Go Back  British Expats > Living & Moving Abroad > USA
Reload this Page >

Getting a car in CA - running through the options...

Getting a car in CA - running through the options...

Old Feb 10th 2012, 5:25 pm
  #1  
On The Brink
Thread Starter
 
Joined: Nov 2011
Posts: 30
S_C_P is a name known to allS_C_P is a name known to allS_C_P is a name known to allS_C_P is a name known to allS_C_P is a name known to allS_C_P is a name known to allS_C_P is a name known to allS_C_P is a name known to allS_C_P is a name known to allS_C_P is a name known to allS_C_P is a name known to all
Default Getting a car in CA - running through the options...

Hey Everyone,
How y’all doing?
The time has come for me to get a car. (I know cars and transport come up all the time. The previous threads have been helpful – thanks everyone - but I wondered if anyone has anything more to share.)

The situation - I’m in L.A. with no credit and have to hand back my temporary rental car next week.
There seem to be 5 options available:
  1. Buy a cheap old car (I’m not mechanically minded and can only find $6000 so this could be a foolish course of action)
  2. Go for a lease exchange (this would be perfect but will no credit be an issue? We’ve found some in our area for around $250 a month)
  3. New lease from a dealer (we don’t want to sign up for more than 24 months plus no credit will be a problem)
  4. Continue using a car rental place like Enterprise (the rates really rack up…)
  5. Take out a loan/finance to buy outright (looked into this with Bank of America - Oh My Gosh - it appears this isn’t actually an option)
Can anyone help me decide on the best option and/or give me some pointers on next steps?
I’ve started work on building credit but from what I hear on here it’s a long journey. I don’t have anyone who can act as a co-guarantor for me as I know no one in the States. I could maybe ask my company for help but I need to be really specific about what I need as they don’t tend to think outside the box. If I tell them I need help buying a car then they’ll just shrug.

Also do you know if it’s possible to get day by day rolling insurance for a month or two – I’m still using my British licence but I’m taking my test in the next few weeks and hope my insurance will be less if I have a California license – is that right?

Thanks as ever!
S_C_P is offline  
Old Feb 10th 2012, 6:51 pm
  #2  
Bob
BE Site Lead
 
Bob's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2004
Location: MA, USA
Posts: 91,715
Bob has a reputation beyond reputeBob has a reputation beyond reputeBob has a reputation beyond reputeBob has a reputation beyond reputeBob has a reputation beyond reputeBob has a reputation beyond reputeBob has a reputation beyond reputeBob has a reputation beyond reputeBob has a reputation beyond reputeBob has a reputation beyond reputeBob has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Getting a car in CA - running through the options...

Originally Posted by S_C_P View Post
[*]Take out a loan/finance to buy outright (looked into this with Bank of America - Oh My Gosh - it appears this isn’t actually an option)
That is your best option. The rate will be a bit pish, but it'll be the same for everything.

It'll build up your credit history and be something varied other than a credit card.

If you can afford $6K and you're in a hot/dry state, as long as the car hasn't moved from a cold/wet state, you can get a bargain of a old banger for that money.

If you want something a bit fancier, get a couple grand of a loan on top and get a relatively low mileage Honda/Toyota etc, be something in the 4 year range, just outside of the certified range from a dealer.
Bob is offline  
Old Feb 10th 2012, 6:55 pm
  #3  
Bob
BE Site Lead
 
Bob's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2004
Location: MA, USA
Posts: 91,715
Bob has a reputation beyond reputeBob has a reputation beyond reputeBob has a reputation beyond reputeBob has a reputation beyond reputeBob has a reputation beyond reputeBob has a reputation beyond reputeBob has a reputation beyond reputeBob has a reputation beyond reputeBob has a reputation beyond reputeBob has a reputation beyond reputeBob has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Getting a car in CA - running through the options...

