Coach23

Buying a car out of state

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What are y’all experiences purchasing a car out of state ? Did you go get it or had it delivered? I am thinking about buying one and have it delivered..I am afraid of what might show up 

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You will get a lot of responses indicating you have to see the car in person before purchase.   This is good advice.

 

However,  if you are very knowledgeable,   you can purchase a car sight unseen by asking the right questions and lots of high res photos.    The car will still not be as nice as you think or hoped.

 

I've bought cars sight unseen and done fine,  and I've personally inspected some and ended up with a crapbox anyways.   The cars are never as nice when you get them home and start driving or working on them.

 

Nothing is maintained well these days.

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Lots of horror stories about buying a car sight unseen. I have done it three times, 1 was OK, 1 clunker, and one was exactly as described. Never again. I finally realized there are “many fish in the ocean“  and the last three cars I have purchased have all been within 15 miles of my home.
If you need someone to look at a car for you, find someone knowledgeable and independent in the area and pay them well for an inspection. You can ask on this board. 
Since I am going to an auction preview in my area 5/31 I offered to inspect for someone and will do that. 

Edited by Jeff Perkins / Mn (see edit history)
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23 minutes ago, Jeff Perkins / Mn said:


If you need someone to look at a car for you, find someone independent in the area and pay them well for an inspection. You can ask on this board. 
Since I am going to an auction preview in my area 5/31 I offered to inspect for someone and will do that. 

 

Rear the above fifteen times, then tattoo  it on your forehead. Also, spend the money to get a real expert, on the exact year, make,and model car. Many back yard guys seem to think everything is OK. 

 

The best money you ever spend buying a car is the money spent on walking away.

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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If you can't afford to lose the money you're spending on the car, then go look at it yourself. Most professional inspectors suck and don't do the checking you want/expect/hope they'll do. They look at the car without knowing anything about it, take really close-up photos of every chip in the paint they can find, and maybe watch me drive it in the parking lot. You'll get better advice by asking your wife what she thinks of it from photos on the internet. Spend the money you're tempted to spend on an inspector on travel plans instead. Seriously, 99.5% of "professional" inspectors are not equipped to look at anything but a 2018 Toyota Camry. Or worse, they're a scam, which is increasingly common.

 

There is no safety net. If you buy the car sight-unseen and are disappointed, you will have only yourself to blame. You'll blame the seller, but it's really on you. It is your responsibility to protect yourself.


I'm a dealer and I ALWAYS prefer when someone comes to see the car personally, even if he doesn't buy it. Every listing we have says that we recommend and welcome inspections on every single car. That way there are no misunderstandings. The guys who whine hardest and longest are the guys who couldn't be bothered make the trip and expect everyone else to solve their problems for them. This is not a zero-risk game.

 

A day or two of road trip or a plane ticket is a lot cheaper than being stuck with a car you don't want.

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99.5 % of professional inspectors "don't know what they are doing" Matt......your way low!

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Step one is to become a knowledgeable buyer, know more about the car than the seller, know what is right and wrong, know what areas go bad, know what parts break, buy a plane ticket and arrange a car rental. Bob 

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I spent two months talking too and getting about 200 pictures of a Jaguar MK IX in Van Couver.  As we had never been to the area we decided to take a mini vacation and check out the car.  When we got there the car was sitting in about 6 inches of mud with rust about 4 inches up the doors. The hood had been left open as did the drivers window.  I wish I kept the pictures just so I could show the ones he sent compared to the ones that showed the condition of the car.  He said "well it's 60 years old what did you expect!". I expected the car should look like the pictures he sent and his comment was "you can restore it to look like that"  

Never buy a car sight unseen. If you can't go look at it in person for finacinal reasons, you can not afford the car, save your money and time. 

Good luck

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Matt: that is Sturgeon's Law. x 10.

 

Floridians have it different: many no rust cars of all vintages

$235 (total) extra fees to title an out-of-state car in Florida.

 

Heck I don't even trust myself to inspect a car, always take a friend.

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Post some photos here if you want a good critique.  Not so much overall photos as the detailed nooks and crannies.  I bought my 36 Cord, 31 Auburn, 60 Fuelie Corvette, a 49 Merc coupe and my 51 Dodge Sight unseen. The Auburn Chrysler and Corvette all turned out well and i knew exactly what I was getting from the photos.  On the 49 Merc and The Dodge I couldn't get the photos I wanted.  If i had My decisions would have probably been different on buying them.  I can tell alot based on photos.  I look for hidden clues.  Pay close attention to vent window frames and dash trim,  most often overlooked on everything but complete frame off restorations so they will tell you the condition the original car was in and what kind of environment.  Underneath shots show patch panels and bad rockers that are glossed over on the surface. I look for factory pinchwelds, drains in the rockers and body seems.  Also seems many guys doing anything but professional restoration never sand the wheel well lips and bottom of the quarters well so you can see if it has filler easily.  You can also see overspray if you look close to determine if it's an original paint car. 

