I'm looking to buy a used car that is somewhat uncommon in the combination of year, make, model, trim package, etc. I found a car that I would like to buy but it is a 17-hour car ride away (one way). Is there any safe way for me to purchase the car and have it freighted to me so I don't have to spend the time and money to drive that far? It is for sale by a dealer in the faraway place.

My primary concerns are: * How can I be assured I will actually get the car? Escrow service? * Is the car exactly as described? I have have the local dealer inspect it. How can I be assured they will actually inspect it, or do a thorough inspection?

I found some companies that will handle shipping the car itself, so I think I'm ok on that issue. I could fly one-way to get the car, but if the car is not as advertised, I have to buy a return ticket, which would be more expensive than driving both ways.

I recognize these tags don't really fit, but I can't create new tags.

  • Thanks Mark. I wondered if it was on topic as well, but I couldn't think of another place on the web that would be more capable of helping me.
    – northben
    Dec 26, 2012 at 21:53
  • 1
    postlogue: we drove to pick up the car in-person and everything worked out quite nicely
    – northben
    Jan 5, 2013 at 0:37

3 Answers 3


I'm currently in the same boat as I'm shopping for a car that I can't find at every street corner either.

My approach is that if I'm spending more than a few grand, I'll fly out to look at the car and have it inspected by a specialist who works on these cars on a regular basis. If I happen to have a trusted friend or acquaintance in the area, I might ask them to give it a once-over if they are car people before flying out, but I would not make a purchase that expensive sight unseen.

I'd also check for a forum for this particular make & model to see if someone there (a) knows the car or (b) can recommend a specialist to do a pre-purchase inspection.

There is a ton of scams out there at the moment where the car is "somewhere" and for some reason cannot be viewed, the owner is in the military or whatever yadda yadda yadda. Be careful and if you can't view it person, tell the seller to take a hike.

  • I think you meant "can't view it in person"?
  • Thanks Timo, your answer makes the most sense, unfortunately.. :)
    – northben
    Dec 26, 2012 at 19:33

Not sure this question is a good fit for motor vehicle maintenance. But, if you want something done right, do it yourself. Fly to the car yourself and inspect it before signing the sale. If you have it shipped all the way to you to learn that it doesn't match the photo, you've spent far more money than if you had flown out to see the car and worst case, flown back home. If you fly out and back, you're only out the price of a plane ticket or two.


Even the most a thorough inspection cannot verify that everything will continue to work only that they are working now. That said you could ask the seller to take the car to the nearest dealer and have it inspected. They would charge say 2 hours labor to pull the wheels off check the brakes etc. But how much do you pay the seller for their time to drop off the car etc. If you add in the cost of airfare you are going to most likely going to overpay for the car. Lets say the dealer gives it a clean bill, one month later the a/c stops working. Who can you complain to, the seller is 17 hours away. The used car laws may not be the same in that state as yours. Unless this is a potentialy valuble rare classic that is your dream car look closer to home. Just be patient something will show up closer to home.

  • My old clunker bit the dust (timing belt) so I'm driving a borrowed car now and need a replacement asap. I think I will have to visit in person and have a local shop inspect it
    – northben
    Dec 26, 2012 at 19:17

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