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View Full Version : Has anyone ever bought a car long distance (sight-unseen)?


TD
09-02-2003, 09:01 AM
With many MANY cars out there on Auto Trader and eBay (some with an attractive combination of mileage and price), I'm often tempted by ads for cars hundreds of miles away.

Has anyone here purchased a car long distance like this? How did you do it? Did you have anyone check out the car in advance? Any regrets?

ayn
09-02-2003, 09:06 AM
I bought one from Dallas, not real far, just ~2 hours away... A coworker bought an M3 from them and referred me... I checked their site and eBay listings, found 2 I like, called them and negotiated prices and tradein, sent them some pictures of my car, and worked out a deal over the phone... went up there on a Saturday to swap cars... :)

--Andrew

MikeW
09-02-2003, 09:09 AM
I think most people at least pick up the car in person. I don't think I'd send a check and have the car shipped.

My old college roommate accompanied a friend of his carrying $40K in cash to buy a Viper sight unseen in South Florida. At several points Rich (the old roommate) thought he was going to end up as gator food. In the end, however, the deal went off without a hitch, and the car was fine.

TD
09-02-2003, 09:11 AM
In theory, I'd probably pick it up in person. Still, I'm curious to hear about everyone's stories either way.

JetBlack330i
09-02-2003, 09:15 AM
If the seller's name is Montoya, run. :bustingup
Darn, can't find the link (someone who knows what I'm talking about please help).

The Roadstergal
09-02-2003, 09:16 AM
My friend Marty here in WA has bought an M coupe from Florida and an M3 from Texas. Each time it was inspected by a local friend, and each one turned out to be a kickass car.

The inspection by a local is key. Either a friend or an independent service place. I'd trust one based on that.

bluer1
09-02-2003, 10:52 AM
With many MANY cars out there on Auto Trader and eBay (some with an attractive combination of mileage and price), I'm often tempted by ads for cars hundreds of miles away.

Has anyone here purchased a car long distance like this? How did you do it? Did you have anyone check out the car in advance? Any regrets?

Several close friends have done this by making the entire deal online, then flying to the location for final inspection and payment. If you're looking for a specific model/option combination, it seems like the only way to do it wisely.

johnlew
09-02-2003, 11:18 AM
Has anyone here purchased a car long distance like this? How did you do it? Did you have anyone check out the car in advance? Any regrets?

Yes, cash, no, no.

JonW
09-02-2003, 11:27 AM
I've also been wondering about this 'buying a used car over long distances' thing. I'm looking for an E30 325is track car. Not too many in my area. Not sure how comfortable I feel doing such a thing over large distances. Maybe if I find a candidate car I could have a fellow 'fester check it out. :D (in exchange for beers, etc., of course).

jpgurl
09-02-2003, 11:36 AM
a guy from AZ bought my Audi -- I emailed him a bunch of pics, he did not get an inspection done, and he had it shipped. He relied on my word and pics, the shipping company did a worthless visual inspection.

Personally, I thought he was crazy for not A.) having a car inspector check it out or B.) flying out here and picking it up himself.

It worked out well for both of us, but then again, I am not a scam artist.

AF
09-02-2003, 12:07 PM
A good friend of mine has done this many times . . . he buys them from many different sources( dupont registry, internet, car forums, etc). He will keep the cars and then resell them. He has done this from everything to old Manufacturer Show cars (displayed at car shows) to a Subaru SVX (or whatever that coupe was called)

If you are REALLY interested in doing this PM me and I will put you in touch with him, he is a great guy and I am sure he can give you some very good pointers.

Josh (PA)
09-02-2003, 12:23 PM
We sold a `90 Honda Accord on Ebay a couple of years ago to a family in Maryland. It went extremely smoothly (I had dealer maintenance records scanned and emailed, emailed pictures of all interior and exterior areas, etc). The family that bought it came with a cashiers check. He looked it over, took it for a test drive, felt good about, so we did the title transfer and off he went. It was the best car selling experience I ever had.

pdz
09-02-2003, 02:04 PM
With many MANY cars out there on Auto Trader and eBay (some with an attractive combination of mileage and price), I'm often tempted by ads for cars hundreds of miles away.

Has anyone here purchased a car long distance like this? How did you do it? Did you have anyone check out the car in advance? Any regrets?

hi TD.

i sold a car like this long distance recently. and it went really well. i guess it's very, very common for certain marques to be bought/sold this way and what i learned in selling mine (which can apply to buying one similarly) is that the guy who bought had a pre-purchase inspection done at a dealer plus basically a checklist that dealers have to go through in order to certify as "CPO" the car.

so we were both really at ease with the process because there were no surprises:
1. if the seller balks, what are they hiding?
2. this guy was pretty savvy because he even asked the dealership to check for repainting with that little paint sensor stick.
3. leakdown and/or compression testing is good way to predict future engine work......
4. having the third party assess the car helps with any disputes about items and things being a big deal or not a big deal.

see ya.

