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Old 1st September 2011, 02:03   #451
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Default Re: Buying a car in USA. New, used, etc.

My opinions. Maybe this might be late.

First of all i own a 2005 S2000. I loved the open air experiance initially, But - there is dutst and grime on The roads here. After 1 hour trips with the top down you look like a manual labourer. I used to drive top down so much so that I started getting sunburns. Wife does not Like top down rides because it messes up with her hair.

But it is amazing to drive top down on nice evenings.

s2000 came only in manual. So you will not find at auto s2000.
THe options which I had was Porsche Boxster, BMW E46 M3 vert. I chose th Honda for cheap maintanance.

The C6 'vette is a better option. You can get for $22k-23k. Much better interiors --400Hp V8 and exclusivity. I'm looking at a few myself. 240Hp is not enough.
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Old 1st September 2011, 02:17   #452
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Default Re: Buying a car in USA. New, used, etc.

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Originally Posted by chevelle View Post
Just superb composure at high speeds. Didn't even knew i was doing 70 mph on a 45 mph route.
.
Thats the real trouble in US, the uselessly low speed limits. For a max 70-75 mph limit why to take a hit on the pocket where these V8 beasts are in their true colors only after the triple digits which are not feasible in US except trackdays

I had made up my mind on similar ones probably an M3, but then realized that driving at 70-75 mph, it wont be any different than a Yaris/Corolla, so fixed an Altima for the daily dullness and soon starting with trackdays at VIR with these exotics, not sure whether Cali has no-limit setups like Autobahns.
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Old 1st September 2011, 12:56   #453
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Default Re: Buying a car in USA. New, used, etc.

Hi chevelle / all,

I have a slightly off-topic question but its not completely off-topic as it is related to getting a drivers license in USA:

I noticed that there are two types of "apartments" in USA: One is a studio kind of thing which is already furnished and includes all the TV, wifi internet etc. The other is an unfurnished apartment which is basically empty where you have to buy everything from bed, sofa etc.

Now my question is this: I read somewhere that you need to have utility bills in your name to get a drivers license. So is it not possible to get a drivers license when staying in a furnished studio?

Which is better from the perspective of someone who wants to get a drivers license and buy a car: furnished studio or unfurnished apartment?
(my company already informed me that they probably wouldn't be able to bear the expenses related to shifting furniture etc, so I am wondering which is the best option. I'd want to avoid the upfront costs associated with buying all the furniture for a new household. Renting furniture looks expensive too).

Sorry if my question is steeped in ignorance - it probably is .

Last edited by rajushank84 : 1st September 2011 at 13:07.
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Old 1st September 2011, 14:19   #454
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Default Re: Buying a car in USA. New, used, etc.

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Originally Posted by AltoHoncho View Post
Thats the real trouble in US, the uselessly low speed limits. For a max 70-75 mph limit why to take a hit on the pocket where these V8 beasts are in their true colors only after the triple digits which are not feasible in US except trackdays

I had made up my mind on similar ones probably an M3, but then realized that driving at 70-75 mph, it wont be any different than a Yaris/Corolla, so fixed an Altima for the daily dullness and soon starting with trackdays at VIR with these exotics, not sure whether Cali has no-limit setups like Autobahns.
I sort of understand your point of view..
As per your thoughts : at 70-75 mph the fun in driving a M3(or any powerful car like some American muscle car)= same as driving the Yaris/Corolla since the speed is constant and you would be probably driving with a cruise control, and wont be even touchig 3 digit speeds to utilise the power of a M3/sports/muscle car

