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I found a 2015 Acura MDX in my neighboring state. It's the color I wanted and the price was decent as well. It's a certified vehicle with 26k miles on it. There were no pictures of it online as they had received it as a trade in only very recently.

I spoke to the dealer and told him that I am willing to fly to the dealer location and drive the car back if he can send me some pictures. He took some pics and texted them to me. They are not very detailed, but I didn't notice anything wrong with it. I asked them if they are willing to negotiate and they said they can lower the price if I pay them a deposit over the phone.

What are my risks with this purchase? I don't want to pay a deposit, spend time/money in going out of state only to find out that there's something wrong with the vehicle. Looking for opinions on what my risks are and how do I mitigate them.

Thanks
 

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If the vehicle is Acura certified, then technically it comes with a warranty that any Acura dealer will be able to honor. However, lots of times there are the intangibles about a car that make us want it or not. Has it been repainted. Does it right smooth and not pull. Does it have rattles. Is the interior smell OK. Those things you won't be able to tell until you're in front of it. Do you know anyone who lives in that area that could be your eyes/ears and do some triage before you do a deposit and fly out? That's about the only way you'll know for sure. If the deposit is refundable and the flight cost isn't huge, then it might be worth the journey to check it out. But in the end, this is your call :)

andy
 

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What are my risks with this purchase? I don't want to pay a deposit, spend time/money in going out of state only to find out that there's something wrong with the vehicle. Looking for opinions on what my risks are and how do I mitigate them.
Your risks are what you already stated... You could spend money flying out there and find out you don't like the vehicle and then you're out that money -- and must pay to fly back or rent a car.

Deposits are usually refundable... But you should confirm that with the dealer and ask them to provide you something, in-writing, to that effect.

A 2015 MDX doesn't sound like a unicorn to me... I'm not sure why you'd need to go to such lengths for that.
 

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lots of times there are the intangibles about a car that make us want it or not
Never underestimate the impact of a vehicle that SMELLS!
 

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I purchased my 11 MDX out of state from a Honda Dealership. I wanted an used vehicle still under the 4/50 basic warranty just in case I find any issues and have the option to purchase Acura Care down the road. Not a big deal for me to travel overnight 1-2 states over for the make/model/mileage/color combo I want. I rather do that for 2-3 days since I usually keep my vehicles for +10 years.

I would keep as my #1 option of walking away if the vehicle doesn't meet your expectations. To keep that option, I would drive to check it out instead of flying.

Other items I added to my search was:
- Always have an option B, C, or more for purchasing another vehicle. Dealership will be more willing to deal if they know you have more places to take your business.
- Carfax type services; check out ownership history, maintenance, and accidents by VIN
- no trade in; another reason to make it harder to walk away and the dealership to make $$$
- cash in hand or pre-approved from bank/credit union; unless the dealership can beat the finance terms and %
- download the owners manual and become familiar with the tech. That way you can test as much as you can on the test ride. I would even hit my local dealership with the same make/model of MDX just so you can compare apples-to-apples if you don't have a lot time behind the wheel of a 15 MDX.
- know the return policy of the dealership; you might have 5-14 days to return for 100% refund if not satisfied
- schedule a multi-point inspection from a trusted mechanic or Acura dealership. Don't want any surprises like under the table accident repairs, aftermarket mods, bad repair jobs, or overdue repair issues.
 

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Never underestimate the impact of a vehicle that SMELLS!
Agreed - that's why I pointed it out explicitly - definitely one of the "walk away" aspects in my book....
 

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Mechanically and cosmetically, the car should be in great condition. If the previous owner was a smoker however, no deal. Make the offer contingent on non-smoker car and I would think that would cover your bases.
 

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make sure you won't end up paying taxes and registration in both your state and their state. OR even if your state is cool with it, make sure that the sales taxes aren't going to hit you at a higher rate in their state. Call your DMV. Also ask to see the carfax. Pay attention to where it has been serviced at. Say it was serviced in Miami but is being sold in Phoenix. Better be sure to look for rust underneath from salt water spray if the car went thru a partially flooded street - same for salt states and other places where there has been high salt water, mold etc. On the other hand it could be a local car where the lease is up and the dealer wants to keep and sell it. That may be a very clean and locally maintained car.
 

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Mechanically and cosmetically, the car should be in great condition.
Why would anyone assume this? Just because it's CPO doesn't mean it's brand new. And even new cars can turn out to be lemons. Don't treat a car like a commodity unless you really don't give a crap how it looks, smells, or drives. CPO just means Honda will cover the costs of maintaining a minimum level of drivability, for the period of the "warranty". Otherwise, WYSIWYG. CPO does NOT mean Honda will pay to restore the car to "like new" condition. It would be foolish not to be prepared to walk away if you don't like what you see.
 

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If the MDX is at an Acura dealer, ask them to email you the service history of the car. This will tell you how well it was maintained (assuming the maintenance was done at an Acura dealer). But more importantly, it will tell you what kind of warranty work was performed, and whether the car had any major or recurring problems.

I also recommend running both CarFax and AutoCheck. Occasionally one will show something that the other doesn't.
 

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The fact that it's out of state isn't an issue as long as you know how to arrange the purchase with regards to both state's licensing and tax laws, but you're really sort of hanging yourself out on a limb by flying in with the expectation of driving back with this vehicle you haven't checked out. You'll be too biased to buy it and the dealer will know you're already on the hook for it given the situation (and may change the terms).

I suggest simply finding an equivalent vehicle closer to home that you can check out extensively including doing a decent test drive. There s/b plenty of 2014/2015 MDXs closer to yo (and those 2 years are almost identical but with a slight software mod to the infotainment of the 2015).

If you still want this particular vehicle ask for detailed pics all around outside and inside, the same method Carmax uses, and look at them on your computer, not just your cell phone, so you can see the details more clearly. Better yet, if you know of someone in that city perhaps they could check on the vehicle for you.

The reality is that if you go to the trouble and expense to fly there for this you'll be inclined and motivated to be less discerning of the vehicle and almost certainly will end up buying it. This might be okay as long as it truly turns out to be what you anticipated but it could also go the other way.

Keep in mind that 'certified' doesn't mean there aren't things wrong with it - such as dents or dings, fender benders that required repainting, which could present a cosmetic issue, could have had smokers in it, could have stains in it, could have odd odors in it, could have odd rattles, etc. You'll still need need to do an extensive test drive and inspection yourself and be prepared to 'fly away' if it doesn't match what you expected.
 

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Why are you trying so hard that you have to go out of state to find an MDX? They are plentiful and if the price on this one is appreciably lower than market value, then that is a clue (to me its a negative clue...not to mention the story about it being recently traded as for why there are no pics). But if it IS a good deal on a good car, then by the time you do all your travel shenanigans it will be long gone.
 

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As stated above, these are not rare vehicles and you should be able to find one with everything you want, in the condition you want, within an hour drive (2 at most) unless you live in a very rural area.

I find that it pays to be patient when looking at used vehicles. I've let several dealers know what I was looking for and the condition I expected... then and only then should they contact me. I always go in with the attitude of "they need me more than I need them". I've walked away from several vehicles weren't what they were represented to be. It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of a getting a new vehicle but in the end your persistence will pay off.
 
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