.
  • dustidusti Posts: 36
    "Grey" market refers to cars bought in foreign countries that, while cheaper, have to be modified to be legal in the States.

    Exact same cars are sold in Canada as in the States. No modifications required. Totally street legal. So what if the large print on the speedo is in kilometers. US should have gone this route long ago.

    Manufacturers may not like it. Dealers may not like it. But this trade dispute is a windfall for the American public.

    How do the manufacturers make money on these cars anyway? They have an extra 5-6k of hidden profit they can do without?

    More likely they are just bleeding off extra inventory and most definitely DO NOT want the American public (the market that gives them a PROFIT) to take advantage.

    Honda may SAY it won't honor the warranty, but actually sticking to this is another matter.

    Besides the basic warranty is only good for 32k miles, which for a Honda, is still the burn-in period.
  • rroyce10rroyce10 Posts: 9,359
    ....... Ok, basically how it works is, you buy the vehicle from the ABC dealer in Canada. When you purchase that vehicle, the title then must be transferred to the buyers state (and pay state taxes.) .. at that point in time, to change for the klicks to miles, all miles start at -0- ...

    Now the vehicle might have 12 klicks .. it might have 1500 klicks. but at the conversion, it will go back to -0- miles.

    Where the problem falls. Is that the vehicle will show a paper trail of let's say 303 klicks, the conversion is done, and as the vehicle gets sold in 2/3 years or whatever ... the history will show 303 k.. then converted to be miles. That vehicle could have been driven 303 miles or 3,003 miles because a bunch, not all, buyers drive around with with the electronic dash shut off. Till they decide to have it converted.... Thats where some of these problems come up. It's not that some of the manufactures don't want to honor the warranties, it's chasing the real miles ..!

    You buy the vehicle Feb 1st ... it has 55klicks, now on the paper work it shows that in June it was converted from 55 klicks to Reg miles. Thats what happens a lot ....

  • Of course you have a TMU problem if you go from xxx kM to -0- miles when you do the conversion. That's common sense.

    However a reputable (and certified) repair facility will reset the odometer to the miles equivalent of the kM that are showing. Just multiply by .621, not exactly rocket science. Do it the right way and there's no trace of it on the title (again, here in WI anyway).

    Now when you're ready to trade you've got a car that's indistinguishable from its US-market version, both in terms of equipment and gauges, and has a clean title. True, *if* one were to look carefully it could be ascertained from VIN records that the vehicle was originally purchased in Canada. How much does that piece of info cost the seller (assuming it ever even comes to light)?
  • audia8qaudia8q Posts: 3,138
    Let's ignore the TMU issue. human nature is the real problem.. As a dealer we have a hard enough time selling legit cars. Try to explain to a customer who just pulled a carfax all the different numbers. the technology available today allows consumers to find out in a new york minute the car is gray market...blame the internet for this too, haha .additionally

    1. I can't sell the vehicle thru the dealer auctions.
    2. No matter who did the odometer, its still TMU.
    Also the doorjams on many brands are stamped as Canadian units and this plate is never chagned during the changeover process.
    3. banks will not finance a non us branded titles or gray market cars.
    4. We have had warranty issues...
    Most car companies have seperate divisions that run as completely different companies in canada than the US...This is why many manufacturers will not honor the other country's company warranty...
    example, MazdaUSA is a different operation than MazdaCanada. Honda is similar along wtih many mfg.. This is why they will not honor each others warranty.

    Also, the savings are not nearly as big as many on here would lead you to believe. As a dealer who has imported Ford products and managed to wash the titles into "clean" titles. I have found the hassles to not be worth the savings...It seems every unit had problems that eliminated the savings...I learned my lesson and i'm in the business. Stay away from trying to become an importer.
  • Rich, good points. Here's my side:

    1. Reselling the vehicle is not a huge consideration since I'd keep the car a long time, until it's not worth much anyway. Plus as a *smart shopper* I know to sell it privately rather than trading it in, thus bypassing the whole auction scene entirely.
    2. Regarding TMU, the Wisconsin DMV says the exact opposite: certified repair => clean title.
    3. My credit union doesn't care how I spend my home equity loan.
    4. Nissan NA honors warranties in either country (I'm looking at the Maxima BTW).

    Bottom line, for certain people in certain situations, this can work out great and result in significant savings. I happen to be one such example (or so I think). Any of the above hurdles (or others) could be a dealbreaker for someone else, though.

    I'd also readily admit that the *system* seems to favor the average Joe "importer-keeper" much more than the businessman "importer-reseller". The latter brings to mind Kramer and Newman's (naturally) ill-fated scheme: driving the mail truck full of aluminum cans to MI for the 10 cent deposits...
  • rroyce10rroyce10 Posts: 9,359
    ...... That was 1 funny show... l..o..l...

    Those 2 kill me...

    I think the point of reality is .. unlike yourself, most people are trading every 28 months (or trying) ..

    See, you have a plan, you know in advance (and in your heart) .. you will keep this vehicle for ..5/6/7 years. That's not a problem -- you know what you are buying, when you buy it.