SARAFIL
09-02-2003, 02:47 PM
2. this guy was pretty savvy because he even asked the dealership to check for repainting with that little paint sensor stick.


It's one of the greatest tools out there these days. I've seen cars that you'd never knew were painted by looking at them, but a quick scan with the meter showed that something was fishy. How does it work? Basically, it measures the thickness of the paint. Factory paint will be consistent across the vehicle, no specific reading, but should be within 1mm. I've seen cars that were visually fine, but a reading showed a variance of as much as 5 or 6mm from one corner to the opposite (obviously, where the car was repaired/repainted).

If you have a friend who is/works for a dealer or wholesaler, I'd strongly recommend you have it checked out.

ARCHER
09-02-2003, 03:32 PM
I almost bought an M3 from some freak in MD.

Turns out the guy that looked at it for me was
a bit shifty - small hands - circus folk... :D

Galun
09-02-2003, 03:34 PM
If the seller's name is Montoya, run. :bustingup
Darn, can't find the link (someone who knows what I'm talking about please help).

Here you go

http://bimmer.roadfly.org/bmw/forums/e21/forum.php?postid=3378984

sdwolff
09-03-2003, 09:03 AM
Here is my story (kinda long).

The good....
I wanted a E34 wagon, but wanted a color other then green/beige or Calypso Red. I searched and searched and finally found a '94 530iT, decent miles in Sterling Silver. Only hitch was car was in Shreveport LA (VW/Porsche dealer) and i'm in South Florida. The dealer told me the car had hail damage. I found someone to drive a couple of hours look at it for me. He said it wasn't bad (only upper surfaces only), but the hood had been replaced. Dealer says [longtime] customer who traded it had something fall on it.

I made an appointment at the local BMW dealer for inspection and made arrangements for the selling dealer to bring the car over there. I paid for the inspection. They found nothing out of the ordinary.

I finalized the purchase, flew to Shreveport and the dealer picked me up. Car was exactly what I expected. Even had an Alarm and CD changer which I didn't know it had. Interior looked brand new.

Drove home, 1000+ miles and everything was fine for the couple of years I had it.

The ugly...
Traded the E34 in on a E46 wagon. Went back to the dealer for something a week later and he said the E34 had frame damage, said they lost money on the trade.

The moral...
Make sure the car is really checked out good. At the time, I knew nothing about carfax.

Sean
09-03-2003, 07:39 PM
It's one of the greatest tools out there these days.


I have one. :thumbup: You can buy the pull maget type for $50-75.00
It will get the job done. The digital models cost some money.

gr8330
09-03-2003, 07:52 PM
I sold my 90 325is to a person from Wisconsin, he asked for pics, then took my word for the condition of the motor and trans, flew out and drove it home. I then found 3 cars in CA and asked each person for pics of every angle. My plan was to fly to Burbank ($58 on Southwest) to look at my first choice and if I didn't like it I was going to take the train to San Diego ($20) and look at the other two, never made to SD. Both deals involved bank checks that were verified at the bank where the titles changed hands. I'm happy and recently talked to the guy that bought my 325is and hes happy.

gr8330
09-03-2003, 08:02 PM
One thing to keep in mind, if the car is older you might want to consider the possiblity of rust if you buy from a northern state that salts their roads in the winter.

Sean
09-03-2003, 09:29 PM
I sold my 90 325is to a person from Wisconsin, he asked for pics, then took my word for the condition of the motor and trans, flew out and drove it home.


You sold it? :cry: What did you buy to replace it? :dunno:

gr8330
09-04-2003, 07:30 PM
You sold it? :cry: What did you buy to replace it? :dunno:

Bought a low mileage 528i

Sean
09-05-2003, 08:03 AM
Bought a low mileage 528i


Nice! :thumbup:

TD
09-05-2003, 08:08 AM
You sold it? :cry: What did you buy to replace it? :dunno:
Damn.

Sean- Had we known it was for sale, you and I would have had to fight over it.

gr8330
09-05-2003, 10:33 AM
That car was a lot of fun and at times I wish I had kept it, no I should have kept it :( . When I advertized it in the Roundel, out of curiosity, I couldn't believe the amount of interest it generated even at the high asking price I set. Thats when greed set in :tsk: .

sp330i
09-06-2003, 03:55 AM
And determine if they have someone who would be willing to checkout the car for you in advance.

I've often pondered the same dilema, but never acted on it.

gr8330
09-06-2003, 01:18 PM
If someone wants a car checked out, pictures, or taken somewhere to get checked out (dealer, local repair shop) around the Phoenix area I would sure try to help you out just pm me. :thumbup: