Transcript GIC Podcast #10: Buying New or Use Cars and Bikes
In Attendance: Aimee Jiang (she/her), Lucas Silva (he/him), & Mahkameh Rasouli (she/her)
Aimee: Hello, everyone welcome to another episode of the GIC podcast. Today, we are going to be talking about buying cars and bikes, car insurance, all of those really important things that you should know in terms of getting some form of transportation. We do have some other podcasts coming up on getting around to Irvine without a car so if this all sounds complicated or you don’t want to get one right away, you really want to look into it, you can definitely have that option of, you know, scootering, but biking is also an option which we’ll talk a little bit about today, and then we will also and another podcast, to be talking about going to the DMV to get your driver’s license. And what that process looks like. So we will cover some of those things in other podcasts. But we’ll talk more about actual purchasing and getting a car and making sure it is insured. My name is Aimee Jiang. I’m the International Student Support Officer for Graduate Division. I’m excited to have this conversation. I have purchased a couple of cars and bikes in my time and so hopefully, I can input some things but I am joined today by Lucas and Mak, 2 of our GIC mentors this year, and I’m gonna have them introduce themselves. So, Lucas, we’ll start with you.
Lucas: Hi, everyone. yeah. My name is Lucas. I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Informatics Department. I’ve been here for 4 years. I’m originally from Brazil. I had cars in Brazil. I drove and then I moved here, and I I came with the family so I had to get a car right away. So far I’ve I’ve gone through the process twice as well.
Aimee: And Mak?
Mahkameh: Hello, everyone! My name is Mak. I’m a Ph.D. student at the UCI. I’m one of the GIC members. I’m an international student from Iran. So I didn’t have anything when I came here.
Aimee: Yeah, I I know we all have very different histories when it comes to, you know, did you drive when you were outside the U.S., is your first time even driving so for some of you this might be a whole new start. You know you may not have needed a car where you were before. I know some other places have some better public transportation than we do in Orange County. So I think one of the first questions is really thinking about, why is it really needed to at least have a bike, if not a car. I know in some cases, like Lucas mentioned, if you have little ones, if you have a family and kids, it’s probably needed, get them to school and other activities and things. But Mak we’ll start with you. Why do you think it’s important, for a car or a bike for people to have one of those when they’re in Irvine?
Mahkameh: So yeah, I came from like a very big city, and we had a transportation there. So I used to use those transportation for going to workplace or looking at like the city. But when I came here I think that the structure of the U.S. or maybe, like California or Irvine, is so different. So there is not that much transportation. There is some bus. OC Bus are here, but you cannot use it regularly for going to the university or going to for grocery, shopping, or this kind of thing, so it you can use it. But it’s so hard. So when it came here I didn’t have anything a bike. I didn’t have a bike or a car, so it was so hard for me to to do grocery shopping, or even go out with my friends go eating out. But I think that’s maybe for the for for first months or the first year having a bike would be enough for, for us to just go to our classes or these kind of things. But maybe after that we really need a car. I think I believe that. For example, if you want to go for a road trip, or with L.A. or visit San Diego, for your for the weekends. We might need a car, and maybe it can improve your quality of life.
Aimee: Yeah, I think especially the way that Orange County is structured. Public transportation can be really hard. I know we have a podcast on how to get around without a car or a bike like, what is life like? But it’s complicated, right? You know, figuring out the bus system, the train system that maybe aren’t as functional as they are in some other countries. Lucas, anything to add on, maybe why, it’s helpful to have a bike or a car?
Lucas: Yeah. I think a lot of what Mak mentioned, grocery was a big thing for me. The places close to campus, you know they they can you, you can get stuff from there. But typically they are more expensive. So to be able to go to further away places that are maybe cheaper. I’m also buying in bulk, in my case. It’s kind of hard to do that with public transportation. you can, you know. Call an Uber or something, but that also piles up as an inconvenience, and also the prices. In my case we also had regular medical appointments with the kids and and things like that so? I, the few, the first few months without the car I had a lot of inconvenience and struggle with moving around, and I think the car was the best option for us. And then the other point is, just you get more much more freedom to explore California and you know, visit different beaches, the hills, mountains, and stuff. And just, you know, take the weekend driving to places. those are the main uses for me.
Aimee: Yeah. And I know one of the things that I like, I bike a lot around Irvine. There’s a lot of bike trails. It’s pretty easy to bike around so, as a person that doesn’t have kids being able to just bike to a park or to a grocery store to get small things has always been really nice. But we go through a lot of vegetables in my house, and we buy most of those from Costco, and it, going to Costco and biking back is just not really an option, because you have such big amounts of of items and so I I do think while, you can manage, if necessary, it is really nice to have that additional kind of freedom in trying to get around, especially when you’re buying bigger items or you have multiple kids or things that you’re trying to navigate through. And some of the places for specialty care, especially if you have like a medical condition or I know we have had some students that were pregnant or had a partner that they were bringing in that was pregnant and and going to those kind of more specialized doctor appointments might not be in Irvine. Sometimes they’re at like the UCI hospital in Orange, and that’s a trek to do without a car. So I definitely think it, it does depend on everyone’s situation. So first, we’ll talk about bikes, and most of us that are coming to UCI especially international students, if you’ve been out of state or this is maybe your first time here, you probably don’t have a bike, and you’re probably not taking that with you from your home. So where would you buy a new or a used bike, in Irvine?
