Buying Trucks Sight Unseen

boondocker97

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Who's done it. Good decision or regret it? What were some of the steps you took to make sure you had a good outcome? Currently looking at a used truck across the country and seriously thinking about having it transported back if everything checks out.
 
Apr 11, 2018
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I've jumped on planes and flew across the country to drive vehicles back. I don't think I could have something shipped unless it was relatively new and I had lots of very detailed pictures and something in writing (email) stating very specific details about its condition and any deficiencies.
Also be very careful how you pay for it. Scammers are getting better and better these days. I'd use a trusted escrow service that would hold the funds until you receive the title and the truck to verify it was accurately described.
 

Reg2view

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Sold a clean LBZ I had since new sight unseen to guy in Ohio in 2018. He paid for it with a $20k wire transfer, 100%, and then didn't drive west to pick it up for 6 weeks. Didn't even sign over the title until he picked up. His choice. He was a truck equip dealer, and knew exactly what he was buying. Not what I would have ever done, but it does happen.
 

boondocker97

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One of my friends bought a GM truck this way. He had the local dealership where the truck was do an inspection beforehand along with having photos. It showed up as advertised. Same friend bought a Cadillac CTSV that had some engine mods done for well below book. No secondary inspection. Showed up and needed to be re-tuned to run well, had a lot of small dings and scrapes that weren't disclosed. He spent some money and made it look ok and run well and sold it for enough to not take a loss. Guy I work with has bought 4 or 5 rigs long distance, but has flown and drove them all back. He was happy with all of them. My old man and I flew from MT to Salt Lake City to buy and drive a work truck back. Everything seemed good when we left, but halfway home it developed an exhaust/turbo issue. Someone had the turbo out before and didn't get the v-band clamp/downpipe connection lined up exactly right and was trying to come apart. Had an uncle that bought a used truck from a dealer with a new motor from a couple states away. Turns out the install was done less than professionally and that truck has had issues as a result that cost him a couple grand. So from what I have seen it can be a crap shoot.

What I'm looking at is a 2017 F450 with 113k miles. Well below trade value even with the miles. Claims to be interstate miles and I think the amount of miles in 2 years supports that. I was just informed that the newer Fords dash screen will show average speed, idle hours, etc. I'll try to get photos of that to confirm. Cracked front hubcap, crack in a front wheel mudflap, and 1.5" crack in the plastic tailgate cap have been disclosed. Claims 1 owner, non-smoker, no dents, and "A1" paint condition.

Friend that works at a local-to-me dealership ran the VIN and confirmed 1 owner, 10k mile service intervals, and had the radiator replaced at 108k miles. He's offered to run the purchase through him for the cost of the paperwork so that would help ensure the transfer of ownership went smoothly. Option to use their transportation network to get it to me. Likely cheaper than I could fly and drive it back.

Supposed to get some more photos this evening. If they all look good I'll see if they could take it over to the local Ford dealer, have it inspected, and go from there I guess.
 

SRXSRULE

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Never do it. Too much risk these days. Pictures never tell the whole story. You ALWAYS see things in person that you dont see in pictures. Then figure in all the shady people, or even the terrible repair shops out there.

Its a 2017 truck.... why did it get a radiator replaced 5k miles ago? And what about that repair or failure.... did it get ran low on coolant and overheated? No way to know that or what damage was done in the process. Maybe it runs hot now (cracked head), maybe it burns oil now (overheated the piston rings). Lots of things can go wrong in this situation.

Just like everything in life....if its too good to be true, there is probably a reason.
 

Blk88GT

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I've done it twice and would do it again. I get the vehicle held with a deposit that I am comfortable losing in case it turns out to be a disaster, I bring the remaining balance with me to be paid after I look the truck over.

1st truck was an 06 LBZ that I bought off Craigslist in Minneapolis. I didn't look at the roof until I got home which had a bunch of latex paint splatter all over it from a pail of paint being torpedoed into the front of the bed under panic braking. It also needed ball joints and wheel bearings (Duramax life) which wasn't a total surprise at 91k miles.

The 2nd truck had a couple more dings than I was hoping for given it only had 19k miles (nothing major, but enough to make you soured on a dream truck) but it also ended up having a Titan replacement fuel tank that the dealer had no idea was even there. So it all worked out as those thigns aren't cheap! The truck also had some damage to the front lower valence that wasn't visible in the pictures. The dealer installed a new one at their cost.