But what about the following ?
1]The difference in the way it gets to 0 to 75mph ?
Several times we see instances where the car has to merge with faster cars on the freeway from a ramp probably even from a near standstill, the powerfull M3 engine will make it easier+ safer to merge with these already speeding cars.
Corolla/yaris cannot match the power of the brute force accelaration of a big engine.
The feel of a M3 or any other powerful car pushing you back into the driver seat with pure accelaration is something which you will not get with the lesser cars.
2]Scenic/twisty roads ?
Cali has it fair share of hilly/twisty/scenic sections of road if you go looking for it. M3 with all its power+handling will be definately > Yaris/Corolla in terms of driving satisfaction.
e.g - Angeles crest/ Big bear/Mulholand/<substitute your fav hilly sections> etc etc.
3] The difference in the way it gets to 75mph to 0 ?
Im sure a performance car will fare better here, we dont always travel at 75mph , there is much fun to be had blasting from 0 to 75 and also safely going to 0 on braking.
4] 55 to 75+mph overtaking maneuvers ?
Going from 55 to say 75/80 mph for brief moments while overtaking slower cars in few seconds by a simple blip of throttle is worth the extra price you pay for the more powerful car.
Yaris/Corolla will not give that quick response for when you punch that throttle.The diff become more apparent while climbing hills
5]Last bit not least - the engine note+ exhaust note
Im sure Yaris/Corolla wont do well in this department.
6]Tuning options
Here again Yaris/Corolla wont have some much to play with as much as the more "poweful"/"sporty"/"tuner friendly" cars have available for them.

There is a lot more to be had from a car depending on your point of view towards cars , boils down to : if you are gearhead or not.If a car is a mere means transport or something more.

This last paragraph below is for addressing the actual topic of the thread, friendly advice :
People with even a small % of petrol in their veins will end up regretting going for the cars meant to be just commuters as its just a matter of time you will realise you are missing out on the fun which you can have while in US.

Last edited by chetanhanda : 1st September 2011 at 14:20. Reason: typo
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Old 1st September 2011, 23:32   #455
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Default Re: Buying a car in USA. New, used, etc.

Completely agree with Chetan on his points.

Even on tracks, it is not about the top speed . It is handling. The maximum which i've gone on a track is 120mph (Putnam park - IN). Any higher you hit the walls. This is same for the Viper as well as a miata.

The s2000 takes away 30min from a 6 hours drive than the Accord (I own both), because it is fast to accelarate past semis. People either give way or want to race

You can stop slower.

And these cars do get attention. For example last time at the Honda dealership I got preferential treatment because i dropped off an S2000. I suppose it would be like dropping of a SL at a merc delership.

Trackdays are another plus point of having a sporty car.

In short I would say may the most while they last. An occasional ticket never hurt anyone. I have 2 tickets and my insurance rates are lower than a friend who drives a hyundai Elantra with a perfect record.
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Old 2nd September 2011, 06:34   #456
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Default Re: Buying a car in USA. New, used, etc.

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Originally Posted by rajushank84 View Post
Hi chevelle / all,

I have a slightly off-topic question but its not completely off-topic as it is related to getting a drivers license in USA:

I noticed that there are two types of "apartments" in USA: One is a studio kind of thing which is already furnished and includes all the TV, wifi internet etc. The other is an unfurnished apartment which is basically empty where you have to buy everything from bed, sofa etc.

Now my question is this: I read somewhere that you need to have utility bills in your name to get a drivers license. So is it not possible to get a drivers license when staying in a furnished studio?

Which is better from the perspective of someone who wants to get a drivers license and buy a car: furnished studio or unfurnished apartment?
(my company already informed me that they probably wouldn't be able to bear the expenses related to shifting furniture etc, so I am wondering which is the best option. I'd want to avoid the upfront costs associated with buying all the furniture for a new household. Renting furniture looks expensive too).

Sorry if my question is steeped in ignorance - it probably is .
This actually depends on the state you live in. Each state has its own requirements. For e.g., in California, you don't need to provide any utility bills. You need Identity proof [passport] and proof of legal status [Your work visa/I94]. They mail the license to you which is why you don't need address proof.

I know some other states do need Address proof as well. You should be able to get license requirements from each state's DMV site [you can start here - dmv.org - it will give you information for each state].

About the apartment itself, it depends on how long you are going to be here for and where you are planning on living. In the long run, an unfurnished apartment will work out cheaper. Depending on your area, you may be able to get a lot of used furniture from Craigslist or sulekha [sulekha.com]. If you live in a non-metro area or in a small town, it will be difficult to get used furniture.

You are right about renting furniture - it is pretty expensive.

If you tell us which state/area you are going to be living in, I guess some of us could provide more specific information
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Old 3rd September 2011, 00:31   #457
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Default Re: Buying a car in USA. New, used, etc.

Thanks much, alam86. The location is San Jose, CA.

How do people manage to save money to buy cars so soon? From what I calculate, 80-90k per annum is considered a good salary (isn't it), which means 4.5k to 5k take home after taxes (isn't it), and cost of living everything included for a family comes to at least 4 to 4.5k (isn't it)?

