Tips for buying a car online

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the Buick is having continued, worsening transmissiom issues. So it’s newer car time, and I know I want a plug-in hybrid/electric of some sort. I’d also like to be under 15-18k $, limiting my options to the volt and genlll prius plug-in (PiP). Lots of volts here in central Florida, but hardly any PiPs, and most of them under 75,000 miles are in the center of the country or west coast. What are the sort of things I should be asking the seller/dealership to ensure that I don’t fly 2,000 miles from home and find out the car isn’t what was represented. All I can think of are a CarFax, and service records. Surely there are more, but none I can think of that a seller would agree on to close a sale with a stranger, especially a dealership salesperson. Thanks everybody.
 
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Some of the bigger dealerships usually give you some time (3 days to a week,and/or so many miles) to give it back if it doesn't work. Have one of those about 19 miles from me. They tend to be an honest dealership for the most part, think they have only got one car back over the years..... Think finding the right place would be the toughest part. Can't hurt to give them a call though...
 
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Arrange to have an inspection done by an independent garage other than the dealership. The PPI (Pre Purchase Inspection)should cost around $100.00-$150.00 from what I have read. Yelp and Google can be used to find a shop local to the dealership where the car is. Make sure they not only check mechanical but also for paint and or body work.
 
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I am not familiar with the Volt, but the Prius Plug-ins can have some of the same issues as the regular Prius. Oil consumption, EGR clogging and headgasket failure (at high-ish mileage) The plug-in only makes the replacement battery more expensive, and the electric-only range is quite frankly, a joke.
 
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Yeah, usually when people buy long distance, you get a PPI at the dealership of the make of the car so they can scan for manufacturer specific error codes plus they know the model so can check for problems that normally occur on that model. You should also get someone else who can look at the car for you. When I was shopping for a car, I limited myself to a 500 mile range, but ended up buying a car a little over 200 miles away. That way I was able to check out the car myself. That's basically so you can spot things like mismatched paint/body panels and decide for yourself if you want to move forward or not.
 

RichardS

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Dave, Most of them do have a 3 day grace period, and I figured I’d ask for one during negotiations if not. I dislike haggling on the price, so figured I’d be happy with the sticker price if they give me a grace period. I’m just hoping to avoid finding out the bad news post-purchase. Ls, Great idea! Toyota offers one, so if it’s coming from a no-name dealership, that would make it easy. They’d be East her good at identifying mild salt damage, I’d suspect. The_Critic, Yes, the plug-in distance is something like 11 miles. I’m not too worried about that, my commute is only 12.5 miles round trip. The volt has a higher range, but once the ICE is on, the mpg is almost 20 miles less per gallon. The mpge of both are very similar, just with a much higher 110v charge time on the volt as compared to the Prius (3hrs on the Prius, 10-12 hrs for the volt).. Do you happen to know off the top of your head the head-gasket issue starts to become a possibility? The standard models I’ve seen offered have had much higher-than-average for a car that age mileage on the odometer. I’ve been surprised to see cars less than 5 years old with 200,000 miles or more.
 

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Wolf, Yes, it sounds like a PPI would be a smart first move. I tried to keep my search under 300 miles, but most of them in that area that met my needs either had almost no miles on it (and priced above my budget), or were loaded down with 120,000-200,000 miles I think people in Florida buying hybrids were doing so because of long commutes. So I’ve had to look outside my geographical limit, or take a car that had significant more miles than I’d like. I’d rather travel farther (I fly for free) than take something that doesn’t check the correct boxes.
 
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Originally Posted By: RichardS
The_Critic, Yes, the plug-in distance is something like 11 miles. I’m not too worried about that, my commute is only 12.5 miles round trip. The volt has a higher range, but once the ICE is on, the mpg is almost 20 miles less per gallon. The mpge of both are very similar, just with a much higher 110v charge time on the volt as compared to the Prius (3hrs on the Prius, 10-12 hrs for the volt).. Do you happen to know off the top of your head the head-gasket issue starts to become a possibility? The standard models I’ve seen offered have had much higher-than-average for a car that age mileage on the odometer. I’ve been surprised to see cars less than 5 years old with 200,000 miles or more.
I would say that anything over 120k is fair game. Not saying it affects all of them, but it can happen. Book time to do one is about 20 hours so the cost far exceeds a hybrid battery. We just had a customer blow one last month, his was a 2012 with 153k. No warning whatsoever. Most of the failure reports on priuschat (and from some other communities) seem to be from vehicles with more than 120k miles.
 
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https://forum.hptuners.com/showthread.php?63020-First-Gen-Volt-Tune-(Volterado) https://ve.simonandre.ca/module20/ https://www.voltstats.net/Stats/Details/1579 One major repair would wipe out any fuel savings on the PIP. Further if your normal trip is 12 miles, what are all your trip distances? Do the math, gas mpgs aren’t why you buy a volt or pip, gas avoidance is why. Next GEN II Volts are as cheap as $13,999 for a 2016, the Gen II gets about the same gas mpgs as a Gen II prii if you live in a warmer climate. Ah well
 

pbm

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I know you didn't ask but I would consider a brand new Hyundai Ioniq….with the current 0% financing and new car warranty it might actually be cost effective.
 

