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On The Road 2012. To Rent or Buy?

Travel Forums North America On The Road 2012. To Rent or Buy?

Last Post This thread is marked as being about Seattle
1. Posted by mitchjc123 (Budding Member 2 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

In August this year, my brother and I will be flying to America to do an old-fashioned road trip from Seattle, down to California, then cutting straight across to New York, with plenty of meandering and getting lost along the way.

We're both from England, and have UK driving licences. I am 25, he is 26. We are travelling for a total of 5 weeks.

We've looked into renting a car, and it seems incredibly expensive for the whole 5 week, especially as we're going one way. Plus we would rather get a cool, older American convertible than a nice shiny new saloon.

We've looked into buying cars there, and it seems a lot cheaper, and this is the way we're planning to go. However - we're really struggling to find anything definitive in terms of what legal requirements there are - licensing/registering the vehicle, taxing the vehicle, insuring the vehicle etc etc. We would like to do everything right in terms of getting insurance etc, but do we need an American residential address/bank account to do that? We both have friends in America - could we get them to help, and do they get into any trouble using their details? Is there anything here that we haven't taken into account?

What we need to know is the process from us landing in America, buying a car, and then doing everything we can to insure it and make it legal so that we're not going to get pulled over every 5 minutes by cops. And if we do get pulled over every 5 minutes, at least we have the correct paperwork to keep going.

Any help from any Americans who know where we stand, or any travellers who have done what we are doing, we would really appreciate your help!


2. Posted by Cyberia (Travel Guru 1839 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

Buy. One way rental might cost about the same price as they have to pay someone to drive it back.

A problem with insurance is that you will be going from Canada to America and doing most of your driving there. You will have to maybe get a month insurance for Canada then re-insure in America.

You may be better hiring a car in Seattle then bus or plane south and pick up a car there.

The cops won't bother you unless you are speeding, have a light out, a bald tyre and such.

3. Posted by mitchjc123 (Budding Member 2 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

Hey Cyberia,

Thanks for your quick response! I think we may have got our wires crossed somewhere - so we're going to be in America the whole time - no Canada time.

Do you know how the insurance process would work for us as we are not US citizens? Is there a way we can do it?

4. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru 3573 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

I just helped James (UK) buy a van, insure it, license plates and he left today. Took several days to find the right van, then had tires put on it. James is only 18 and insurance took a bit longer to find a company that he could afford. 25 and older is easier and cheaper.

Bring an International DL if you can. Some companies will give you a better rate than using your UK license. Do a bit a research now. Each state has different rules. Oregon will not let you register a vehicle unless you have an Oregon DL. I don't know about Washington. You will need to have an address for registration & insurance. Start checking craigslist in Seattle to see what is available for what price. You should then have an idea what this adventure will cost you. It costs approx. $140 to register a used vehicle in Vegas. About $125-200/month for insurance. James paid more because he is 18, about $400/month. We found out most insurance companies don't want an 18 yr old UK male driver! But we got it done and hopefully he will have a grand time driving across the US. If he can remember we drive on the right side of the road here.

5. Posted by stevehem (Budding Member 39 posts) 5y Star this if you like it!

hey me and my gf are going for 6 months in oct and driving everywhere... i posted the same sort of question on here and got a reply from a guy who helps u find and buy a car then helps you resell it. he's making it real easy on us so if ya interested ill pass him on