The only issue I have with buying vehicles sight unseen is you lose your ability to really deal on them.
 

boondocker97

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Valid point on the radiator. Ford seems to have had some problems since 2008 with leaks at the seal between the tanks and the cores. Fair number of trucks on Ford forums needing replacements at as little as 60k miles. Got the contact of the original owner from the dealer so I'll see what he says. If he claims it was a tank leak it likely was. Early build 2017s also had slow-leaking T fittings in the cooling system so I'll be checking for that.

More I think about it the more I want to see it before taking it home.
 
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Must see it. I flew from WA to Sacramento for a truck. Had a coolant leak and a small annoying rattle. Ended up staying overnight on their dime. Radiator hose fixed and rattle was a plastic fender liner dart pin stuck behind the rotor guard. Truck now has 175k and no issues since purchase when it had 9k


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

boondocker97

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Ford dealer confirmed the radiator was replaced for the typical problem leakage. Researched ticket prices and for some reason a one way flight was only $200. I was expecting $1000. So for less than $400 I can fly to the closest major airport, get a hotel, and rental car to make the 100mile drive to where it's at. Dealer's not requiring a deposit to hold it. $400 in diesel to drive it back. Makes it a no-brainer to fly in and see it before signing on the dotted line.
 

boondocker97

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Tennessee and I'm in Montana. Getting things lined out to go down this weekend. Guy said he'd buy my plane ticket home if it's not as advertised or what I'm expecting. I think he was just getting tired of being asked a bunch of questions about it haha. Will follow up with pictures when I get it home.
 

FatDogX

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Well........That's a big question and if you are willing to gamble, it can definitely pay off.

I actually have not bought a vehicle in my home state in since probably about 2005? I live in ND. and prices on vehicles are stupid high which has led me looking elsewhere. Since going out of state, I've purchased about 6 vehicles, one brand new one and the others were all a couple years old at the time of purchase. In fact I've begun the search for an upgraded Yukon Denali or Escalade for the wife. So the hunt begins again!!

Now I've learned over the years that you have to do your homework and be patient with purchasing vehicles out of state. Do NOT be in a hurry and you have to be willing to let vehicles go, even if there the one!! lol Not only do you need to research the vehicle itself but also research the dealership. Check the dealership out online, read reviews and call them a couple different times and talk to different people. Hell I even ask the receptionist when she answers, "who would you use to buy a vehicle"? LOL

For the vehicle, get a vehicle history report, at least one but more is better. Ask for a ton of pictures and video walk around. If the dealership doesn't want to help and send such pictures or a video then drive on! With my wife's current Escalade that came out of Texas, the dealership sent about 75 pictures, a walk around video and even raised the vehicle up on a hoist and did pictures and a video of the underside. They were great to work with from start to finish.

Before I've closed any deal I ensure that I'm in the position that I know the price is right, even if the vehicle isn't exactly what I expected when it showed up, I can re sell it immediately and not lose. This is key and this is where you "roll the dice". On every vehicle I've been in the position that I know I can just flip it and make some money on it, if it shows up and isn't quite right. Has this happened to me........knock on wood....NOT yet!!!

Other things you want to keep in mind would be getting the vehicle home. Ship it or fly and drive it home ??? On every purchase thus far I have used shipping companies but have been close to having to fly and drive home. Regardless, this is an expense that needs to be added in as part of the vehicle price. Plus, if you have to "fly and drive" you can add in your time.

As far as shipping, I've only done open car haulers as its definitely cheaper then enclosed. I've shipped vehicles up from Texas and it's ranged anywhere from 900.00 to 1200.00 and that was for full size SUVs. Cars are typically cheaper and if you are shipping from a large city area, shipping is usually cheaper as well. Also, if you are not in a hurry and the dealership is willing to work with you and store the vehicle for a week or two, shipping can go down a little as well. Another thing with shipping, is once you enter the "shipping system" you will have tons of calls and emails with quotes, again don't jump as they will typically come down.

On average I would say that I have saved close to 5000.00 per vehicle when comparing to something similar to here locally. That's a total savings with including shipping, so it's definitely worth looking into.

