How to buy a car in the United States and sell. Instructions for travellers

If you have two weeks, but not more time, do you want to save and see maximum interesting places: cities, national parks, waterfalls, canyons, oceans … you just need to buy a car in the United States, rather than take it out.

We bought a red Honda Civic 1993 year for $ 1850 in California, drove more than 20000 km in 3 months by making a large circle for the United States of America. And exactly 3 months sold on the border with Mexico for the same price to the first buyer that watched the car. We think we can sell and more.
In this article we will talk about the process of buying cars in America, pitfalls and nuances about some peculiarities of travel by car, via the United States, will describe how to sell a car and at the end will tell a few bonuses.

So there you go!

The pros of buying machines:
1. You depend only on themselves. You don't need to rush to the appointed date of return of the machines and rush every day.
2. You can sell the car for the same price as bought. Or even more expensive, if they are lucky.
3. Is your machine and you can do what you want. Immediately becomes cosier and more comfortable when you know that the car is yours. Can free it to breed chaos, sleep, ride on gravijkam, in the mountains (many of rolling offices, by the way, there are restrictions on zone rules for movement and coverage of roads).

1. Trouble with buying: where to buy, from whom (dealer or private owner?), how not to pay more than worth the machine in which it will be able to (if not new), registration license (pink slip), insurance, etc. All this we will explain in this article on the example of our history.
2. Troubles with selling: how to find a buyer in a limited time, paperwork, how not to get on a scam and not lose and machines and money.

If you are more profitable and safer than hire purchase
If you have a trip limited to 2-4 weeks, it is more profitable to use the rental car.
See offers from Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Alamo, National, Budget, Europcar, Sixt car rental in aggregator site and book in advance. Or use the form another good site: RentalCars

Buying a car in the United States

The easiest way is to go to the auto show. The new machines, clean history. All documents will do for you. But terribly expensive.
The second way the dealer is easier, they are in every town in large quantities. Huge selection of machines. For any query. Great chance to be deceived. The first sentence, which you will find dealer: "very gud kondišn, may Frend! Veri good! ".
There is an option with the auctions, cheap machines there, but access to the auctions to get a no-brainer. We were not interested in that option.

We chose the car 2 weeks. First wanted a motorcycle. Then scooter. Then found out that for the same price you can rent a car. Were from dealers. Watched cars privateers. Have acquired a lot of experience and learned a lot.

In the end remained the only option: buy from a private owner. In different States, the procedure can change. According to information from the Internet, there is even a tourist can not buy a car in some States with a tourist visa. We will tell all on the example of California, where we took and sold the car.

San Francisco

San Francisco

There are several sites that make it easier to purchase machinery privateers. your country, State, price, model cars. A selection of great, if not to say that huge.

Kelley Blue on this site you can view the approximate cost of the machine, on the basis of its model year configuration state. Very correct and convenient service. Free.

DMV (Departament of Motor Vechicles, our traffic police or GAI) (California DMV)-there you will find detailed information on buying, selling machines, paperwork. This was our "Handbook". There all simply and clearly described. True, in English.

CARFAX-you can view the history of any vehicle: getting into an accident, passing that oil change, change of owners. In General, you can learn everything. Only for a fee. Like they have a free version. But it's easier to find someone from acquaintances of acquaintances who have unlimited and ask him to issue a dossier on the machine. Each machine has a VIN number, which is most often located on the Dashboard under the windshield and visible to all. At this number you can learn the history of this machine.

!!! Tip: If you are not in a hurry, hurry to do something. If you just look and you have already driven the Bank, something is wrong and loses control.

Our seller

Our seller

The process of buying private cars

1. You choose the right machine on craigslist or another such site, spisyvaetes′ with the owner, update details and assign meeting.

!!! Tip: don't take money for our first meeting.

2. When inspecting machine, pay attention to:

  • -any suspicious sounds in the work of the motor,
  • -is there anywhere smudges liquids, stains on the engine, the puddles on the ground under the engine,
  • -a Lee tank coolant
  • -whether there is fluid there is, what it does muddy colors (which may be an indirect sign "health motor"),
  • -the oil level, its color and transparency, ask, when was the last time the oil was changed and did the (maintenance)
  • -When was the last smog check-in some States have to do smog-check no more than 3 months before the change of the owner. Specify when buying, who makes the smog-check. If you do, you can ask for a discount. According to the rules of the DMV should make the buyer. Remember that editing cars can't pass smog-check and they sell cheaper
  • -check "rack" simple method: push the machine body from top to bottom to make it wobbling. If after your push she continues to swing like jelly, then will soon have to spend money on new racks. If it returns to its original state and no longer ranges, all OK.
  • -look for tire quality, in their condition. What "hemp" has already been erased. Not stripped Lee cord, not whether the wire sticking out?
  • -make a test drive. Some owners told us: here's the keys, drive, and check out. We felt the catch and persuaded the owner to sit down with us. Here you can ask questions, don't be afraid of this and sensitively feel the machine: try gently let go of the wheel and show whether the car aside. If the machine is front-wheel drive, you do not hear whether the crunch in the area of the wheels when cornering. Turn on the AC, then close the window. Air conditioning should work. Turn on the stove. Be sure to check the brake for a test-drive.
  • -check all devices and buttons. If the machine is inexpensive, chances are good that something is not working and you can ask for a discount if you're satisfied with the presence of breakage. Either you car repaired, if you agree to buy it. Check the headlights (middle, far, stopari, reverse), turn signals, wipers, washers,
  • -check the handbrake on a hill. Machine should not roll with the hammer.