Mahkameh: Oh, so I have this experience. When I came here the first solution was buying a bike and I had, like some financial difficulties when I came here, and I just tried to buy cheaper, like the cheapest bike that I can find. So the first option was the bike fair that UCI has every I think it’s twice per year, I think, but I’m not sure it’s twice for a year, and they will just collect all the bikes that are that there is, is around the campus, and there’s no one that’s responsible for it.
Lucas: Abandoned, abandoned bikes
Aimee: Yeah they are abandoned
Lucas: Yeah, there, there are a lot of students that move and just leave their bikes in campus around campus housing. So they do take away tagged bikes.
Mahkameh: Yeah they collect them and they sell it in the bike fair, and I think one of them is around about October, I’m not sure which day so they can sell it by a very, very cheap price. I bought my my car by just $15.
Lucas: What is it? Your bike? $15 wow!
Mahkameh: Yes and it was a so cheap and it works well. So I just went to grocery shopping with that car, with that bike for a year, and I went to like trail, and everywhere. It was great but other option will be like OfferUp and Facebook Marketplace. So you can find a cheap bikes there as well, like around $100 or less. You can just look for a bike there, and also bike stores like bike stores, Trek and other brands around campus. But they’re expensive, you know. If the cheapest one might be like $100. So I wouldn’t recommend to just buying a new bike if you just want it for like grocery, shopping or commuting. But it depends on yourself.
Aimee: Yeah, it definitely depends on your budget. I bought my bike from a bike store, but I bought it from a used section in a bike store. So some bike stores do have like a trade in option, and so they’ll have used bikes for sale. Sometimes you can buy them, I know we talk about Costco and a few different podcasts, which is, you have to like pay for a membership, but they have bulk items, and sometimes they have things like bikes. I’ve seen a few electric bikes there. So some people do choose to spend, they’re usually significantly more expensive, but if you’re gonna be using that instead of getting a car, it’s sometimes a nice option, if you want to go further away and not have to pedal your way there. So that is always an option, I think. OfferUp, Facebook Marketplace, the, at the Upcycle, ReCycle Bike Fair is always a really great option, because there they are very cheap, and usually they make sure that they’re really functional. So I think that’s one of the safer ways to do it because OfferUp and Facebook Marketplace can sometimes have some scams and so we want to make sure that that you’re getting a bike, that’s functional, and it actually exists. So I always recommend the the bike fair. And I like you said to Mak, I think it does happen in October. And then again, in the springtime. so always good to check there.
Mahkameh: yeah, and something great about the bike fair is that they have some people who can repair your bike if it some, some part of it doesn’t work well. But sometimes, for example, some part of the bike is missing. So you need to just replace that part. But it works. I think,
Aimee: Yeah, yeah, I think usually they, they’re pretty small fixes. They’re not selling you something that’s like bent and non functional. So I think that’s a good option. UCI and like the Irvine area, is, it doesn’t have huge hills, but it’s not super super flat. So are there any specific recommendations for what kinds of bikes that people should be looking at getting?
Mahkameh: Yeah. There’s some like bikes like named beach bike, so they don’t have any gear. So it’s okay. You can use it in the UC Irvine or like around Irvine. But we have like hills. But you you will you need to try a lot to just go that way. And most of the time people just prefer to have like electric bike it’s easier, or maybe a scooter, electric scooter. It’s so easy, but they’re expensive. But so I recommend to have a gear bike that has gear, and you can just like coming with that bike easier. Yeah. Just one thing that I wanted to mention was, for the bike fair, just go there as soon as possible. So it starts from 10 am, I think I mean you go there at 10 am, there are lots of people in the line for getting the bike. If you want to find a great bike there, you need to be there at like 9:30 in a line, so you can, it’s first come first serve. So if you go there earlier you can get a better bike. But if you go there at like 2 pm. You can just find like nothing just a wheel.
Aimee: Yeah, you definitely want to go early to those, because, yeah, the good options will go. If if you have a specific thing that you’re looking for. or maybe you’re really, really tall or really, really short and you need like a specific size bike, you definitely want to make sure you get there earlier, so that there’s more options for you. I have a beach style bike, but mine is a hybrid, so it does have gears, but it’s still really heavy. And so my husband has a road cycling bike, and he just like whips right up hills, and I’m like struggling to keep up with him. So I definitely recommend, like a light, normal kind of road bike for getting around because they don’t look like big hills on the bike trails, but they go underneath, the roads and it they can get steep. So I definitely think that you’re right. That we definitely want to think about making it an easy bike to commute around. You know, going around campus, I think it’s a little easier like just on campus. It doesn’t matter as much, but it’s when you get out into the greater Irvine area that you definitely want something with some gears to it. We talked a little bit about pricing already, I would say, yeah, bike fair is going to be the cheapest, and I wouldn’t, I guess if you get an electric bike, you’re probably going to be spending a couple of 100, but I would say 100 is probably the average if something looks too good to be true online, it probably is. So just make sure you’re asking lots of questions. If you’re looking online about bikes. Anything else that anyone wants to add about bikes.
