Buying a car in the US as a foreigner: what & how ?

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Buying a car in the US as a foreigner: what & how ?

Postby Joostdenatris » Mon Apr 09, 2012 12:44 pm

hey all!

This year is my year :D : I've got 3,5 months off, got my BM ticket in the pocket and I'll be smashing all my savings on travelling through the states for some 3 months. Renting a car is not an option for that long, so I'm planning on buying a car/van/truck I could sleep in. Hopefully something that will fit a bike aswell.

Can anyone help me out on a few questions:
What do I need to arrange to be able to own a car in the states, that is: being a foreigner on holliday (dutch as a matter of fact) ?

- does it need to registered on a US address?
- do I need an address for car insurance?
- do you need to pay special taxes if you own a car?
- any suggestions on cheap but good cars/vans/trucks?

thanks!!!
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Re: Buying a car in the US as a foreigner: what & how ?

Postby Joshua! » Mon Apr 09, 2012 5:00 pm

Cheers Joost!

I'll chime in here, and offer a couple of guesses:
Typically the registration and insurance need to be for a fixed address in the state where you are going to register the auto. I've seen some folks register their rigs and have a different mailing address but I'm sure it needs a physical home address.
*edited to add: Perhaps you could register it to a post office box, rented at one of the mailbox shops, but you would need to verify that a PO Box would be acceptable.

There aren't any special taxes, other than the registration fees, and insurance.

Where are you planning be when you purchase your auto? I know from experience that Nevada has easier Motor Vehicle Licensing rules than California or Washington. You may want to stay away from a local that requires an emissions certification before registration as that can cause extra headaches.

Search craigslist like a maniac and ask around for someone willing to advise you on the actual purchase. I'd help you find something, but I'm too far north.

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Re: Buying a car in the US as a foreigner: what & how ?

Postby Elliot » Mon Apr 09, 2012 5:53 pm

A clarification seems in order.

A "P.O. Box" is a different thing from a mail box at a commercial mail service.
A "P.O. Box" is at a government Post Office. At my Post Office, they required me to prove that I actually live in the area before they would assign me a box.

We have a number of commercial mail handling services, some of them big chains such as Mail Boxes Etc. and The UPS Store. You can rent a box there, and the address will be the street address of the store, plus the box number often shown as "apartment number" or some such. They can also forward your mail -- for example, if you leave some money on deposit for postage, you can telephone them anytime and have them send your mail wherever you want.

There is no restriction on foreigners buying cars, but you will need an address.

Each state has its own rules about vehicle registration and insurance, so you will need to investigate relevant states. I bet they all have web sites, usually under "Department of Motor Vehicles".

Some states require SMOG (exhaust) inspection; perhaps some not.

Same with liability insurance.

Taxes.... When you first buy the car, the DMV will charge you Sales Tax on the purchase amount -- or if you buy it from a dealer, the dealer will handle all that. Mind you, that's California; other states may vary. Sales Tax is around eight percent where I live. Then there is a registration fee, which must be renewed annually (if you keep the car that long).

You will probably be best served by a van, or a mini-van. Full size vans are made by Ford, Chevrolet and Dodge. Mini vans, besides those three, are also made by Japanese auto makers. Avoid the Dodge Plymouth Chrysler mini vans with automatic transmission. Those automatic transmissions are notorious for failing.

Rust is a problem in many states, where the climate is cold and/or humid -- which is generally north and east.

Hope that helps!
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Re: Buying a car in the US as a foreigner: what & how ?

Postby Savannah » Mon Apr 09, 2012 10:34 pm

Awesome post, Elliot. :D

Joost, I had a very positive experience with a cargo van for the Burn in 2009. There's only two seats in a cargo van, so you can put a mattress and a bike in the back--1 or 2 tied to the wall with rope or bungee cords--and fit possessions for two Burners comfortably (although you will want the other person to have a tent, so you can have the van to yourself for sleeping.

You will find that you can sleep in a van til 8 or 9am unaided; after that you might need a swamp cooler; see the Cooling Your Tent or Van thread:
viewtopic.php?f=280&t=33842
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Re: Buying a car in the US as a foreigner: what & how ?