When you hurry, pay attention to it. It is a sign that something is wrong. Maybe you want to cheat. Or hide any malfunction.

3. If you are satisfied with the machine, start the procedure of purchase. It is uncomplicated.
Previously you needed to have a local address that will receive the paper (your new pink slip, fines, receipts, etc.). One of our friend with whom we met through CS gear agreed to help and gave us his address. And in the hands of the previous owner of the machine must have a certificate on the machine (Pink Slip or title). This is the most important document. It looks like this:

pink slip

You need to fill in all fields and sign. This document specifies at what price you buy a car, how many miles she drove. Then Pink slip is torn and one part remains with you, the other from the previous owner.
Typically, when buying with cash payment method is the preferred hand. Sometimes the seller accepts payment and through translation into the card. To do this, you can go to the Bank and hold the payment there.

All machine paid hands on part of the pink slip (certificate on the machine), the keys-congratulations, your machine! The only thing left of her.

4. Before you get behind the wheel, you should know that the uninsured vehicle illegally. I.e. You must first take out insurance to sit behind the wheel. All car insurance can be obtained through the Internet. Just fill in the special form on the website and pay by card. We did not do 3:00. So we ventured and drove to the nearest healthy, to make everyone in the Office. It took half an hour.

We drew up the most basic insurance for 3 months. Here with such a covering:


Unilateral coverage. I.e. If we did someone something, and would have been our fault, then payment would be with our insurance. But at the same time to repair our car would not have been a dime a dime from the insurance. I.e. would have to pay out of our pocket.

We paid for insurance for 3 months 190.



5. All. You now have 10 days to reach the nearest DMV and file employee:
-your part of pink-slip,
-fresh smog-check,
-pay tax on the purchase of machines (calculated from the purchase price), about 10%.

It is said that long queues at the DMV and you need to wait a few hours, even if zapišeš′sâ in advance via the Internet. We have all the time after we crossed the threshold stood at DMV no more than 10 minutes.
If everything is in order, you issue a temporary certificate of your ownership of the car. It operates six months. You just have to wait for the new title with your data.

6. To your email address or your friend's address, which you used for the purchase of should come a new pink-slip. Our came across 1 week. It is said that it usually takes about a month. And took our documents we are only three months later, when they returned after traveling on the United States. Better keep the pink slip in a safe place, and not in the car with them to drive for the sake of security. Enough to forge a signature on this document and the owner of the machine is no longer you.

Journey through the United States by car

Here we describe those moments that you may be interested in travel in the United States by car: refueling, šinomontažki, oil change, communicating with the police and Rangers, and other issues.


In each State the cost of petrol is different. Usually, you fill the car themselves, paying with plastic card directly from a gas column. Only in Oregon, we are faced with the fact that there is forbidden by law to fill itself. Instead, fill with workers fueling, and pay in cash.

Octane number can also vary from State to State. In some places there is no 85 (in Russia it is 87) and we refueled 87 (92 in Russia).

The most expensive gasoline was in California: $ 4.26 per gallon. One gallon of about 3.7 liters.
The cheapest in Arkansas: $ 3.33 per gallon.
Complete financial realize our spending on gasoline is available for download here.

We chose Honda Civic because of its Super economical fuel consumption mode. Average MPG (miles per gallon) was 47, that, if we translate in litres/100 km = 5 l. And the maximum 54MPG = 4.37 l per 100 km.
This is great vyručalo, as the budget was limited. When selling, we found that some craftsmen increase MPG this car model to 70!

Petrol happens to be of varying quality. It is known to all car owners. Once we met, after which the Civic hardly pulled in Hill in third gear on the motorway.

At all stations with the card removed to the dollar. We never understood whether it. Kinda not. And one filling withdrew from us $ 150 instead of $ 30. The difference returned a week later. It was unpleasant.

Total for petrol: for the whole trip in 3 months we spent a little more than 1000 $ on gasoline.

Tire service in the United States and oil change

Tyre fitting and balancing free in those places where they sell tires. We take used tires on rims 2 a month later because found serious puncture screws and tires were old. And the other 2 rims have changed through 2 months because they had already lost to front and Korda, was dangerous to ride so on.
The cost of one b/c wheels on average 30-40 $.
If you are going to ride on actively different roads, you have to face. Maybe more than once.

