In the US, some states and cities (if we narrow them down) may not be worth it to buy a car. So, in this post, you will get to know about the top states to avoid buying a car from in 2023.
The limitation could be due to rules, problems, and seller tricks that make it harder to buy a car compared to other states.
Also, when considering a car, you want to be aware of the vehicle’s history, including where it has been driven. One of the factors to consider is exposure to road salt. Road salt is common in many states to melt ice and snow on roads during winter. However, it can also accelerate the rusting of vehicles. Also, you should be able to differentiate between types of rust. Surface rust might not be as damaging as rust that eats through the metal.
States to Avoid Buying a Car from
So, let’s delve right into the worst states in which you should avoid spending your hard-earned money. Real people recommendations from top platforms such as City Data and Reddit have been used to back this compilation and idea. That said, below are the worst states to avoid buying a car from:
If you buy a car in California, you have to pay 7.25% extra as tax on the price. This means the same car could easily be $5,000 more expensive compared to buying it in another state.
Also, watch out for false prices. You will come across many fake prices. Sellers might display a low price online, but when you visit them, they’ll add extra fees that make the total cost much higher than what they first showed.
California is known for its sunny beaches but surprisingly has a car rust issue. Contrary to the belief of “rust-free California cars”, salt-induced rust is prevalent.
Cars in California rust differently than in other states. While salt is used in snowy areas to de-ice roads, California’s rust problem stems from its closeness to the ocean.
Beach cars in California rust from the top down due to oceanic salt settling on them. This contrasts with rust belt cars that rust from the bottom up. Key areas affected include rain gutters, rear window corners, and hood fronts. Some parts, like hoods, can be replaced easily.
Cars with vinyl tops are a problem too. Historically, some were not painted beneath the vinyl, leading to intensified rusting. While the vinyl remains, the underlying structure might be corroding.
2. New York
A city with clean public transportation and fresh air without too many cars. But that doesn’t mean you should have to pay around $1,500 more in taxes compared to other states in the country.
In New York, if you want to exchange your old car for a new one, but your current loan doesn’t cover the entire cost of your old car, you will still be charged taxes for the remaining loan amount.
Rust in New York
A used 2000 Mercedes from New York was cited as an example of a car with rust issues, suggesting that cars from New York might be exposed to road salt.
New York, along with some other areas in the Upper Midwest and parts of the Northeast, is notorious for rusting vehicles due to the humidity and heavy road-salt use.
Structural rust can make a vehicle vulnerable and even destroy its key components. Rust can easily penetrate a car’s frame through tiny cracks, causing significant damage to its underlying components.
Some cars are more prone to rust in New York, such as the Toyota Rav4, Jeep Wrangler, and Land Rover Range Rover Sport, among others.
Car ID tax
The Vehicle ID Tax (necessary in many states) costs $65 in New York, but the situation gets even more challenging.
As per NY.gov, you might have to pay an additional amount ranging from $15 to $300 based on the year, brand, and model of the vehicle.
Usually, the dealership takes about 10 days to pay off your car loan. Remember to check with your account and ensure your car loan is completely paid off before you go to trade in your car.
If you’re thinking about getting a car in the Northeast, be ready for low trade-in offers and watch out for fake ads that can make your bill much higher by thousands of dollars.
Texas is the largest state and sells the most cars in the country. They say everything is big in Texas, and that includes the games played by dealerships. You will be charged the MSRP or even more. You know how to handle that, right?
Texas is really into addenda—those stickers with high-profit, low-value items listed on them. Be careful, especially if they are on every car. Don’t pay anything extra for those.
If there is a big truck that’s raised up, it’s a different situation. If they only have a few things, find another vehicle and get those things without the extra stuff.
People in Texas like receiving mailers but don’t pay attention to the bad ones. You don’t need a free car, a trip to Aruba, or anything like that.
If a car dealership is sending out mailers offering free stuff, don’t visit them during that time. When you go there and realize it’s for the mailer, just leave. If they ask if you’re there for the mailer and you say “no”, walking away is the best thing to do.
Texas has a coastline along the Gulf of Mexico. The salt in the air, especially in coastal areas, can accelerate the rusting process of cars, making it one of the worst states to avoid buying a car from. This means that vehicles from Texas, especially those from coastal regions, might have a higher risk of rust damage.
Cars in some Gulf Coast localities of Texas, such as Port Isabel and Port Lavaca, are prone to rusting due to natural salt spray on the roads near the shoreline.
For Indiana, we will discuss it as one of the states to avoid buying a car from based on rust problems. This state is known to salt its roads, and cars can show significant rust by the 5-year mark.
Indiana is one of the states located in the “Salt Belt” region of the United States. This region is notorious for its heavy use of road salt during the winter months to combat icy conditions.
While salt will lower the freezing point of snow and ice, providing better traction for vehicles, it is detrimental to cars and trucks. Salt can promote rusting, especially in areas affected by the spray from the road, such as fenders, wheel wells, fuel tanks, and rocker panels.
The purpose of using salt on roads during winter is to lower the freezing point of snow and ice, dropping it from 32 degrees to 20 degrees or even lower. Though it helps in increasing the friction between the vehicle’s tires and the road during inclement weather, the downside is the accelerated rusting it causes on vehicles. This rusting can lead to damage over time, especially if not addressed sooner.
Michigan and Wisconsin are also believed to have similar practices as Indiana. Specifically, Michigan uses salt sparingly, mainly on steep hills in cities. However, cars from Indiana and Ohio entering Michigan in the winter often have a noticeable salt coating.