Originally Posted by S_C_P View Post
Also do you know if it’s possible to get day by day rolling insurance for a month or two – I’m still using my British licence but I’m taking my test in the next few weeks and hope my insurance will be less if I have a California license – is that right?
Probably not...minimum month by month I'm sure, but depends on the state. Down my way it's for 12 months, so who knows. Once you get a local license you just inform them anyway and the rate will go down, not by much though.
Bob is offline  
Old Feb 10th 2012, 7:47 pm
  #4  
Banned
 
Joined: Dec 2011
Posts: 29
gromo007 is just really nicegromo007 is just really nicegromo007 is just really nicegromo007 is just really nicegromo007 is just really nicegromo007 is just really nicegromo007 is just really nicegromo007 is just really nice
Default Re: Getting a car in CA - running through the options...

Another option is some dealerships have specific plans in place for Foreign Business Professionals. For example VW have a plan in place where you can purchase/lease any vehicle at 1.9% which is the same as having perfect credit. The catch is that you need to have a visa with at least 2yrs remaining on it. Apart from that you need to be employed and have a letter from your boss stating that you earn enough to cover the repayments (the monthly repayment should be no greater % of your income but I cant remember the figure) and that your employer has every intention to keep you on the books for the term of the lease. I know Ford have a similar program in place to. So my advice would be to shop around because other dealers may offer the same thing. Good luck
gromo007 is offline  
Old Feb 10th 2012, 8:21 pm
  #5  
The Kwisatz Haderach
 
Mummy in the foothills's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2008
Location: North Wales
Posts: 8,065
Mummy in the foothills has a reputation beyond reputeMummy in the foothills has a reputation beyond reputeMummy in the foothills has a reputation beyond reputeMummy in the foothills has a reputation beyond reputeMummy in the foothills has a reputation beyond reputeMummy in the foothills has a reputation beyond reputeMummy in the foothills has a reputation beyond reputeMummy in the foothills has a reputation beyond reputeMummy in the foothills has a reputation beyond reputeMummy in the foothills has a reputation beyond reputeMummy in the foothills has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Getting a car in CA - running through the options...

I'd probably go to CarMax and see what you can get for your $6000 there.
http://www.carmax.com/
Mummy in the foothills is offline  
Old Feb 10th 2012, 10:23 pm
  #6  
BE Forum Addict
 
Guindalf's Avatar
 
Joined: Sep 2011
Posts: 2,898
Guindalf has a reputation beyond reputeGuindalf has a reputation beyond reputeGuindalf has a reputation beyond reputeGuindalf has a reputation beyond reputeGuindalf has a reputation beyond reputeGuindalf has a reputation beyond reputeGuindalf has a reputation beyond reputeGuindalf has a reputation beyond reputeGuindalf has a reputation beyond reputeGuindalf has a reputation beyond reputeGuindalf has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Getting a car in CA - running through the options...

Do you have someone who could co-sign a loan for you? I bought a used car from Carmax when I'd been here for a year or two and my Father in Law co-signed for me. The rate was 19.9%, but I managed to get a better personal loan and paid it off pretty quickly.

A good way to build up credit is to buy stuff on 90-day same as cash from places like Badcock (furniture). It takes time, but it can really help.

I don't know about LA, but here in Georgia, you can get something fairly reasonable in the $6k range. It's not going to be a Rolls Royce, but it'll get you around - and of course, insurance, although high compared to back home, will be cheaper on an older car. You can also get liability insurance (like third party) if you own the car outright. Many finance companies will insist on comprehensive if you take out a loan. Insurance is higher on a leased vehicle.
Guindalf is offline  
Old Feb 10th 2012, 10:52 pm
  #7  
Lost in BE Cyberspace
 
Boiler's Avatar
 
Joined: Mar 2004
Location: Colorado
Posts: 32,937
Boiler has a reputation beyond reputeBoiler has a reputation beyond reputeBoiler has a reputation beyond reputeBoiler has a reputation beyond reputeBoiler has a reputation beyond reputeBoiler has a reputation beyond reputeBoiler has a reputation beyond reputeBoiler has a reputation beyond reputeBoiler has a reputation beyond reputeBoiler has a reputation beyond reputeBoiler has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Getting a car in CA - running through the options...

Sears will give you $250, that is what they offered me before I realised I had given them the wrong SSN.