We changed the oil twice in specialized centres Honda: somehow it was cheaper there than in other places. Plus, while you're waiting, you free fed (Butera, fruit, biscuits), tea-coffee in unlimited quantities, wifi, sometimes the popcorn too there are free. Plus can optionally check the car on different boards. And mend with your consent.
Oil change worth 30-40 $. Recommended to change the oil after every 5000 miles. We watched as the oil level and in our engine. Oil became dark and muddy, and at the minimum level-means it's time to change.

Police in the United States

Many times we have seen, as are trails 1-2 police cars and stopped the machine. All the people in the party, and police searched the car. Saw this picture across the United States almost every day.

On the roads, people don't respect the speed limit and speed typically around 80-100 miles per hour. The police often stop people for failure to comply with the speed mode. Our average speed was about 70 m/h on the highway and we tried not to break the rules. Although, sometimes, and Red were passing. And unfolded in the wrong place.

Our communication with employees was law and order in several cases:
1. When we went to bed at night, and we place an unauthorized awakened knock police flashlight on the roof or Rangers (that's if we're in the NAC. Park). Then we checked the documents, asking if everything is OK and then we had to go to another place for parking overnight, allowed. Fines have never been. Even once and threatened.
2. Once there was a night RAID and stopped all, shone in the face, checked the documents and release further. This is a natural check and points on the roads. There are several dozen police with guns, cars and motorcycles.

If you hear the siren, approaching sbav′te speed and free up the road, stopping at the curb. We always amazed. Stop everything! And Ambulance/police/fire freely pass by quickly.

Russian law are valid 3 months. You can ride. Most importantly, sign up for insurance. When communicating with police never are rude, smile and be natural. You tourists! And it is likely even in English do not talk:)


Most of the roads in excellent condition and therefore average speed higher than 100 km/h. The most terrible roads were in New York. Who was there that will understand. And who will only advance sorry =)
In the eastern part of the United States more toll roads, bridges and tunnels. And payments can reach $ 15! In the Central and Western parts of the United States toll roads we have not discovered. Paid only bridges in San Francisco. And you have nothing to pay immediately. The expense comes to your mail a few weeks later.

How to sell a car in the United States

The procedure is identical, except now you purchase-seller. And you need to put an ad on craigslist in advance. If your machine is good, and the shape and the soul, there will be a lot of proposals. Our ad immediately responded more than 20 people, and the first who looked reluctant to buy immediately. We appointed a deal the next day and carried out its next to the local DMV.

Our buyer

Our buyer

!!! Predosteregajtes′ take checks. Cash better to check with the Bank to the presence of counterfeit banknotes.
!!! Carefully review the website of the local DMV, there to give answers to all the frequently asked questions about how to buy and sell the car in the United States.
!!! If you have something troubling in the buyer, check all 7 times before you make a decision. If not this buyer, there will be another.

After the purchase you have remained part of the Pink Slip that you want to send this letter to the specified address there or fill out the online form. We chose the second option.


+ If you're in the pink-slip in accord with the seller write a small cost of the machine (it could be old), say $ 100, and sales tax will be small. But sometimes, if the machine is not so old, DMV employees can check the real value and then tax will be higher.
+ Some gas stations petrol cheaper to pay in cash. On some muhlûût and price is different from the stated on the banner, see and ask this question, please be careful.
+ The easiest free sleep to Rest Area-such races on highways, specifically made for drivers: with toilets, tables, vending machines with drinks and food. At the entrance to every State must have a Visitor center, where free wi-fi, coffee, terrain maps and colorful booklets. There is also possible to stay overnight for free.
+ If you do not like to sleep in the car, one of the best options will be housing the AirBnb site from the owners. We often use and offer you a discount $21USD to reside in any country of the world.
+ To inexpensive wash and wash things, visit the camping-RV-parking. Take a hot shower it is possible for a few cents, wash stuff for 1-2 $. Almost every major national park has cabins for your stay, and beside them laundariâ and soul.
+ Always see parking rules. Almost always in any city you can find free parking. Just carefully read a sign. For example, in Manhattan, in New York, in certain places you can park 7 days a week free of charge except for one hour in a day or two, when cleaning the streets. If you do not remove the machine by this time, draws a heavy fine and will tow a car to an unknown destination. The rest of the time parking in Manhattan is free. Sometimes you want to proezdit′ on the hour to find a free spot. But it's worth it =)
+ If you bought the car from a dealer, sell it for the same price you do not succeed, because dealer default machines more expensive.
+ When selling do not apply an appearance that you are in a hurry to sell it. If the buyer is aware he will try to get a large discount from you any psychological tricks.
+ See if there are any inexpensive airline tickets in the United States, if you haven't bought tickets.
+ Take their security with care. Choose the right insurance
+ We purchased a Gps beacon Alpha-Lighthouse-thanks to him and are determined by the coordinates, altitude and temperature. Advise and you get a similar device to know where is your machine.

As we bought and sold

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Hope that helped you and allowed some fears related to buying and selling cars in the United States, a successful and enjoyable trip!

Some photos of the car, purchased in the United States:

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