Author Topic: Commuter Car Purchase for 1-3 year timeframe  (Read 4858 times)

frugaliknowit

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Commuter Car Purchase for 1-3 year timeframe
« on: May 26, 2014, 07:43:43 AM »
Hi, I have a somewhat unusual purchase search and decision to make and would appreciate ideas.  Here's what we are working with:

1.  Currently I do not own a car.  I live and work in a densely populated urban area (live alone). 
2.  I use public transit and cabs, occasionally rent or use car sharing.
3.  Will be starting a new job in the suburbs about 30 miles away/15,000 miles per year (long story why I am taking it...).  I only plan to work there 1-3 years, then plan to return to the city for work and dump the car.

I wish to minimize: 
1.  My depreciation (difference between what I pay minus what I sell the car for).
2.  Repairs and maintenance.
3.  Fuel bill.
4.  Parking where I live is $150 per month($1800 per year).  I guess if I bought something fairly old, I could try parking in the street (can be difficult when there is more than 6 inches of snow on the ground).  If it were new, I would probably want off-street parking.

Limitations:

I am pretty "long limbed"  such that mini-cars are not tolerable.  The smallest I could go would be a Toyota Corolla/Honda Civic.

What I am considering:

I've looked at used Prius's.  It seems that the used are almost as expensive as the new.  In the Honda Civic or Accord/Toyota Corolla or Camary, I am wondering for a 1-3 year hold, which year would be optimal to purchase....?   

Thanks for your ideas!!

TomTX

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Re: Commuter Car Purchase for 1-3 year timeframe
« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2014, 08:08:28 AM »
If you have somewhere to charge it, the Nissan Leaf has some pretty darn impressive lease deals - you typically get to leverage tax incentives for electric vehicles into the lease.

frugaliknowit

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Re: Commuter Car Purchase for 1-3 year timeframe
« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2014, 08:14:07 AM »
Thanks but no place to plug it in for charging...

CarDude

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Re: Commuter Car Purchase for 1-3 year timeframe
« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2014, 08:35:39 AM »
You can find used Priuses from around 8k...that's a lot cheaper than a brand new Prius.

SDREMNGR

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Re: Commuter Car Purchase for 1-3 year timeframe
« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2014, 09:19:00 AM »
My friend bought a used 08 Prius with 80k miles for around 8k I believe.  Check out local government car auctions, I saw 2 Prises go for less than 5k in Vegas last year.  Get a smaller cheaper car that thieves would avoid and you can save on $1800 garage cost.  That will offset slightly worse gas costs.  I'm thinking 10 year old Chevy or Pontiac.

frugaliknowit

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Re: Commuter Car Purchase for 1-3 year timeframe
« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2014, 09:44:57 AM »
Thanks, but the used Prius market is red hot here.  On Cars.com (which is retail, of course) they range from $11k to $14k, most with 100,000+ miles.

JoyBlogette

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Re: Commuter Car Purchase for 1-3 year timeframe
« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2014, 01:00:50 PM »
A Prius is not that good for highway driving since it uses the gas engine.  Is your commute going to be city or highway driving?  Have you considered moving to the suburbs and either selling or renting out your place in the city?  I drive a diesel (VW Golf) and it is great on gas, fun to drive and roomy enough for my 6'3" brother.

deborah

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Re: Commuter Car Purchase for 1-3 year timeframe
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2014, 02:38:55 PM »
I'm not sure I'm following this. As OP is going to sell the car after 3 years, it may not matter what he gets, so long as it retains its value. If a prius retains its value, isn't that reasonable?

CarDude

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Re: Commuter Car Purchase for 1-3 year timeframe
« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2014, 02:59:30 PM »
Thanks, but the used Prius market is red hot here.  On Cars.com (which is retail, of course) they range from $11k to $14k, most with 100,000+ miles.