Does 6K include tax and insurance?
Boiler is offline  
Old Feb 11th 2012, 2:28 am
  #8  
BE Forum Addict
 
Joined: Sep 2008
Location: Rural Virginia
Posts: 1,021
ottotheboar has a reputation beyond reputeottotheboar has a reputation beyond reputeottotheboar has a reputation beyond reputeottotheboar has a reputation beyond reputeottotheboar has a reputation beyond reputeottotheboar has a reputation beyond reputeottotheboar has a reputation beyond reputeottotheboar has a reputation beyond reputeottotheboar has a reputation beyond reputeottotheboar has a reputation beyond reputeottotheboar has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Getting a car in CA - running through the options...

If you want to take a chance on cheap go the local auctions, locate a couple of dealers they are easy to spot as they often have a badge or will buy more than one car. Just stand behind him or her and outbid them. Avoid cars like Mercedes, Volvos, BMW etc stay with US models with the fewest amount of things to go wrong. The other week in Richmond the Game & Fisheries dumped a lot of good vehicles. Check the buyer fees. If a dealer does not bid leave it well alone.
ottotheboar is offline  
Old Feb 11th 2012, 3:41 pm
  #9  
BE Commentator
 
S Folinsky's Avatar
 
Joined: Feb 2010
Location: Los Angeles, California
Posts: 7,268
S Folinsky has a reputation beyond reputeS Folinsky has a reputation beyond reputeS Folinsky has a reputation beyond reputeS Folinsky has a reputation beyond reputeS Folinsky has a reputation beyond reputeS Folinsky has a reputation beyond reputeS Folinsky has a reputation beyond reputeS Folinsky has a reputation beyond reputeS Folinsky has a reputation beyond reputeS Folinsky has a reputation beyond reputeS Folinsky has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Getting a car in CA - running through the options...

As pointed out on this thread, cars in California tend to last for a long time -- no snow or heavy winter weather. [That said, cars that live near the beach tend to have rust issues].

Accordingly, it is relatively safer to buy an older car -- even one from the 20th Century. [Our 86 Volvo ran until younger kid had a crunch in 2004. The 86 Acura Legend was replaced in 2001. Our 98 Volvo S70 is still going strong].

With a $6K budget, you might want to consider setting aside $1500 for some major repairs off the top of the hat and then see what you can find reasonably for $3500. Quite often a car might be perfectly sound but need some major maintainence of the type people tend not to do -- e.g. a major tune-up, new timing belt, motor mounts and suspension bushings. It is amazing what a difference that type of stuff will make!

In looking for cars, get a subscription to CarFax -- they will tell you the registration history of the car. As I mentioned, California cars last longer. It will probably be OK if the car lived in Arizona or Southern Nevada. Do note that the approximate age of a California license plate can be determined by its number. For example, our 1998 plates start with "4C" and the 2004 plates with "5G." Currently, the plates seem to be up to "6X" and I believe that the "7A" plates are imminent. I think it is a good indication if the original California plates are still on the vehicle.
S Folinsky is offline  
Old Feb 11th 2012, 4:00 pm
  #10  
The Kwisatz Haderach
 
Mummy in the foothills's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2008
Location: North Wales
Posts: 8,065
Mummy in the foothills has a reputation beyond reputeMummy in the foothills has a reputation beyond reputeMummy in the foothills has a reputation beyond reputeMummy in the foothills has a reputation beyond reputeMummy in the foothills has a reputation beyond reputeMummy in the foothills has a reputation beyond reputeMummy in the foothills has a reputation beyond reputeMummy in the foothills has a reputation beyond reputeMummy in the foothills has a reputation beyond reputeMummy in the foothills has a reputation beyond reputeMummy in the foothills has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Getting a car in CA - running through the options...

Originally Posted by S Folinsky View Post
As pointed out on this thread, cars in California tend to last for a long time -- no snow or heavy winter weather. [That said, cars that live near the beach tend to have rust issues].

Accordingly, it is relatively safer to buy an older car -- even one from the 20th Century. [Our 86 Volvo ran until younger kid had a crunch in 2004. The 86 Acura Legend was replaced in 2001. Our 98 Volvo S70 is still going strong].

