Our US Subaru Outback Purchase – Part II – The Journey

This series of posts outlines how we saved over $9300 buying a 2011 Subaru Outback Limited in the United States as a vehicle import.  The following is the tale of the journey to make our purchase.

We arranged to pick the car up Monday, July 12th at 11am. Originally we were hoping to use the Thousand Islands bridge to export, but K at the Subaru dealership informed us that this port of entry has different rules than does the Lewiston Bridge near Buffalo. Basically, Thousand Islands requires the original title, signed, whereas the Lewiston Bridge only requires a faxed unsigned copy. Title does not get released until you pay for the car, so the only way to use the Thousand Island entry was to wait an additional 72 hours (and another trip!). Forget that! Same state, different rules. Peculiar.

The Trip to Pick Up Our Subaru Outback Purchase

My father had offered to help me get to NY to pick the car up. My wife has Dutch lineage, so we decided to drive to my Dad’s place to watch the Dutch play Spain in the World Cup final on Sunday the 11th. My wife doesn’t get vacation time where we work so I needed to either take a bus, plane or drive down w/ my father. I’m not in the Greater Toronto Area, so getting to a plane or bus was going to be a pain. My Dad had offered to drive 2+ hrs to my house, then the 6 hours or so to Buffalo, then 6 hours back to where I live, then 2 to his place. He just had his knee replaced 3 months ago, so I thought this was silly. So we headed to his place on the Sunday and my wife drove home after the soccer match. Holland losing was disappointing.  Actually the entire final was a poor game to watch.

My father and I embarked on our adventure at 6:55am Monday morning. Quite the trip we were about to take as my dad drives a 1987 (yes, you read that right) Honda Civic (has about 120,000 km on it. It was my grandmothers old car). It was hot, as all of Ontario had been for a month. Our drive was uneventful. We paid a toll to cross the bridge, and it took about 10 minutes to get through the US border. My appointment at the dealership was at 11am and we arrived at 10:59am! Great timing. One note – NY State police don’t put up with speeding. We saw a half dozen pulled over cars – so watch your speed. 5-7 mph over won’t get you in trouble, but I wouldn’t risk more than that. Also, the I-90 is a toll highway, so I paid for the toll when we got off of it @ Victor NY. So remember to bring US funds! To buy food, gas, tolls. They don’t take a credit card at the toll booths. I forgot to get some and had to take an ATM exchange hit to make a withdrawal.

2011 Subaru Outback Purchase

It took about 40 minutes to do the paperwork and take a look at the car. Everything was in order and the dealership staff were awesome. They provided free drinks (water, pop, coffee) and snacks which were welcoming after a long drive. The staff provided the paperwork in organized groups – those I needed for my records and those for the import office. They also provided a map that had instructions on it for when I got to the US border (to do the export) which showed the customs area and which building I needed to get to. Very handy.

Getting the Subaru Outback Home

My Dad and I departed in our separate directions. I drove about an hour and was pretty hungry, so I pulled over at a rest stop and bought/downed a Big Mac, my first in years! I continued on and paid another toll when I got to the next exit/highway. It was an odd drive only in that I wasn’t used to the size of the Outback compared to my 2002 Hyundai Accent. There was a lot of construction, including on the bridges over Niagara, so the lanes were narrower than usual but I managed it. It’s just driving after all. I paid one more bridge toll getting back into Canada.

When I hit US Customs I used my handy maps from the dealership to get myself to the right building. In under 10 minutes I was on my way to the Canadian border. There were 3 cars ahead of mine trying to get processed, so it took about 7-8 minutes for my turn. It took about 10 minutes for the border agent to get information from me about the imported subaru. I’m not totally sure how many questions were required by Canada Border needs and how many were for his own informational purposes! He was impressed with my new Cyprus Green Outback Purchase though! After he was done checking my papers I drove to the Import office. It took me under 20 minutes to fill out the Form 1 and for the officer to process the paperwork. Another 5 minutes to pay for the A/C tax + GST.

I then drove home! I took the 407. We’ll see if the cameras were able to read the temp paper licence in the window. That will be an additional cost if they can. An OPP officer pulled up beside me and slowed – obviously checking the temp licence. I didn’t get pulled over, which was nice. So I kept driving to my home town. I got home around 5:45 pm.

