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Old 5th April 2012, 03:25   #781
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Default re: Buying, Owning, Driving and Maintaining a car in North America

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Originally Posted by josejoseph View Post
I would strongly advice you attend 2-3 sessions of driving class. Your instructor will make you familiar with the rules. Getting driving permit and passing road test took 1 month's time.

Thanks,
Jose.
IMHO, a driving school is not at all needed here if you have been driving in India. Just go through License Handbook, know the signs, follow the speed limit and practice on rentals and you should be set.

You can get a license in less than a month time. I got it in 10 days. I gave written exam. Cleared it in first go. Scheduled a behind the wheel test 10 days later. In between, rented car once over a weekend and took it in city with a friend as guidance. Also went to near by DMV area, familiarized myself with the area where test will take place and gave the exam. Cleared the drive test with 3 errors.

Its easy, no need to spend extra money for driving school.

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Originally Posted by bala80 View Post
D

- My family comprises of 4, myself+wife+ 2 daughters (aged 5 and 2), and hence the requirement is for a small SUV/Cross over with seating and luggage space for 5.
- Considering only the pre-owned one's due to budget considerations. No brand bias, open to considering anything.
I have listed some options below. Please consider them. Best is to come and test drive them. You will get more idea.

Soft Roaders - CR-V, RAV4, Tucson, Santa Fe, Murano, Escape, Outlander, Element, Suzuki XL 7
MiniVan - Odyssey, Sienna, T&C or Grand Caravan.
Full Size sedan - accord, camry, maxima, sonata, avalon, optima, azera

I would suggest since you are going pre-owned route to stick to Japanese or Korean to avoid potential damage later on. Repairing cars here is costly affair. Go for reliable cars so you have piece of mind and will also give you good mileage. The old cars from Big 3 were crap. Too many problems and bad quality control inside out. The newer ones are much better.

If possible, get car on cash if <$10k. You can haggle and you get good cars at good price. If car is priced above $10k and out of your cash spending ability, you can go to Credit Union and get rates. I would still wait 2-3 months before approaching bank for car loan just to get settled with your ssn, license, bank accounts and stuff. So if its absolute necessity to get a car asap, get a pre owned for cash. Also keep in mind, used cars have higher interest rate and that most banks won't finance a high mileage car.

Last edited by chevelle : 5th April 2012 at 03:28.
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Old 5th April 2012, 10:31   #782
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Default re: Buying, Owning, Driving and Maintaining a car in North America

Some very good advice and suggestions, thank you very much VV, Josejospeh, chevelle and Ninadjoshi. The only reason I'm looking for crossover's/SUV's is because my wife also may have to drive down the line (she isnt experienced yet, though holds a valid driver license) and women somehow feel more comfortable in a SUV with its high perched view compared to an sedan. I'm fairly well versed with the rules there, having travelled there quite number of times, its just that I havent driven a car yet.

I have some friends who may be able to help me in terms of financing for the car, but do you suggest that I take a car on rental/lease to begin with for a couple of months and then plan to own one?
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Old 5th April 2012, 16:48   #783
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Default re: Buying, Owning, Driving and Maintaining a car in North America

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Originally Posted by bala80 View Post
I have some friends who may be able to help me in terms of financing for the car, but do you suggest that I take a car on rental/lease to begin with for a couple of months and then plan to own one?
Leases are typically 2-3 years tenure. And they also go by credit history. You need to be setup first with your social security number, address, driving license, bank account etc. Only after that can will you be able to lease/finance. Time to get a license depends on state to state. My wife joined me in RI on the 29th of Feb, and without any time lags between steps, her driving test is on the 18th of May. Some states its harder to get driving test dates. So you need to set apart at least 2-3 months to get all this done as a start.

So you are going to be renting initially and renting SUVs is never cheap. So depending on how much you can afford, you should be able to get choices. Now the other thing on renting is it is expensive to add insurance (adds 20$ a day or so). However if you book your rental on some credit cards, insurance for the car is covered and you just need to have liability insurance. For now, I would think it will be more advisable for you to just get rental cars on the weekends so that you can do your grocery shopping/apartment hunting/sight seeing etc if you are going to rent by yourself and expenses are a concern.
I think first and foremost you need to buy two seats for your children and probably a GPS device or have a cell phone with a data plan that would help you with directions when needed. Getting these along with rental car easily adds several $ to the rent.
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Old 5th April 2012, 17:50   #784
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Default re: Buying, Owning, Driving and Maintaining a car in North America

