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Buy 2nd hand car VS hiring a car for 4 weeks travelling

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Cape Town
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Buy 2nd hand car VS hiring a car for 4 weeks travelling

My husband and I are doing a 4 week journey through the USA - starting in Washington DC, heading South then West in May 2013.

(we are in our 30's)

4 weeks car hire is pretty costly, so we are considering the option of rather buying a 2nd hand vehicle, then sellling it at the end of our journey.

What do 2nd hand vehicles sell for approximately? We obviously don't need anything flash.

And would we be able to get some sort of roadside assistance, like the AA? Do they offer that service to non-residents?

Would be interested in hearing some pro's & con's.

Thanks!!!

Washington DC...
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1. Re: Buy 2nd hand car VS hiring a car for 4 weeks travelling

Your biggest issue could well be having valid liability insurance, which is required in most parts of the USA, to the best of my knowledge. Because if you get in any sort of accident and don't have proof of valid insurance, some places will put you in jail right then and there. I also don't know that you could buy and register a vehicle without having a valid drivers license for somewhere in the USA.

Edited: 08 January 2013, 18:00
Washington DC...
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2. Re: Buy 2nd hand car VS hiring a car for 4 weeks travelling

You won't want or need a car when in Washington DC so however many days you plan to spend there are days you won't be paying for the rental car.

Your question about "what do secondhand vehicles sell for" is impossible to answer. It completely depends on the make, model, how many miles on the car, and how you sell it.

Olney, Maryland
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3. Re: Buy 2nd hand car VS hiring a car for 4 weeks travelling

Are you sure that a one-month rental for a car is "pretty costly"? The daily rental for a car is steep, but a one week rental is often the same as a 4-day rental, and a one-month rental is about the same as a 2.5 or 3 week rental. You could buy insurance separately and not pay the fortune that rental car companies charge, or you home country's auto insurance may cover you.

Buying a used car entails it being inspected before purchase, proof a insurance (on a half-yearly basis), legally being allowed to buy it, paying taxes, title transfer, license plates (required on a one or two year basis, depending on the state you register it with), and waiting in line for hours to transfer it to you name at the Dept of Motor Vehicles (and not being a permanent resident will make them do it even slower....).

Pick a compact or mid-size car from a mid-level American rental company, like Budget or National, or Enterprise, and rent it for a MONTH; that's a lot easier. And surprisingly, automatics are much more available and inexpensive than standard shifts. And different cities of origin and termination will have different monthly rental costs, so see if it's cheaper to get your car in Baltimore, maybe, instead of Washington.

Washington DC...
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4. Re: Buy 2nd hand car VS hiring a car for 4 weeks travelling

I would agree with the other people on here and just rent (or hire) a car. On a whim, I plugged in a one-way rental car from Washington to Los Angeles into Kayak, picking it up on March 7 an dropping it off on April 6 and the total cost for the rental came out to about $1625 for an intermediate car. That wouldn't include any additional insurance or other add-ons, but did include tax. Even if you opted for any add-ons and the total cost was an additional $1000, I would go with the rental car. What you would get from a rental car would beat anything that you could get second hand for $2500 or so and you wouldn't have to deal with the headaches of registration, inspections, car taxes, etc.

Edited: 08 January 2013, 20:16
Fortaleza, CE
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5. Re: Buy 2nd hand car VS hiring a car for 4 weeks travelling

Cost of a used car would vary tremendously bymake, model, mileage, location of purchase, etc. What happens if you buy a used car and it turns out to have problems? You could look up samples on sites for companies such as Carmax. As noted, insurance and registraiton (done differently in each state) can be a problem if you don't have a valid address in the States. This could all be time-consuming. And, at the end of your trip, selling a car at a decent price could be time-consuming and you may ahve to accept any price you can get (you're not in a bargaining position if you have to sell by a specific date and can't just hang around), plus some may want to pay by check, etc.

Arlington, Virginia
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6. Re: Buy 2nd hand car VS hiring a car for 4 weeks travelling

I agree with the many logistical challenges, all noted above: insurance, taxes, obtaining credit (unless you pay for the entire amount of the car in cash), and then the hassle of trying to get the car sold at the end of your trip.

I think you should start looking for promotions for monthly car rentals. Check www.kayak.com, www.carrentals.com, and www.hotwire.com regularly. My guess is you'll ultimately find something for about $1500, which could be less than you'd end up losing in depreciation and taxes on any used car deal (to say nothing of the hassle factor).

Arlington, Virginia
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7. Re: Buy 2nd hand car VS hiring a car for 4 weeks travelling

I just found this website that further details the challenges to buying a car as a foreign visitor without a fixed address. I wouldn't do it for only a month's tour:

community.usatourist.com/forums/t/556.aspx…

Fairfax County...
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8. Re: Buy 2nd hand car VS hiring a car for 4 weeks travelling

I agree with the above advices already given. I have one more question for you to consider, how do you plan to sell your car at the end exactly? Do you have a friend already line up with cash in hand to buy it right out of your hand? Or do you plan to stay around until you can sell it, regardless how long it takes?

9. Re: Buy 2nd hand car VS hiring a car for 4 weeks travelling

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