A tale of Two Cars ...
 
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A tale of Two Cars (A long short story)  

 

Captain Jay
(@Captain_Jay)
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Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 206
August 23, 2008 12:08 pm  

Well Deb and I have gotten and continue to get a lot of valuable info from this board over the last few years so I thought I would share some of our hard earned and not inexpensive experience. When we moved to STT in January we decided that selling our relatively new stateside cars and then buying an "Island Car" for cash here would be the best course of action. Well in theory this sounded good. No car payments, this would help off set the dramatically higher cost of housing and food here.
Well I set the plan in action sold our cars got here looked at a few cars and we settled on a used Celica at the Toyota store. With in a week or two of buying it the fun started.
Now I wasn't living in a fantasy land. I grew up restoring old cars and motorcycles as well as maintain boats, so the concept of repairs, particularly on an older car weren't lost on me. The wheel bearings were basically shot when we bought the car. The way I found this out is the brakes failed. So I got new brakes, pulled the wheels and found that the bearings were shot which allowed the hub and rotor to wobble destroying the brakes. So after a few inquiries about the bearings and some very good advice from Sibly and Brian. I called a friend in the states that works for a Toyota Dealer and had bearings, seals, locking pins etc shipped to me. We repaired this and all was well for a while. The next problem to manifest was the A/C when summer rolled around it was a little light. No big deal I went and bought some freon, charged the system and to this day it is cold enough to freeze you. Next came the blown radiator hose. Oops, this happened on a Sunday morning in the middle of the almost new intersection in Havensight. I managed to bypass the blown hose, it went to the heater and defroster, which by the way we haven't missed. After getting the car home I took a hard look at the state of the cooling system, which I should have done prior to purchasing the car, but we were still in Honeymoon stage at that point, all of the hoses were original to the car from 1994, so Western Auto here we come. All new hoses, flush the cooling system and refill. One more problem taken care of. Also during this session it became obvious that the battery was very week as well so during this same trip to Western Auto we got a new battery as well. So here we are a few weeks later and the Transmission stops shifting past second gear. It is a four speed automatic, this isn't a good thing even on a 12 mile long 30 MPH island.
So the day before yesterday we bought a new car, yep brand new. The moral of this story is think hard about your current car in the states, is it suitable for here? If not and you have the means then I would trade it and ship a suitable car from stateside. I have both family members and friends that work in the car business in the states, and I worked for four years in the early 90's at a Chevrolet Dealer. It is hard for me to buy a car here knowing the difference in cost versus stateside. We mulled this decision over and decided that it was basically costing us as much to maintain a used car here as it would to simply pay the payment on the new car, and that was without putting a dollar value on my "spare time"/sweet equity I realize that allot of people would not have had the ability to do the repairs that I did and the costs would have been even higher.
Two bright notes in the story. We dealt with Toyota of St Thomas on the Celia and the new car was purchased from the Dodge/Jeep Dealer. Both of them are part of the Caribbean Auto Mart family. I have to say I was treated fairly and with respect at both stores. I do not in anyway blame the Toyota store for my woes with the Celica. I am an adult with above average knowledge of cars and the car business and made my own decision with no pressure from them to buy the car. I can't say enough about the guys at the Dodge store they were very straight forward about our options given the budget we set forth for the new car. One of the primary factors for us in deciding on the new car is the warranty. The power train is covered for as long as we own the car. So down the road given the conditions here I fully expect that to pay dividends. The last new car we bought in the states we drove for seven and a half years.
We still own the Celica, I am in the process of having a used transmission shipped down from the states to repair the car. We basically could not get a dealer to give us any money for the car in it's current condition and likely could only sell it if we give it away so my plan is to repair the transmission and sell the car, with full disclosure of what has been done to make it whole. It will likely make someone a good car once repaired but I just don't have enough free time to continue maintaining it.
So the moral of the story. If I had this decision to make over I would have traded Deb's stateside car on a lightly used SUV stateside, driven it to Florida and shipped it down. That is easy for me to say now as I have first hand knowledge of shipping and the DMV etc and with out that knowledge I would likely make the same mistake that we did. So for those of you trying to make a decision on this right now I hope this has been helpful. For everyone else I hope it is at least mildly entertaining.
Jay:-)

PS here are the two cars.


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Trade
(@Trade)
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August 23, 2008 2:55 pm  

I have to agree about the Toyota dealer here. I've had really good luck with them & you really are treated well there If you have a good car in the States such as a Toyota or Honda & you know it's OK, my opinion is to ship it. There can be good deals on an island car from those leaving the island but for those who can't do their own maintenance (like me) & you have a type that is suited for life here, bring it. Better the devil you know... If you think you'll only be here a year or so, it might make sense to buy a used car but personally, I'd have a mechanic check out any used car before purchasing unless you know a lot about cars yourself.

