Buying a car in the USA

We had decided awhile ago we wanted to drive around the USA, as public transport is not great here and we are planning to cover some big distances. We looked at renting a car, but it was going to cost a lot for the couple of months we are planning to be here. We decided to buy a car while we were staying in Galveston.  Here are some of the things we learned along the way!

  1. Craigslist does have a lot of cars listed. However, if the person emails you back immediately in response to your email saying that they want you to pay through E-Bay it’s clearly a scam. Frustrating when you think it might be a good car!
  2. Car yards in Texas have a lot of big, big cars and trucks.  Great if you want an SUV or something massive – not so helpful when you want to buy something with reasonable fuel consumption. (Apparently, station wagons are also not popular anymore, but we wanted something we could sleep in if necessary).
  3. According to car yard salesmen, wanting to buy a car for under $5000 is ridiculous and not possible (we were told by multiple people that they had nothing on the lot for under $5000!)
  4. You need insurance to drive in Texas – it is compulsory. However, finding insurance for less than a year is tricky! Being AA members really helped us out on this one as the AAA here found us a reasonable insurance deal that we could arrange over the phone.
  5. After you buy a car, you have temporary plates while the real plates are being done and the title is being transferred to you. You then have to go back and get your actual plates – a bit of a hassle, but you have to get new plates with a car, you can’t just keep the old ones.
  6. It is tricky to find cars here that are more than ten years old – everything is new (in addition to being big!)
  7. Driving on the right hand side of the road is disconcerting. Driving the car for the first time from Houston to Galveston, on the right hand side of the road, through a thunderstorm and torrential rain, lost and with not enough battery on our phone to use GPS? Somewhere between stressful and terrifying!

We had started our journey thinking we might buy a Nissan or Toyota…we ended up finding the right car in Houston, at a dealer who had listed it on Craigslist. We bought a 2000 Ford Focus Wagon with 110,000 miles on it which is getting about 24-26 miles to the gallon. It was under $3000 and seems to be driving okay so far! We feel like this was a real blessing as it was pretty difficult to find what we were after.  The picture is the day we left Galveston…notice Piako on top, ready for his road trip to begin! (If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the Piako tab at the top of the main page – he is enjoying going to every country we do!)


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Julie Bunnell says:

    You have learned many useful things about car buying in the USA. It’s good that your travels are so educational! The car looks nice and I hope it is good to you as you travel my country of origin. But please remember to take Piako off the roof before you drive off!!


  2. Kate says:

    US car buying sounds complicated O_O

    Glad you managed to find a car that works for you, and that Piako likes it too 😛


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