Of course mechanicals are important but it all depends on what you are buying and what level of a hit you can take if repairs are needed.   Yes looking in person is probably best,  but as mentioned I have even missed stuff and you are somewhat pressured if there is a distance involved to make the deal.  Things that if I was still at home I might have passed on as I had nothing invested at that point if I had seen it in the photos. 

In the end remember as well that you will not likely take a complete loss.  Unless it's horrendously overpriced to begin with you will most likely not lose too much money if you decide you don't like it and sell it unless you missed something horrendous,  but as I said post some pictures or you can send them directly and I'll give them a look to let you know what I see. 

Also as mentioned,  Whatever condition you are expecting automatically take it down a notch and it expect it to be a little worse. Better to be happy when it shows up that it was better than you were thinking than to be disappointed that it's worse. 

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I have purchased six cars out-of-state sight unseen, and have not been burned.  I went into those deals, though,  knowing that  I am always going to find something unexpected.  My comfort level has come from real-time phone calls with the seller; understanding what they know about the car, why they are selling, their professional reputation (if a dealer), etc.  Most people will tell you more than you ask once you get them talking.  Lots of pictures can mitigate some of the risk, so can third-party inspections.  Keep in mind that old cars have issues. Period.  Wood rot on pre-war cars and body rust on post war cars are among the major hidden  risks with antiques,  imho, and can be difficult to spot.  Non-running cars present more risk than running cars, so make your offer accordingly.  If there is a club for the particular car you have in mind, find their forum and ask current owners specifically what to look for.  (I have had bigger surprises on cars I have seen personally, but know little about, vs. cars I have bought unseen but know fairly well.)   For Porsche in particular,  I have found that the local franchised dealer will do a pre-purchase inspection (PPI) which is costly, but worth the money.  They use the same standards that they use to do certified-pre-owned.  Other brands may do this as well for fairly late-model cars.  For some makes, such as Volvo, VW, and BMW, you can seek out the local independent repair guy that specializes in that make and pay for a PPI.  I would definitely value his opinion over an independent 'licensed' inspector.   I love Ed's quote above: "The best money you ever spend buying a car is the money spent on walking away."  Probably second only to "A deal too good to be true is likely neither good nor true."  Good luck!

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17 minutes ago, SC38DLS said:

I spent two months talking too and getting about 200 pictures of a Jaguar MK IX in Van Couver.  As we had never been to the area we decided to take a mini vacation and check out the car.  When we got there the car was sitting in about 6 inches of mud with rust about 4 inches up the doors. The hood had been left open as did the drivers window.  I wish I kept the pictures just so I could show the ones he sent compared to the ones that showed the condition of the car.  He said "well it's 60 years old what did you expect!". I expected the car should look like the pictures he sent and his comment was "you can restore it to look like that"  

Never buy a car sight unseen. If you can't go look at it in person for finacinal reasons, you can not afford the car, save your money and time. 

Good luck

I ask for a photo of some obscure area,  then you know what the current shape is as there is an awfully slim chance they will have one saved.

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Suspect that most of the cars I sell (rarely) are more on pictures of the underside than the top but any odd picture desired is just a matter of walking downstairs so no big. I do tend more toward cars of the last half century so gues what I look for often involves a computer.

 

Also my whims are transitory, have given up on a C5 or XLR for the moment and am looking at Allantes, particularly a 1989 with both tops. Believe it or don't but are several within 100 miles, most under 100k miles.

 

Am discovering something new: are an increasing number of people listing e-mail only (CraigsList in particular) and never responding. Best chance of a response is from Facebook Marketplace. Any idea what is going on?

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49 minutes ago, SC38DLS said:

I spent two months talking too and getting about 200 pictures of a Jaguar MK IX in Van Couver.  As we had never been to the area we decided to take a mini vacation and check out the car.  When we got there the car was sitting in about 6 inches of mud with rust about 4 inches up the doors. The hood had been left open as did the drivers window.  I wish I kept the pictures just so I could show the ones he sent compared to the ones that showed the condition of the car.  He said "well it's 60 years old what did you expect!". I expected the car should look like the pictures he sent and his comment was "you can restore it to look like that"  

Never buy a car sight unseen. If you can't go look at it in person for finacinal reasons, you can not afford the car, save your money and time. 

Good luck

 

When you talked to him on the phone there was no indication he was a con man?   Usually you can get a sense from phone conversations.   But,  I had the same thing happen to me back in the 80s.  Drove 22 straight hours to look at a 53 Packard Caribbean.  The pictures vs the car were out and out fraud.

