Car buying in USA

Car buying in USA

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db900

Original Poster:

3 posts

15 months

Friday 25th October 2019
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Hello, I am new to USA and was wondering if anyone had some car buying tips. How much do you need to spend on a decent used car here? I have tried cars.com, Autotrader, Craigslist, cargurus and some other buy/sell apps. They look good in pictures but upon inspection you realise it’s full of expensive junk with issues.

The Moose

20,573 posts

170 months

Friday 25th October 2019
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Where in the US are you? Where have you come from?

Used vehicles here are more expensive than the UK.

What's your budget?

TimLam7

625 posts

86 months

Friday 25th October 2019
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Yes I think we need some more details to actually help.

My perception is fewer cars are sold privately, most go through dealers as trade in and are sold on from there.

I also have a theory that dealers somehow massage residual prices as they are often insane. I’ve been Subaru shopping recently and I’m looking at Crosstreks, 30k miles, 2 years old and they’re worth 90% of the new sticker price. I just don’t get it.

Also need to adjust your perspective to what’s built here. When I first started looking I searched for the same stuff as UK and got annoyed. The car market here is very different.

The Moose

20,573 posts

170 months

Friday 25th October 2019
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TimLam7 said:
Yes I think we need some more details to actually help.

My perception is fewer cars are sold privately, most go through dealers as trade in and are sold on from there.

I also have a theory that dealers somehow massage residual prices as they are often insane. I’ve been Subaru shopping recently and I’m looking at Crosstreks, 30k miles, 2 years old and they’re worth 90% of the new sticker price. I just don’t get it.

Also need to adjust your perspective to what’s built here. When I first started looking I searched for the same stuff as UK and got annoyed. The car market here is very different.
I think the 2 reasons cars go through the dealers are first that there's even more cars bought on credit here than in the UK and second that you essentially only pay part of the price on sales tax instead of the whole lot.

If you bought a $20,000 car, I believe you'd get a sales tax bill of $1,200 (6% in Florida plus any local tax).

If they give you $10,000 for a trade in against a $20,000 car. I believe you would only pay the sales tax on the difference so in this instance $600. Not much, but all helps convince people to trade in.

The culture is also very much "just get it done". That's why there are a bazillion cars on a normal dealer lot.

db900

Original Poster:

3 posts

15 months

Saturday 26th October 2019
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I’m from the UK and currently in the south east Illinois area. Budget is around $4k to 9k which I’m guessing is petty cash for Americans? Because I can’t something that’s not in bad condition or has issues. I don’t have a car preference although cars built here would be better since parts will be easy to find.

EK993

1,819 posts

212 months

Saturday 26th October 2019
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That budget isn’t going to buy you anything with less than 100k miles and some sort of title issue (salvage etc).

Use Car Gurus app and use filters to remove any ads with title issues. Most used cars will be through traders vs private sale.

If you are feeling brave you could try Craigslist

h0b0

5,263 posts

157 months

Saturday 26th October 2019
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As others have said, your budget will not stretch very far. Do you remember the Top Gear specials where they had to buy cars on the US and found it surprisingly expensive? That’s the truth. Also, there the unlimited tax system (again as others have pointed out). You pay sales tax on second hand cars, even private. When I bought mine it hurt a little having to go to the DMV and handing over enough tax to buy a nice car in the UK. At least they take credit cards in NJ so I got the points.

.........Terrible advice alert..........

Take this for what it is. If you don’t have the funds today it’s a way into a car. Granted, you may be too new to have a credit score.

Have you considered leasing? There’s a forum on Edmunds that will give you advice on what you should be paying. You can also use lease trader and filter for new cars only. Typically, keeps can be cheap. We got a Tiguan cheap but that was 6 years ago and we ended up keeping it because the final value price after the lease was still cheap.

........terrible advice alert...........


TimLam7

625 posts

86 months

Sunday 27th October 2019
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You'll struggle with any kind of finance or lease deal if you're new here. I've been here two years and still get some very interesting APR rates as my credit isn't much above 700.

You could pick up a 10 year old Camry or something like that on Craigslist just to get some wheels under you.

I've started looking at cars here. I bought my 2015 GTI in cash but am looking at taking on about $10k finance to get something a bit bigger. Dealers here generally offer good service and appear very friendly/on your side. But by god, watch what they're doing with the numbers, they pull some unbelievable tricks. Note that they'll say 'what do you want to pay each month' and work everything back from there. They do 144 month car finance here, it's insane.


NNH

1,112 posts

93 months

Sunday 27th October 2019
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TimLam7 said:
You'll struggle with any kind of finance or lease deal if you're new here. I've been here two years and still get some very interesting APR rates as my credit isn't much above 700.