Postby gyre » Tue Apr 10, 2012 5:15 am

The rules for traveling americans probably apply in this case.
States often disagree.
They lose.
RV law in particular covers odd questions.
Comes up a lot.

I wouldn't buy too far north.
A lot of northerners buy cars in my area.
Outside of cities, no inspection, smog or high tax.
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Re: Buying a car in the US as a foreigner: what & how ?

Postby AntiM » Tue Apr 10, 2012 6:13 am

In Utah, you also pay property tax on the vehicle, so check for that.
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Re: Buying a car in the US as a foreigner: what & how ?

Postby Joostdenatris » Tue Apr 10, 2012 2:08 pm

wow! thanks for the info guys!

@gyre: why not buy too far north? except from the rust... (I'm thinking of starting my trip around seattle cuz I have a friend there. hopefully i can register a car @ his place)
@joshua: how far north are you...? any tips for cargo vans / station wagons around seattle / yakima are welcome :-) (a 1986 Mercedes 280 TE preferrably :-D ) )

something else that popped to mind:
- can i sell a seattle-registered car in california?
- how does the DMV charge me? In The Netherlands we register a car-ownership (the official document saying it is my car) at the post office and they take care of registration stuff with the road-tax-administration, who send you accept-giro's. How does that work in the states?

thanks!
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Re: Buying a car in the US as a foreigner: what & how ?

Postby Canoe » Tue Apr 10, 2012 2:17 pm

Registration of vehicles varies greatly by State. Some states have an Ownership slip from the DMV. Others have notarized legal titles. Some, as a foreigner you can't even get a trip permit to drive the vehicle you just bought to another state where you intend to register it (has to be flat-bedded out of state, where you may or may not be able to get a trip permit in the next state). Others, instead of the typical 10 day permit, you can get a 30 day trip permit if you explain what you are doing and ask nicely (or the vehicle was bought through a dealer). While you should be able to drive through the States with an International Driver's License (accompanied by your home driver's license and passport), many jurisdictions require that you have a driver's license in that jurisdiction in order to register a vehicle in same. You'll have to check. Complete information may not be online as it is not a routine requirement of residents of that state; you may require a phone call to that state's DMV.

I have friends from Canada who bought RVs in the States, getting temporary RV permits where they buy them, and then renew them when they run out in whatever state they happen to be in. Not recommended, as they were granted such permits usually after a hassle and a lot of talking, and in a few cases it appears it was done just to get rid of them. You cannot not rely upon this working, unless it strangely turns out to be an accepted method in the following:
I've seen lots of advice for doing what you intend, but with purchasing RVs. The story goes that people are arriving in the States, purchasing, registering and insuring an RV for a multi-month tour. So it appears it can be done, but how?... Check the RV sites? Check RV dealers in the States that advertise to foreigners?
Some RVs are vans. Yours just may be a very simple unimproved RV van.

Once you find out, report back here for others to know.

Insurance can be tricky. The rate you pay is usually based on your driving record, which Stateside insurers will not likely be able to get, nor likely to accept out-of-country records, forcing you to a higher rate, if you can find an insurer willing to take you (they can't determine driving risk). I've seen this as an issue for diplomats & embassy staff: if you find the right way to ask, you may be able to get advice from your embassy in the States as to what specific documentation do they use for obtaining insurance in the States. Some years ago, I was able to get insurance for a diplomat who had been licensed & insured in the country previously (when insurance was easier to get), and was able to obtain a certified document from his insurer back in his home country that he was continuously insured in his home country (no periods without insurance where claims on another person's insurance would not be on his record) with no driving violations (all are reported to insurance companies in his country) nor any insurance claims in the intervening years. Do you know anyone in your foreign service?

p.s. watch out for the official limits of legal stays in the United States. If you're allowed to visit for x months, and tell them of plans to stay a week longer, you may not be allowed entry to the States. Having a job to return home to is important; they have to ensure you're not someone sneaking in to look for work.
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Re: Buying a car in the US as a foreigner: what & how ?

