Author Topic: Why buying cheap used cars is better than new  (Read 3663 times)

RWD

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Why buying cheap used cars is better than new
« on: March 14, 2018, 09:34:33 AM »
Nice discussion of why it make more sense to buy a cheap used car instead of financing a new car:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6Igt3tdE4Y

Some of the main points:
- New cars are expensive
- You can buy a reliable used car for about what your down payment on a new car would be
- Used cars are more interesting for less money than new
- You don't have to be worried about keeping a cheap old car in pristine condition

I wouldn't describe Tavarish as Mustachian, but he has been a long term proponent of the value of used cars.

GuitarStv

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Re: Why buying cheap used cars is better than new
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2018, 09:40:22 AM »
If you purchase an efficient new car, then drive it into the ground for 15+ years, I suspect that the net costs for the period of time are pretty much a wash.

RWD

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Re: Why buying cheap used cars is better than new
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2018, 09:47:37 AM »
If you purchase an efficient new car, then drive it into the ground for 15+ years, I suspect that the net costs for the period of time are pretty much a wash.

I assume there's some break-even point where if you drive enough it makes sense to buy new. I have a coworker who has been driving the same Civic for two decades that he bought new (probably for ~$12-13k).

GuitarStv

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Re: Why buying cheap used cars is better than new
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2018, 10:01:30 AM »
If you purchase an efficient new car, then drive it into the ground for 15+ years, I suspect that the net costs for the period of time are pretty much a wash.

I assume there's some break-even point where if you drive enough it makes sense to buy new. I have a coworker who has been driving the same Civic for two decades that he bought new (probably for ~$12-13k).

There may actually be a slight benefit to buying new if you value time spent finding a replacement vehicle . . . as an older car will not last as long.

scottish

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Re: Why buying cheap used cars is better than new
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2018, 08:13:38 PM »
I think it depends on the car.   We have a 2004 Tacoma that I bought new.   Tacomas depreciate very slowly so it's hard impossible to get a deal on a used one.

We also have a 2011 Yaris that I bought for $5K.   That's 75% depreciation in (probably) less than half the life of the vehicle.

APowers

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Re: Why buying cheap used cars is better than new
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2018, 10:35:03 PM »
If you purchase an efficient new car, then drive it into the ground for 15+ years, I suspect that the net costs for the period of time are pretty much a wash.

If you purchase an efficient *used* car, then drive it into the ground for 15+ years, I suspect that the net costs for the period of time are significantly less than buying new. Or if you purchase an efficient used car and drive it into the ground for 5-7 years, and then rinse and repeat for another 5-7 years, and rinse and repeat for another 5-7 years.

In my lifetime, I have owned 8 different vehicles. I still currently own three of those eight. The total purchase cost of them in total was ~$15,000. Or I could have instead purchased ONE new, very base-model economy car ten to twelve years ago. But then I would never have had a couple of really neat VWs, a useful minivan, a reliable economy sedan (Civic), a pizza delivery car (Civic) that just about paid for itself in fuel economy savings, a giant Dodge maxi-van that we learned some life preferences with, my SO's current car (Accord), or my work truck (Ranger). I'd have one car and one car only. And that would be significantly less value and utility in my life for the same financial outlay.

ETA: that $15,000 number is not counting any recouped cost from selling the five vehicles I no longer own. If I did count that, my total purchase cost looks more like ~$8,500.

This is also not counting the extra cost to insure a brand-new vehicle vs an older model. Or the extra expense of not having learned how to fix my own vehicle, for fear of ruining a new and very expensive (for a 17y/o kid) car.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2018, 10:54:16 PM by APowers »

Slow2FIRE

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Re: Why buying cheap used cars is better than new
« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2018, 10:20:08 AM »
If you purchase an efficient new car, then drive it into the ground for 15+ years, I suspect that the net costs for the period of time are pretty much a wash.