Then, how are so many people able to afford the downpayment, tax and insurance of a car, not to mention monthly car payments? (ok forget gas, it is more or less equal to bus/train tickets). Do they get really long loans? Do they use the credit card for down payment? Or am I missing something or way off somewhere?

I am asking this because I'm seeing a lot of L1 & H1 folks drawing even less salary than what I mentioned, buying cars within six months of landing there. Just wondering what their trick is. And not to mention all those furniture costs and other costs of setting up a household. And I'm not even including that itch to go shopping every other weekend, in my calculation.

What's the secret ingredient to car ownership in US, for a newcomer on L1?

Last edited by rajushank84 : 3rd September 2011 at 00:33.
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Old 3rd September 2011, 01:02   #458
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Default Re: Buying a car in USA. New, used, etc.

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Originally Posted by rajushank84 View Post
Thanks much, alam86. The location is San Jose, CA.

How do people manage to save money to buy cars so soon? From what I calculate, 80-90k per annum is considered a good salary (isn't it), which means 4.5k to 5k take home after taxes (isn't it), and cost of living everything included for a family comes to at least 4 to 4.5k (isn't it)?

Then, how are so many people able to afford the downpayment, tax and insurance of a car, not to mention monthly car payments? (ok forget gas, it is more or less equal to bus/train tickets). Do they get really long loans? Do they use the credit card for down payment? Or am I missing something or way off somewhere?

I am asking this because I'm seeing a lot of L1 & H1 folks drawing even less salary than what I mentioned, buying cars within six months of landing there. Just wondering what their trick is. And not to mention all those furniture costs.

What's the secret ingredient to car ownership in US, for a newcomer on L1?
Wow - that is a lot of questions . I'll try to answer to the best of my knowledge and tell you some of my experiences as well. I currently live in California too, so hopefully most of what I say is correct. Other T-BHPians - feel free to correct.

First off - since you will be living in California and will be here on an L1 - getting a license will be easier than other states. You will need to visit the DMV and give a written test [you will need to prepare for it - it is no cake walk]. If you clear that, you will be given a 'Temporary Permit'. You cannot drive alone with just that permit. However, if you already have a car license from India, you can drive using that license. I think there is a limit on the number of days you can drive with a 'foreign license' - don't remember how long that is. Could be 30 or 60 days.

You can also schedule a 'Driving Test' immediately, though it is unlikely that you will get an appointment immediately. It usually is a month after you call [at least in our DMV].

In this test, you will be asked to drive a car with a DMV officer with you on the passenger seat. He will basically 'test' you - ask you to do things like - 'move to the right lane now' or 'take a right turn ahead'. He will look for stuff like - are you within speed limits, using the indicator, looking at your blind spots on both sides. He will also ask you to 'parallel park'. This is the most difficult part and needs a lot of practice. Please make sure you don't drive your car or schedule a test until you are comfortable driving it in US conditions. Some of the rules here are pretty new to us [such as 'Yield on Green']. I know people who have gotten into bad accidents just because they did not know this particular rule.

You should get some friends/colleagues to help you out while you learn all the rules and driving conditions here.

About expenses in general, the salary you mention is good enough to live comfortably here. The amount you mention for cost of living is way to high. If you are spending that much - you are living a great life! Here is a breakdown of common expenses:

1. Rent. For a 1 BR apartment - $1200-1400. 2 BR - $1200-1600.
2. Grocery and other expenses - 1000$ [I think this is high too - should not need that much].
3. Car loan [if you get one]. Depends on which car you get and how expensive it is.
4. Car Insurance - Paid every 6 months. May work out to ~$100 a month.

Most people buy a used car when they land here. You can get a very good used car [Civic, Corolla, Camry or Accord - they're the most popular] for anywhere between 7K and 15K. If you are fine with cars with high mileage, you can even get good cars for 5K.

I know people who straightaway buy a new car, but the problem there is getting loans. You need to have credit history here to get a good rate. Unfortunately, you will not have any credit history here, so you will get a rally bad interest rate [can go as high as 19%]. You could still go for it and then pay it off in a few months. There are usually no pre-payment charges here. You can also get loans with zero down payment - i.e. nothing needed upfront. All charges are through the loan. Your first payment is also a month later.