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The_Critic, 20 hours?! Holy [censored]. AZJeff, That’s actually a fantastic idea! RMay, The farthest I drive during the week is 5.5/6 miles to work, and then the same back home. Excluding Walmart, I have several grocery stores, pharmacies, and dollar stores between my house and office, and require no variance in distance for most of my shopping. Once a week I’ll usually go to Walmart, and that’s 3.1 miles each way. About the same if I go to target, except target has chargers. So any of the PHEV available would be sufficient to avoid gas in my day-to-day Now, the reason I care about has MPG is because about every 6 weeks I head to Orlando (140 miles RT), every 4 months to Ft Lauderdale (285 RT), and Tampa twice a year (260ish RT). Those are long enough distances that no PHEV could do it on battery alone, and that far on gas means that the fuel mpg matters to me. Pbm, I wouldn’t be opposed, but the Hyundai dealer here in town has only the ‘limited’ available, and $32,000 is far too expensive for me. I don’t want a 5-6 year loan if I can avoid it.
 
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Still gotta do the math, I get the above all summer on my twice weekly “long” trip Also What speed do you drive? Both cars are greatly affected by speed but the Prius more so than the volt. Next you can tune the Gen I Volt for 50mpg operation or 40ish mpg E85 operation. I have free/nearly free charging on both ends. If you scope out your destinations you may find what I have THAT you can destination charge, even on a 240 mile round trip you may find mathematically that your cost per mile is within the margin of error between cars.
 
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RichardS

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Thank you for the links, btw. My speed varies based on traffic and number of lanes. Light traffic and 3 lanes, I’ll do 55 (the legal minimum), if there are only 2 lanes, or traffic is heavy enough that I become an obstacle that can’t be easily passed, I’ll do 70, the legal max. Sounds like with the appropriate tune, the volt might smoke the Prius thanks to the larger battery capacity.
 

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Pbm, Just for kicks and giggles, I stopped in the Hyundai dealer on my way home. Plug-in versions aren’t available on the east coast. But I did give one a spin, and I shouldn’t have. Far nicer driving experience then what I’ve noticed in the Prius. But also $32k for the limited model, and they didn’t have a blue, or SEL package on the lot.
 
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Originally Posted By: The Critic
I am not familiar with the Volt, but the Prius Plug-ins can have some of the same issues as the regular Prius. Oil consumption, EGR clogging and headgasket failure (at high-ish mileage) The plug-in only makes the replacement battery more expensive, and the electric-only range is quite frankly, a joke.
The PiP is actually a loop hole car, it is just long enough of a range to get on the carpool lane for free and you can drive it like a regular Prius. I have a friend who does it every day without using electricity at all (just gas), and it is the only affordable car at the time with slight premium over a regular hybrid that has infinite range for car pool lane. He would drive up and down the freeway all day with no range anxiety without paying for a Tesla or being cramped inside a volt (I think PiP is cheaper than a volt too).
 

pbm

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Originally Posted By: RichardS
Pbm, Just for kicks and giggles, I stopped in the Hyundai dealer on my way home. Plug-in versions aren’t available on the east coast. But I did give one a spin, and I shouldn’t have. Far nicer driving experience then what I’ve noticed in the Prius. But also $32k for the limited model, and they didn’t have a blue, or SEL package on the lot.
I'm sure you could find one within an hour of your home. I met a guy with one who said he regularly gets the advertised 54 mpg....the base model is about $23K
 

RichardS

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Originally Posted By: pbm
Originally Posted By: RichardS
Pbm, Just for kicks and giggles, I stopped in the Hyundai dealer on my way home. Plug-in versions aren’t available on the east coast. But I did give one a spin, and I shouldn’t have. Far nicer driving experience then what I’ve noticed in the Prius. But also $32k for the limited model, and they didn’t have a blue, or SEL package on the lot.
I'm sure you could find one within an hour of your home. I met a guy with one who said he regularly gets the advertised 54 mpg....the base model is about $23K
Oh, very easily. Our local dealership offers lifetime oil changes, which I’m not sure it a nationwide offer. None of my oil stash is LSPI approved, so just letting someone else change it sounds nice enough. They can order the blue (the highest mpg of the 3 gas versions), and the SEL without issues. The sales guy wasn’t sure he could easily get a plug-in, but I’m waiting to hear back from the GM of that dealership about how easily I could special order one directly. He seemed to be pretty sure that was a possibility if I didn’t mind waiting a few months. I can’t seem to find one as a rental from either a company or one of the car sharing apps, and I’m not sure that driving it 1.5 miles in a circle is really sufficient to decide on buying one, especially with their past issues with their DCT. So, while not initially something I wanted (a brand new car), their lifetime battery warranty, and a life of free oil, along with the handling, definitely something to kick around.
 

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Originally Posted By: PandaBear
Originally Posted By: The Critic
I am not familiar with the Volt, but the Prius Plug-ins can have some of the same issues as the regular Prius. Oil consumption, EGR clogging and headgasket failure (at high-ish mileage) The plug-in only makes the replacement battery more expensive, and the electric-only range is quite frankly, a joke.
The PiP is actually a loop hole car, it is just long enough of a range to get on the carpool lane for free and you can drive it like a regular Prius. I have a friend who does it every day without using electricity at all (just gas), and it is the only affordable car at the time with slight premium over a regular hybrid that has infinite range for car pool lane. He would drive up and down the freeway all day with no range anxiety without paying for a Tesla or being cramped inside a volt (I think PiP is cheaper than a volt too).
That really doesn’t surprise me. The 11 mile electric range seemed absurd when they introduced it, and for the price for the option, it seems unlikely it was specifically for someone wanting to drive on electricity. Thankfully, they don’t seem to be too much more expensive than a same-year used HEV Prius. So a bit of a win for me, I suppose.
 
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