Lucas: Yeah, there, there, in addition to the Facebook Marketplace, if you’re looking online in the in the area, there’s this website that I really like, it’s called Craiglist. It’s anyone can post a, an ad there, and you can filter by distance from a certain Zip code. The caution, though, is that both Facebook and Craiglist they do have scams. So you gotta be careful, ask questions and do meet in a public space during the day time. Only pay after testing and and actually seeing it, maybe online transfer. There’s also this, it’s a safe place. The safe place. It’s next to a police station. It’s called the Exchange something. It’s like a parking lot. They have cameras pointing everywhere, and it’s by the police. So you can actually also it’s close, it’s inIrvine. I think you can, you can Google search to get the actual address. But that is one of the safest place to actually meet and do the exchange and and buying the item. Yeah and then, if you really like bikes. There are lots of trails for like hiking, but also biking around. So the hybrid bike also seems interesting. But you really gotta be intentional about that those buying the bike for for that purpose to.
Aimee: yeah. And I, some of the bikes are really hard to get on to like the buses. So if you end up using a bus, most of the buses have the ability to put your bike on the front and lock it in. So if you say you want to go bike to the beach, but you maybe want to take the bus back. Those are always options, but you want to make sure you have something that’s not like got super thick off roading wheels and like wouldn’t fit as easily on, on those. Or if you have a car and a bike rack. You want to make sure you have the right kind of bike rack to carry it around. Mak, anything else you want to add about bikes.
Aimee: Okay, good. We will move on to cars. Cars are a stressful thing. I feel like the last couple of years. Cars have gotten really expensive, just with all the issues that there have been with getting chips for cars. So we’re gonna talk about as much as we can, car information. Things may change by the time you’re listening to this. So just make sure you’re checking websites and and looking into things further. But I think the first thing we want to talk about is. It’s a lot of language around car purchasing that can be really expensive. So there’s just purchasing outright, there’s financing a car, and there’s leasing a car. So does someone want to talk about what the difference between all of those things are?
Lucas: Sure. So I I think financing and buying all right is pretty common, and I was. I was surprised about the leasing option when I moved to U.S., because that wasn’t too common in Brazil, I think now there are some places doing it. But yeah, buying out right is you pay in full right? You’re you’re going to some place and you’re gonna pay. You already have the full amount of the money of what they’re, what they’re asking for the car. They, it has taxes and you know, some fees. So it’s probably going to pay more than what is actually being advertised. But you basically are transferring doing a bank transfer or writing a check for the full amount. Financing is is when you have a contract with the bank, or the dealership, or someone that will allow you to pay the car over time. So that depends on the negotiation on the contract. But typically you pay some amount upfront, and then the rest will you will divide it in X amounts per month over a period of time. And then the leasing option is the more the most different one. And that is you’re not actually buying the car. And, Aimee, please correct me if I and explain this wrong, because I I never done an actual leasing. But my understanding is that you are kind of renting the car over a of a period. So I think sometimes it’s like 2 or 3 years and basically, you’re gonna pay an initial amount. And then every month you’re gonna pay another amount. And then you can use the car for that amount of time. At the end of that time you’re getting the car, you’re gonna give the car back and you’re are left without anything. You. The money that you paid is is gone to the leasing and the car, it goes back to them as well. So it’s basically a rent over time. I think the benefits is that it’s usually a new car. So it’s not pre-owned. It’s latest model and you’re paying less than the full amount, as if you were going to buy that car. And also I think they take care of all the maintenance. So they have. You don’t need to pay any regular maintenance, oil, exchange and all those things. You just bring it every X amount of months to the place that you lease it from, and they will make sure it’s fine. So I I think those are the benefits.
Aimee: Yeah, I think the financing option is really hard for international students, and because it’s it can be hard to get a loan. Some big won’t even allow for it. So most commonly I see buying outright on like a used car. But I have seen quite a few students these days doing a leasing option. Like you said, yeah, it’s like a long term rental. Some leasing options do give you the, kind of opportunity to purchase later, so you can kind of think of it in some ways, like a loan, where they’re letting you put a certain amount towards the car, and then they would use that towards purchasing the car later. But you’d have to ask ahead of time if this car you’re leasing is has that option added to it, because that can be different. And a lot of times, I know it was mentioned a little bit earlier, the price that they put online is like a a financing price which is different if you buy it out right, there might be some changes to the pricing. Taxes aren’t always included, and a lot of the times when they have ads, they’re like 0% financing and that’s just a loan, and that’s based on a credit score. So if you don’t have a credit score in the U.S you’re not gonna get a 0 percent interest loan or down payment. Those things are, gonna be dependent on you and what you need in order to be able to get the car.
Lucas: So the the credit score just to do it’s not, some people might not know what the credit score is, it’s basically the credit history and they assign us a number and most countries, I think, have some type of mechanism like this. It’s basically a ranking of like, do you, do you have enough money and a movement that you’re trustworthy? So so, so getting a loan or loan or finance, being new to the U.S., we pretty much have a 0 history. So they, their, our score when we come into the country the first time is really low because they consider a higher risk, and there’s no actual history of you know transactions and using banks and credit.
