Buying a car long distance

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March 17th, 2017 at 5:16:04 PM permalink
AZDuffman
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 99
Posts: 6318
Two years I talked about it here, maybe on WoV. I finally bought a car long-distance. An amazing process and as a getting-old guy I liked the deal as much as I liked the car.

Background is the old SUV I bought I finally ran into the ground. Per month it cost more than I wanted but I used it for business and put 4-5 years of use into it in 2 years. The life of a car belonging to AZD is no life of leisure. Same for my brother, who bought at the same place a few months back. We put the "U" in "SUV." Cars were made to be used. But there are several issues, when the mechanic said the engine light had several codes but the first was "torque converter" I said don't waste both of our time with the rest. I knew it was not shifting right, but having grown up in a neighborhood always facing tougher times than it looked, I know how to baby a car and keep it going. I also know when the battle is near lost.

I was ahead of the game as I had been looking, knew how the place worked, and knew my credit and budget. I am the shopper who quietly looks online and when the lot is closed, goes to the auto show, and has decided before I hit the lot 95% of what I want. I have my financing set up, and at my age have not once traded a car in a a dealer, every one has been dead or near dead. My headstone may yet read, "He never traded a car in."

This is so neat how it works, and so sad because how they treat things is no MBA-secret. Just good customer service. All cars clearly priced, with loads of pics. I'll share how it went in case anyone wants to save on their next car.

You have to prep and work on more than one thing at once.

The place sells 4,000 cars per month on 3.5 lots. The "0.5" is the "out of state" department. The sell out of state and even do some exports. Same cars, but you go to a fairly small building to finish your deal. I did not see the main lot, was told it was a madhouse and did not have the time for it, more on that later.

Their volume means they will not "hold" cars. They like to use their own financing to get you off the lot. However, they will hold for an out-of-state buyer if you show financing. Mainly to allow you to get down there. I thought I would just use theirs and refinance locally, but I wormed my way to bring a check. Went to the loan officer and applied. Good credit means you run the process, and I did. She could not give me "instant approval" as an underwriter had to approve it, but she said go shop for a car and come back with a VIN and sales contract.

Shopping the car

I wanted another smaller SUV. I narrowed it down, added cars, removed cars, and found two I liked on their site. One year apart, otherwise identical. The color was even flipping identical! But one difference. CarFax report had the scarlet letter "accident" on the cheaper one. $2000 cheaper. Hmmm.

A lot of their cars say "accident." When you move that many cars from auction, this will happen. But for $80, I had a local mechanic write me a report. He told my brother not to buy a car due to a bent unitized body. He said he kills 1 of 3 deals that come to him. $80 to possibly save $2,000? 1 in 3 chance? Wiz or other math guys, please turn this into an EV!

It took all day to get it over as their people are really busy. But the mechanic gave me a very good report. Said he would buy it. Only issue was mismatched tire brands but not size or tread on the AWD system. This can be an issue, but it was driving fine. This dealer will not fix things, someone else will buy. This is the price to save big.

If he failed it I would have bought the other one, though it was at the top of my budget. I got the cheaper one!

Logistics and stress

I had to book a late flight, meaning it was not free or dirt-cheap. I could have had the car shipped but that would cost and I would not get to test-drive. So I called and texted, visited all the airline sites. Finally put it all together. Went to the credit union and got my check. Got a ride to the airport. There were several storm delays the day before, adding to the stress.

I packed as light as I ever packed, no checked bag, just half a change of clothes and toothpaste in case I had to stay over. The plan was be in and out of West Palm Beach in a few hours. Planes were cattle-cars. But I land and after some usual "where are you?" calls I get picked up by the saleswoman.

Did I tell you she was working on her day off to get me all the contracts I needed and my car looked at? Really went out of her way there.

I see the car, so much nicer than my old one. At 13 years newer it had better be! I never owned a metallic-red car before! It is no Mustang or Cadillac convertible, but I'll take it. I test drive. I get lost. I call in. I get back. It is a go!

Closing table

The closing table looks more like a bar or old diner. A counter where 20+ deals can happen. Only 2 customers about, fine by me, less to wait. I have almost everything I need, I have bought cars before and been in car loans. Saleswoman is amazed all is right.