You could pick up a 10 year old Camry or something like that on Craigslist just to get some wheels under you.

I've started looking at cars here. I bought my 2015 GTI in cash but am looking at taking on about $10k finance to get something a bit bigger. Dealers here generally offer good service and appear very friendly/on your side. But by god, watch what they're doing with the numbers, they pull some unbelievable tricks. Note that they'll say 'what do you want to pay each month' and work everything back from there. They do 144 month car finance here, it's insane.
I found that some of the import marques will work a bit harder to give you a finance deal. Admittedly it's a while ago, but I leased a Saab in 2004 when I was fresh off the boat by taking the previous few years' British mortgage statements to the dealer. They literally faxed them all to Saab Finance, who approved a lease. I heard that BMW and VW dealers were also helpful for new expats.

On the secondhand front, cars keep their value longer here. There's no equivalent to the sub-grand Mondeo, possibly because Americans don't seem as worried by very high mileages.

The Moose

20,573 posts

170 months

Tuesday 29th October 2019
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The budget isn't a lot for the US. I have no idea if any of these are reasonable values for what they are (check KBB.com for your area):

https://carbondale.craigslist.org/cto/d/murphysbor... : Obviously not a very exciting car, but under 50k miles, not too old, a bazillion of them on the road

https://carbondale.craigslist.org/cto/d/mount-carm... : When there's no plate on the car in photos, usually it's a car that's being sold by a "dealer" that's bought into some sort of co-op. Doesn't stop it being a good car (if it is) - you're buying the car not the seller

https://carbondale.craigslist.org/cto/d/carbondale... : higher mileage

https://semo.craigslist.org/cto/d/piedmont-2008-po... : Fancy a stick?!

https://stlouis.craigslist.org/cto/d/florissant-20... : Or a pickup?

Just 3 4 5 examples after a 30 second look. Dunno if they're close to you - your zip would help!

Depending on what happened, what's on the CarFax and what info is available from the seller, I wouldn't have a problem buying a rebuilt/salvage car. I used to know a guy who would buy stolen/recovered vehicles from insurance company auctions - nothing wrong with most of them.

Edited by The Moose on Tuesday 29th October 01:37

db900

Original Poster:

3 posts

15 months

Tuesday 29th October 2019
quotequote all
Thanks for your replies. I’m aware of the monthly payment adjustment trick that dealers tend to pull here by extending the overall payment term which means you pay more.
I’ll have a look at the ads posted here for those cars. Although I might be able to hold out a little longer and save up. My perspective is different/wrong for US market meaning that I know in the UK, $5k can buy me a decent car comparable to makes/trims here (e.g Chevrolet/vauxhall/dodge/Chrysler) . So since my budget is not a lot, how much do you think is needed for a car without mechanical/major cosmetic and title issues?

NNH

1,112 posts

93 months

Tuesday 29th October 2019
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db900 said:
Thanks for your replies. I’m aware of the monthly payment adjustment trick that dealers tend to pull here by extending the overall payment term which means you pay more.
I’ll have a look at the ads posted here for those cars. Although I might be able to hold out a little longer and save up. My perspective is different/wrong for US market meaning that I know in the UK, $5k can buy me a decent car comparable to makes/trims here (e.g Chevrolet/vauxhall/dodge/Chrysler) . So since my budget is not a lot, how much do you think is needed for a car without mechanical/major cosmetic and title issues?
You're in the snowbelt, so cars without rust have a cost premium. I'm quite surprised at how pricey they are in your area, as here in SoCal you can get a solid car for less money. One possibility is to look online further south, and roadtrip home in something that isn't rusty. You probably need to be looking at Nashville or further south. As an example, here's a 2016 Kia Forte (with a manual!) for $5800 in Nashville.

https://nashville.craigslist.org/ctd/d/nashville-2...

The Moose

20,573 posts

170 months

Tuesday 29th October 2019
quotequote all
db900 said:
Thanks for your replies. I’m aware of the monthly payment adjustment trick that dealers tend to pull here by extending the overall payment term which means you pay more.
I’ll have a look at the ads posted here for those cars. Although I might be able to hold out a little longer and save up. My perspective is different/wrong for US market meaning that I know in the UK, $5k can buy me a decent car comparable to makes/trims here (e.g Chevrolet/vauxhall/dodge/Chrysler) . So since my budget is not a lot, how much do you think is needed for a car without mechanical/major cosmetic and title issues?
Look, as with everything in America, if you just walk in somewhere and wave your credit card (or credit score!) about, you're going to get raped. If you put the effort, time and leg work in, you will find a deal...you'll find someone who needs to get rid quick. But it's not going to be a quick thing you sort in 5 minutes. Also, as has been said, you will want to consider traveling further afield.