Aimee: Yeah, exactly and so that is hard with leasing, because sometimes there would be a better deal on like how much you’d actually be spending a month, or how much you have to put down on a car, because their, they might increase it, because you don’t have a history record. Sometimes a leasing option, though, I believe, can help you with that, because you are making a a steady payment to towards that, and so that should help you be able to get credit in the future. But it is really hard when you first get here for those options. So sometimes it is maybe a little more financially easy to think about a used car, which we will talk about. So financing and leasing, we we talked about kind of what you need, what it looks like. Where would you go to finance or lease a car? And what? How much can you expect the price range to be?
Lucas: So I I again. I’ve never done both of these. But from what I understand most dealerships do some type of leasing evaluation for their new cars. And I think most places that are selling cars, they also can do some type of financing. I also seen people go to their own banks. So you, you get here. You have a bank, you open your bank account in some some type of bank. And they they typically can evaluate and and tell you what would be an optional financing. Since it’s at the bank, it’s it’s kind of notspecific to, I think one specific car, so they might give you like a range of, if you buy a car with the X amount, then this is the contract and the type of interest that we could offer, and the amount we could give you as a loan, and things like that. But again, it’s that might be also be hard with a new kind of history.
Aimee: Yeah, definitely, some banks are a little more open to it. Bigger banks sometimes are a little more open rather than like a credit union, like a student credit union. Sometimes they don’t have as many options, if you don’t have a credit score, which we may have a podcast on kind of banking system and credit scores and things in the future. I, I would always recommend going to a bigger company rather than a smaller company in terms of financing, or at leasing a car, because, they’re probably more likely to give you a little bit better of a deal, and also be a safer kind of company to choose. Price range is going to depend on the car you get, there are cheaper cars. I I tend to think of your like Hyundais, Honda Civics, like smaller cars that are a little more affordable, KIA Soul seems to be one that I see a lot of my students getting and friends that are leasing cars for as cheap as possible. So those are always good options. Toyotas. Things like that seem to be kind of a little bit more affordable. But if you’re like, I really want to drive a Mercedes or BMW, you’re going to be paying for it. So you have to think about budget and we talked about like, the price you see, online isn’t usually the price that you actually end up paying for. But it can give you an estimate of what it could look like. So I do think, looking online ahead of time when you’re thinking about a car is important, and you can always go into a dealership and talk to them about like this is my budget, how can I stay under that? I need all of the cost to be in that range and thinking about that. So I think that covers what we’re gonna go over in terms of new cars, because financing/leasing is generally more often for new cars, but used cars are the most common thing that, that my students purchase. And so where can we find a used car? Any recommendations on that process?
Lucas: Yeah, I would start online. There, there are lots of car marketplaces and then you can also search on Google what are dealerships around Irvine and then go to the website for those dealerships. I I mean dealerships, for like actual brands like Hyundai, Toyota, those they typically have a used car branch in the dealership and on the website. People often trade in their used cars when they’re buying new cars. So those dealerships, even though their main, mainly selling new cars, they also do have new used cars. and those are typically good in good conditions, because people are just trading in instead of trying to get rid of a car or something like that. So yeah, definitely, Carfax and then CarMax, there’s also a few other marketplaces where you can search and get an idea of like price ranges based on, you can play around with filters, and you know, I I want, you know, a bigger car, a smaller car, you can filter by year and and mileage of how you know, how much have people driven those cars. And and it’s low cost, right? You’re just navigating on the web. You’re kind of like window shopping and exploring those different cars, and there’s a lot of them. You can also, you go again Facebook Marketplace and Craiglist but I think we’re gonna talk a little bit more about the risks of of going to the that type of used car. But yeah, definitely online, first and later, we can talk more about like, once you have an idea, you can also go explore in, in person, and then to the the actual places and see the course.
Aimee: Yeah. And I know we have a note in here. Avoid out of state cars. You definitely want something that is an in state. You’re purchasing it in California for example, if you’re like, oh, it’s cheaper to buy my car in Nevada, and we’re not that far away from Nevada. I’m gonna go by there when you register your car, which you have to do in California. You’re gonna pay taxes on what you didn’t pay taxes when you purchase it out of California, it gets really complicated. The registration process is really complicated, and you’re going to spend more money and time and energy. So stay in California. You can look at different zip codes But again even that sometimes they they charge you for registering your car in Irvine and purchasing it outside of Irvine. So think about those things ahead of time. It’s probably better to stay local and also, if you don’t have a car, it’s hard to get outside of the local area to find something. So definitely some things to think about. I will also add to that some of the rental car companies here have places where you can purchase cars so like Enterprise or Hertz. Some of the nice things about them is they weren’t privately owned, and they’re owned by the Rental Car Company. So you know that the maintenance was good on those. But sometimes they have a but higher of mileage depending on the car. So those are also some other options to think about. So what would be the difference, some of the things pros and cons maybe to think about when buying a used car from the dealership versus buying it on like Facebook marketplace. Any thoughts on that?