If you purchase an efficient *used* car, then drive it into the ground for 15+ years, I suspect that the net costs for the period of time are significantly less than buying new. Or if you purchase an efficient used car and drive it into the ground for 5-7 years, and then rinse and repeat for another 5-7 years, and rinse and repeat for another 5-7 years.

In my lifetime, I have owned 8 different vehicles. I still currently own three of those eight. The total purchase cost of them in total was ~$15,000. Or I could have instead purchased ONE new, very base-model economy car ten to twelve years ago. But then I would never have had a couple of really neat VWs, a useful minivan, a reliable economy sedan (Civic), a pizza delivery car (Civic) that just about paid for itself in fuel economy savings, a giant Dodge maxi-van that we learned some life preferences with, my SO's current car (Accord), or my work truck (Ranger). I'd have one car and one car only. And that would be significantly less value and utility in my life for the same financial outlay.

ETA: that $15,000 number is not counting any recouped cost from selling the five vehicles I no longer own. If I did count that, my total purchase cost looks more like ~$8,500.

This is also not counting the extra cost to insure a brand-new vehicle vs an older model. Or the extra expense of not having learned how to fix my own vehicle, for fear of ruining a new and very expensive (for a 17y/o kid) car.

I remember being 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22.  Buying cars for $400, $700, $2000, $2000, $1500.

1st car had no clue about cars, period.  Thing died immediately after the oil pressure light went on (seized motor).  Lasted 2 months
2nd car, still no clue -> broke down and repairs would have been more than the car cost originally.  Lasted 6 months
3rd car -> unfortunate accident where I hit a pothole just right coming over a hump in the road and there was a large metal beam sticking up out of the pothole.  Bent the frame, destroyed the radiator, fan, bumper, front grille, etc.  If I did have a new car with full insurance I would have been okay.  However, this was too costly to repair even though I spent $2000 on the car.  Lasted 1.5 years
4th car -> still not knowing enough, I was scammed into buying a car with a broken turbo and too tall tires.  The tires, being way too tall, worn treads and had poor traction; I lost control on an interstate interchange hitting the guard rail at 50mph.  Lost another $2000.  Lasted 1 year

5th car purchased brand new at age 22 for $14,000 lasted 13 years.  By this time I knew enough to be able to do all the maintenance on my own vehicles and could rebuild most anything on a vehicle (never touched an auto tranny though).

My anecdote, unlike your anecdote, indicates buying new and keeping for the long term is far superior in terms of cost.  Maintenance was far far cheaper on the 5th car compared to any of the previous (no more distributor caps, plug wires, timing light, 3000 mile oil and filter changes, 12000 mile spark plug changes, 24,000 mile fuel filter changes, 24000 mile radiator change, 60000 mile O2 sensor - the new car required plugs at 100,000, oil & filter at 7500, no fuel filter change unless an error code is thrown, no special equipment to set the points and timing on the distributor, 60,000 mile radiator fluid changes).

scottish

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Re: Why buying cheap used cars is better than new
« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2018, 11:16:45 AM »
Yeah, I went through something similar.   I bought my first car for $700 way back in '85.   It was an ongoing cash sponge for repairs and failed completely after 1 year.

I don't think APowers was advocating purchasing junkers, but rather making careful purchases of used cars where you could get good value.

kaizen soze

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Re: Why buying cheap used cars is better than new
« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2018, 11:54:02 AM »
I'm sure it will surprise no one that MMM comes out against buying the new car.

https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/11/28/new-cars-and-auto-financing-stupid-or-sensible/

His examples cover a new 2012 Corolla, which means the article was written a while ago.

DreamFIRE

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Re: Why buying cheap used cars is better than new
« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2018, 05:32:05 PM »
I bought used cars for for the early part of my career.  Plenty of headaches.  Finally bought my first "new" car, and it's now about 12 years old and still runs and drives like new.  It's been 100% reliable.  No regrets.