There's a lot of ins and out about buying out of state, sight unseen but if you do it right, take your time, do your homework, it will work out.
 

boondocker97

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Good advise FatDog!

I ended up bringing it home. 2017 Platinum Ultimate F-450 with bed liner, factory gooseneck ball, and every creature comfort offered that year. It was pouring rain the day I arrived so even with getting it inside it was tough to see the body cleanly with all the water beads on it. Body wise it has a few scratches and chips, but nothing major. I'd say typical for the miles. Front mud flaps are both ripped in the same place and has none on the back so I'm in the market for a set of those. On the interior one rear seat has a 3" scratch on the surface you sit on. The passenger front seat has what looks like paint overspray that was on someone's sleeve when they climbed in. Not really noticeable unless the door is open.

Spent 3hrs going over the truck and test driving it. Mechanically I found an air filter that was pretty dirty and full of bugs, but to my surprise hadn't sucked down the indicator on the intake tube. Engine oil was still pretty dark even with a fresh oil change before I got there. Rear transfer case seal was just starting to seep. New tires. Overall underside was really clean and rust free. But...the kicker: broken passenger side headlight housing. Would have never seen this without being there in person. Looks perfect from the outside, driving light and signal work fine, but the actual hi/lo headlights work intermittently on that side. Didn't work at all when we first were checking it out. Advise from a knowledgeable diesel mechanic friend at the time was that it was likely a fuse. Trying to find the cause on our own gave time for the truck to try off at least. Place I was buying from claimed to not know about the problem, told me to take it to the local Ford service dept., and they would pay a "reasonable" cost to have it fixed before we left. I asked what if it was a housing issue, and he wouldn't fully cover that for they price I was paying but would work with me if it was something major like that. Ford visit revealed that the lower part of the housing was indeed cracked in the bottom/rear and the ballast was damaged. Hence causing the intermittent lighting. Ford retail for the housing and ballast: $1700. Worse than sled parts prices! They didn't have the parts in stock and we were driving interstate all the way back so I hit the road with it as-is. On the hunt for a good used or deeply discounted new housing now. Me being home and away from the dealer we'll see how good their word is once I get the replacement. Ford dealer did inform me of 2 recalls to be done on the truck now that I am home: door latches that can freeze and engine block heater cord.

On the way home scrambled the navigation system's marbles going through St. Louis road construction and lane changes. Seems to have re-set itself and works fine now. Right before that I had cleared out all the old Bluetooth phone connections. Reading in the manual later revealed you're supposed to go online and make an account with Ford on your vehicle to get all the latest software updates. Wonder if deleting the previous owner's account-linked phone, then traveling through a part of the country the truck had never been through had something to do with it? Will have to get my account setup this weekend and go from there. Was making 15mpg on the dash meter through the hills and heavy traffic at 65mph for the first couple hundred miles. After I got out of the hills and onto the flat the wind starting blowing the entire rest of the way home. Flags and wind socks standing out. Brought it down to 13.2 average for the trip driving the 65-75 speed limits. 48 gallon fuel tank still gave a 600 mile range. Truck drives well and is really quiet. Surprisingly smooth for a F-450. Massaging seats took the edge off a couple times after being in the saddle for 250-300 miles at a time. Put right at 25hrs of run time on driving back.

So far I'm happy with the purchase. I feel going down in person was the right thing to do in this case. Even if I get stuck with paying for the headlight 100% the extra $2k I had them take off the asking price before getting there basically covers that and the plane ticket while still being into it for way below book. Hopefully nothing else surfaces and its a good truck. Also, I told my buddies that I'll be pulling the fuse for the rear seat heaters so they don't fall asleep quite as fast on the drive home from the hill!







 

boondocker97

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Got the paint splatter off of the seat this weekend. Shaffer's Citrol cleaner sprayed on multiple times and let it sit overnight. Softened it just enough to be able to peel the spots off with my fingernail without scratching the leather or smearing the paint. Tried to tackle the transfer case seal. Closest OEM Ford one was a couple hundred miles away so tried to use a Federal Mogul from O'Riley's. Got it apart and the ID was right, but OD was about 3/8" too small so had to put it back together again. Good thing the old seal wasn't damaged when it was removed. My dad's experience with his F-550 work truck and his personal F-450 is that if you don't get parts right from Ford for them, half they time they aren't right. I guess it's going to be the same with this one.
 
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