2007 Infiniti G35
2007 Infiniti G35. Click image to enlarge

Related articles on Autos
Be careful when importing vehicles: ICBC
Steering You Right: Importing a car, Part one
Steering You Right: Importing a car, Part two

Join Autos’s Facebook group
Follow Autos on Twitter

Article and photos by Haney Louka

Steps to importing a vehicle
Importing a vehicle: Do your homework

Photo Gallery:
Importing my car from the U.S.

“Honey, I bought a car on the Internet.”

Eight words I never thought I’d say, not only in the interest of maintaining marital bliss, but also because just a few years ago I couldn’t imagine buying a car sight unseen, without having sat in the driver’s seat and gone for a lengthy spin prior to signing on the dotted line. But because I was quite specific in terms of what I wanted, and with our currency approaching parity with the U.S. dollar, I found that the best selection and deals could be found south of the border.

First: the car. My sights were set on an Infiniti G35 Coupe with a manual transmission. This is a car I first reviewed back in 2003 and I haven’t since found another that combines performance, luxury, and value to quite the same extent (and seating for four is a must), even some 300 test-drives later. It’s well-documented that the G isn’t as smooth an operator as BMW’s 3 Series cars, but I have no problem with being more aware of what is happening, whether it’s through the vibrations in the shift knob or the sound of the engine at full wail. It doesn’t hurt that the G35 has also proven to be quite reliable over the years.

I wanted to get one as young as possible without spending more than, say, the price of a new well-optioned Honda Civic. Here in Winnipeg, there would be a considerable waiting period to find just the right combination of mileage, condition, colour, and so on. Plus, my $23K-ish spending cap meant I would be looking at a 2005 or 2006 model.

After beginning to search on websites like AutoTrader.com and Cars.com, it became quite apparent that I could choose from several 2007 models in the U.S. in the $20K to $22K range. Right now we’re talking about selling prices in U.S. dollars; a significant departure from what it costs to put one of these cars in my Canadian driveway with a Canadian registration. We’ll get to the numbers a bit later.

2007 Infiniti G35
2007 Infiniti G35. Click image to enlarge

The significance of being able to move up to a 2007 model is that new Infinitis in the United States were (and still are) sold with a four-year, 60,000-mile comprehensive and a six-year, 70,000-mile powertrain warranty. I find significant value in having a year of factory warranty coverage remaining – some added security when making a long-distance purchase such as this. Fortunately, Infiniti Canada honours the U.S. terms of the original warranty at its Canadian dealers. This policy varies considerably from one manufacturer to another, so before you put any equity in remaining warranty, find out directly from the manufacturer whether you’ll be able to use it.

I honed in on a car being sold by Executive Automotive Inc. in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. This particular one appealed to me for a number of reasons: it was my first colour choice, mileage was reasonable if not fantastic, the body looked very clean and was free of dings or scratches, and the car had a clean history. And Lee’s Summit is located just southeast of Kansas City, which is a reasonable driving distance from Winnipeg. Those of you in southern Ontario will no doubt have access to a higher concentration of cars for sale within that same reasonable distance. True, I could have had the car shipped to the border crossing, but then I would have no way of getting behind the wheel of the car before handing over the money.

I started by asking about any remaining warranty and the questions progressed to requesting photos of specific things like the individual wheels, the car’s undercarriage, and any items of wear or damage inside or out. I also asked about things like brake life remaining and other specifics that I knew I’d need to deal with right away.

2007 Infiniti G35
2007 Infiniti G35. Click image to enlarge

I also asked about specific drivability issues after doing some reading on forums such as www.g35driver.com and 6mt.net. This is a touchy one, because an enthusiast will be much more sensitive to such topics as clutch take-up and shift smoothness than will a salesperson. We need to remember that people who sell cars don’t necessarily do it because they love driving; they’re more interested in making a profit.

Once I was satisfied that this was the car I wanted to make an offer on, I sent the salesman a list of conditions that would apply to my offer; things ranging from not accepting any extra charges or fees from the dealership to requesting a ride from the airport in Kansas City upon my arrival. I also made the deal contingent on me seeing and driving the car before handing over the money. This was still a risk for me; if I didn’t like what I saw I would have been stuck with buying a last-minute plane ticket back home. Once we got the conditions out of the way, we negotiated a price that was acceptable to both of us.

I sent in a deposit to hold the car and made travel plans for Kansas City. At this point I was most nervous about getting information to the U.S. border crossing in advance of me trying to cross the border. They require a copy of the vehicle’s title 72 hours in advance. I took this to mean that I had to pay for the car in advance so I could obtain the title and send it to them. All it took was a phone call to the U.S. border office in Pembina, North Dakota and I found out that the current U.S. title was all they needed; it didn’t need to be in my name. Since the dealer had already e-mailed me a copy of the title at my request, I simply forwarded that to the U.S. border crossing. That meant that I could travel with the bank draft cheque for the balance due and hand it over after checking the car out for myself.

Connect with Autos.ca