Car shopping advice on stx
I'd love to hear your specific advice: where to look, what to look for, what sorts of cars/trucks are most/least suited to island life. What do you particularly check when inspecting a used vehicle? Everyone already knows to take any car to a mechanic before buying it, so no need to stress that 🙂
You can't go wrong with a CR-V or a RAV4... No real need for all-wheel drive... the RAV4 is preferable with the four cylinder engine... Why those two? They are about the best all around compact SUVs you can buy for the kind of roads and driving in the VIs... Plus, they are extremely reliable...
Always check that all the warning lights turn on before start up AND that they check OK and turn off after you get the engine running... If possible, have the car raised on a lift to have a good look at it... Hanging loose under the dash and cables out of the wiring harnesses in the engine compartment point to poor previous repairs...Vehicles may turn out to be grossly "cannibalized"... Always take a good test drive...
It took me a while to find a good car but I have the "unfair" advantage of being a former auto mechanic... I was lucky to spot a good one from Centerline Car Rental...
Don't buy anything without first having a mechanic look at it...
There it a bit more to it but I don't want to write an essay here...
If you are a decent do-it-yourself mechanic, there are a lot of options here. (By decent, I mean you can figure out your way around your car, and then buy one of the Chilton/Hanyes manuals + finding a vehicle make-specific forum/message board online to do a lot of the tune-ups and part replacements yourself (nothing major like transmission or engine repair)). You would be surprised how many issues you can truly fix yourself without the need for a mechanic using the two things I mentioned above.
That being said, you can usually find a solid car here that just needs a lot of minor work here and there. The mechanic inspection is important for finding a solid car. Then you can talk down the price and use the savings to buy and fix the parts yourself, without a mechanic.
That also being said, major issues to look for are:
1) brakes (there are a lot of hills here, with St. Thomas having more than St. Croix - I mention St. Thomas b/c cars are often purchased from St. Thomas and shipped to St. Croix);
2) transmission (again with the hills);
3) A/C (it gets pretty warm here, if you haven't checked the year-round averages).
The most important of the above I would say is the transmission; most important because it will cost you the most to fix if you're not mindful. Make sure the mechanic inspection tells you the status on the above parts, and get a quote for fixing the above items if you can (you will likely pay for the inspection, so you might as well see how much that mechanic would charge for repair).
On St. Croix, just about any car will do. There are potholes here and there, but cars from compact to Hummer can navigate/avoid the potholes. St. Croix doesn't require specific terrain vehicles. I drive a compact car and get around without any issues. I have to go slower on dirt roads, where the ground isn't even, but that's not that big enough deal to spend a lot more money on a 4x4 or other large vehicle.
Finally, I would check the classifieds on this message board, check Craigslist, check the Virgin Islands Daily News online classifieds, the St. Croix Avis newspapers (Sundays have the largest listing, since that's when people expect to look for vehicles, although you should check daily if you are in great need of a car very soon). I found my car from Craigslist.
I hope this helps!
I see that Caribbean Auto Mart is always posting ads on Craig's List.
The only way to contact them with questions is to call them.
And when you do call them, they will not give you the price over the phone.
The policy is that you must go there in person to get a price.
These guys give me more and more reasons not to buy from them every time I contact them.