Mahkameh: Well, let me start. So when you buy a car from a dealership. So the good thing is that they just it took care of like any repair that was there. So the car that you get is like so clean, so like, you know, work well, but you should pay for those repairs. You should pay extra money for them. But the good thing that if there’s a problem with the car you can just take it back to the dealership and said that this was a problem, so they need to repair it for you, because there was a problem with the car that they sell it to you. But and the good thing for just going to dealership is that you can just trust those people, and also you can try many like brands, many models there, and just select between them. But for the person find a car from a person directly is that you are not sure if the car works well, because most of us are not an expert, I myself was not. But the good thing is that if they are like a family and they use the car. I think the mileage will be less because I want I went for to buy a car from a dealership, and I realized that it was for a rental company. So the mileage is so high and the car looks so great. But I think some people told me that when different drivers use a car it can, it can make the car so lazy. I’m not sure what was the meaning of that. But the good thing is that when family use it you can, I don’t know how to say that it might be less like need repairs.
Aimee: Yeah, I think the the wear and tear on it is a little different when it was like privately owned right. If they kept up with it. The way that they drive it might be more gentle because they’re trying to extend the life of the car where sometimes rental cars, I don’t do this because I think it’s dangerous, some people drive really fast, or they break really hard, or they put a little more wear onto a car because they are not thinking of keeping it long term. They don’t care what happens soon afterwards, because it’s a short term thing for them. So I think that’s what you’re trying to say like. It’s people will put more energy, maybe, into caring for their own car because they’re wanting to extend the time that they have the car before they sell it. So sometimes it is a little, maybe better, better kept up as long as they were doing the maintenance on it. And when you’re buying a car privately like that, you can ask them what was the maintenance record like, do you have receipts that show that you did an oil change. And I definitely recommend you take it in to have it checked out so they can. A a company can also tell you that. Yeah, the maintenance on this car was actually done. I can see that nothing’s breaking. It’s not like already damaged inside cause. That’s that is one of the hard things with private, buying private is that the dealership can guarantee and certify the work if you buy it from someone, and it breaks down the next day, and you need a whole new transmission. Cars not usable. There’s no guarantee that it was going to be. So that is one of the kind of cons of it.
Lucas: Yeah, I I I think it’s also interesting in the U.S. system that there, there, there’s this term called salvage cars. So if the car has been in in a serious accident, they are required by law to report it, and it also becomes a, it gains this title called salvage, and the actual documentation of the car is changed. And the what the implication is that the car will have a less resell value. It might also still have problems due to that big accident. and typically well, it’s it’s a lot of scams out there, right? And people that with sometimes people with these types, of cars, they would not say explicitly, although the documentation will will show it explicitly at some point when you actually touch it. I would also advise to be skeptical of both dealership and person you know, dealerships. They, they want to touch up the car to get rid of it as well. And so the tip that I found that was really interesting is, first, you can actually check the car history through these 2 websites they are called Carfax and Autocheck. They do charge like $40 or $50 per report. So you type in the the cars personal identification, ID number, it’s called VIN. It’s like an ID for each car has, and you can actually check, see the history of oil change maintenance, if there was any accident. Sometimes this is available freely. Some dealerships post the CarFax for the cars they’re selling online. So you can actually know what you’re like like if you don’t have to pay for the report. Some dealerships, don’t, and they they will, they won’t tell you anything unless you really ask, and maybe people might lie, you know, even in dealership. So I would be skeptical. the good thing is, Mak was saying, they do have some type of warranty. Typically, that’s, so I bought a car from the dealership twice. One was this online one where they actually bring the car to you and you test, drive. It’s swift, I think it’s there’s also, Carvana. There’s a few that are online that bring the car to your residence, your test, and so on. But the the point was that they all have a limited warranty. So you buy the car. You have a few days to change your mind or typically that, like a thousand miles of use before, if anything happens after that they they don’t. They don’t do anything. You might go back and say, hey, you hid this problem for me but they’re gonna tell you you signed the contract. It’s, It’s over the 1,000 mile or the amount of things. So the other tip that I’ve heard. So one is check the history. The second one is that I that I you see online and other experience people advise me is after you buy it, do take it to a mechanic. So mechanics around here they might charge you $100, $150 to do a check and so you, if you’re getting it from a dealership, there’s the warranty right? So you can buy it if you’re really confident and then take it to a mechanic. If you find something that you did not like, then you can just take it back. If you’re buying it directly from a person, what is also really common is, you know, you evaluate the car. Once you, you decided to buy the car, you check the history and everything. You can also ask the the owner and say, hey, one final thing I want to do is take it to mechanic and I wanna, I want a mechanic to do a final check before I actually buy it from you. I, I heard even online some people saying that you could propose to the owner to share the cost of the mechanic. Some people would accept because they’re confident their car is is pretty okay. And they say, okay, maybe a little bit of the scam on the price. So that’s also something that it’s preemptive and it can give you more confidence. And for you to be sure that you’re actually getting something that’s not a scam or something fishy going on that’s being hidden.