11-14k is still much cheaper than a new Prius, which starts at 24k. And depreciation will be much, much more on a new vehicle than on a slightly used one. In the Chicago area, the cheapest 3 year old Prius I see (a 2011, via Cargurus.com) is already at 14k, and it doesn't even have 100k miles yet.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2014, 03:03:01 PM by CarSafetyGuy »

frugaliknowit

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Re: Commuter Car Purchase for 1-3 year timeframe
« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2014, 03:48:26 PM »
Thank you all for your help so far.  No, I do not want to move to the suburbs.  If I did, I would take a longer view on car ownership. 

Maybe I am overthinking the used prius idea....if it's high to buy, it should be high to sell (I hope...).

I'm also thinking about cars which have lousy resale, but are reliable (if that exists).  Buy it very low, then sell it for next to nothing...like say a used Hyundai Elantra...?

ketchup

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Re: Commuter Car Purchase for 1-3 year timeframe
« Reply #10 on: May 26, 2014, 05:58:31 PM »
Hyundai/Kia indeed could fit what you're saying.  They have pretty steep initial depreciation curves, meaning a new-ish one is rather cheap.  KBB on my friend's '09 Kia is something like $4k.  That's only a five year old car.  Hyundai/Kia cars right now are interesting, as they have vastly improved from what they were, yet are still "cheap" brands in people's minds.

Your choice seems to be coming down to "Buy high, sell almost as high" (Toyota) or "Buy low, sell lower" (Hyundai/Kia).  I'd run some numbers on how those work for you.

And just to agree with the crowd, no, a new car doesn't make sense, and pretty much never does.

mmm1981

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Re: Commuter Car Purchase for 1-3 year timeframe
« Reply #11 on: May 26, 2014, 08:53:19 PM »
Hi, I'm 6'1 and in 2010 I purchased a civic with 35K, now it has 212000.  No issues, just reg maintenance.  The Special Edition(value model) is manual with AC, CD, and key lock.  That is all I need.  I drive it 2K a month to work.  In Winters I drive it an additional 6 hours to work  weekends PT at a ski hill.  This lil car is a beast.  I don't over rev, and sometimes drive a lil crazy.  its been great.  I purchased a set of used winter tires for $150 that lasted me 2 winters, and I kept them on during the inbetween Summer.  I would confidently purchase another 05 Civic with 100K on it...n that is what I plan to do.  I would not spend more then 5K for a daily driver.  Mileage is fantastic.  And the 05 has more room with the back seats down then the generation afterwards.  In canada you can obtain a used car report which gives you the previous owners, and hopefully you can get the maintenance records, and have someone check it out for abuse.  Good luck!

Emg03063

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Re: Commuter Car Purchase for 1-3 year timeframe
« Reply #12 on: May 26, 2014, 10:36:44 PM »
Not what you asked, but have you explored car/van pools or public transportation alternatives for the commute?

Jamesqf

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Re: Commuter Car Purchase for 1-3 year timeframe
« Reply #13 on: May 26, 2014, 11:11:40 PM »
A Prius is not that good for highway driving since it uses the gas engine.

Yes it is.  It's not the use of an electric motor per se[/u] that gives (conventional, plug-ins are another story) their high mpg, it's that the assist provided by the electric motor permits use of a smaller, more efficient gas engine.

For the OP: In your circumstances - it's just transportation, not an ego thing, right? - I'd buy a mid-90s or so Civic, for cheap.

thurston howell iv

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Re: Commuter Car Purchase for 1-3 year timeframe
« Reply #14 on: May 28, 2014, 10:03:52 AM »
x2 on the cheap 90's civic. I purchased my 97 civic hx with 150k on it. It's got 230k and still runs like a champ. Gets great mpg and thieves don't give it a second look.  Not fast or fancy but it gets the job done and has paid for itself with fuel savings. maintenance is minimal.

Weedy Acres

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Re: Commuter Car Purchase for 1-3 year timeframe
« Reply #15 on: May 29, 2014, 09:13:09 AM »
I needed a reliable commuter car about 18 months ago (though my commute was 100 miles, not 30).  I settled on an '05 Ford Focus with ~100K miles on it.  Cost me $5K.  It's been very reliable, and I can probably sell it for $2-3K once it's got 200K on it, so not bad depreciation at all.