With a $6K budget, you might want to consider setting aside $1500 for some major repairs off the top of the hat and then see what you can find reasonably for $3500. Quite often a car might be perfectly sound but need some major maintainence of the type people tend not to do -- e.g. a major tune-up, new timing belt, motor mounts and suspension bushings. It is amazing what a difference that type of stuff will make!

In looking for cars, get a subscription to CarFax -- they will tell you the registration history of the car. As I mentioned, California cars last longer. It will probably be OK if the car lived in Arizona or Southern Nevada. Do note that the approximate age of a California license plate can be determined by its number. For example, our 1998 plates start with "4C" and the 2004 plates with "5G." Currently, the plates seem to be up to "6X" and I believe that the "7A" plates are imminent. I think it is a good indication if the original California plates are still on the vehicle.
True we have all older California cars, I drive a 97 all from the central valley where they get no snow or salt air. Not a spot of rust on any of them.
Mummy in the foothills is offline  
Old Feb 22nd 2012, 8:54 pm
  #11  
On The Brink
Thread Starter
 
Joined: Nov 2011
Posts: 30
S_C_P is a name known to allS_C_P is a name known to allS_C_P is a name known to allS_C_P is a name known to allS_C_P is a name known to allS_C_P is a name known to allS_C_P is a name known to allS_C_P is a name known to allS_C_P is a name known to allS_C_P is a name known to allS_C_P is a name known to all
Default Re: Getting a car in CA - running through the options...

Thank you all for your advice.
I’ve been holding back on replying but I now have a car (yay!) and wanted to share what I learnt. I hope it’s useful to others and apologies for the length.

Stage 1. We decided to lease a new car. With no credit we couldn’t swap a lease, we don’t have the collateral to buy a new car, we don’t have the mechanical skills / faith to get a junker and the bank loans we were offered were too high to stomach.
We also looked into long term rental, using public transport and occasional rentals, and using an expat specific leasing agency but in our opinion they all worked out higher in cost or less convenient in the longer term.
Having heard from gromo007 about Volkswagen’s expat deal for new leases, we went to VW first. We meet all their requirements and we were able to provide all the requested paperwork without any problems. You can find out more about the offer here: http://www.thinkvwsavings.com/foreignbusiness.html

Stage 2. We went to seven main dealers and asked about a Foreign Business Professional Lease (FBP) or equivalent. We made sure to have a print out of the VW FBP at hand to show at each showroom and, without fail ,every salesperson asked to see the deal.

Volkswagen – as soon as they heard we’d just immigrated they suggested the FBP, knew exactly what to do and seemed to encounter the situation all the time.

Toyota – willing to match VW but didn’t have an equivalent in place of their own. The sales guy spoke to his finance team and confirmed we met the FBP requirements and then he started showing us cars and talking numbers.

Nissan – wouldn’t touch us with a barge pole

Jeep/Chrysler/Dodge – keen for business but after taking our details they explained they’d have to take the full amount of the lease as a single payment. They also applied horrific charges which meant we’d be paying approx $30,000 to lease a $20k car for 3 years.

Honda – wanted to make something work but didn’t have an equivalent in place. After spending a few hours in their showroom and hearing request after request to wait just another 5 minutes, it became clear that the salesman was jumping through hoops with his finance team. It’s obviously unusual for them to lease a car to anyone with no credit.

Ford – used to do it but withdrew the option a few years ago. Not sure how useful the salesperson was but he suggested Ford used to reference UK credit to decide on whether to lease to an expat or not.

Hyundai – wouldn’t touch us

Stage 3. After speaking to so many clued up and clueless sales people we became frustrated and decided to concentrate on VW. They’re not the cheapest cars out there but we’d decided on a model we liked. Our next step was focussed on price so we spoke to a few VW dealers;

Dealer 1 (in person). “Do you meet the FBP requirements?” We said yes but showed him no paperwork “Then I will immediately discount the car you want by $1000 and you can have it for $360 a month plus $1000 down."