Also look for loans that your company may provide. It may be on a lower interest rate.

About furniture, you will find a lot of 'Moving Sales' - especially in the San Jose area. A lot of people keep moving, and a lot of Indian folks move back to India. They sell all of their furniture at very good prices. I bought a lot of my home's furniture that way. Craigslist and Sulekha are great resources to find such sellers.

Hopefully this long post gives you most of the information you need Feel free to post further questions and I will try to respond to the best of my knowledge!

Last edited by aah78 : 3rd September 2011 at 06:09. Reason: Smileys edited to 2/post. Thanks!
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Old 3rd September 2011, 06:09   #459
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Arrow Re: Buying a car in USA. New, used, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AltoHoncho View Post
not sure whether Cali has no-limit setups like Autobahns.
That is California you're talking about, right? They might have no-limit setups for bicycles.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rajushank84 View Post
I have a slightly off-topic question but its not completely off-topic as it is related to getting a drivers license in USA:
.
.
.
What's the secret ingredient to car ownership in US, for a newcomer on L1?
alam86 has given a great explanation and not much to add to that. Do check your local dmv office website - they should have a list of what documents you need.
Certain DMVs will allow you to submit credit card as proof of ID too instead of a utility bill.
I know when I applied for my DL a few years ago the NY DMV had a point systems. Each identification document counted to a certain number of points (eg. SSN card 2 points, Passport - 2 points, Credit Card - 1 point, etc.), and one had to satisfy a minimum number of points to apply for your learners permit.

There's no secret to car ownership. Loans are common. For a brand new car down-payments can be as low as $1000-$2000, which you can pay part cash (cheque) - part credit.


Quote:
Originally Posted by alam86
Wow - that is a lot of questions . I'll try to answer to the best of my knowledge and tell you some of my experiences as well. I currently live in California too, so hopefully most of what I say is correct. Other T-BHPians - feel free to correct.
.
.
.
Hopefully this long post gives you most of the information you need Feel free to post further questions and I will try to respond to the best of my knowledge!
That's a good explanation alam86.

Last edited by aah78 : 3rd September 2011 at 06:10.
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Old 4th September 2011, 10:52   #460
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5]Last bit not least - the engine note+ exhaust note
Im sure Yaris/Corolla wont do well in this department.
.
I would only agree to the point you've mentioned among all, thats a very true thing and I perfectly second that. Infact today I was with a friend in his M6, the engine note was so amazing.

I live in partly between TX and VA, both the locations doesn't have anything closely related to twists or hills. Its near arrow straights like drags from signal to signal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by aah78 View Post
That is California you're talking about, right? They might have no-limit setups for bicycles.
yes, California. I got your point aah78, its more or less same across US perhaps, maybe barring the Salt flats and Oklahoma, one because the rules are for high speeds and the other one because its a poor state and lesser monitoring in some freeways.

a small peddle to the throttle and these machines are quite capable of a ticket/license cancellation. My client manager comes in a Aston DB9 but he hasn't driven it beyond 70 mph at all and cannot take it to track days as well for obvious reasons... US isn't really a place for spirited motoring

Last edited by aah78 : 6th September 2011 at 08:56. Reason: Posts merged.
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Old 8th September 2011, 21:20   #461
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Default Re: Buying a car in USA. New, used, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by alam86;2491401
If you clear that, you will be given a 'Temporary Permit'.[B
You cannot drive alone with just that permit.[/b]

You can also schedule a 'Driving Test' immediately, though it is unlikely that you will get an appointment immediately. It usually is a month after you call [at least in our DMV].

In this test, you will be asked to drive a car with a DMV officer with you on the passenger seat. He will basically 'test' you - ask you to do things like - 'move to the right lane now' or 'take a right turn ahead'. He will look for stuff like - are you within speed limits, using the indicator, looking at your blind spots on both sides. He will also ask you to 'parallel park'. This is the most difficult part and needs a lot of practice. Please make sure you don't drive your car or schedule a test until you are comfortable driving it in US conditions. Some of the rules here are pretty new to us [such as 'Yield on Green'].

I know people who straightaway buy a new car, but the problem there is getting loans. You need to have credit history here to get a good rate. Unfortunately, you will not have any credit history here, so you will get a rally bad interest rate [can go as high as 19%]. You could still go for it and then pay it off in a few months. Your first payment is also a month later.
Great write up!!

some points i would like to point out w.r.t highlighted points in your post.

