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Driving across the USA

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by simpy1, Nov 15, 2005.


  1. simpy1

    simpy1

    Mar 31, 2005
    New Zealand
    Hi everyone,

    Next year I'm planning to do a huge road trip across the USA with some friends. The vague plan is to arrive in San Francisco, buy a car that should make it to New York, and ride off into the sunset. Probably go through most of the southern states. I'm from New Zealand and if all the northern states have to offer is scenery then I'm not bothered, we have scenery coming out of our....forests...here. I have some questions though:

    How much would a cheap car to get us to NY cost?

    Does it need some sort of certificate to say that it is in good enough condition to drive? I mean legally - I am usually pretty good at gauging the overall condition of cars, I know what to look for.

    Any other tips?

    I wonder if we'll be able to find some place in the middle of nowhere where we could work for a week or so...though technically we won't be allowed to work. Also I need to get my international driver's licence. So yeah, any help is appreciated!
     
  2. Basschair

    Basschair .............. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Feb 5, 2004
    Stockton, Ca
    I've done a couple drives across the US, both starting very near SF, and they were great times! There are some things you've got to consider though. First, you're going to get scenery whichever way you go, but if you're set on going south, you'll probably be going through Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, perhaps with Nevada in there somewhere. If this is the case, and you're buying a used car, make sure the cooling system is in shape and that you have plenty of water/coolant mixed and ready. It can get super hot through there, and you don't want to break down in the middle of it.

    If you buy from a larger dealer, the car will be road-worthy to some extent. I'd say anywhere from $2,000 USD on up, though there may be deals to be had. Just be careful, and good luck!
     
  3. FireBug

    FireBug

    Sep 18, 2005
    Houston
    Sounds like fun dude! I'd recommend buying a Hybrid, though. Gas prices are way too high for this sort of thing.
     
  4. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB

    Jan 28, 2001
    New York
    He's looking for a cheap car, which imo counts out a hybrid.
     
  5. Does this count as a hybrid car?
    [​IMG]

    because i bet its be cheap to make...
     
  6. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB

    Jan 28, 2001
    New York
    Simpy1, I gotta ask, what's your intention with the car after your trip?

    If your planning on selling it, maybe you should look into what it would cost to do a one-way rental from Avis, Hertz, or another major rental chain.

    By the time you buy a car, pay for registration/inspection, and pay for unexpected repairs that come with cheap cars, you may be money (and reliability) ahead to rent.
     
  7. popinfresh

    popinfresh

    Dec 23, 2004
    Melbourne, Aus
    Do drive it, it's needs to be roadworthy. With lots of cheap cars, won't be the case. Then you have to pay to pay for it to get it's RWC.

    Try get a car with A/C and a good motor/drivetrain. Don't worry if it's got cancer here and there. If its engine's good, it's comfortable enough, holds enough stuff (Water, lots of water, engine coolant, plus baggage etc) and it's got air con, that'd be a plus.

    'Gas' my be more expensive for it.. But if you could find an old 4WD (like landcruiser) you pretty much know it's going to be reliable and will last in the hot conditions.
     
  8. simpy1

    simpy1

    Mar 31, 2005
    New Zealand
    My intentions would be to sell the car, preferably for the same price I bought it for (or even more if I'm crafty). One-way rentals would get me a nice car though with all the mileage probably won't be cheap. Also, some companies do those "drive-away" things where you get to drive cars to places for free as long as you do it in a short time frame. I could do 3 or 4 of those across the USA. Or I could bus. At this stage my options are open.

    I think for rental cars and drive-aways I have to be 23, which won't happen until August, and that would delay my trip a bit!
     
  9. simpy1

    simpy1

    Mar 31, 2005
    New Zealand
    Yeah I've just finished my degree - I don't think a $25,000 hybrid is on the cards here. Plus gas prices there will still be lower than what they are here. At the moment we're paying NZ$1.40 per litre, which is about US$3.60 for a US gallon.
     
  10. popinfresh

    popinfresh

    Dec 23, 2004
    Melbourne, Aus
    Don't forget that the Prius hybrids use no less petrol than standard ULP cars. lol. And that every 5 years you have to replace a massive battery (costs alot) that goes to landfill.
     
  11. canopener

    canopener

    Sep 15, 2003
    Isle of Lucy
    Interstate Route 80 runs from San Fran to NYC. And you wouldn't be able to ride off into the sunset driving east.
     
  12. This is required watching.

    This man drives from LA to NY
     
  13. If you're going through the south in the summer, don't buy a car unless it has AC. West Texas will absolutely cook you in July. The rest of the south won't be much better.

    Mike
     
  14. +1

    I agree with Mike on this. With buying a car there is just too many things that could go wrong. If you break down, or have an accident you are totally on your own. Renting will solve these problems because they can get you insurance and the rentals always come with road side assistance if you break down. If the car is un-drivable they simply give you another.

    The larger rental companies have all kinds of programs available from one or two day rentals all the way up to what they call a mini-lease, you can lease a car from thirty to something like 300 days. They do have programs where they would not charge you by the mile.

    If you buy a car, You have to register it. In order to register it, you must have insurance, most if not all state require mandatory insurance. To do all this you must be a licensed driver in that state with a residence (address) in that state. After all this, the car must pass a state safety inspection. It's all kind of a hassle even if it goes well.

    Oh yhea, and if I wanted to buy a car from a guy who had to sell it before he left the country, I think I would have a little more barging power than the guy selling the car. In other words, you would be presented with a take it or leave it offer. More than likely you will have to take it.

    As far as the drive itself, that's the fun part. There are plenty of things to see on the way both north and south. Not just scenery. You should probably come up with some things of interest that you want to see and then plan a route.

    You have a whole lot of planning ahead of you, but it will be one to tell the grandkids if you decide to go through with it.

    Good luck.
     
  15. canopener

    canopener

    Sep 15, 2003
    Isle of Lucy
    Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but in California the cost of registration is a percentage of the vehicle's value. Am I right on this?
     
  16. take your band, or make a band... and play your way across america ;)
     
  17. Don't quote me, but I think it may be the same in all the states.

    Usually it is sales tax on the retail value of your vehicle plus the registrations fees.
     
  18. Phat Ham

    Phat Ham

    Feb 13, 2000
    DC
    It differs by state. In VA, for example, sales tax is 3% of sale price or $35, whichever is greater. I know in MD sales tax is higher, but they don't get charged personal property tax every year like we do in VA. There's also fees for registration, titling, plates, etc, but they aren't more than $30.

    In order to register the car you not only need proof of insurance, but the car needs to pass inspection and emissions, also.

    Of course, you could just buy the car, have the title and bill of sale in hand, and drive without any plates. I bought a car in Denver a couple months ago and drove it back to DC without any plates. Didn't get pulled over once.
     
  19. canopener

    canopener

    Sep 15, 2003
    Isle of Lucy
    I can't speak for other states, but here in PA it's a flat $35 give or take for a car and a flat $57 give or take a dollar for a truck.
     
  20. simpy1

    simpy1

    Mar 31, 2005
    New Zealand
    Uh, if I did get pulled over I don't think a cop in the Southern USA would be too lenient on a foreigner driving an unlicensed vehicle with no insurance or anything! I mean he might think New Zealand is in the middle east and that I'm some sort of crazy terrorist. Who knows!