My family does not know.
My wife does not know.
It is going to be a surprise.
I have bought three used cars off the Internet since 2006 ... a 1986 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am in North Carolina in 2006 (still have that, restored, in my garage), a 1991 Chevrolet Corvette Z07 in Miami, Florida in 2008 (kept it, played with it, sold it) and now this 1989 Dodge Daytona Shelby in 2014. The Corvette wasn't a happy retrieval because the car had some undisclosed problems, the AC didn't work, it rained most of the way and I had to drive 1000 miles in a steamy, no-AC six speed Corvette. When you start your return trip by having to take apart the dash to fix a connection and you have to stop at Target to buy tools to do it, it's not going to be a pleasant trip back.
So, this time I began to plan. I wasn't going to go through the same situations that I had with the Corvette in Miami. This time I was going to plan for every possible situation and problem. I made a list, checked it twice, checked it five times and was finally happy with it. Most of the stuff I would need for the trip I kept in my garage ... tools and chemicals. Some stuff I would need to buy and I wasn't going to buy that until right before the trip because the whole trip is a surprise for my wife. Yes, I'm going to get ME a car but I'm going to spend some time together with HER, just the two of us, no children.
I wanted her to go with me to get my '86 Pontiac Trans Am but she didn't. She had to stay home with our daughter (the only one we had then). When I went to get the Corvette two years later, I had a one year old daughter and a five year old daughter so my wife couldn't come with me then, either.
This time was going to be different.
This time I was going to basically kidnap her and carry her with me.
You see, this was going to be a surprise and because she doesn't like surprises, it was going to be even better.
My banker calls me Monday. He needs a copy of the title for the car. I email John. John sends me the title as a digital scan. I turn it in to my friend at the bank and that's pretty much the end of Monday.
Here's the list I came up with for the trip. It's a two day trip, in a car, drive there the first day, pick up the used car, spend the night, drive both cars back the next day. High speed, low drag.
Maybe this list will help someone else when they buy a car or truck off of the internet and have to drive a long way to pick it up and then drive it back. After the experience with the Corvette I prefer to drive now. Driving was actually cheaper, all things considered, than flying. If you don't do this often (I don't), you can buy the stuff like belts and hoses at your local parts store, take them on the trip and if you don't need them / use them, just return them when you get back home. The hoses and belts are cheap insurance on long trips. Most cars today use a serpentine belt which means that there is one belt that runs all of the accessories of the engine (including the water pump!). If that belt breaks, you are dead on the side of the road. Older cars had individual belts for each accessory ... if you lost the air conditioning belt, you could still drive (just without AC). Now it's all together and while serpentine belts are tough and last a long time, you could have a problem on the way ... better safe than sorry.
If you know basic mechanics, you can change a hose or belt on the way. You'll need a spare belt and a belt tensioner / prybar. Changing a serpentine belt isn't hard but it isn't a lot of fun, either however changing your own belt on the side of the road is a lot better than paying for a wrecker, a mechanic, labor and the spare belt as well as the time it will take out of your trip for that little disaster. In fact, you could buy a lot of this stuff, keep the receipt, take it on the trip and if you don't use it on the trip just return it when you get back.
Permission to copy this list for your own personal use.
____ Good knife (something like a folding lock blade, mine is a Gerber Paraframe II)
____ Multi-tool (mine is a Gerber Suspension)
____ Satellite type navigator unit, case, all accessories (mine is an '08 Garmin Nuvi)
____ GripNGo mount (these rock, 10 bux at Walmart in the "As Seen on TV" section)
____ Update navigator with latest maps (you don't want your navigator going nuts in big city traffic trying to take you down a road that was redirected four years ago)
____ 4 way power plug splitter
____ Cable ties / zip ties (assorted)
____ Ear plugs – foam - you never know ...
____ Doo-rag (or hat or baseball cap)
____ Change of clothes, spare socks, underwear, clothes to sleep in
____ Shaving kit
____ Medicine kit - antacid, pain killers, Q-tips, allergy, anything you need to take daily
____ 5 hour energy (or your preferred energy booster) x2
____ Digital camera with case, rechargeable batteries x 4, spare memory card.
____ Battery charger
____ Camera mount - suction cup
____ Spiral-bound notebook and pens for making notes, writing stuff down, etc.
____ Driving gloves
____ Sunglasses with case, cleaning cloth, cleaning fluid
____ Cash in small bills – some in reserve in zip-lock bag in backpack
____ Proof of insurance, car paper work for car you are picking up
____ Car tag for car you are picking up (if possible)
____ Copy of contact info / address of seller
____ Cell phone with car / room charger
____ Travel atlas as backup
____ IPod– loaded – all accessories – earphones – case
____ Handgun with extra ammo (check firearm laws of where you are going)
____ Rechargeable flashlight with car and room charger
____ Ratchet tool kit
____ Bit kit
____ Pry bar
____ Serpentine belt tool
____ Spare belts and hoses - chase car
____ Spare belts and hoses - purchase car
____ Rubber mallet
____ PB Blaster
____ Electric screw driver
____ FatMax Jump pack or other multi-purpose starter / air pump type unit - charged
____ Towel x2
____ Tarp X2
____ Bungee cords (assorted)
____ Personal tool kit (small screwdrivers, etc.)
____ Fuses (assorted) with fuse puller
____ Duct tape
____ Electrical tape
____ Hose repair tape
____ Epoxy - 5 minute
____ Travel mug
____ Box of Kleenex (small travel packs work as well)
____ Hand sanitizer
____ Wet wipes - personal cleansing
____ Wet wipes - surface disinfecting, with bleach a bonus
____ Small cooler with drinks, ice, fruit, whatever you think you'll need
____ Water flavors - squirt kind if you drink lots of water like I do
____ Roll of paper towels - for you
____ Roll of shop towels - for you, the cars, and car type messes (oil, trans fluid, etc.)
____ Waterless hand cleaner (don't waste water, you may need it)
____ Fire extinguisher x2 - (If you need one, you might need two ...)
____ First aid kit – car (get a good one)
____ Febreeze – auto (in case your "new" car has any "old" odors ... you're going to be in it a while)
____ Windex – wipes
____ Detail brush
____ Fuel injector cleaner x2
____ Extending telescoping magnet
____ Coolant (2 jugs)
____ Oil - two quarts for each car should be enough. If not, you have a problem!
____ Lithium grease
____ Battery cleaner spray
____ Battery cleaner brush
____ Graphite powder
____ “Hood stick” - generic "stick" to prop open hoods or trunks or hatches with weak lift supports
____ Air freshener Stick-Up (throw it under the seat of your "new" car and enjoy the drive back)
____ Jumper cables (in case the start box doesn't work ...)
____ Work gloves (thick ones, Wells Lamont is my brand)
____ Eye protection (goes without saying ... good eye protection)
____ Filter mask pack (N95 type)
____ Toilet paper x2 rolls (in case bathrooms are few and far between)
That's the list of what I planned to carry with me on my trip from Columbia, MS to Corpus Christi, TX ... a distance of about 650 miles, give or take, one way. I printed the list out, using two columns, and made it a checklist to be used in packing for the trip. As the checklist was assembled, it was checked off as it was stored in the car. For most of the chemicals and other automotive products, I bought a storage container, one of those flat types at Walmart with the lid, the kind that goes under your bed to store clothes in. That made it really easy to keep all the chemicals away from other stuff like my clothes, etc. in case there was an accident or a leak or whatever.
Most of my tools, the bits and ratchets and wrenches, etc. all went in a spare backpack that I could keep everything in one place, sling it over my shoulder if I needed to, and it wouldn't spill all over the trunk.