So we took that deal and phoned around.
Dealer 2 (by phone). “Do you meet the FBP requirements? Great, You can have the car you want for $320 a month and $2000 down.” We only phoned this one to check the prices given by Dealer 1 – and we were happily amazed he gave them out over the phone.

Dealer 3 (in person) . “Do you meet the FBP requirements? Good, I’ll need to see the originals of all your paperwork before I will talk to you about prices. I will not even give you ball park figures until I have confirmed your eligibility” This was more what we had expected.

We went back to Dealer 1 for another test drive and to haggle. He’d given us a print out of the rates he was going to give us the first time we’d visited which was really useful as it gave interest percentages and residual value. We also found http://www.leaseguide.com which helped us with a few language issues and has a handy lease calculator.
Having discovered that the insurance would be high, we asked Dealer 1 what we could do to lower the rates. We were really asking for a discount but we were being a bit British about it rather than being forthright.
He ran some more numbers and suggested that if we put more down then the monthly would be lower. Well, yes, BUT he also told us that the VW deal includes second hand cars. He showed us two 2011 models and we explored the options. The value of a one year old ex-lease car is about $2000 to $3000 less than a brand new car. On the FBP deal we would have to buy instead of lease but we could pay in installments. We were also told that all the second hand cars covered by FBP need to be from a VW dealership and need a 3 year VW guarantee.
After consideration, we decided that although owning a car seems like a better option, we’d have to sell it when we returned to England and by that time the resale value would have dropped off significantly. Our figures showed that we’d be paying $20K for a car over 3 years and we’d have a resale value of only $10k at the end. As a money saving option, I guess you could try buying an older car on the FBP and that’s where some real savings would kick in.

At this point we emailed all the local VW Dealers and asked what deals they could do on the car we wanted. All got back to us and said they would match or better our current deal. In the end we went with a Dealer who we felt comfortable with, although we could perhaps have got a better deal if we’d continued pushing.

Stage 4. Having chosen a car and trim level (translation ‘spec’ / ‘specification’) we drove our rental to the dealer. We took another test drive just to be sure, agreed we both liked the car and went and sat with the dealer. Dealer asked what deal we already had. By this time we’d got it to $300 a month and $2k down. Dealer then raised his eyebrows but after a few more negotiations we got to $270 per month and $2k down on a 36 month lease with 12k miles per year.

(I’m sure some of you think we’re fools and could have done better. Please don’t tell me. By this point we had only hours before we had to return the rental. We were happy with the car and we got some stuff thrown in like servicing, AAA, window tints, full tank of petrol, registration… I’m only putting this online to help others in future and right now I’m happy with the deal)

With that we produced our paperwork and the Dealer photocopied all of it. We were taken through to Finance and given a long, long, long, contract and offered various upgrades like a $19/month deal to negate any internal wear and tear costs when we return it and a $25/month deal to cancel out any external bumps and scratches.
We also had to show proof of insurance before they would give us the car.

Stage 5. Getting insurance.
With about 30 years of driving experience between us it was a little shocking to find out that our monthly insurance bill was going to be as much as we were used to paying for a full year in the UK.
We called around the big names (Geico, Mercury, Progressive) and tried a comparison site. After a bit of shopping around we managed to reduce the monthly cost by about $85. Bearing in mind that we’re still using UK licenses we decided this wasn’t too bad. I also checked around with the few acquaintances we made and insurance does seem generally more expensive in America.
Once we’d completed our vehicle negotiation and knew we were definitely buying a car that day, we called a broker to sort out our insurance. We knew roughly what we thought we should be paying but wanted to make sure we had exactly the right level of cover. Anyone leasing a car needs specific coverage and insurance over here seems to be full of new terms so we wanted to be safe rather than sorry. Just so you know, ‘deductible’ means ‘excess’ and you need property liability and person liability etc – gone are the days of using GoCompare and simply ticking the box for Fully Comp…
We went through our details with the broker and agreed to a policy. The broker then emailed the policy contract to us and once we’d sent back our e-signature, she faxed a copy to the Dealer who printed out a copy for his records and gave a copy to us to keep in the car at all times as it’s a legal requirement.
We also arranged for a price drop in the monthly insurance rate as soon as we both have California licenses. We’ll be saving an extra $60 a month then so the pressure is on to pass our tests.