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Originally Posted by vineethvazhayil View Post
...
Now the other thing on renting is it is expensive to add insurance (adds 20$ a day or so). However if you book your rental on some credit cards, insurance for the car is covered and you just need to have liability insurance. For now, I would think it will be more advisable for you to just get rental cars on the weekends so that you can do your grocery shopping/apartment hunting/sight seeing etc if you are going to rent by yourself and expenses are a concern...

if you have an AMEX card (not necessarily a US card), they have something called "Premium Car Rental Protection" under which they'd charge you $ 25 everytime you use the card to rent a car (in most countries) and provide primary coverage (including liability) for upto 42 days at once; this way one would not have to pay $20 per day on insurance to car rental agency.

i have used this facility extensively for my rentals in US for over four years and never had an issue (made one claim - for tyre replacement - and was handeled very professioanly).
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Old 5th April 2012, 18:57   #785
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Default re: Buying, Owning, Driving and Maintaining a car in North America

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Originally Posted by bala80 View Post
The only reason I'm looking for crossover's/SUV's is because my wife also may have to drive down the line (she isnt experienced yet, though holds a valid driver license) and women somehow feel more comfortable in a SUV with its high perched view compared to an sedan.
To be really honest, that isn't a justifiable reason to buy an SUV (unless, of course the missus insists on an SUV). Driving in the US is not so difficult at all....follow rules and you are good. Size really doesn't matter here, sense does.

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Originally Posted by bala80 View Post
I have some friends who may be able to help me in terms of financing for the car, but do you suggest that I take a car on rental/lease to begin with for a couple of months and then plan to own one?
Renting is an expensive option, not to mention the high insurance rates thereof. If you have a dependable network of friends in the US, do this: see if 3-4 guys can chip in 3/4 grand each as a private loan, and then repay them as you would a bank or a loan lender (monthly installments, @ prevailing market %). I did something similar with my first vehicle purchase here.

In any case, enjoy this experience too. 10 years down the line you will laugh about it and have some good memories about the whole thing.
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Old 6th April 2012, 14:22   #786
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Default re: Buying, Owning, Driving and Maintaining a car in North America

Thanks for all your suggestions. They answered quite a lot of questions I was initially having. I'm waiting for the official communication on the timelines of the transfer and then take a call accordingly. Fortunately for me, I have a few colleagues who are working in the same office where I'm about to be posted, who are helping me with this change.

I have made a note of all these in the sequence of their priority, and I know where to get some help from if in case I need it Thanks guys, your support is much appreciated.
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Old 8th April 2012, 01:10   #787
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Default re: Buying, Owning, Driving and Maintaining a car in North America

I can provide my 2 bits here as even I came to NJ recently. If you come to NJ, getting a license is pretty easy, provided you have a smart card Indian license. All you need is to give a written test, which is easy.

Driving on the other side of the road is not an issue, you get used to it pretty fast. In fact resisting my hand to go for a gear change was a bit more difficult, as I have never driven automatics in India.

Apply for a SSN at least 3 weeks after you reach here (you can prepare for the DMV written test in the meanwhile) otherwise the application is prone to get stuck for long. After getting an SSN you can immediately apply for a driving license, the DMV is pretty efficient here.

And yes, try to get a letter from the Indian RTO about your clean driving record, thats very helpful to discount your car insurance premium.

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Originally Posted by bala80 View Post
Dear All - My first post in this thread. I went through the discussion in the last few pages on amitoj's requirement and I have something in similar lines for which I would need your suggestions. Apologies if some of my queries have been answered before, since I wasn't following this thread earlier.

- I have been transferred to US (Should be either NC or NJ, which I will get to know in a week's time) for atleast 3 years time beginning next month. Though I have been to US many number of times before in BV, I have never driven a car there extensively.
- My family comprises of 4, myself+wife+ 2 daughters (aged 5 and 2), and hence the requirement is for a small SUV/Cross over with seating and luggage space for 5.
- Considering only the pre-owned one's due to budget considerations. No brand bias, open to considering anything.

Having said the above, I need some advice on below also

- I have a valid indian driving license, Will this be enough to drive in US for the above said period?
- I will have no credit history in US, so understand financing would be a problem. How can I handle this?
- How easy/difficult it is to get used to driving in US? I'd definitely need a car as quickly as possible.
- I'd have to set things up from scratch there, so any pointers towards the same will be much appreciated.

Some questions above may be OT on this thread and if you have any other recommendations on getting some answers to the above please do suggest.
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Old 8th April 2012, 01:29   #788
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Default re: Buying, Owning, Driving and Maintaining a car in North America

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Originally Posted by amitoj View Post
But your location says Texas!

Also, if I buy a car from outside NH, then I wont be able to enjoy NH's tax free purchase benefits, right?
Tax on both used and new cars are calculated on the zipcode on your license. So where ever you buy the car from , tax rates remain the same - especially if you are shipping the car.