Good luck!

geeman237

895 posts

146 months

Wednesday 30th October 2019
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Earlier this year I was selling my 2000 Jeep Cherokee, 2DW, 4.0 auto with 263k miles, with all service notes from my 15 years of ownership. No rust at all, new tires/tyres, well kept, and working AC. I put in on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace at around $2800 (maybe top price for condition etc) Only got two crackpot enquiries, one asking for it for free as they just had medical bills (WTF?). It was a great daily driver and considering what else was around, I think it was a bargain. It took two months to sell, eventually via a friend. It may take some effort to find a worthwhile cheap driver, but I think they are out there, it just may be a very 'vanilla' car, old Camry (as noted) etc. I think most Americans now can't be bothered with the hassle of a private sale and just trade for the next financed car and cars are just appliances.

I wanted to replace the Jeep with something newer for my daily commute and wanted an estate car ideally. These aren't too popular in the US. I narrowed it down to a 2010-13 Acura TSX Sportwagen, or a VW Jetta with a budget of around $15k on the road (ie all taxes) It was a struggle as both are fairly rare cars. Those I found locally were cosmetically quite poor including old split tires! The dealers were utterly blind to these items, staggered me. No inspections/MoT in SC btw. Jetta's were almost all diesel and my 10 mile each way commute didn't make one of those worthwhile.

By luck a colleague saw a Golf Sportwagen for sale on a nearby Navy base. I checked it out, 2017 SE model, the exact colour combo I wanted, 24k miles, enthusiast owner selling due to increasing family, and he didn't want to take the hit on a trade in value. I got it for about $16.5 cash. It is immaculate bar two small door dings and was still under warranty. It was a bit over my budget, but I figured it checked all my boxes and was worth the little bit extra.

So, ask around, friends, neighbours, work colleagues etc, you never know. Good luck with your search.




aaron_2000

4,218 posts

44 months

Friday 1st November 2019
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Just get a Camry or an Accord, tried and true motoring.

mwyatt82

65 posts

84 months

Saturday 2nd November 2019
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Unfortunately used cars are expensive here. I'm in SE Wisconsin and when I moved in 2013 I was disappointed to see I couldn't get much newer than a 2007-08 Corolla with about 70-100k on for 10k. I ended up leasing a Mustang via a special company for expats called intlauto.com. Now I'm older married and sensible I have a 2018 Elantra Limited bought new for $20K out the door. I find the Korean brands are pretty much as reliable as the Japanese ones but they price aggressively, especially on cars which are deeply unfashionable now everyone wants an SUV. Indeed my Elantra should have listed at $24K or so. I think this translates to used cars well, Americans prize anything Japanese where as Korean metal doesn't hold it's value well and is a decent bargain.

satans worm

2,087 posts

178 months

Thursday 14th November 2019
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i just purchased a 2012 VW Tiguan with leather from an Acura dealer, 69k USD10 (plus taxes) for my wife

As other have said cars are more expensive secondhand, it must be manipulated by the lease payments i would imagine, if you own all the cars (or 90pct of them) then you control the price of the product.

Also be weary of 'dealer fees' there to 'help' the dealers with the cost of the prep of the car. as if the price they sell is at cost and this is the only profit ;rolleyes;or something, total joke and can exceed 1k, never advertised until you ask them about it.
Sometimes the advertised price includes 2k down, or a veteran discount of 2 k etc, its a real st show out there
Then, once you have decided on the car they push hard using 1980's sale tactics, so once you bought the car, even if cash, you will get moved onto another person to 'complete the paperwork'
This involves heavy selling of warranties, even for wheels and tires (1k for 3 years) so if your weak minded your walk out paying 50pct more than the car costs in 'extras / peace of mind', its a total shameful joke. one even tried to convince me that paying on finance is actually better for me financially than paying cash!

Carvana is an easier way, they deliver the car to your door and are upfront about blemishes etc, downside is you pay more the car to get this service of no hassle no salesmen purchase

Pays your money and take your choice i guess

h0b0

5,263 posts

157 months

Friday 15th November 2019
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My wife’s 2012 Tiguan cost $270/month for the first 3 years and 3k miles. (Essential daily car but not many miles). The GFV was $15.5k so we bought it in 2015. In 2016 I changed jobs and lost my company car. I also ended up in the same building as my wife so we used her car for commuting. She is now at 30k miles and we no longer work in the same place. I imagine, due to residuals, the cost of ownership of that car had been minimal. The only maintenance has been brakes and I did those for less than $300.

Point being, residuals can be high but cost of ownership can be affordable but everything has to be taken into account.