Good info, Jay.


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heepajeep
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August 23, 2008 3:51 pm  

I am curious about the MSRP on your new car purchase compared to what the MSRP for the same would be on the mainland?
Did you do a comparison?
I imagine that the base price and options are identical.
But shipping and destination charges thru out the mainland are supposedly identical no matter where the factory is located.
Was there an additional shipping charge added to the sticker?


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stiphy
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August 23, 2008 11:27 pm  

We had the luxury of shopping here (STX) and in DC recently for a Honda CRV. At the end of the day we bought in DC, for $4000 less (after all shipping/customs etc) we got a 2008 vs a 2007 here. The Honda dealer here just wouldn't budge on their pricing, they were SOOO far above mainland prices that it was insane.

If you need to finance a car you can use pentagon federal (www.penfed.org) and they will let you ship it. Most banks will not. USAA will do it as well I think.

Sean


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GoodToGo
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August 24, 2008 2:51 am  

I'm still somewhat new and never heard of pentagon federal but I do know that Ford Credit doesn't have an issue shipping cars here.

If you need to finance a car you can use pentagon federal (www.penfed.org) and they will let you ship it. Most banks will not. USAA will do it as well I think.

Sean


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stt007
(@stt007)
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August 24, 2008 3:50 am  

Thanks Captain jay for taking the time to write your car story. Have you been on Car Talk? They would liketo hear form you I think. Anyway, you answered alot of questions I had in my mind, so your post was very valuable to me.


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Captain Jay
(@Captain_Jay)
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August 24, 2008 10:43 am  

I am curious about the MSRP on your new car purchase compared to what the MSRP for the same would be on the mainland?
Did you do a comparison?
I imagine that the base price and options are identical.
But shipping and destination charges thru out the mainland are supposedly identical no matter where the factory is located.
Was there an additional shipping charge added to the sticker?

The MSRP is the same. The difference is in the additional freight. $1250 to ship from Miami. This going to be the same whether you buy it here from a dealer that paid it and passes it on to you or if you buy it in the states and ship it yourself. You aren't going to get much of real discount here and the manufacturers treat this place as an export so the incentives that you get in the states don't apply here. So yes we paid more than we would have in the states. As Stiphy said the price difference can be significant, this hinges allot on what you have chosen. The Suzuki dealer here had seven thousand dollar bump stickers on their SVU's I walked away in a hurry. I am assuming Stiphy's experience with the Honda Dealer on St Croix was similar. If they only have x number of vehicles to sell and people are paying up they have no incentive to lower the price. In our case we worked out a deal with the dealer that we both could live with. I actually chuckled at some of the bump stickers on cars they had DOMA price adjustments. This is short for Dealers Operating Market Adjustment or something like that. It actually sounds allot like LMAO. 🙂
Jay


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SapphireBeach08
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August 24, 2008 4:50 pm  

Great info. We have been wrestling with this decision. It's around $1,250 to ship from Miami? I had heard $2,000.


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Lizard
(@Lizard)
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August 24, 2008 5:13 pm  

Prices fluctuate all the time regarding shipping, the names of the shippers have been on this forum a lot. If you know when you are coming, call the shipper and get a current price. A little note "most taxi operators/owners buy on the mainland and ship to the islands"(, that should tell you something.)


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Jim Dandy
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August 24, 2008 6:42 pm  

The $2000 figure is probably the cost including the road tax at $0.16 per pound. As far as I know the VI is no longer collecting the 4% use tax. If the car isn't US made you will also have to pay duty.

Jim


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truebluefan
(@truebluefan)
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August 24, 2008 6:43 pm  

i'm shipping a suv in october and my quote is $2500 - this includes the stx $500road tax and insurance. it is shipping out of jacksonville and it is a foreign made vehicle.


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stiphy
(@stiphy)
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August 25, 2008 5:11 pm  

I paid $2274 for shipping of my CRV from Washington. Another thousand or so in road tax and duty on top of that. It would've been cheaper to buy/ship from FL but we were in DC and were still saving a ton of money over the VI dealer's price so we did the convenient thing.

Right off the bat you have an advantage bringing a car in now that the government can't collect the 4% personal use tax anymore. The dealers have to charge a 4% gross receipts markup. It is unfair to the dealers here for sure, and I think they will find a way to close up the hole in the personal use tax at some point.

The Honda Dealer was very nice and up front here with pricing, they had no DOMA etc, they simply don't budge much from MSRP which is NOT what one should be paying for a car. We had a good back and forth negotiation and of course I can respect the fact that they thought they'd get someone to pay more, and if they did then big ups to them!

Sean


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