"OK, how are you paying?"
"As discussed, brought my own finance, here is the check." (slide it over.)
"That is not a check, that is lien instructions."
(pointing to each) "This is the check, this is lien instructions."
"Oh, sorry. But how about the amount?"
"Here is the sales contract you sent, here is the amount on the check."
(half amazed) "You brought the check in the amount on the contract?!"
"Yeah, isn't that what you need?"
"It is, but nobody ever seems to bring it correct!"
***FACEPALM***


I have what I thought was everything I needed and I have it in a nice envelope. Only issue was the insurance binder (if you buy do not forget that.) I never had to do that before, I guess the dealer always called. I even had my insurance cards. But I needed the lienholder added.

When I call for them I am really ready to hit the road. Rep on phone has to do some logistics with two faxes but I say, "will this let me drive on out of here?" Saleswoman is in awe, smiling but her look said, "who IS this guy?"

Off the lot I go.

A little crazy

I had dinner at a place my brother demanded I hit. By 8:00 or so, I am on my way. West Palm Beach to Pittsburgh. 17 hours! In one night! 1100 miles.

Am I nuts? I might be. Load up on coffee. Set the GPS. Drive, drive, drive. Load up the podcasts. Use Bluetooth for the first time. 4 stops for gas, 1 for a Waffle House breakfast. A few calls of nature.

Just before 3PM the next day, I pull into home and stagger to my place. Shades of the luggage days when I once drove 23 of 24 hours. Up for 33 hours straight. Why do I like pushing myself like this?


Should you buy this way?

That all depends. Is saving cash more important than convenience? While the service is good here, this is NOT the local Buick dealer you know and love because he sponsored the local Little League team and will hold a car a few days for you. They are not "classic high pressure" you may have seen, but they sell enough cars that they are not going to have time to play around. You need to make the decision.

These are not "certified BMWs." Some Many are former rentals. Many have accidents on the CarFax. They are clean but may not have the car mats or like mine have mixed tire brands. You want it perfect just buy certified local. You want to save money, ask me any advice you need to shop this way.

If I had it to do again, I would take a vacation there and be able to look at the inventory. I don't mind combing a lot, but the problem with my deal was the car could always be sold and I would be back at square two. My old car being at death's door did not help.

As always, have financing or cash ready ahead of time. I asked and they handle all states but not Canada. You get Florida paper plates to drive off and they will handle it with your state.

It was fast and easy for both my brother and myself, but part because he and I know how to buy cars. Amazing since we buy like once every 6-7 years. Know before you go.

If you have real confidence, they will ship it to your door. If you are buying a car you know, you may want to do this. The mechanic inspection was worth every penny. They also send loads of pics of any nicks and scratches that may be on the car. If you are really anal about this you should buy local. Used cars have issues, I accept that.

Now, I have had about 3 hours rest in the last 40, so time to relax. I was too beat to even go to the VFW poker tourney tonight, the highlight of my week. I doubt you will want to replicate my drive back, but have at it if you like.
The man who damns money has obtained it dishonorably; the man who respects it has earned it
March 17th, 2017 at 11:48:32 PM permalink
Ayecarumba
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 81
Posts: 1331
Thanks for the rreport AZD and congratulations on your new ride! A very interesting read. Considering the airfare, gas, food, etc. that would not be incurred if you bought local, what percentage off did you save?
March 18th, 2017 at 5:47:04 AM permalink
AZDuffman
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 99
Posts: 6318
Quote: Ayecarumba
Thanks for the rreport AZD and congratulations on your new ride! A very interesting read. Considering the airfare, gas, food, etc. that would not be incurred if you bought local, what percentage off did you save?


Throw out food since I eat anyhow and spent maybe $15 more at the nice place. I will share some math.

I drove off the lot for call it $16K even. I will get $400 back when my bond and a UPS fee are refunded. The bond is for the DMV and they forgot to take off the UPS fee since I showed up not had it shipped. A carfax search shows asking prices nearby to be $1600 to $5,000 more. Most of those have more miles or are older by a year or two. Plus they are not all "local" but within 80 miles. The are at many dealerships and I would have to drive several places, and deal with dealers who do not take distance buyers serious.