Postby Rice » Tue Apr 10, 2012 2:46 pm

I am from Canada. I have looked into buying a vehicle in the US, using it for a couple months in the US and then selling it. It seems to be quite a bit of hassle. The US DMV/Insurance/Plates system is not foreigner owner friendly.

Of course it is easy to buy and bring back to Canada. But if I was going to do that, I would just drive down to begin with :) (I am trying to fly down and save myself a 6000KM drive)


Good luck on your quest!
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Re: Buying a car in the US as a foreigner: what & how ?

Postby Elliot » Tue Apr 10, 2012 2:48 pm

Seattle is pretty safe from rust, being at sea level. Snow is a novelty there. Yakima not so much, since it is up in the mountains where it snows quite a bit.

Yes, you can sell a used car from any state in California.

Here, every state (I think) has its own Department of Motor Vehicles. In many states you go to a DMV office for the registration and related fees -- unless a dealer does it for you. Some states may handle DMV business in other offices, I don't know. Either way, you pay with cash or a debit/credit card at that office. Here, the Post Office handles mainly just the mail.

Mercedes station wagons are a novelty here. And expensive to repair.

Yes, insurance may be your biggest hurdle.
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Re: Buying a car in the US as a foreigner: what & how ?

Postby theCryptofishist » Tue Apr 10, 2012 2:53 pm

Elliot wrote:Yes, you can sell a used car from any state in California.

But if the new owner intends to use (or at least register) it in CA, it will have to have smog equipment added. I think. That might have changed, although I find that unlikely.
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Re: Buying a car in the US as a foreigner: what & how ?

Postby illy dilly » Tue Apr 10, 2012 3:28 pm

Hum...
It probably doesn't matter much since you're planning on flying into Seattle, WA.
I'll throw this out there anyway-

In CO when you buy a vehicle from a car dealer, they give you a 60 day temporary tag (license plate) that goes in the window. Though, if you buy it from an individual, they will sign over the title. I think you have 30 days to go to the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicle) and register the vehicle to your name.
You will be given a 90 day temporary license plate from the DMV. In the 90 days you have to take it an emissions (Smog and pollution tests) test facility.

Though, if you weren't going to be in the states for 90 days, you could by the vehicle from a person (not a car dealership), go to the County DMV, and get the 90 day temp license plate and registration.
Also, if you registered it to a county that is some what rural, or out side the city and suburbs, you are not required to have an emissions test.

Another thought,
I'm not sure of all the exact details, but it is my understanding that if you buy a car or truck in Wyoming, you aren't required to have an emissions test.
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Re: Buying a car in the US as a foreigner: what & how ?

Postby Canoe » Tue Apr 10, 2012 9:50 pm

illy dilly wrote:In CO ... if you buy it from an individual, they will sign over the title. I think you have 30 days to go to the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicle) and register the vehicle to your name.
You will be given a 90 day temporary license plate from the DMV. ... Though, if you weren't going to be in the states for 90 days, you could by the vehicle from a person (not a car dealership), go to the County DMV, and get the 90 day temp license plate and registration. ...

This is exactly the type of thing you need to look for. If they'll grant 90 day temp registrations to residents, find out if they have temporary trip-permits/movement-permits (granted to new buyers, including out of state) and conditions are. If good for 90 days, then all you need is insurance. You typically need to display the temp permit in a particular location: without license plates on the vehicle you will be more prone to getting stopped in a state where they have a different location for temp permits, or just because.

Just to give you an idea of what to expect:
http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite?c= ... RMVWrapper
and I can't find anything specific for out-of-state buyers, just criteria for residency for registration in CO.

http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/DMV/driverid ... nres.shtml
While driving in Oregon, your vehicle must have valid license plates, title and registration, or an acceptable trip permit from your resident state, and be sufficiently insured.