Aimee: Yeah, definitely. I had I purchased a used car from a dealership and I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to. I was like, it’s you got some miles. I checked the history of that type of car in that year like, are there any major issues that have come up with this car like, commonly, I think that’s always a really like. So I had a I had a 2001 Toyota RAV4, and they were known for their transmissions going out at a certain mileage. So it was at that mileage, and I was like, I don’t know. It hasn’t been replaced. It hasn’t been an issue, but it seems like it drove really well, and they were like, we’ll give you 2 week warranty guarantee that it’s not gonna happen within 5 days, the transmission went out after buying it, and that would have been almost the whole entire amount of money that I spent on the car to fix it. So the dealership did have to replace it, and they had to give me a, a car. In the meantime, like a rental car for me to use in the meantime. So that is one of the things that I feel confident going to a bigger dealership, especially. I always feel more confident going to the ones that have the CarMax online, because I feel like they’re gonna be more honest and upfront. But they are trying to sell you something, so I do think there’s always a point where you be skeptical. But I think that warranty to me is always really important. I know, for example, Toyotas. They certify their cars sometimes a little bit longer, so some brands or companies might certify their used cars for longer periods of time. It just depends on the dealership and the company. So those are definitely things to check and ask when you’re looking at cars, you know, you can always call them. Even if you’re not in the U.S.. You could email or call and say, hey, I’m interested in this kind of car. I want to know what your guarantee looks like on your used cars. Can you tell me a little bit more about it and and get more information?
Mahkameh: Yeah, I want to add my experience to that. So I have a experience of buying a car from a dealership. And I was buying that car, I was just signing the contract, and I realized that they show me one car and they were selling me another car. And I realized it from the the contract that I was signing. Why, this is the difference between the car that I saw, we did like the contract that I am having, and they said that, oh, okay, sorry, our worker was like made a mistake, and these kind of things. And I was paying like 5,000 more for a car. And but, on the other hand, I had the experience of buying a car from a person. So I looked through the the OfferUp and Facebook Marketplace to find a used car, but like it greats in great condition. So the thing is that if there is a a great car in OfferUp or Marketplace. The dealership will just run to just buy that car from the person and repair it and sell it to you more expensive. So the, I, my experience that I was just checking that OfferUp every day, and I saw the post was like the post was posted at 10 am and I just asked that person, 10, 5, 5 min, when I asked that person that can just see that car. And I went there to just see the car and the dealer, the the dealership person, was there. They were just looking for those cars to sell it to you like expensive. So I went there, and it bought it in like 10 min, because if there’s a great car, the family car that is in a good condition, they will buy it as soon as possible. So you need to be careful about just I need to buy it and just go there. But my, when I just asking people what kind of car I need to buy. There was some like conflict between them, so there were like some BMWs or like, I don’t know, like very expensive cars that I could buy with my limited budgets but some people just advise me not to buy them because they are like a fancy car, and even if they, the price is low. For the maintenance, you should pay more. So as a student that I’m not, I don’t have the much of salary, salary if they like oil change cost like $300. I cannot pay for that. Of course the the deal is so great, but I recommend just buying like regular like Toyota, or like Nissan, or this kind of thing that the maintenance is cheap.
Aimee: Yeah, that’s definitely something that I always consider when I buying a car to is like, how much are parts for the car? I had a Volkswagen Pasat at one time, and the the breaks went out like a little little tiny piece, a little part in the brakes went out. So the breaks weren’t working anymore. And that part was like $500-$600 and was gonna take a while to get there because it was considered more of a specialty car. So I think you definitely want to be mindful of like looking into, you know, quotes online, for how much would it cost to fix pretty common things like getting my breaks redone or doing an oil change for those cars it’s like, Mak said, sometimes an oil change for a car is $35 to $70, and sometimes it’s $300, because your car requires special oil, or gas. Some certain cars require you to have a superior level of gas, and that price can add up to. So make sure you’re looking at more than just like, oh, it’s a fancy brand, and it’s got a good reputation for being a good car. You want it to be a good car, that’s gonna last a while, but would be affordable to fix. Okay, other things. Any tips steps on buying a car, I think, Lucas, you had something you wanted to add to that.
Lucas: Yeah, So I think in general, you, it’s it’s good to think about. What is your price range. What do you intended to spend? Also based on that, what type of car you need? In my case one criteria that I had was the size because of my family and then thinking about all the things that imply with the price. Right like the year, the model, the mileage and at some point you might have to balance the amount you of money you have with the type of car, and, you know, go down, and maybe on the year and the mileage. Then searching online for sure, there are dealership, smaller dealerships that do look a little bit more sketchy. So one thing you can do is search on Yelp or Google maps and they have online reviews. You know you, if you see a dealership that has 2 stars with a bunch of bad reviews do avoid those because people had, you know, bureaucracy problems, or cars that they were saying is one way, but in practice they found out something totally different. So be always skeptical and and critical of places, and you know people are trying to sell you stuff and I think in every country cars is a ripe place for scams and and things sometimes not even illegal, but sketchy right that you might get into a bad deal. And then you can try and get the the history of the car. Right? You can. If it’s a private or in a dealership, you can actually see. So, for for example, if I search my car, it will show the frequency of when I change my oil. If there was any accident or break changing the breaks, or if there are any recalls right sometimes the the factory, or something found out years later that this certain model for this certain year had a problem with their breaks or their wind shield something. So that happens and once you have an idea of the model what the car and the place. There is also this website called Kelly Blue Book. And it’s an interesting, a website that shows you trends of prices per car per model. So you can give an idea of like what is it? Shows you, the price range of previous deals with that same model of car. So you can see like, oh, the highest someone has paid for this car was X amount. and the lowest was this amount. And so you can compare with the one that you’re looking online and saying, okay, they are over charging or no, this is actually a good deal, or even if it’s too good of a deal to be true. And so you can be a little bit more critical of that. And then, yeah, once you have that, do come like contacting the the seller, setting you up a time to go there and actually testing the car, you know. Drive around with it, do you know, test breaks, test the the the engine, look at the engine. I know. I’m I’m no expert, and often I don’t know what things are happening. But you can. You. You open and see if there’s something weird going on, and you try and drive and see if there’s any sounds or stuff that’s weird going on. Some places they are more haggle, they’re more open, for you know. negotiations. Some some some places will say they don’t negotiate, but based on, you know you saw all the prices and other options. I was able to negotiate some a little bit less in my my cars. So they might say they don’t negotiate, but maybe you can try. There’s no you know. The the most that they can say is, no, we can’t lower the price And then, if you do go through the deal with the deal it might be a good option to, you know, take it to mechanic after yeah, I think those those are like my broad steps and tips that I I had in mind.