The nearest one in location, features, and miles is listed at $19,295! Assuming I could negotiate well and get a drive-off price of $19,000 you are still talking $3,000 difference, or 18%.

A word here for all is the "accidents" section on the CarFax. This drops values like a rock. An "accident" could be minor. And I learned states are not the same in how this is reported. Could mean a shopping car busted the tail light. Could mean a bent frame from a serious hit. I saved $2000 by investing $80 to check it out.

One more number on savings. I asked the loan officer what the professional value is. She said NADA trade-in was $16800. So if you were selling the car to a dealer, that is what you would expect to get. It was then I felt I did well.
The man who damns money has obtained it dishonorably; the man who respects it has earned it
March 18th, 2017 at 8:19:07 AM permalink
DRich
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 18
Posts: 693
AZDuffman, thanks for the info and process. Since you had a good experience why not name the company. I think others would be interested.
March 18th, 2017 at 8:48:55 AM permalink
AZDuffman
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 99
Posts: 6318
Quote: DRich
AZDuffman, thanks for the info and process. Since you had a good experience why not name the company. I think others would be interested.


Sure, it is called Off Lease Only, based in southeast FL.

Anyone wants to consult PM me. It is not for everybody I know. But when you say you bought a car in Florida, flew down and drove it back that night, well. Well, people think you are nuts or like that most interesting guy in the world guy.
The man who damns money has obtained it dishonorably; the man who respects it has earned it
March 18th, 2017 at 9:26:39 AM permalink
DRich
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 18
Posts: 693
Quote: AZDuffman
Sure, it is called Off Lease Only, based in southeast FL.

Anyone wants to consult PM me. It is not for everybody I know. But when you say you bought a car in Florida, flew down and drove it back that night, well. Well, people think you are nuts or like that most interesting guy in the world guy.


I bought an out of state car on Ebay back around 1996. Ebay was still so new that most people never heard of it and couldn't believe I was spending $15,000 over the internet. I flew down, checked it out, then drove home the same day. I had no issues. I mainly buy new cars now and I usually end up buying them in California where the dealers are more competitive.
March 18th, 2017 at 10:13:23 AM permalink
Face
Administrator
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 61
Posts: 3116
Lol, as I watch my truck pass the point of salvage and begin shedding parts right on the road, I've been spending the last few months researching how to make a race truck legal, as you can pick them up, sans drivetrain, for 2k. Thanks for highlighting an option for those too poor for the dealer =)
Be bold and risk defeat, or be cautious and encourage it.
March 18th, 2017 at 10:24:08 AM permalink
AZDuffman
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 99
Posts: 6318
Quote: Face
Lol, as I watch my truck pass the point of salvage and begin shedding parts right on the road, I've been spending the last few months researching how to make a race truck legal, as you can pick them up, sans drivetrain, for 2k. Thanks for highlighting an option for those too poor for the dealer =)


Somehow I thought this might touch you personally as I wrote it. We seem to have the same habits in cars. lol
The man who damns money has obtained it dishonorably; the man who respects it has earned it
March 18th, 2017 at 10:40:10 AM permalink
Face
Administrator
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 61
Posts: 3116
Quote: AZDuffman
Somehow I thought this might touch you personally as I wrote it. We seem to have the same habits in cars. lol


Hehe, I should probably pick your brain over the summer. My current goal for buying a car is "Don't wait until you need one that very day", as every purchase I've made has been exactly like that.

"I need a car."
"OK, let me show you..."
"No, need it now. That one there. Make it happen."

And whatever they bring me I sign and pay.

Ugh. We'll talk lol
Be bold and risk defeat, or be cautious and encourage it.
March 18th, 2017 at 11:41:22 AM permalink
AZDuffman
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 99
Posts: 6318
Quote: Face
Hehe, I should probably pick your brain over the summer. My current goal for buying a car is "Don't wait until you need one that very day", as every purchase I've made has been exactly like that.

"I need a car."
"OK, let me show you..."
"No, need it now. That one there. Make it happen."

And whatever they bring me I sign and pay.

Ugh. We'll talk lol



Feel free, I love helping people avoid being prey for dealers. What I have seen and heard.....dabba nabbala!
The man who damns money has obtained it dishonorably; the man who respects it has earned it
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