Where to buy a car?
April 21, 2015 4:48 PM   Subscribe

I am moving from New Mexico to Boston this summer, and my 30-year-old Toyota pickup will not be coming with me. My plan was to fly to Boston and buy a car there- but evidently rust is a thing that happens. Is rust/salt damage enough of an issue that I should look at buying locally and driving it cross country?

It had honestly never occurred to me that rust was a thing to contend with, until a friend told me loving stories of her first car with a hole rusted in the floor.

I am planning on buying a 8-10-year-old car in the "not fancy, but runs good" family. (I am not going to lie, it is a little heart-wrenching to leave my ancient, beater of a truck, but it doesn't have working heat, which I understand I will need in Boston.)
posted by aint broke to Shopping (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Absolutely. Do not underestimate rust.
posted by bricoleur at 4:50 PM on April 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

As someone who is currently familiar with the used car market in Boston: Buy in New Mexico. First, the rust is definitely A Thing here. And second, Boston just went through a horrific winter, which involved a ton of totaled cars. The prices of used cars right now are noticeably higher than they were before the winter. I can only assume that this price shift is because people are buying new-to-them used cars to replace the ones they totaled last winter.

And yeah, you will need heat... but also make sure you get a car wtih working AC! We have both hot/humid and cold weather here.
posted by pie ninja at 4:54 PM on April 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

As someone from the east coast, it is always disorienting to go out west/to LA and see older cars- how are they still in such good condition?!
Because they don't rust there, and they do here.
If you were going to buy a 3 year old car, buying it here would make sense- most 3-8 year old cars are fine. 8-10 is when I would expect rust to become an issue, depending on how careful the owners have been.
So, yes. At least worth looking out where you are. I'd compare prices, too- the same car may be more expensive in Boston. Or not! I don't really know.
posted by Adridne at 4:55 PM on April 21, 2015

I'd probably buy in new mexico too, but
Cross country is a long drive, be sure to buy long enough ahead of time & take some longish drives beforehand to give you confidence that the car will make the trip.
posted by TheAdamist at 5:06 PM on April 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

Do you work on your vehicles? I ask because, coming from Maine, I was totally blown away when I went to wrench on a suspension bolt on my first car bought in South Carolina and it turned. Body rust issues aside, working underneath cars that have seen salt sucks, although I haven't had to lately and it's possible newer cars are better about this.

And yes, you will absolutely need heat to keep the windshield clear.
posted by ftm at 5:27 PM on April 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'd check prices both places, through the miracle of the internet. The last couple of times I bought in New England used car prices were kind of dire (at least through dealerships). So that might be a factor as well. Also, there is a limited selection of cars that are in high demand up here (hello, Subarus!) and the prices on those are bonkers.

I agree with the rust factor and the age range you are wanting that it would be a good idea to take a hard look at buying before you move.

Whatever you do, make sure once you get up here that you take your car through the car wash FREQUENTLY in the winter.

Also, if you like trucks, bear in mind that smaller 2WD trucks require a little extra attention in the snow, especially if you don't have a bunch of sandbags in the bed. Their rear ends tend to wander a bit.
posted by selfnoise at 5:37 PM on April 21, 2015

I'd definitely buy in NM. I wager your prices are better (though the selection will be a bit thinner), and the salt thing is huge (though car manufacturers are better about that in the past 10 or 15 years - before that rust was catastrophic).
posted by wotsac at 6:25 PM on April 21, 2015

I will say that I have a 2004 Chrysler that has not been treated with any particular love and care and it's always lived in Ohio--and while it's starting to get some rust in a couple spots, it definitely does not have a hole in the floor and I expect it to develop non-rust-related mechanical issues long before the rust renders it undriveable. That said, I would definitely at least do price comparisons, taking into account the transportation costs to bring a car, to see if it was worth it. I've driven from Ohio to New Mexico, and have to say it isn't a trip I'd make again just to get a car in slightly better shape; YMMV (haha mileage get it it's a car pun).

You might also, if you're not used to living in an area with a competent public transit system, consider whether the area you're moving to really requires that you own a car at all. I've been to Boston on a number of occasions and have never driven while there, and spent quite awhile as a transit commuter in northern Ohio; it has its own issues, of course, especially with bad weather, but it doesn't involve speedy depreciation of expensive purchases.
posted by Sequence at 7:46 PM on April 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

Be aware that you will have to pay the full Massachusetts sales tax amount on that car if you buy it in New Mexico and bring it here within six months (unless NM has a reciprocal agreement with MA, which I'm not sure about). If you pay NM less than the 6.25% MA vehicle sales tax, you'll be liable for the difference when you get the car registered.
posted by backseatpilot at 5:31 AM on April 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Thank you all for the invaluable perspective! I have purchased a local car; and am now reviewing old asks for tips on the great American road trip.
posted by aint broke at 6:00 PM on April 28, 2015

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