I heard CA needs a 8.25% tax to get temp registration, but the workaround is ship the car to AZ on a flatbed, get temp registration there, and drive Home.
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Old 8th April 2012, 12:37   #789
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Default re: Buying, Owning, Driving and Maintaining a car in North America

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Originally Posted by cyclops View Post
And yes, try to get a letter from the Indian RTO about your clean driving record, thats very helpful to discount your car insurance premium.
Thanks for that tip! Might come in handy.

I am almost sold on the Charger now. Leaning more towards the V6 with 8 speed transmission than the bigger 5.7L Hemi V8 with 5 speed. Rumor has it that next year it also might get the 8 speed tranny. And reviews suggest that getting all those 470 horses out of it is an issue mainly because of the gearbox.

Of course, all this can go for a toss once i start exploring the used cars market there.

Also, it is almost certain that i will be doing anywhere in the region of 1500 miles a month, leasing may not even be an option for me. Plus, i read somewhere that leasing may require a higher credit score too.

While on the subject of a higher credit score, Vineeth, you mentioned about getting someone to co sign, does this person have to be in the same area where I am or can he be anywhere in the US?

Cheers
Amitoj
EDIT: And if I keep reading trashy articles like this one, I will never be able to get my mind off a pickup
http://ca.askmen.com/top_10/cars/top...kup-truck.html

Last edited by amitoj : 8th April 2012 at 12:48.
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Old 8th April 2012, 18:29   #790
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Default re: Buying, Owning, Driving and Maintaining a car in North America

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Originally Posted by amitoj View Post
Also, it is almost certain that i will be doing anywhere in the region of 1500 miles a month, leasing may not even be an option for me. Plus, i read somewhere that leasing may require a higher credit score too.

While on the subject of a higher credit score, Vineeth, you mentioned about getting someone to co sign, does this person have to be in the same area where I am or can he be anywhere in the US?
With leasing you don't need to be much higher on the credit ranks. Also with companies like BMW and Audi happily letting out leases, it is rather easy to get something on a lease. But if you are going for a high mileage lease, it doesn't remain economical anymore.
On the co signee, they can be anywhere, for a friend of mine, the cosginee was in California while he was in Connecticut. So that should not be an issue at all.
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Old 8th April 2012, 18:44   #791
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Thanks for your suggestions cyclops. Looks like the location of my posting is going to be NC (Which I'm actually quite happy about, since I have been there before and like it a lot). The following line caught my attention since I'm hearing this for the first time. I have not had any accident records/insurance claims against my name in all the driving that I have done here for the past 11+ years in India. Getting the letter from RTO is a challenge by itself, but if it is going to really help in reducing the insurance premium, I'm willing to give this a try.

Should this be in some specific format? Or is there a name for this letter that I need to get from the RTO? Please let me know more details around this when you can. Again, your help and support is much appreciated.

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And yes, try to get a letter from the Indian RTO about your clean driving record, thats very helpful to discount your car insurance premium.
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Old 8th April 2012, 22:31   #792
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Default re: Buying, Owning, Driving and Maintaining a car in North America

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Originally Posted by bala80 View Post
Thanks for your suggestions cyclops. Looks like the location of my posting is going to be NC (Which I'm actually quite happy about, since I have been there before and like it a lot). The following line caught my attention since I'm hearing this for the first time. I have not had any accident records/insurance claims against my name in all the driving that I have done here for the past 11+ years in India. Getting the letter from RTO is a challenge by itself, but if it is going to really help in reducing the insurance premium, I'm willing to give this a try.

Should this be in some specific format? Or is there a name for this letter that I need to get from the RTO? Please let me know more details around this when you can. Again, your help and support is much appreciated.
I dint get that letter. But while I was getting my car insured, they only considered my US driving experience. When i said I have been driving in India since 10 years, they said we need a letter stating that from the RTO as we do not have any means to validate that. No specific format was specified.
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Old 8th April 2012, 22:38   #793
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Default re: Buying, Owning, Driving and Maintaining a car in North America

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I dint get that letter. But while I was getting my car insured, they only considered my US driving experience. When i said I have been driving in India since 10 years, they said we need a letter stating that from the RTO as we do not have any means to validate that. No specific format was specified.
I think Geico will give you a reasonable quote in about 2-4 months after you get a first insurance and you have to buy online only, no need to goto an agent for this and to submit any sort of proof for driving history in India. Also, a leased/financed car, they would require you to have pretty high coverages on the insurance on the car.
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Old 9th April 2012, 00:46   #794
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Default re: Buying, Owning, Driving and Maintaining a car in North America