Aimee: Yeah, and a couple, one more difference, and we’ll go a little bit over. This is If you have a title for your car and you have to register your car, the dealership will help you through that process. They do quite a bit of the work on their own, and you usually just have to submit something verifying your address and and updating all those things, if that doesn’t happen like same day with the dealership which it some in some cases it does. But if you are buying from someone on like a more private place. Changing the title requires you to submit things alongside, usually a smog check, which is a California requirement. And then you have to submit like registration, and there’s usually a fee that goes along with registering the car in the State of California. If you’re coming from out of state, please do your registration right away. I made that mistake of not doing it as soon as I could, and I ended up having to pay a fine because my car had been living with me in California for a few months. And it was not a cheap fine, so make sure that if you are already in the U.S. and you’re coming from a different state that you go to the DMV and you get that registration updated right away, and update your license as well. Registration is something that you do need to renew every year. So if you keep the car. It’s not a one time thing you’ll get a notice in your email, if you set up the electronic one through the DMV from California, or you’ll get a mail. So if you move I set up electronic because we move a lot because we don’t like to pay increases in our rent. So we move quite frequently, my husband and I and so I set up the electronic. So I get an email of my registration renewal coming up so make sure that you’re remembering that maybe put a note in your calendar. So if it didn’t come, you can be like, okay, I need to go figure out why I haven’t gotten my registration renewal for my car. Because it’s a pretty big fine to not have renewed it, and you get charged a late fee if you don’t do it by the deadline. I have also made that mistake. So learn from me. Register your vehicle in the timeframe that you’re supposed to. But those are 2 big kind of things. After you buy it is making sure that you change your title and renew your registration every year, and sometimes I think it’s every 3 years it might be different for certain cars that you sometimes have to do another smog check when you’re registering your car again, like when you’re renewing it. but it will tell you within your registration if you need to do that anything anyone wants to add to that.
Lucas: Yeah, just to give an idea of smog check. I I wasn’t familiar with that before it moved here. Smog check is basically you take the car to this authorized mechanic place and they will evaluate the gas, the the gas emissions, the toxic emissions of the car, and it needs to be below a certain threshold that the State determines. I think most cars typically will pass this smog check. I think really old cars might not, and then they need to, might you might need to, if if it fails the test, then you might need to do certain repairs or something in the car for you to renew the actual registration.
Aimee: Yeah, yeah. Because if you don’t do the smog check, you can’t renew your registration, and then you don’t have a car that’s legally registered in the State of California. So it is a requirement to have the smog check. I have had pretty old cars and not had any issues. I, when I first moved to California I had a 95 Honda Civic, and I was really worried that it wasn’t going to pass, and it did so. But sometimes it does need a little bit of a mechanical work to fix something and the exhaust pipe or some other part of the engine. So just make sure that you’re getting that done when you need to so that you don’t end up paying any fines for being late or not being complete in your registration. Last thing that we’ll talk about is insurance. So everyone has to have car insurance. If you’re driving a car, there is a minimum requirement for liability. But what is the process of getting insurance for a car?
Lucas: It, it’s pretty quick, actually, for me in my experience. There, there are several companies that insure a bunch of things like home, boats, and a bunch of the things with the most common is cars, motorcycles. I think there are some, even for bikes. But basically, yes, you do need to have in minimum insurance, to drive in the in in California. In my home country insurance is not a requirement. So people some people do insurance. Some people don’t. In contrast, here you need an insurance. You can’t drive without insurance. I heard you might come across someone without an insurance. I don’t know what are the synthesis of that?
Aimee: Yeah, we usually that, so you also, when you register for insurance in California, you have, it’s added in with your insurance that you have uninsured or under insured protection. So that way, if you’re in an accident, it’s not your fault. The person that hit you has been illegally driving a car without insurance, or they didn’t renew their insurance because they forgot you’re not going to be liable for fixing your car. It’s your insurance is going to cover what that other person should have been covered for, or if their insurance doesn’t cover it fully, that your insurance is going to help with the covering of the costs, for things that aren’t your fault. It’s very rare that you’ll find an uninsured vehicles here because California has that minimum law. But there are people, maybe they’re traveling from out of state and they somehow have managed to not have insurance or don’t have high enough insurance. There are protections from your insurance company.