    The Vast majority .. that's a whole different story. Ok -- I can save $3,000 now and I will make that up when I get my Chevy, BMW, Infiniti, Lincoln ..or whatever in 5/6 years. But what really happens is: They become a consumer 20 months there lookin', Car and Driver covers the new Envoy, Subaru, any new rocket vehicle. In 24 months, there shopping around a little -- come 28 months, they are locked, loaded and ready to go.

    The fatal attraction starts to get ugly, when the vehicle they are trying to trade is still worth $3/$4,000 less -- No matter what they paid for it. It's just human nature.

    I'm not knocking any vehicles from
    Canada, They make wonderful vehicles there .. and Super boats. But until this Quasi "no market control" get's over it -- the consumer will pay for it --- Do I think it's fair .. absolutely not..! Do I think it hurts the market.. Not in my opinion. Just the consumer ....

  • sgrd0qsgrd0q Posts: 398
    rroyce10: you are wrong for the most part.

    First of all you can not extrapolate the price difference from new to used cars. For instance let's say the price difference is $4k between a certain new US car and its Canadian equivalent. Then, in a number of years, let's say the US purchased car will be worth $3K. What would the price be for the Canadian car? Negative $1K?

    Second, I'll be generous here and extrapolate the difference, even though you cannot (see above). So consider this - you pay $4K less for a new car in Canada, then after a number of years sell it for $4K less than the equivalent used US car, and in the meanwhile invest the $4K. Definitely makes sense to buy from Canada.

    Third, what do you mean by:

    I'm not knocking any vehicles from
    Canada, They make wonderful vehicles there ..

    The Nissan Maxima, for instance, is made in the same plant in Japan whether it is sold in Canada or the USA. The US and Canadian versions are identical, except for some cosmetic differences such as the speedometer.

    And finally, as many people here have pointed out, please note - they DO NOT reset the odometer to 0 miles!!! As long as it is done properly the DMV gives you a clean title. So in reality you will be selling your Canadian purchased car for the same money (or close to it) as if it were purchased here in the USA.
  • mney6mney6 Posts: 116
    Why do they announce the cars at the Nissan sale as TMU ?
    Why do I have to inform the customer that even though the odom has been replaced to miles it is still considered TMU.
    Even if everthing is documented.
    Maybe some states are different than Iowa,so customers need to call their DMV before they take Sgrd advice.
  • rroyce10rroyce10 Posts: 9,359
    ...... All do respect, in theory .. your right.

    In the reality sense, you are waaaay off.

    I go to 6/7/8 auctions a month ... from Orlando to Detroit .. from Detroit to NY, and most of them in between.

    On a average month I see 8/9/10,000+ vehicles a month. Everything from a Ferrari to Cavaliers.

    I'm not some kind of guru .. or try to be a mister know it all. I only give advice from a little experience of being around about 100 different dealers .. their products, my products.. all products.

    All vehicles that run through the auctions that are Canadian .. run as TMU. Whether it's a 2002 T-Bird or a 92 Caravan.

    I'm not saying that there is not a financial savings when you buy the vehicle from Canada ... because there is.

    But on the original MSO from the dealer, it shows where it came from.. and the title will show the mileage, whether it's in Klicks or miles.

    When the conversion takes place .. the Fed sticker shows in the door, the conversion then will start at -0- as in zero. .. along with that, any or all service reports as the vehicle, gains miles will show the the original klicks ...

    I have seen thousands .. I mean thousands pass through the auctions. Up goes the yellow light, the auctioneer announces it's Canadian, whether it has 250 miles or 250,000 miles ...85% of the dealers walk to the next lanes, 10% of those, hang around to watch what they might do .. and 1 or 2 of those, make a weak bid or two .. down goes the hammer at 1/2 of the normal price.

    Again I'm not trying to be smart -- I have seen all the gray markets that ran in the 80's that ended up being worth about 50% of what those poor people paid for em' in Germany or wherever .... and then people got the hint and stayed away.

    The Canadian vehicles are a great buy for someone that will keep a vehicle for 4/5/6+ years .. run the wheels off and get your dollars worth. That works for them. But for the average guy that is now trying to trade every 28+ months --- a $4/$5,000 is a lot of Cake to loose just for the Mapleleaf.

    This is a very hard to "explain away" .. to the buyer in Chi-town, Baton Rouge, Trenton, Kansas City, Lexington, Delray, Boston .... and all parts north and south.

    But, give it a try .. it may work out well for you.

    I hope this make some sense ...

  • I also am in the same boat as Terry. I am a dealer and I am at 3-4 auctions. A week.

    I go to 3-4 Jaguar Credit auctions per month. And often they'll send a batch of ex-canadian cars down here. And they are easy to spot as they have headlamp washers that the US cars dont.

    Want a Topaz/Oatmeal 1998 XJ8 with 40K for $19-20K? Ex-Canadian. Want an Ex-US-Lease car? $24K easily.

  • godeacsgodeacs Posts: 481
    people say they will save $4-5K on a car imported from Canada and invest the difference and make out like a bandit! Yeah, right! I'd say the large majority of folks will NOT invest the difference, rather blow it on something else.

    The car guys here who know try to explain but nooo....people don't want to hear, tell them they are wrong, etc. Agree with rroyce....most folks do NOT keep a car 6-7 yrs. They say that up front and then 2-3 yrs later, they're shopping again and then they are shocked when they try to sell....

    Folks, there's no such thing as a free most
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