GuitarStv

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Re: Why buying cheap used cars is better than new
« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2018, 06:28:53 PM »
If you purchase an efficient new car, then drive it into the ground for 15+ years, I suspect that the net costs for the period of time are pretty much a wash.

If you purchase an efficient *used* car, then drive it into the ground for 15+ years, I suspect that the net costs for the period of time are significantly less than buying new. Or if you purchase an efficient used car and drive it into the ground for 5-7 years, and then rinse and repeat for another 5-7 years, and rinse and repeat for another 5-7 years.

In my lifetime, I have owned 8 different vehicles. I still currently own three of those eight. The total purchase cost of them in total was ~$15,000. Or I could have instead purchased ONE new, very base-model economy car ten to twelve years ago. But then I would never have had a couple of really neat VWs, a useful minivan, a reliable economy sedan (Civic), a pizza delivery car (Civic) that just about paid for itself in fuel economy savings, a giant Dodge maxi-van that we learned some life preferences with, my SO's current car (Accord), or my work truck (Ranger). I'd have one car and one car only. And that would be significantly less value and utility in my life for the same financial outlay.

ETA: that $15,000 number is not counting any recouped cost from selling the five vehicles I no longer own. If I did count that, my total purchase cost looks more like ~$8,500.

This is also not counting the extra cost to insure a brand-new vehicle vs an older model. Or the extra expense of not having learned how to fix my own vehicle, for fear of ruining a new and very expensive (for a 17y/o kid) car.

In my lifetime I've owned one vehicle that was purchased new . . . a 2005 Corolla.  It's the car I currently drive.  I've never wanted to own a variety of cars, and never needed a van or a truck.  I've also never needed to spend hours searching the classifieds for yet another vehicle.  My vehicle has been completely reliable for the last 13 years.  Purchase price was about 16 grand or so . . . but it didn't need any repairs besides replacing the windshield wipers for the first five years.  I only ever had liability insurance in Ontario, and that's not significantly more expensive for a newer rather than older car.

Getting a used car is a perfectly legit way to save money . . . providing you know enough about cars to pick a good used car from the lemons, provided you don't need a dependable vehicle, provided you have a garage to work on the vehicle, provided you have the time to figure out and fix each problem as it comes up.  If none of those are true for you (as was the case for me when I was starting out), it may not end up saving you money in the long run.

APowers

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Re: Why buying cheap used cars is better than new
« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2018, 11:48:49 PM »
Yeah, I went through something similar.   I bought my first car for $700 way back in '85.   It was an ongoing cash sponge for repairs and failed completely after 1 year.

I don't think APowers was advocating purchasing junkers, but rather making careful purchases of used cars where you could get good value.

Correct. And if you don't have a clue about cars (which you may not, at 16-17), ~$50 will get you a good mechanic's opinion and save you from an about-to-implode car-tastrophe. Sounds like Slow2Fire had a few of those.

If you purchase an efficient new car, then drive it into the ground for 15+ years, I suspect that the net costs for the period of time are pretty much a wash.

If you purchase an efficient *used* car, then drive it into the ground for 15+ years, I suspect that the net costs for the period of time are significantly less than buying new. Or if you purchase an efficient used car and drive it into the ground for 5-7 years, and then rinse and repeat for another 5-7 years, and rinse and repeat for another 5-7 years.

In my lifetime, I have owned 8 different vehicles. I still currently own three of those eight. The total purchase cost of them in total was ~$15,000. Or I could have instead purchased ONE new, very base-model economy car ten to twelve years ago. But then I would never have had a couple of really neat VWs, a useful minivan, a reliable economy sedan (Civic), a pizza delivery car (Civic) that just about paid for itself in fuel economy savings, a giant Dodge maxi-van that we learned some life preferences with, my SO's current car (Accord), or my work truck (Ranger). I'd have one car and one car only. And that would be significantly less value and utility in my life for the same financial outlay.

ETA: that $15,000 number is not counting any recouped cost from selling the five vehicles I no longer own. If I did count that, my total purchase cost looks more like ~$8,500.