Also, Michigan tends to share salty similarities with New York. Both states are known for heavy salt use on their roads.
Cars from the late ’80s often showed significant body rot and holes, especially Japanese cars. Michigan was noted for using so much salt that it felt like driving on gravel after snowfalls.
In Hawaii, dealerships are competitive. They don’t have as many used cars as other states, so prices don’t change much.
Something common in Hawaii is a donation. Here, you visit the dealership, find a car you want, and they’ll offer it to you at the MSRP or a bit more.
There are not many cars available in Hawaii, so dealerships have the advantage. If you are thinking of buying a car, consider looking on the mainland!
The mainland always has more cars to choose from. If you want to bring a car from Louisville, Kentucky, to Hawaii’s Oahu island, it might cost you around $3,000 to $4,000 for shipping. If the car you want costs $4,000 or $5,000 more in Hawaii compared to the mainland, it’s better to have it shipped here.
Rust in Hawaii cars
Hawaii sits isolated in the Pacific Ocean, which means that the air is laden with salt. This salty air, especially when combined with high humidity, can be detrimental to vehicles.
Cars left overnight or for extended periods near the coast can develop a thick coating of salt and moisture. This is not just visible on windshields and windows but covers the entire vehicle. Such conditions can lead to rapid rusting, especially on parts that might not be adequately protected or galvanized. Even modern cars with zinc-galvanized protection require proactive care, frequent waxing, and maintenance to prevent the detrimental effects of salt.
Residents and car enthusiasts in Hawaii have shared their experiences online. Some mention that if you buy a car within 10 miles of the ocean, you may face rust issues. While modern cars have better protection against rust, older models, especially those from the 50s or 60s, can deteriorate quickly in such conditions. Some residents have even resorted to using “car bubbles” or car cocoons to protect their cars from the salt-laden air of Hawaii.
Florida is famous for a couple of things:
- High documentation fees (or doc fees). They are hard to negotiate and avoid. Just be cautious, because you might encounter a fee of around $800 to $900 in Florida. Moreover, you might suffer a big rip-off when buying cars in Florida in the name of an “Electronic Filing Fee”.
- The fee to file electronically is $99.95, and the dealer needs to pay it. This fee is only for making a profit, so make sure not to pay more than $100 for it. Paying more is dishonest.
- Yo-Yo loans. The yo-yo loan is when you go, sign all the papers, and know your payment. They let you leave in the car, but then they pull you back and ask for more money. They might change the interest rate and your payment, which is not right. These loans are completely dishonest.
While some cars from Florida, like a 1984 Buick Regal from St. Petersburg, show no signs of rust, others, especially those near the beach, have shown rust.
The salt air, acid rain, and heat in Florida can cause various issues, including rust, faded paint, and interior damage, thus making Florida one of the worst states to avoid buying a car from.
Other States to Avoid Buying a Car From
Other states you should avoid buying a car from in terms of rust exposure include the following:
- Pennsylvania. Known for heavy salting, especially in the northern and western parts.
- Arizona. Uses crushed cinders instead of salt. The cinders they put down wreak havoc on paint jobs and windshields
- North West Arkansas. Arkansas uses salt, but it’s not commonly known. Possibly the northwest part of the state might use it.
- Vermont (VT) and New Hampshire (NH). These states cause significant rusting to cars in less than 5 years due to the use of salt all year round. The salt used in summer attracts moisture from the air to keep dust down, which can lead to rust in various parts of the car, including the inside.
- Maine. Maine is particularly bad for rust, especially closer to the ocean.
- Missouri. The state heavily salts the roads during snow and ice conditions. Vehicles from the 2000s have already started to show signs of rust. Some pickups from the 90s are so rusted that they seem unsafe to sit in.
States with Less or No Road Salt
Southern Ohio, Indiana, or Illinois
The southern parts of these states get a lot less snow than the northern parts, so cars from these regions might be safer to buy.
Nevertheless, I purchased a car from an Ohio eBay seller and discovered severe rust that wasn’t disclosed. This rust was significant enough that the user could poke a finger through the lower control arm of the car.
Less snow and, therefore, less salt usage compared to the northern or western parts of the state.
Especially in the southern parts, snow is rare. When it does snow, it doesn’t last long, and cars are generally rust-free.
visiting Hays, Kansas, and noted that the city has shifted to spraying a liquid salt solution (brine) on the roads as it’s more efficient than dry salt.
While vehicles in Kansas are generally less rusty than those in Northeast Ohio, older pickup trucks in Kansas were observed to have rust above the rear wheel wells.
Buying cars from states that don’t use road salt or use it sparingly tends to have less rust. Therefore, the worst states to avoid buying a car from are those highly exposed to salt and cinder, as these can lead to vehicle rust.
For instance, a 2000 Mercedes from New York could be observed to have rust issues, while similar models from states like Florida or Tennessee may show less or no signs of rust.
Even within a state, the amount of road salt used can vary. For example, Southern Ohio might use less salt than Northern Ohio.
Other factors, like the intensity of the sun, can also affect a car’s condition. For instance, cars from Colorado might not be too rusty, but the summer sun can be hard on the interiors. Also, many states and locales have shifted to using magnesium chloride rather than regular salt (sodium chloride). Magnesium chloride is very corrosive to vehicles and is challenging to wash off effectively. Colorado, for instance, uses very little regular salt but consumes a significant amount of magnesium chloride annually. Most of this magnesium chloride is sourced from the mud flats of the Great Salt Lake in Utah. I hope you find this helpful.
Read also: Which States Do Not Require Car Insurance?