Oregon Trip Permits are listed as 21 days.
http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/DMV/vehicle/tpltveh.shtml

Watch out for Title States, where ownership is recorded by a Certificate of Title. When the vehicle is sold to you, the seller lists you as the buyer and this ownership assignment transaction may have to be notarized. Typically, with that document, you can get a trip permit if that state offers them. If you'll be reselling the vehicle to someone else, they would likely have difficulty transferring the title to themselves in another state as the Title is now assigned to you, but there is no space on the certificate for you to re-assign it to another individual. You may need to have the originating state issue a title in your name - if they will do that without you being a resident. You'll have to research this carefully.

P.S. insurance. Have lots of liability coverage. Awards can be huge in the States.
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Re: Buying a car in the US as a foreigner: what & how ?

Postby Canoe » Tue Apr 10, 2012 9:51 pm

an RV experience (OMG)
http://www.rversonline.org/ArtTouringUS.html

Should I Buy a Car For My Trip?
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/t ... &start=214

Insurance for Foreigners 2010
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/t ... &start=280
    Auto insurance for visitors.
    Several people have said that they were able to get insurance through Progressive. They had to wait until they got to the US to see an agent in person, rather than getting the insurance online.
    A recent poster mentioned this one, a company that specializes in insurance for non-residents:
    The auto insurance company is Sunrise Worldwide. You must be a non-resident, non citizen of the US or Canada, and have 2 years driving experience. They cover only purchased cars, not rentals. No rates posted, but they will give you an online estimate.


Good Luck!

And do report back what you did and how you did it.
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Re: Buying a car in the US as a foreigner: what & how ?

Postby Savannah » Tue Apr 10, 2012 10:35 pm

This is the most informative thread I have seen in a long time, not to mention an under-explored topic (hard to do, on ePlaya). You guys are amazing. :D
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Re: Buying a car in the US as a foreigner: what & how ?

Postby lemur » Wed Apr 11, 2012 6:38 am

Savannah wrote:This is the most informative thread I have seen in a long time, not to mention an under-explored topic (hard to do, on ePlaya). You guys are amazing. :D


hmm ok.. well someone must remedy this.


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Re: Buying a car in the US as a foreigner: what & how ?

Postby gyre » Wed Apr 11, 2012 9:46 am

Joostdenatris wrote:@gyre: why not buy too far north? except from the rust... (I'm thinking of starting my trip around seattle cuz I have a friend there. hopefully i can register a car @ his place)
thanks!
Joost

Northern cars are a rust issue, snow and salt mostly.
Even nearby in the hills, you see snow rust.
Also northern cities tend to have higher costs for what you buy, higher fees and taxes, etc.
A lot of people come from nyc to buy here.
Some cars also vary drastically in resale, depending on area.

Seattle has a lot of rain, but milder weather than it would appear on the map, so better than some options.

California has a lot of vehicles that are perfectly functional, that can't meet cali registration requirements, but can be used anywhere else.
This is especially true of some european cars, sports and high performance cars.

Most auto transmissions need a trans cooler added.
Easy to do.
Better fluid helps too.

A full size van, pickup /topper, wagon will probably be your easiest choices.

I have a ranger, great choice with a manual, many engine choices and gearing, but very much in demand.
You do see deals though.
A toyota costs three to ten times as much in my area.
Easy to find parts, all ford except for the manual transmission.

You may find a deal on a class C rv, if it suits you.
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Re: Buying a car in the US as a foreigner: what & how ?

Postby illy dilly » Wed Apr 11, 2012 12:19 pm

gyre wrote:Northern cars are a rust issue, snow and salt mostly.
Even nearby in the hills, you see snow rust.

Hey Gyre,
When you say 'snow rust' what do you mean? Are you referring to the salt that is used on the roads?
Also, which sort of salt do the states use on the west coast?

In CO we use a combination of MgCl and sand. Its also a little different based on where you're at. For instance in city's, its often sand that has been sprayed with a MgCl2 water solution. Though, in the mountains is a whole combination of different things depending on the location and situation.
I've always thought that the salty air of the coast was worse for car bodies.

gyre wrote:You may find a deal on a class C rv, if it suits you.

This is a really good idea.
Or even, just an old conversion van that you could lay a mattress in.
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Re: Buying a car in the US as a foreigner: what & how ?

