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      09-24-2019, 01:04 AM   #1
BeEmVe
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Buying a late model vehicle without seeing it in person first

I have been doing some poking around at buying a late model (2015) vehicle. Found one locally but decided to pass. Had a few other opportunities within a long day's drive but the timing was not right to purchase in person. Found one at a dealer as a CPO that fits the needs. Timing is still not right to purchase in person and would be a multi-day drive.

As such, I am wondering about other people's experiences in buying a vehicle not seen in person and shipping it. I figure the vehicle being a CPO takes large amount of risk out of the deal. And of course I have done or will all other needed due diligence (car fax, service records, etc).
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      09-24-2019, 01:55 AM   #2
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IMO It's worth the flight to see it. Use as negotiation and see if the dealer will cover or adjust the price.

CPO gets you some degree of peace of mind but not total. If there is minor wear-and-tear, imperfections etc. it may still fly under "CPO". Also you may find things wrong that are covered but will still give you a major headache as you submit for repairs. What if there are squeaks and rattles? What if the car simply stinks?

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      09-24-2019, 03:53 AM   #3
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For me it's simple - if the car turns out to be shit, can you take the financial hit of offloading the car without it bothering you or affecting you financially in a major way? If yes, go for it, if you've done all the vetting you can without seeing it in person. If not, you simply have to eat the cost of a flight out.

Also, it's critical when buying a car out of state to make sure that dealership has a good reputation for handling such transactions. If they treat you like any old buyer, it will NOT go well. If you end up getting it shipped - the same applies. A random dealer will not know how to handle this properly and it will leave you frustrated.

I got lucky and bought my car sight unseen from a state over. This is a relatively well known dealer for high end cars and the car was flawless. In addition, they rolled out the red carpet for me. This is the type of dealership you want to have in these cases.
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      09-24-2019, 05:46 AM   #4
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Read the CPO nightmare stories on this forum.
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      09-24-2019, 07:06 AM   #5
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I bought my first BMW and latest BMW sight unseen. I spent time on the phone with both sellers getting answers to all of my questions. My attitude and strategy was this ó if I was unhappy with the car at delivery, I would simply re-sell it as quickly as I could.

My first purchase was from a dealer. As it was my first BMW, I simply did not know the right questions to ask. Turned out there were quite a few maintenance items that had been neglected. But I kept that car for 12 years and sold it to my brother.

Latest one I just bought in March. Seller pushed the car as average in condition, even for a 2009. So, my expectations were lower but so was the price. When the car showed up, was in much better shape than expected. Paint was about 8/10 while interior was nearly perfect and still had the BMW scent. Car had some maintenance issues but was a good buy.

I have also made remote deals on CPOs, where I would fly in to sign paperwork. However, they were within a 1 day drive to get back home.

So, the key to this being successful for me is this ó can I Quickly turn around the car for a $1k or $2k loss if Iím unhappy with the purchase? If so, Iíll take the risk. Itís only a long term commitment IF I decide to keep the car.
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      09-26-2019, 10:59 AM   #6
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Thanks for the thoughts they help.
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      09-26-2019, 11:26 AM   #7
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The word "unseen" may not be an accurate characterization of the situation. You probably have seen the car in various guises (although not exactly the same car) and probably have test drove the same car model in the past. The only question is if you trust the dealer delivering the car in the condition as promised.
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      09-26-2019, 01:43 PM   #8
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Bought my 458 and M3 unseen. Although I did have a friend go look at the Ferrari. Both turned out fine. The M3 did have a scrape underneath the front bumper (I covered this with an M perf lip that I was planning to do anyway) and the ebrake cable rattle. Whats funny is that the rattle was clearly there when I first drove the car, but it passed BMWs PPI. It was only a few hundred to fix so I didn't really cry about it.


I'd still do it all over again. Better to have a car with the exact options you want. Little maintenance things can be sorted out later. Just have to make sure to ask for tons of close up pictures to make sure the car hasn't been repainted at any point.
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      09-26-2019, 02:30 PM   #9
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Years ago I bought a 3 year old Miata with 6,000 miles without flying out to see it. The dealer contact described the car as "mint, not a dent or a scratch" and there were copious pictures. Needless to say when the car arrived (I paid extra for enclosed carrier shipping) one of the mirrors had a noticeable scratch and the front bumper had a couple of minor scrapes. When I spoke with my contact at the selling Mazda dealership (who had been very good to work with) about it he said "yes, it's in mint condition...for a three year old car". Clearly, he didn't truly grasp the definition of mint, never mind the statement of not a dent or a scratch.

They eventually provided me a brand new mirror, which addressed the largest concern. My advice would be to request pictures of everything which makes the car not perfect, every blemish. And then still, there will be something.
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      09-26-2019, 02:46 PM   #10
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CPO means very little to me after having bought/sold used cars from dealerships and individuals. Find somebody to look at it in-person for you or send it out for a PPI at an independent shop if you can - no one should be against that idea if you are paying for it.

Forums are a great place to find an online friend to take a look (and pictures!) for you.
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      09-26-2019, 02:54 PM   #11
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Don't risk it. Try to go in person or wait for something close by.
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