Stage 6. We drove away in our new car!
And we have a few bits of admin left over:
  • To confirm our insurance we need to post the company a copy of the sales contract.
  • In a week or so we’ll receive our registration plates in the mail and the Dealer will fix them to the car. (Then next year we’ll have to renew the registration and we’ll get month and year stickers to put on the plate. )
  • We also have to go back to the dealership in 3 months for a mini-service to check all is well.
S_C_P is offline  
Old Feb 22nd 2012, 9:24 pm
  #12  
Bob
BE Site Lead
 
Bob's Avatar
 
Joined: Aug 2004
Location: MA, USA
Posts: 91,715
Bob has a reputation beyond reputeBob has a reputation beyond reputeBob has a reputation beyond reputeBob has a reputation beyond reputeBob has a reputation beyond reputeBob has a reputation beyond reputeBob has a reputation beyond reputeBob has a reputation beyond reputeBob has a reputation beyond reputeBob has a reputation beyond reputeBob has a reputation beyond repute
Default Re: Getting a car in CA - running through the options...

12K miles? That's very stingy...What's the overage per mile on that?

Only mention it as BIL has a lease that had 12K, thought he would be okay as he only lived a few miles from work, about 10 miles round trip. He didn't go anywhere and blew that in 10 months and even only driving it for emergencies or when he couldn't borrow the girlfriends car for the last couple of months put on another couple thousand on the clock.

It was 20c a mile over or something rubbish, but then he didn't have great credit, quite young and got a reasonably low monthly on his lease.

Anyway, great write up, hope it all works out well for you!
Bob is offline  
Old Feb 22nd 2012, 9:28 pm
  #13  
On The Brink
Thread Starter
 
Joined: Nov 2011
Posts: 30
S_C_P is a name known to allS_C_P is a name known to allS_C_P is a name known to allS_C_P is a name known to allS_C_P is a name known to allS_C_P is a name known to allS_C_P is a name known to allS_C_P is a name known to allS_C_P is a name known to allS_C_P is a name known to allS_C_P is a name known to all
Default Re: Getting a car in CA - running through the options...

Good point Bob.
I'm planning on ostracizing myself from the natives by actually using a bus in LA to get to and from work so I hope we can keep within the mileage allowance on a day to day basis and still enjoy trips now and then too.
S_C_P is offline  
Old Feb 22nd 2012, 10:42 pm
  #14  
lj2
BE Enthusiast
 
Joined: Sep 2007
Posts: 524
lj2 is a glorious beacon of lightlj2 is a glorious beacon of lightlj2 is a glorious beacon of lightlj2 is a glorious beacon of lightlj2 is a glorious beacon of lightlj2 is a glorious beacon of lightlj2 is a glorious beacon of lightlj2 is a glorious beacon of lightlj2 is a glorious beacon of lightlj2 is a glorious beacon of lightlj2 is a glorious beacon of light
Default Re: Getting a car in CA - running through the options...

Superb write up - Do you mind saying what car you received?
lj2 is offline  
Old Feb 25th 2012, 3:23 am
  #15  
BE Enthusiast
 
markwm's Avatar
 
Joined: Feb 2012
Posts: 498
markwm has much to be proud ofmarkwm has much to be proud ofmarkwm has much to be proud ofmarkwm has much to be proud ofmarkwm has much to be proud ofmarkwm has much to be proud ofmarkwm has much to be proud ofmarkwm has much to be proud ofmarkwm has much to be proud ofmarkwm has much to be proud ofmarkwm has much to be proud of
Default Re: Getting a car in CA - running through the options...

Originally Posted by S_C_P View Post
Good point Bob.
I'm planning on ostracizing myself from the natives by actually using a bus in LA to get to and from work so I hope we can keep within the mileage allowance on a day to day basis and still enjoy trips now and then too.
I was going to do that until I looked at the travel times:
Car to work:15 minutes.
Car home: 30-40 minutes.
Bus to work: 45 minutes.
Bus home: at least an hour.

Conclusion: car.
markwm is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.