Postby Savannah » Wed Apr 11, 2012 12:38 pm

lemur wrote:
Savannah wrote:This is the most informative thread I have seen in a long time, not to mention an under-explored topic (hard to do, on ePlaya). You guys are amazing. :D


hmm ok.. well someone must remedy this.


hey u!! FUCK YER DAY!! (THIS MEANS YOU)


Fuck YER day, Lemmiwinks! :mrgreen:
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Re: Buying a car in the US as a foreigner: what & how ?

Postby gyre » Wed Apr 11, 2012 1:15 pm

Illy, I've seen surface rust that seems to come from long time exposure to moisture from sticking snow.
Mud and snow on the lower part is another problem.

Salt on the coast is definitely the worst issue I've seen.

I don't know if they use salt on the west coast.
I actually own a Denver car.
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Re: Buying a car in the US as a foreigner: what & how ?

Postby Joostdenatris » Wed Apr 11, 2012 3:25 pm

HOLY SHIT! you guys are amazing!!!
Do you all work at the DMV or what?

so much info and so much to dig myself into!
A dutch emassy sounds like a very good one to check when i arrive, clearly i may get myself into unforeseen situations if i buy a car in Seattle and plan on selling it somewhere else where they have different regulations. I dont want to leave the US still owning a car and being liable for it.... So that's a good one to check aswell. The rust I guess is not so much of a problem in my case, i'm staying for only 3 months. I guess any wreck will last that long.
The temporary plate thing is super! that would be perfect for me.
And I'll definately check my own insurance here for a document of my driving history.

Thank you all so much guys!!! Fantastic! Really.

and Savannah: glad to open up a thread that turns out to be very informative. :-)

I'll definately post back here about what i'll find out and how i fixed things myself.
It's fun to get an image of how things work in the states. To me, being european, it asways seemed a bit like the US are just one big country, but actually you guys have the same sort of differences betwen the states as we have in europe with the countries. Importing a car from say France can be a hassle with temp plates, permits, tax shit, licences, DMV-like institutions and what ever. So basically: same shit, different place. haha! The good thing is, you all speak english. Don't even think about buying a car in France if you only speak english or dutch.

Meanwhile, I'm still open for more of these valuable suggestions tips and hints....:-)

thanks and thanks again!
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Re: Buying a car in the US as a foreigner: what & how ?

Postby Elliot » Wed Apr 11, 2012 3:53 pm

This union of states is a very strange phenomenon. Some matters are handled under federal (the union) jurisdiction, and others are handled by each of the 50 states. The US Supreme Court spends a lot of its time trying to decide what topics belong to which jurisdiction. On rare occasions federal and state law conflict to the point that federal and state officers get into arguments right on a citizen's door step. But on the whole we manage just fine. :D
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Re: Buying a car in the US as a foreigner: what & how ?

Postby theCryptofishist » Wed Apr 11, 2012 4:15 pm

Remember, we don't go for those red circle slash signs, so you may have to get used to a different way to get that sort of infomation. And the whole miles/kilometers thing might phase you at first as well.
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Re: Buying a car in the US as a foreigner: what & how ?

Postby gyre » Wed Apr 11, 2012 8:01 pm

Elliot wrote:This union of states is a very strange phenomenon. Some matters are handled under federal (the union) jurisdiction, and others are handled by each of the 50 states. The US Supreme Court spends a lot of its time trying to decide what topics belong to which jurisdiction. On rare occasions federal and state law conflict to the point that federal and state officers get into arguments right on a citizen's door step. But on the whole we manage just fine. :D

I wouldn't call it rare.
And california law seems to consistently conflict with every other states law, as well as federal law.
Don't assume that one law means anything, especially with regard to residency.
You might make it work for you though.
My state allows dual residency, so establishing it quickly is no problem.
California almost requires every tourist to get state ID.

The rust thing is more about getting full value, in your case.
A high rust area will charge you for junk.
A similar car here would be almost free.

