Office of International Students and Scholars

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Buying a Car

If you are staying in San Diego for a long period of time, it might be wise to purchase your own car. Budget-conscious students are better off purchasing a used vehicle in great condition. There are two ways of purchasing a used car: through a car dealership or a private owner.

Practical tips for buying a used car

Check out the car's repair record, maintenance costs, and safety and mileage ratings. Look up the "blue book" value and be prepared to negotiate the price.

If you buy a car "as is," you'll have to pay for anything that goes wrong after the sale.

If buying a car from a dealership:

    You have the right to see a copy of the dealer's warranty before you buy.

    Warranties are included in the price of the product; service contracts cost extra and are sold separately.

If buying a car through a private owner:

    Buying a car from a private individual is different from buying from a dealer. A private sale probably will be "as is."

Other items to budget for include insurance, registration, gas, maintenance and repairs.

There are additional fees paid to the DMV to change ownership of the purchased vehicle. The amount of fees that may be due depends on a variety of factors; an exact amount can only be calculated when you submit your application to the DMV.

Always test drive the car on hills, highways, and in stop-and-go traffic.

Have the car inspected by a mechanic. It is normal practice in the U.S. when buying a used car to hire a mechanic at your own cost to examine the vehicle before purchase.

Check out for more information on this topic.

Local Used Cars/Websites

When researching to buy a used car, consider looking through car dealerships as well as websites and personal advertisements. Below is a list of a few dealerships and websites that specialize in selling used cars.

CarMax, Kearny Mesa
7766 Balboa Avenue
San Diego, CA 92111
Intersection of Balboa Avenue and Convoy Street, off the 805

Autoland Inc., Mission Valley
2020 Camino Del Rio N
San Diego, CA 92108
( (619) 501-2222

Online Resources:






Some Popular Car Insurance Companies

Allstate Insurance
(1-800-ALLSTATE, 1-800-25578283
Local Branch 7710 Balboa Ave #322, San Diego, CA 92111
( (858) 279-1200

State Farm Insurance
Local Branch: 3264 Rosecrans Street, San Diego, CA 92110-4837
Doug Karrel ( (619) 223-5406
Mike Mancini ( (619) 223-5461

Quotes: (1-800-PROGRESSIVE (1-800-776-4737)
Customer Service: (1-800-776-4737
Local Branch:
Talbot/Goreham-Moore & Associates
1331 Morena Blvd #300
San Diego, CA 92110
( (619) 275-6191

Triple A
Local Branch:
2440 Hotel Circle, San Diego, CA 92108
( (619) 233-1000

Getting a Driver's License

Driving School
If you have not driven before or are unfamiliar with American driving laws and procedures, you might want to contact a driving school.

Expert Driving School
4655 Ruffner, Suite 250
San Diego, CA 92111
( (858) 560-9422 or (619) 885-7777

Allstate Driving School
7841 Balboa Ave., #204
San Diego, CA 92111
( (858) 565-0088

Golden State Driving School
3077 Clairemont Drive, Suite 103
San Diego, CA 92117
( (619) 275-3711

United Driving School
2425 Camino Del Rio South
San Diego, CA 92108
( (800) 764-2020

How To Apply For A Driver License If You Are Over 18

Below is a list of nearby DMV offices:

San Diego Clairemont DMV Office
4375 Derrick Drive
San Diego, CA 92117
( (800) 777-0133

San Diego DMV Office
3960 Normal Street
San Diego, CA 92103
( (800) 777-0133