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Originally Posted by cyclops View Post
I dint get that letter. But while I was getting my car insured, they only considered my US driving experience. When i said I have been driving in India since 10 years, they said we need a letter stating that from the RTO as we do not have any means to validate that. No specific format was specified.
When i got my car insured from Geico the first time, they didn't ask for any letter. Just asked since when i was driving a car out of USA. I mentioned the years and showed him my license and he included that in the insurance quote. I did get a good competitive quote from them even though my USA license was a year old but no driving experience. I don't know why they asked you for a letter. I have never heard of this letter before. I have plenty of friends and families who had low insurance quotes without the letter with the Indian driving experience included.

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Originally Posted by bala80 View Post
I have not had any accident records/insurance claims against my name in all the driving that I have done here for the past 11+ years in India. Getting the letter from RTO is a challenge by itself, but if it is going to really help in reducing the insurance premium, I'm willing to give this a try.
No one here asks about your accident records outside of USA. I don't think it matters at all when getting insurance. All it matters is how long you had a USA license and an out of country license. On base of that they give you quotes. There is no way to track your accidents records in India since proof for the same can be easily manipulated.

So i would say, if it is going to take long time to get a letter from RTO and you will have to grease lots of hands, i would suggest do not bother with it. None of us bothered and we did get good quotes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vineethvazhayil View Post
I think Geico will give you a reasonable quote in about 2-4 months after you get a first insurance and you have to buy online only, no need to goto an agent for this and to submit any sort of proof for driving history in India. Also, a leased/financed car, they would require you to have pretty high coverages on the insurance on the car.
I had better experience through an agent rather than online. I agree though, no need to submit any driving history proof.

Here is how.

My first car - 98 camry i bought last year, online Geico quoted me $95/mo for 95% coverage. I went to an agent and he put all discounts possible and got me just $55/mo for 95% coverage. I didn't take collision coverage because it was an old car and that's the highest part of an insurance.

Similarly, my friend had similar experience. He got a 350z, he got $153/mo quote for 100% coverage online from Progressive and Geico. He went to a Geico agent in Denver and got 100% coverage for $93/mo.

Me and my friends had similar experience, so i would suggest please go to a local agent. Those 15 minutes will save you lots of money. Pay for 6 months and you can save a little bit more instead of using a debit or credit card where they charge $1/mo extra.


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I am almost sold on the Charger now. Leaning more towards the V6 with 8 speed transmission than the bigger 5.7L Hemi V8 with 5 speed. Rumor has it that next year it also might get the 8 speed tranny. And reviews suggest that getting all those 470 horses out of it is an issue mainly because of the gearbox.

Of course, all this can go for a toss once i start exploring the used cars market there.

Also, it is almost certain that i will be doing anywhere in the region of 1500 miles a month, leasing may not even be an option for me. Plus, i read somewhere that leasing may require a higher credit score too.

While on the subject of a higher credit score, Vineeth, you mentioned about getting someone to co sign, does this person have to be in the same area where I am or can he be anywhere in the US?

Cheers
Amitoj
EDIT: And if I keep reading trashy articles like this one, I will never be able to get my mind off a pickup
http://ca.askmen.com/top_10/cars/top...kup-truck.html
The new charger is much improved. I like 300 more though for its better interior. This two are good enough only if you buy them new because the old ones were crap. Yes soon charger is going to get 8-speed. I am also waiting for that. Hope they give it to challenger v6 too.

If you do 1500miles/mo, lease may not be a good option as they have certain cap on how many miles you can do in a year. I think it is 12k miles. In your case it will be 18k miles for a year. Insurance will be high and yes good credit score is required.

You can always get a pick up later when you have settled here and need a change. With gas price approaching $5/gallon, they will be available at lower rate than it is currently now. So you can get a real good deal on pick up and use the saved money for gas.

Last edited by chevelle : 9th April 2012 at 00:55.
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Old 9th April 2012, 08:49   #795
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Default re: Buying, Owning, Driving and Maintaining a car in North America

I picked-up a car yesterday. the quote (for only third party) was as low as $61/month, but not having a US license, made it to $140/month. So if there is anyway to reduce it - let me know.

Some photos of the car below. Its Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder GS, 2002, Silver w/ black top.

Buying, Owning, Driving and Maintaining a car in North America-dsc_0099.jpg

Buying, Owning, Driving and Maintaining a car in North America-dsc_0100.jpg

Buying, Owning, Driving and Maintaining a car in North America-dsc_0101.jpg

Buying, Owning, Driving and Maintaining a car in North America-dsc_0102.jpg
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