Vehicles with body damage can be your best value anytime you will tolerate it.
Rust just won't get you the same discount in a rust area.
And some rust damage can be a safety issue.
I've seen cars I could put a screwdriver through the frame, even a volvo recently.
The worst damage is on cars that have perfect sheet metal.
American cars rarely get the same grade of rust treatment as is available in europe, or preventive care.

I had a fiat that came soaked in promolene.
You could have buried that car without it rusting.
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Re: Buying a car in the US as a foreigner: what & how ?

Postby Canoe » Thu Apr 12, 2012 10:30 pm

Joostdenatris wrote:...
A dutch emassy sounds like a very good one to check when i arrive,...

Consulates
http://dc.the-netherlands.org/the-embas ... lates.html
But, if you wait until you are here, it's likely too late. It would not likely be part of usual consular services to advise you on your plan to buy a car, nor are they likely to know what will apply to your circumstances. But, they may be familiar with what documents they needed when they came to the States and that you should bring from the Netherlands to the States: i.e., what/where the Netherlands calls a "driver abstract" and "insurance coverage record with claim record" and how to get them certified/notarized in the Netherlands. That's why if you knew someone in the service...


Joostdenatris wrote:...The rust I guess is not so much of a problem in my case, i'm staying for only 3 months. I guess any wreck will last that long...

Ah, Grasshopper, you have much to learn.
What qualifies as a car to be on the road in the States can be rather different from what you're used to there. What gets past the checks can be scary, and some places once it's had a check to first get plates, it can be check free until it falls apart. Literally. A car can rust to the point where the seats fall out, while you're driving, or you hit a bump and it cracks in two - all while it looks fine from the inside and outside, if you don't (or don't know how to) check underneath.
A few quick examples of what you will see.
http://fails.failblog.org/2012/02/15/ep ... mers-fail/
http://thereifixedit.failblog.org/2012/ ... etch-limo/
http://thereifixedit.failblog.org/2012/ ... zy-datsun/
http://thereifixedit.failblog.org/2012/ ... -security/
http://thereifixedit.failblog.org/2012/ ... our-trunk/
http://thereifixedit.failblog.org/2012/ ... e-a-brake/
http://thereifixedit.failblog.org/2012/ ... -skylight/
http://thereifixedit.failblog.org/2012/ ... s-too-low/

Now, imagine what can be done to (or not done to repair) a car where you can't see it...
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Odd. No bears in the dump. Oh well, lets go across the road & pick blueberries.
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... but don't harm the red dragon that frequents the area from time to time. He and I have an agreement.
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Re: Buying a car in the US as a foreigner: what & how ?

Postby Canoe » Thu Apr 12, 2012 11:42 pm

as to your plan to buy a car and travel around...

Another important thing to remember about driving in the States. It's a big place.

Driving from Seatle to Los Angeles is around 1,800 km. Like driving from Amsterdam to Rotterdam 35 times.
Driving from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. is around 4,300 km, equivalent to driving from Amsterdam to Rotterdam 83 times, or Maastricht to Groningen 16 times.
Good news: last week near me in the States, gas was around 92 cents a litre.

There are some large distances between some places, and sometimes with nothing in between.
Really!
Nothing.
As in, no towns, no food, no water, no gas. And many places you can drive on a side road and end up in the middle of no where. Every year people die when their car breaks down someplace remote: freeze, starve, bake/dehydrate, medical attention, etc... There are places where you can walk 50 feet to the side of the road and you'd swear you're the first human to ever set foot there (and that might be true...). Walk too far from the road and you might be one of the people each year that they never find.

Being someone who's heading to Black Rock City, you're not likely the type that spends their life sitting on a sofa. And Black Rock City is, well, a City, with tons of people. But for your other U.S. traveling, if you're the type that likes to go off the beaten path, or you make a wrong turn and unintentionally end up there, you need to be aware. Get a map. Be aware of the distance. Be aware of where you're going.