Lucas: Right? And so they’re like big companies. They’re famous companies that insure cars, and you can go and get a rank and see what are the most complaints or the most loved ones. But basically, you can also call them and get a quote and shop around. But there are a lot of details you need to be careful with, like Aimee mentioned the minimum amount of coverage. So if you’re you’re in the accident, and it’s your fault, let’s say, and you hit a really expensive car. You want that you know your insurance might not cover if you buy it, a cheaper insurance that covers, I don’t know $10,000-$20,000, but you hit a car, that’s I don’t know, there are really, in Irvine there are
Aimee: A lot of Tesla’s here.
Lucas: There’s a lot of Tesla but you can also, you know, you see, if you’re Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and all the really expensive cars. But you know you want a a good, you want a good insurance to be, we have peace of mind. So there are a lot of numbers to consider in there, and some of them. If you raise, the the coverage, they might raise the amount you’re paying per month. But yeah, you can shop around, right? You can call them. Get a quote. The quote will vary a lot, and it depends on on your history. It depends on your age. Even gender. I, there are a lot of parameters that they don’t explicitly tell you, but I heard
Aimee: Marriage status is a weird one.
Lucas: Marriage status, yes.
Aimee: If you’re married, if you’re a married man, your insurance will be cheaper. Women it, are usually less likely to be an accidents in California, so your insurance is usually a little bit cheaper. So it’s weird things like that.
Lucas: The car as well. Right? The car, even the color of the car. Like, if it’s a more sporty color.
Aimee: Don’t buy a red car!
Lucas: I don’t. Yeah. Red cars are like more expensive. Because they do all these analysis and and do their risk assessments and stuff. But anyway, it will depend on a lot about your history. One, a couple of tips that I I learned, there are companies that do student discount. So do tell them that you are a UCI student you. That might give you some certain percentage of discount. Also, if you have, if you had a driver’s license from your previous country, from wherever you’re coming from, do tell them, and they they might give you a discount. In my case it was, they consider me an experience. driver, because, you know, I had a driver’s license for Brazil for 5 or 6 years, or something like that. And so they gave me another discount for for those things. So yeah, but it depends on shopping around. And also do search online. There are companies that are maybe a little bit more headache to actually support you in case of accidents and other other things. Yeah. Oh, the other point is also that you when if when you buy your your car, you need to have insurance in the moment, you’re gonna actually use the car. So let’s say you go to a dealership, or you meet with someone that you know to to to buy the car and then you exchange. You pay them and you get in your your car. At that point you need to have your insurance and typically, that’s pretty quick once, you already have one insurance in mind. And you done your preemptive paperwork, or call them. Most we’ll have an option of using an app. So you just download it to your phone. Take picture of your driver’s license. Fill in forms. Do things over phone as well, and everything will be quickly set up on your phone. So when I when I changed my car, I went to a dealership, I gave my older one as a trade in and I went to the parking lot. I opened the app and I there were just like buttons. I I changed my car set up in the in for the new car, and in less than 2 min I had the insurance changed to the new car. So it can be pretty easy once you’re figured, that part of it out.
Aimee: Yeah, once you have your profile set up, it’s definitely pretty easy to do, because we we’ve done that as well. Even making a change like. We sold one of our cars and went down to one car and and then change to the service that we had on that car, the liability, those kinds of things. So the apps are really nice for that. I think one of the things, too, is, if you’ve been in the U.S. before, or if you already are in the U.S., make sure if you weren’t in, if you’re not in California or you’re changing into an Irvine address, your cost may change for that. If you have been an accident or gotten a ticket in the U.S. before, even if it’s been a few years that could impact certain companies being willing to cover you or the cost of what it is to cover you. So again. Yeah, just make sure doing your research, looking around, seeing what the costs are, and don’t under insure yourself and thinking, oh, I’ll just keep it small, for now and then I’ll increase it later, when I have a little bit more money, because you never know what could happen driving in traffic and things more accidents are kind of common so you want to make sure that you’re protecting yourself from having to spend extra money. Any last things anybody wants to add in on cars, insurance, buying bikes, any last thoughts.
Mahkameh: I just want to add that if you want to buy a car used or a new one. Just please ask someone who had this experience in us to just accompany you because you might know something, and you you end up with something that you didn’t want to, just get help from other people.
Aimee: Yeah, definitely make a friends that has bought a car here before thats willing to go with you and be able to listen and see things themselves and help you through it., definitely. Anything, Lucas, you want to add?
Lucas: No, I think I think we covered most of it. But that’s yeah. It does take a lot of effort. And it is a big commitment. Right, you’re buying. It’s a lot of money, even if it’s used car, a used car. And you’re gonna use it for a while, so definitely test it out and and put a lot of effort in thinking and evaluating the place and the risks as well.
Aimee: Yeah, absolutely well, thank you both for joining me today. I hope this was helpful for everyone. We will like, I said earlier, have some different topics on where to take that car on a affordable road trip in California and visiting the national parks. Things like that. So we hope that this helps you get out there and explore California a little bit more.
Lucas: Thank you for having us.
Mahkameh: Thank you.