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Buying a car out of state

My son is driving from Michigan to Pennsylvania to buy a $5,000 Subaru Impreza. He is 20 years old and is getting married in August of this year. He has looked everywhere locally for a car that is safe, fun and in his price range of $5,000 but has not found anything. He does not want a wagon so this one seems to be perfect, an all wheel sedan. To his credit, he has done a lot of research, talked to the owner, and will look at finding a local mechanic to check it out before his arrival but I have told him the risks of buying remotely but can you give him any pointers??? What about the registration, title, bill of sale, plates, etc???

All the neccessary paper work to purchase a car can be done through the mail and a fax machine if needed. Make sure the owner has a clear title to it and ask for a copy of it to verify it yourself. If they can’t do that I would walk on. The only thing I have against buying a vehicle from that area is the rust damage that takes place to cars coming from back east. If he can hold off and find one from the western states or southern area there will be less corrosion problems.

On another note it may be a good idea to compare what the insurance costs are going to be with that car compared to say an Outback sedan for someone his age. The difference may be significant. A newly wed is going to have many other things to need money for.

Most Pennsylvania cars have much less rust than Michigan or NY cars. They use road salt much more sparingly in most of PA.

As far as the paperwork requirements, I would contact the agency that issues car registrations and titles in your state and find out what they require for a car bought from PA and what you need to drive it home.

It’s a 50/50 coin flip as to whether the car is any good or not.

You have not stated the year and mileage of this vehicle but you should be aware that head gasket problems are common with Subarus.

Depending on the year/mileage there is also a timing belt/water pump/tensioner issue that will need to be resolved. This particular service is something that you do NOT rely on someone’s word that they had it done. If there are no receipts then it should be considered as not being done at all.

This is not one of those eBay deals is it? There are many problem child cars dumped off on eBay because it’s an easy way for a seller to unload the car onto someone who does not live in the 'hood. If a problem develops (and the most thorough inspection by the best mechanic does not guarantee a problem-free car) then the buyer is left holding the bag.

Depending on the year/miles/etc. it may even be overpriced at 5 grand.

It is a 2002 Subaru Impreza RS (black) with 122K miles. We are checking to see if the head gasket and timing belt have been replaced. He found it from an enthusiast website.

Michigan DMV should lay out the requirements for title transfer, bill of sale requirement, vehicle emissions or vehicle inspection requirement, etc. Need to figure out how to obtain a temporary 20-30 day registration to legally transport the car after the sale and before the Michigan registration is complete. The individual may be able to let you use his PA plates if he doesn’t have to turn them in; otherwise a temporary registration is needed. This aspect is fairly easy if you are dealing with a dealership, but more complicated on a private sale.

For Subarus, having four tires same circumference, same tread pattern is important to keeping the AWD from causing problems that usually cannot be detected until the damage has occurred. Need to ask how well the current owner has done with this aspect of his car maintenance.

Most Pennsylvania cars have much less rust than Michigan or NY cars. They use road salt much more sparingly in most of PA.

That’s because PA sees about 1/5 the amount of snow that Michigan does. Lake effect snow accounts for a major portion of their snow-fall. Only the Cleveland area gets any lake effect snow.

Rule #1: You never go to Pennsylvania to buy a used car. There are plenty of rule #2s but who needs them when you have rule #1. You might try South Dakota if you want less corrosion. Boston might be a worse choice than Pa.

OK I just read the one about “less rust in Pa”. Hope it’s true. It just didn’t sound like a normal thing to do. Less salt counts for a lot. Keep me from telling tall tales.

Once bought a car from Mexico, no one blinked an eye.

Car was built in Mexico for sale in Mexico ( regular leaded gas ).
Owner was local New Mexico resident with a house in Sonora.
All he had to do was sign over the title.

Just make sure there are receipts to back up any repair claims. Otherwise, consider it sales BS.

When it comes to Subaru head gaskets the plural should be used. The proper repair method is to replace both even if only one is leaking.

AAA can help with the title transfer, there are also independent notaries who handle DMV title transfers. You can get a 30 day transit tag in PA then get to the MI DMV for local registration. AAA in MI could probably tell you what you need. Buying remote has it’s risks, listen to the advice here in checking the car out.

Sounds like a great deal if the car is as stated. Do your homework, don’t let him get tunnel vision and be objective. Figure that everyone is trying to take your money and remember to hold onto your wallet. Check it out, and then see.