ASK someone. It's not always what it seems. I've had a road through the mountains turn into a gravel road, then a road cut out of the rock, then around the corner was a small stream coming down across the cut rock where you had to drive fast enough to have enough momentum to get through the stream before you were swept over the side; or back up for miles until you found a place to turn around (including crossing the road washout that you repaired with fallen trees). I've picked a "Highway" out of Tuscon (Catalina Highway), only to drive it and discover it's a gravel washboard road up over a mountain, complete with free range cattle. Although it was December, and a cool day, with no added trans-cooler (just the stock trans-cooler in the bottom of the rad), I was able to heat my lunch by wedging it between the seats on top of the transmission hump.
gyre wrote: ... Most auto transmissions need a trans cooler added. Easy to do. Better fluid helps too.

Now to me, these types of places are fun. When I was younger, I even looked for such places. But for others, it's a nightmare, and it can stress them to the point where they do something stupid and end up dead.

Back to your buying and then taking off around the U.S. in a used car. I got a real surprise while cutting through the Navajo Reservation a few years back: turns out the used car I bought runs out of gas shortly after the gas gauge gets down to 1/4 full indicated... I'd done the math and knew I'd get into town with 1/8 of a tank left. And a few days later I discovered that the parts store didn't stock the lower rad hose that split open, it was going to be wait days for it to arrive - the hardware store had enough plumbing parts I could cobble together to get on the road again.

AND DON'T SPEED THROUGH TOWNS. People don't like things that threaten the safety of their kids.
For example, read up on driving to Burning Man.

In being aware of where you're going, check for risks. For example, if you're going in bear country, find out how they behave and what you should and shouldn't do, etc., Same for hot, cold, mountains, and special places like Death Valley (the name is a really really big hint about what can happen if you screw up).

Car engines behave differently at different elevations. You can end up higher than you realize, with an engine starved for air (oxygen). Some examples:
  • BRC is around 3,907 ft (1,191 m).
  • There's places in Arizona where you can bomb across a highway on a huge flat plain, unaware that you're over 6,000 ft (higher than Switzerland's Wegen in the Berner Oberland).
  • I've been on highways in Colorado that go above 10,000 ft, and one was 12,000. There are many above 3,000 m. Nine of their passes are higher than the top of the Eiger.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colorado_mountain_passes

Get a $12 tool kit from Walmart. Carry spare water, spare gas, food. You'll have a first aid kit for BM already.
Highway to Hell. Stairway to Heaven.Traffic prediction?
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Odd. No bears in the dump. Oh well, lets go across the road & pick blueberries.
.
... but don't harm the red dragon that frequents the area from time to time. He and I have an agreement.
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Re: Buying a car in the US as a foreigner: what & how ?

Postby Canoe » Fri Apr 13, 2012 1:35 am

add on to
driving in the States. It's a big place!

here's an odd one, but due to the severity of some reactions, I feel it should be mentioned

Emotional Response to Sparsely Populated Wide Open Spaces

If you intend/decide to go off the beaten path (or end up there by accident) into areas of sparse human population or wide open spaces, and you haven't before, there's something else you should be aware of. The circles I used to move in had me encounter a significant number of European visitors, diplomats & their families, and I learned that many became emotionally overwhelmed when they encountered:
  • wide open spaces where they're the only humans in sight from horizon to horizon in all directions,
  • or even when simply driving for hours and seeing nothing but road & forest,
  • or across a plain where it's so flat that "there's a tree coming up!" is an event (i.e., "where you can sit on your front porch and watch your dog run away - for three days")
  • "too much wilderness"
I always find these places a great experience, so I was puzzled by the Europeans' reactions I observed, and subsequently quite surprised to learn how common this was. But some suffer stress, or even an anxiety attack, from mild through to functionally impaired, and with some it lasts until they're back in "civilization". A few would need a few days or even weeks to get fully back on an even keel. These were not people regarded as suffering from fear or anxiety, and no correlation noticed to it being a first travel abroad or a first posting. Oddly, the children appeared to react on their own, not following/imitating a parent. It seems that children were somewhat less likely to be negatively affected, but those that were affected were more likely to be thrown more off keel than the adults appeared to be.