If you have a India's license card in English, you provide them after you clear your written test. So the temporary card you will enable you to drive alone without anybody by your side. If you don't present your India's license, they will write in the card that a 25 year or older has to be with you while driving. So make sure you get your India's license.

If you want to get 'behind the wheel' test done asap, you can move to another close by city/town. Like if you are in San Jose and you don't get appointment there, you can go to Sunnyvale or Oakland or some near by city and get it done. It doesn't have to be in San Jose. This will ensure you get your license faster.

When you give DMV driving test, the officer will first ask you 3 hand signs which is stop, right and left. Then he will conduct headlight, indicator and stop light test by telling you to start those. Once that is done, he will ask you controls of cars like horn, hazard light, e-brake, indicator, lights, viper stalks. Once that is cleared he will take you for a test drive. Make sure you go near the place of dmv before your appointment to familiarize yourselves with surrounding. Imho, Written and Driving test are piece of cake in CA. Its because they don't test our parallel parking and hill parking which they do in other states. Other points as mentioned has to be taken care of.

Regarding the loan, yes credit report is important. if you have credit cards and some utilities bills in your name it is good. If credit score is above 700 you get good interest rate. Important thing to understand is that, if you get initial high interest rate (APR) don't fret. You can still take that rate, pay it for 6 months or 1 year and then re-finance it at better rate. Say you get initially 9%, if you take it, pay the emi on time for 6-12 months and then approach other banks for better rate. they will willingly go to 4-5% since by then your credit report will be top notch.

Just my 2 cents

Last edited by chevelle : 8th September 2011 at 21:21.
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Old 8th September 2011, 23:11   #462
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Thanks a lot, alam86, aah78, chevelle. I think I got a better understanding of how it works now.
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Old 9th September 2011, 08:58   #463
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Default Re: Buying a car in USA. New, used, etc.

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If you have a India's license card in English, you provide them after you clear your written test. So the temporary card you will enable you to drive alone without anybody by your side. If you don't present your India's license, they will write in the card that a 25 year or older has to be with you while driving. So make sure you get your India's license.
Wow - I didn't really know this! I just assumed I was able to drive because I had the India license. It makes sense though. Thanks for pointing it out!
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Old 11th September 2011, 17:27   #464
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The more I look at cars.com and autotrader, the more tempting Mustang seems to me. Even a V6, for its sheer looks and the fact that it is a RWD (even then I guess it will have acceleration slightly better than 4-cylinder cars, right?). Especially the 1999 to 2004 Mustang (my all time favorite design) are available for around $5000 to $7000, in some cases much less.

What is your opinion on used Mustangs?

Also, why not us Indians buy manual transmission cars? The only reason I can think of against it is those traffic jams, but do those jams happen every day in Bay Area? Also, how easy it is to steer with the left hand? (we are used to shifting with the left hand and steering with the right). There are lots and lots of opinions on this on the web, but I want a bhpian's perspective on this...
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Old 12th September 2011, 22:03   #465
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Default Re: Buying a car in USA. New, used, etc.

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The more I look at cars.com and autotrader, the more tempting Mustang seems to me. Even a V6, for its sheer looks and the fact that it is a RWD (even then I guess it will have acceleration slightly better than 4-cylinder cars, right?). Especially the 1999 to 2004 Mustang (my all time favorite design) are available for around $5000 to $7000, in some cases much less.

What is your opinion on used Mustangs?

Also, why not us Indians buy manual transmission cars? The only reason I can think of against it is those traffic jams, but do those jams happen every day in Bay Area? Also, how easy it is to steer with the left hand? (we are used to shifting with the left hand and steering with the right). There are lots and lots of opinions on this on the web, but I want a bhpian's perspective on this...
Yes indeed Mustangs are good option, I would say V8s are better. I own a 2001 V6, and am enjoying it thoroughly.
Make sure the miles is around 70k miles, cuz after 100k miles it has some heavy maintenance to be undergone.
PM me if you have any specific questions on mustangs

Bay area has its fair share of traffic, and Manual may be a pain. Also the other point you need to consider is selling away a Mustang is not that easy, and a manual will make it all the more difficult.
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