Even with today’s powerful online car shopping resources, which can bring up listings from Anchorage to Atlanta with the tap of a finger, most new and used car purchases are still made within ten miles from home. But traveling further in pursuit of the perfect car or the best deal is becoming increasingly common.

According to Automotive News, a leading industry trade publication, “The average distance that a buyer travels has risen steadily since the Internet became an important tool for many shoppers.” And the phenomenon is causing a growing number of people to cross state lines to find the right car, truck, or SUV — especially rare and hard-to-find models.

However, there are many things to know before buying a car, new or used, out of state. Here we’ll cover the pros and cons of such a transaction and help you avoid making some common mistakes.

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Interest in classic SUVs has reached such a fever pitch even the car companies want a piece of the action. Many are bringing back modern versions of their beloved old school off-roaders, just as Toyota did with its legendary FJ back in 2006. The 2020 Land Rover Defender and 2021 Ford Bronco are leading the charge, but the list of returning icons also includes the Jeep Grand Wagoneer and, hopefully, an all-new version of the Toyota Land Cruiser.

Older versions of the Toyota Land Cruiser are at the heart of the classic SUV market, which is booming as Millennials and Gen Xers begin to participate in the old car hobby. According to Hagerty, the popular insurer of classic cars and trucks, these younger enthusiasts are fast changing the demographics of the hobby, once the exclusive territory of Baby Boomers and their parents.

But which used Land Cruiser makes the most sense for you? Toyota has been building the Land Cruiser since the 1950s, and it has changed quite a bit over the decades. There are many different generations of the SUV, from the original FJ40, which was first imported into the United States in the mid-1960s, to the latest version of the 200 Series, a model that’s still available at your local Toyota dealer.

With so many different versions to choose from, there’s quite a bit to consider before you purchase a secondhand Land Cruiser. Although every Land Cruiser features four-wheel drive with a low range transfer case, and they all have a well earned reputation for being among the toughest and most off-road capable SUVs ever made, each generation of Land Cruiser is very different than the other. Each has its own appeal and its own trouble spots buyers should be aware of.
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Every car buying expert will tell you the same thing. Don’t buy a used car without reading its vehicle history report thoroughly and carefully.

It’s good advice. Unless the used car in question has always belonged to your uncle Harry, a vehicle history report is the only way for you to learn about the life it has led. A vehicle history report lists the car’s prior maintenance, repairs, accidents, owners, and locations. It’s part report card, part biography, and part memoir. It can tell you if that SUV is a lemon, if that pickup truck has had an airbag deployment, or if that little red convertible has really lived a pampered life by the beach.

There are two major brands of vehicle history reports out there, Autocheck and CARFAX. However, CARFAX is the most well known and by far the most popular. CARFAX reports are also the most comprehensive, and it’s the brand used by the vast majority of America’s used car dealers, both big and small, as well as most private used car sellers. CARFAX vehicle history reports are used so universally that the name has become synonymous with any vehicle history report, like Kleenex is for a facial tissue or Xerox for copiers.

But what should you look for when reading a vehicle history report? And how do you to scrutinize the info to ensure the seller is being honest? We’ll answer those questions and more, but first let’s cover the basics.

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