Fast and Furious...Car Shopping
July 30, 2014 9:23 AM   Subscribe

What is the fastest way of buying a car in New York city? What should I keep in mind? How can I be super-productive and not lose money within this transaction?


My job was unexpectedly changed to a location that is only accessible by car. I was expected to have a car for the position but I had been taking my time researching brands and negotiation tips as I was hoping to have at least a month of using the company shuttle. My company will reimburse me for my troubles and I am giving myself two weeks to complete this task. I will be buying a used 2011-2012 Honda Accord and will be paying cash and thus will not need financing. Could you help me with the following?

1) What is the most effective way of researching and finding cars I want?
2) Once a car is identified how can I set up a visit with a mechanic in the fastest way possible? (bonus if you know someone in NYC who can help me)
3) Is there anything I should know in terms of the length it takes to buy a car, register it, get insurance and being able to drive it?

I don't need to get the best price but I am looking for a win/win situation for me and the seller. Please let me know if there is anything else I should consider or whether I am better off renting a car for a month and taking my time with the transaction.
posted by The1andonly to Travel & Transportation around New York (2 answers total)
It's new a new enough and common enough car that two weeks shouldn't be a problem. Two days would be a reasonable time-line so two weeks should be no sweat. A quick search on just Craigslist NYC for a 2012 Honda Accord shows about 100 options.

You can also use,, and You can also find a Honda dealer or three nearby (via, make sure the dealership is decent (yelp maybe? Just keep in mind that even the most honest sales people sometimes get customers that are convinced that they were ripped off, ask me how I know) and then check out the dealer's website to look at their used inventory.

Provided that you can transport yourself around to dealerships or private sellers to look at cars for the next week or so, I don't think it will pay off to rent a car. That extra time won't get you a dealer that is so much better that it off-sets the cost of the rental (unless your employer will pay for it).

Hopefully you'll be able to get a referral from a NYC mefite to a mechanic and then you can call them to talk about how to get the thing inspected. If, however, you end up finding a car at a dealership that is a lease return and/or a "certified used car" (and the year range you're looking at makes this likely) you'd probably be fine skipping the mechanic's inspection. The cars you're looking at should still have bumper-to-bumper warranty left so if any problems show up after you buy it, you can get them fixed for free.

Insurance takes a call to an agent, I would figure out who you want as your insurance company first and then call the agent and explain the situation so they can enter some information up front. Then you can call from from the dealership or whatever when you buy the car to give them the VIN number.

This is a case where I would look to buy from a reasonably reputable dealer over a private seller. In that year range I would look specifically for a lease return as they tend to be taken really well care of and have had followed the maintenance schedule to the letter and a private seller won't be selling a lease return. The other upside is that a dealer will handle a lot of the transaction for you in terms of getting the car registered in your name. All you'll have to do is sign some paperwork and make a call to your insurance agent. Provided that your insurance is squared away, you'll be able to drive the car home from the dealership.

You also might want to see if you can find an insurance broker rather than an agent. A broker will work with a half dozen or so different insurance companies making it easy for them to give you the best rate from among those companies. This is what I do and then, every other year or so I call up my broker and ask if I'm still getting the best rate (though sometimes he does this proactively).

I'm a former car salesman and you can check my posting history for tons of advice about negotiating and stuff.
posted by VTX at 10:26 AM on July 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

I hate the car purchase kabuki. When I totaled my car, I decided what I wanted (Toyota Camry) and found no-negotiation prices at

Then I went to my local Toyota dealer, saw what I wanted on the floor (a loaded Camry hybrid) and offered them the figure, take it or leave it. They took it. The total time of the negotiation was 5 minutes.
posted by KRS at 12:51 PM on July 30, 2014

« Older Bringing tamales into the US from Mexico   |   The eternal curse of the career changer Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.