At the dip gatherings (particularly with spouses or families) it seemed inevitable that these episodes would be discussed as apparently it was an experience common to most of them (just a matter of degree), with a surprising number retaining some fear from their experience. A minority would suffer recurring episodes of nervousness following the telling or hearing of these experiences, for hours or even days. There were not embarrassed by their reactions, seemly regarding it as inevitable and logical given the "too much wilderness".

The trigger to the fear or anxiety appears to be places with a lack of people, with second place going to where the view of human habitation was blocked by "wilderness" (like hiking or canoeing along a river lined with forest). There would be far fewer affected and much milder reactions when in cottage country, where they could look around the lake and see other cottages (and some would frequently and nervously do so, as if to assure themselves others were still there - yet they seemed unaware of doing this). The drive to cottage country could be, interesting... With one lady, I started running through my mind the locations of the nearest hospitals. Repeat visitors from Europe would always recount these experiences, with some seeking them again and a much smaller number avoiding them, with the majority I'd describe as preferring to pass. (One common request I had from European visitors would be to take them out of town to see a moose. Not a bear, or a wolf, but a moose.)

The visitors from Europe generally had no forewarning that such a response was possible, but a few had been warned back home. With the dip families, they usually had heard the stories of others at the embassy before their first "encounter", so they had been primed to almost expect it. Yet there didn't seem to be a higher rate/degree of reaction of people in one group vs. the other, but the dip group did get their wounds prodded at gatherings.

So, should you (or others) learn how to recognize and manage an episode of anxiety?
Don't know.
But at least you're aware of the possibility and stand a better chance of recognizing what's happening if it happens to you.
Highway to Hell. Stairway to Heaven.Traffic prediction?
.
Odd. No bears in the dump. Oh well, lets go across the road & pick blueberries.
.
... but don't harm the red dragon that frequents the area from time to time. He and I have an agreement.
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Re: Buying a car in the US as a foreigner: what & how ?

Postby Canoe » Fri Apr 13, 2012 9:29 am

Forgot to attach (hope I didn't screw the numbers up)
population, area, density, EU, US, CDN, NL, NV.jpg


Nevada - one U.S. state - has an area of 110,622 square miles (286,367 km2).
To get 110,603 square miles (286,352 km2) you need to add the areas of:
  • Netherlands,
  • Belgium,
  • Luxemburg,
  • Denmark,
  • Austria,
  • Switzerland,
  • add Denmark a second time,
  • and throw in Malta & Guernsey.
Nevada's population is 2.7 million people. The above list yields 55 million people.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
Highway to Hell. Stairway to Heaven.Traffic prediction?
.
Odd. No bears in the dump. Oh well, lets go across the road & pick blueberries.
.
... but don't harm the red dragon that frequents the area from time to time. He and I have an agreement.
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Re: Buying a car in the US as a foreigner: what & how ?

Postby gyre » Fri Apr 13, 2012 9:43 am

I don't know if you have any reason to keep a car and return here, but liability in most states is very limited.
Liability usually attaches to drivers.
NY state has some exceptions to other states in this area.
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Re: Buying a car in the US as a foreigner: what & how ?

Postby illy dilly » Fri Apr 13, 2012 10:00 am

Its probably been covered in this thread and I over looked it, but what are the rules for foreigners and US driver's licenses?
Do their driver's license work in the states? or are they required to get a US license from what ever state they land in? I've heard of international driver's license, but have no knowledge of what its all about.

gyre wrote:Illy, I've seen surface rust that seems to come from long time exposure to moisture from sticking snow.
Mud and snow on the lower part is another problem.

Salt on the coast is definitely the worst issue I've seen.

I don't know if they use salt on the west coast.
I actually own a Denver car.

I guess I've never noticed 'unusual' surface rust from the from snow. Besides for late 70's and early 80's models when the auto companies were still figuring out non-lead based paints- but thats its own story.

Mud and snow on the lower part is another problem.

I actually just got a recall notice from Nissan regarding snow/salt/ice build up causing damage and corrosion to front suspension. It mentioned certain states where old school NaCl was still used.
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