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No idea he was telling me a bunch of lies. I even checked with the local Jaguar club and he was a member and supposedly a good guy. I was just a trusting guy that loves those old Jags and maybe wanted one too much. Still I’ve driven hours and taken flights to see cars as I believe you are much better off spending a few bucks to be sure you are getting what you want. 
I will buy some things like jeans online as I know Levi’s 505’ in my size are going to be the same as if I went to the store. But I won’t buy a car sight unseen. 

Edited by SC38DLS (see edit history)

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I set a record driving to Boston with cash and an empty van to buy a 1913 Baby Peugeot, the one designed by Bugatti. This was before computers and there was no photo in the Hemmings ad. Why the Doctor thought the Austin Seven was a Peugeot I don't know, just glad I didn't need any medical work. Bob 

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If I had the resources, I might buy a car sight unseen from a seller like Matt Harwood. I've never dealt with him, but he's contributed enough to the forum to give most people an idea of the kind of person he is, and his reputation is very critical for the part of the market he dwells in (high end, and therefore out of my price range.) That being said, it sounds like even he would prefer that potential buyers come and inspect his cars in person.

 

For the lower end stuff that I can afford, buying sight unseen is a loser, big time. I've had it work out once in the four times I've done it...and that probably makes me one of the lucky ones.

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I got lucky 13 years ago when I bought my Volare on E-bay. Went to pick it up and was much better than I anticipated. Would I do it again? No.  I just bought a Chevy Traverse to replace my worn out Astro and had to go to a local dealer I trust. Can't even talk about things like Carvana.

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2 hours ago, auburnseeker said:

Post some photos here if you want a good critique.  Not so much overall photos as the detailed nooks and crannies.  I bought my 36 Cord, 31 Auburn, 60 Fuelie Corvette, a 49 Merc coupe and my 51 Dodge Sight unseen. The Auburn Chrysler and Corvette all turned out well and i knew exactly what I was getting from the photos.  On the 49 Merc and The Dodge I couldn't get the photos I wanted.  If i had My decisions would have probably been different on buying them.  I can tell alot based on photos.  I look for hidden clues.  Pay close attention to vent window frames and dash trim,  most often overlooked on everything but complete frame off restorations so they will tell you the condition the original car was in and what kind of environment.  Underneath shots show patch panels and bad rockers that are glossed over on the surface. I look for factory pinchwelds, drains in the rockers and body seems.  Also seems many guys doing anything but professional restoration never sand the wheel well lips and bottom of the quarters well so you can see if it has filler easily.  You can also see overspray if you look close to determine if it's an original paint car. 

Of course mechanicals are important but it all depends on what you are buying and what level of a hit you can take if repairs are needed.   Yes looking in person is probably best,  but as mentioned I have even missed stuff and you are somewhat pressured if there is a distance involved to make the deal.  Things that if I was still at home I might have passed on as I had nothing invested at that point if I had seen it in the photos. 

In the end remember as well that you will not likely take a complete loss.  Unless it's horrendously overpriced to begin with you will most likely not lose too much money if you decide you don't like it and sell it unless you missed something horrendous,  but as I said post some pictures or you can send them directly and I'll give them a look to let you know what I see. 

Also as mentioned,  Whatever condition you are expecting automatically take it down a notch and it expect it to be a little worse. Better to be happy when it shows up that it was better than you were thinking than to be disappointed that it's worse. 

https://www.ebay.com/itm/124189580845

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I have purchased sight unseen.  All of which I would have passed on, had I seen them in person.   BUT after I had them awhile, I was glad I bought them.

The last one, I had a friend look at it first, and felt the same way.   All of the cars I traveled a long way to look at, except one, I passed on.

Nothing like seeing it in person.   I could tell some awful stories too.

Edited by Paul Dobbin
Spill Check (see edit history)

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 I purchased a car online (eBay) and it turned out better than what I expected.

 I spoke with man and asked many questions, I also wanted to see a pic. of his drivers licence.

 I went on google maps and looked at his house.

 Everything looked and sounded right.

 

 I was looking for a project to completely restore, and I was satisfied with the purchase. However, if I was expecting a good driver, I would have been very disappointed.

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Just now, 1937hd45 said:

 

 

Too old to relate to that asking price, I could buy 2-3 cars in my interest range for that money. 

Bob

Promoted as completely done, rebuilt 390: etc..

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Just now, Roger Walling said:

 I purchased a car online (eBay) and it turned out better than what I expected.

 I spoke with man and asked many questions, I also wanted to see a pic. of his drivers licence.

 I went on google maps and looked at his house.

 Everything looked and sounded right.

 

 I was looking for a project to completely restore, and I was satisfied with the purchase. However, if I was expecting a good driver, I would have been very disappointed.

 

 

Spooky, But it takes all kinds. Bob 

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