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  1. Default Cars: to buy or rent?

    Hi guys, am new to the forum so bear with me.

    Am planning an east to west coast road trip for next summer and would like some advice on whether to rent or buy a car and take that cross country - as in which will be cheapest overall and easier to do. Few things to consider:

    - we will be 21 - not sure if that means we can't rent from all companies
    - we would be getting rid of the car if we had to buy one
    - not sure about cost of insurance on a car we buy.

  2. Default

    owp am now seeing a lot of related threads - definitely did not see these before i posted mine, others probs had this aswell hence the large numbers asking the same thing.

    still though, it seems buying and selling a car is too much effort?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Welcome to the RTA Forum!

    The two biggest factors about whether buying a car is worthwhile are two things that you haven't mentioned.

    First: Are you from the US/Canada? Purchasing a car in the US without living here is virtually impossible.

    Second: How long is your trip. Generally speaking, you need to be on the road for 2-3 months for a purchase to be worthwhile. Because of your age, where you'll have a significant extra fee for being an underage driver, can make the break even point a bit closer to the 2 month mark, however the cost of getting insurance as some who is under 25 wiill be much higher.

  4. Default

    cheers for the response mikey,

    Were students from the UK and are looking to go for 2-3 months.

    the majority of the issues are regarding gaining insurance on a car if we were to buy, i understand..?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Insurance is one significant issue, however the bigger issue is generally with getting the car registered and licensed. In most states you need to get a drivers license before you can get license plates for the car, and you need to be a resident of the state before you can do that. You need to actually be living in the state for about a month - and be able to prove it - before you can do that.

    The only option I've seen anyone have any success is with a company called autotourusa which is based out of Seattle (you'd have to start there). Even that is a case where one person reported success buying a car, although we never did get a final follow up on how the trip went.

  6. Default

    okay so what you're saying is that regardless if we have a uk driving license and have been insured to drive here, we still have to get a us license?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Your UK license will work here

    You won't need a US license -- Actually there is no such thing as a USA driver's license. Each state issues it's own license, with different testing requirements.


  8. Default

    Right okay. So Mike you are saying the main problem is getting the car registered and licensed. Is there no way of buying a car that has the relevant plates and is registered and or licensed? This is all alien to me as in the UK you can buy a car and drive it once you are insured on it. that simple. seems much more complicated here or am i missing something?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Each state has different laws and procedures. Most of them have some sort of a residency requirement in order to be able to title and register a vehicle. This all revolves around "legal presence", which visitors on the visa waiver program are not. If you were on a formal work or student visa, then you would satisfy that requirement if you establish temporary residency. Bottom line - you would need a verifiable physical and mailing address in the state where you register and title a vehicle. Titles are not issued on the spot, they are mailed to you, often weeks after purchase - and you cannot resell the vehicle without a title. You would also have a very difficult time finding insurance at 21 years of age with no US driving record, if you do find it, it will be very expensive and would be for a minimum of 6 months.

    9/11 is what has caused these much more stringent requirements.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin


    Is there no way of buying a car that has the relevant plates and is registered and or licensed?
    The car has to be registered and titled in your name, so that can't be done until you have actually purchased the car.

    The state issued drivers license isn't needed to legally drive here, as you can legally drive anything you want with an UK license. The problem is to process all of the title/registration paperwork you need to prove that you live in the state where you are trying to purchase/register it - and typically that includes having a state-issued drivers license. Even if you don't need a state drivers license specifically, you will have to provide some sort of documentation, like a social security number and/or a utilty bill to prove you actually live in the state - and those sorts of things are basically impossible to do as a tourist because you won't live in any state.

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