The day after I brought the car home (a Tuesday) the mechanics who maintain my Accent offered to buy it from me for $2200, and they’d handle the safety, work that needed done (if any) and the emissions test. I was hoping to sell it for $2500 but that would include safety/emissions – and the potential of having to fix up things. So a good deal for us as far as we were concerned (and it covered our PST on the new car!). I also wouldn’t have to deal with showing the car, no shows and haggling. Lastly, I was able to transfer my old plates to the new car – so no need to buy more.

On the Tuesday I also downloaded my Form 2 from RIV. (if you give them your email you can forgo snail-mail and get a PDF version to print). Wednesday I took the car to Canadian Tire after dinner, but I was unable to get the inspection done on the spot – so I booked for Thursday after work to get the inspection done.

Friday I went to the MTO with all of my paper work and spent about 15 minutes registering our new Subaru Outback. This went smoothly and I went home and attached my old plates to our new car.

So that’s it! Easy as pie. One vacation day used, some extra expenses (gas, lunch, tolls, safety/emissions) but still, mega savings versus buying at our local dealership.  We got the vehicle we had researched and decided upon and we couldn’t be happier.

6 comments to Our US Subaru Outback Purchase – Part II – The Journey

  • George

    Did you have to pre-warn the US and Cdn border crossing of your arrival? If so you would be committed to a specific crossing point and time? The 72 hour delay to get a signed copy of the original title- is that just turn around time at some MV office? and who requires the title (signed or otherwise) Ca or US? was your temp permit issued by the dealer and was it intended to just get you to the border? What insurance did you have in US? In Canada from border to home? Did you pre-register and pre-insure the vehicle for the transit dealer-border-home?? I have been working on importing a new vehicle for more than a year and the above questions remain unanswered. In addition to not finding a dealer(Honda or Nissan) who will sell to me. Thnx George

    • Responses embdedded below …

      Did you have to pre-warn the US and Cdn border crossing of your arrival?
      yes
      If so you would be committed to a specific crossing point and time?
      no
      The 72 hour delay to get a signed copy of the original title- is that just turn around time at some MV office?
      yes – they state they need 72 hrs
      and who requires the title (signed or otherwise) Ca or US?
      minimum – US. You need to prove you own the car. Chances are I needed it @ the CA stop too. Either way, you’ll have in hand.
      was your temp permit issued by the dealer and was it intended to just get you to the border?
      yes
      What insurance did you have in US?
      a temp insurance – cost like $100 or something. Not a great deal but required.
      In Canada from border to home?
      arranged insurance prior to leaving to pick up the car.
      Did you pre-register and pre-insure the vehicle for the transit dealer-border-home??
      insured, did not register until I got home

      read the DIY article I wrote: http://sustainablepersonalfinance.com/new-car-import-diy-save-thousands/

      I have been working on importing a new vehicle for more than a year and the above questions remain unanswered. In addition to not finding a dealer(Honda or Nissan) who will sell to me.
      Honda went off of our list as soon as we learned they will not honour the warranty the instant you cross the border with the car.

  • Bill

    I have bought 4 cars from Karl @Van Bortel — he’s the best. I got a 2012 in January, and wish I had waited for the 2013s and their “40% improved suspension” — I find the suspension to be marshmallowy and sometimes even magnify road imperfections. My previous Subies did not have a suspension anywhere near as underdamped as this one. I wonder how much I would lose selling it slightly used (3500 miles) and buying the 2013… there’s the 5000 in taxes to consider, which I could avoid if I traded in Canada, but it is unlikely that Subaru of Canada will wake up to the fairly stable parity dollar anytime soon.

    Anyhow, excellent article — replicates my experiences exactly.

    • 4 from Karl? He must really like you by now! Agreed, he is the best. He was so helpful and stuck to his 2010 pricing even when it went up for the 2011 he convinced us to buy.

      This is our first Outback so I really don’t have a comparison point for the suspension.

      Did you sell your other Subbies in Canada, or were you able to sell them back to Van Bortel? I find that the US cars still have a stigma about them and get sold for far too cheap from Cdn dealers.

      I hope you got to see the rest of the Outback series (part 1, 3, how to import, the Q&A).

  • John Ellis

    Thank you so much for your story. I just bought a used Camry from a dealer in Buffalo and I think I’ve saved at least $3000 to 5,ooo.
    You said you paid GST. Is it really GST or is it in fact HST? ie 13% duty

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