Author Topic: How to buy a new (to me) car in 2018  (Read 728 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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How to buy a new (to me) car in 2018
« on: July 20, 2018, 12:02:11 PM »
The good news: I need a car for occasional work trips, but have otherwise engineered a largely carless lifestyle. Yay! The result is that I need, at most, 6,000 miles/year, and the vast majority of those miles are compensable.

The bad news: my college car has finally given up the ghost, so, to avoid flak from my employer + make it to Costco next month, I should replace the car within the next few weeks. Additionally, due to my hatred of cars, I know jack-all about the process of buying used cars and most of the advice I read online is geared toward non-Mustachians. My general thought is that I should spend $8,000 or less on a car that will last me ten years/until it is irreparably defaced by my future toddler(s) some day :). Then I can replace it with a vehicle with a bit more storage for family travel/retirement DIY projects.

So, the question: if you were buying a new-to-you car this month, what sorts of cars would you look for? MMMís article on the subject seems a bit out-of-date in terms of specific modelsÖ so I guess Iím looking for recommendations regarding specific models to look for that are particularly mechanically reliable. I donít have cargo needs to speak of and parking is tight in my midwestern neighborhood (Indianapolis, Indiana!). Iíve heard, anecdotally, that Subaru, Honda, and Toyota are the manufacturers to look foróbut I want more knowledgeable/frugal input than Iíve received.
Thank you!


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: How to buy a new (to me) car in 2018
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2018, 12:09:56 PM »
Copy/paste from my post in another thread below. You're on the right track with a boring Japanese car.

Fuel economy:


Due diligence
NMVTIS report ($2 per car)
Pre-purchase inspection
Read and understand all paperwork (dealer purchase)
General, misc.

Read up on your state's policies for transferring a car title and registration
Inspect the title (no brands, in the name of the person selling the car, etc.)
Get pre-approved for financing ahead of time, if applicable (credit unions tend to be the best). You can get some really low rates, even on used cars (I got 1.69% recently).


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: How to buy a new (to me) car in 2018
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2018, 12:34:52 PM »
Easiest would be to set up a search for a few makes/models or search your local Honda or Toyota dealerships for used models on their lots. Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla would be compact, fuel efficient cars. You can look up specific year model ratings in Consumer Reports (usually can access for free via your public library). Test drive a few.

Mother Fussbudget

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Re: How to buy a new (to me) car in 2018
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2018, 12:39:39 PM »
If I were looking in Indianapolis (Hi, neighbor! Moving there next month!), I would look for a Toyota Corolla, Camry or similar less-than-10-year-old Japanese "s#!tbox".  They'll easily run for 300k+ miles.  Tell the seller you won't buy until you get it mechanically inspected, and pay $35-$50 for this service from your local favorite auto mechanic.  (I use Meinike for such things).  Check for rust on the quarter panels behind the wheels, and do not buy if rust is visible.  If you have a friend who is a 'car nut', ask if they'll come along, and help you kick the tires.  Get the CarFax report on any car you're interested in to make sure the title is clean. 
Also... from CraigsList, avoid any car where the title says 'Salvage' or anything other than 'clean'. 

A couple of examples, and a search link:


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: How to buy a new (to me) car in 2018
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2018, 01:08:29 PM »
Appreciate the advice so far. Tangential: welcome to Indy! I've often said that if I were forced to leave my Midwestern paradise but stay Stateside, I'd like to live in Seattle!


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: How to buy a new (to me) car in 2018
« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2018, 02:03:04 PM »
I might be partial, but if you can even find one used I highly recommend the Toyota Yaris hatchback (manual transmission). It's bigger on the inside. ;)


  • Bristles
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Re: How to buy a new (to me) car in 2018
« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2018, 02:33:08 PM »
Another vote for a Japanese made hatchback for your needs. Smaller for parking, fuel efficient, and if you ever do need to move something big you can fold the back seats down.

My old Nissan Pulsar was super reliable and hauled some top notch side of the road furniture finds in its time.

One thing I have noticed here is that Toyota Carollas and to a lesser extent Camrys hold their value very well, whereas the lesser known Yaris (smaller) and Aurion (premium Camry) are a lot cheaper. We recently bought an Aurion for significantly less than what a carolla of the same year would cost, and got all the bells and whistles like reversing camera, better safety features, leather seats etc. Fuel economy isn’t as good, but for long country driving it’s not bad and the bigger size suits our situation.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: How to buy a new (to me) car in 2018
« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2018, 02:52:45 PM »
...and another Japanese hatchback vote here. Personally, a Honda Fit checked all the boxes: price, terrific MPG, safety, bare-bones technology, just roomy enough to be useful. Some dealers (not just Honda ones) apparently offer lifetime powertrain warranties on new/CPO cars, so depending on how long you want to own it, that may also be worth considering.


  • Bristles
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Re: How to buy a new (to me) car in 2018
« Reply #8 on: July 20, 2018, 03:00:28 PM »
posting to follow