This is also not counting the extra cost to insure a brand-new vehicle vs an older model. Or the extra expense of not having learned how to fix my own vehicle, for fear of ruining a new and very expensive (for a 17y/o kid) car.

In my lifetime I've owned one vehicle that was purchased new . . . a 2005 Corolla.  It's the car I currently drive.  I've never wanted to own a variety of cars, and never needed a van or a truck.  I've also never needed to spend hours searching the classifieds for yet another vehicle.  My vehicle has been completely reliable for the last 13 years.  Purchase price was about 16 grand or so . . . but it didn't need any repairs besides replacing the windshield wipers for the first five years.  I only ever had liability insurance in Ontario, and that's not significantly more expensive for a newer rather than older car.

Getting a used car is a perfectly legit way to save money . . . providing you know enough about cars to pick a good used car from the lemons, provided you don't need a dependable vehicle, provided you have a garage to work on the vehicle, provided you have the time to figure out and fix each problem as it comes up.  If none of those are true for you (as was the case for me when I was starting out), it may not end up saving you money in the long run.

We actually *didn't* need a van. But we didn't know that until we had one. My point was that, had we bought new, we never would have even had the chance to learn that.

I agree that buying a new car may be more time-efficient, in the sense that no repair knowledge/skills are required, but I have yet to be impressed that a new vehicle is a better dollar value than a reliable older model used vehicle.

golden1

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Re: Why buying cheap used cars is better than new
« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2018, 09:58:06 AM »
My husband buys certified used cars that are just coming off of short term leases - he bought a Camry in 2012 that had 10K miles on it.  It was 18K vs 22K new so he saved a decent amount off depreciation vs. new without having to deal with the unreliability of a very used car.  He has a very short commute so he has about a 60-70K miles on his car and will probably drive it until it has 150K miles on it, or until it has a major mechanical issue. 

kaizen soze

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Re: Why buying cheap used cars is better than new
« Reply #13 on: March 26, 2018, 11:55:43 AM »
Is it really so much less time-consuming to buy a new car if you plan to drive it for many years? Assuming we're talking about buying a new car and driving it for 15 years or buying a five year old car and driving it for 10 years. You have to go car shopping every 15 years in the new car example, and every 10 years in the used car example. Shopping for a car every 10 years doesn't seem like a big deal to me. And even if a car is a time suck due to maintenance issues in years 5-15, then you have to suffer through those ten years in either example.

And in my experience, car problems can come up anytime. It's not like your new car is guaranteed to be maintenance-free for the first few years. One new car I bought had a defective cooling fan, leaving me stranded with an overheating engine on a hot day, and then the replacement fan was recalled, and THEN there was another recall on the second replacement fan, all within the first year. You'd think they'd have had the fan dialed in by the year 2001. But nope. There are many examples. Google Ford's Powershift transmission problems. Sadly one of these is in the car I currently drive.

Cadman

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Re: Why buying cheap used cars is better than new
« Reply #14 on: March 26, 2018, 02:14:01 PM »
One thing I didn't see mentioned was vehicle tax. Even if you swing a good deal on a new car, the taxes alone would cover any questionable preventative maintenance on a used vehicle. In some cases it would outright cover the purchase price of the used car itself. Then there's the annual registration fees on newer vehicles that make my eyes water. I try to remind myself of this anytime I start looking at 'new' cars.

GuitarStv

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Re: Why buying cheap used cars is better than new
« Reply #15 on: March 26, 2018, 02:25:19 PM »
Here in Ontario you have to pay tax when you buy a used car.  You also have to pay annual registration fees whether your vehicle is used or new (you also have to pay for an emissions test if your vehicle is older than 7 years to get your vehicle registered as well).

Cadman

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Re: Why buying cheap used cars is better than new
« Reply #16 on: March 26, 2018, 07:12:43 PM »
Here in Ontario you have to pay tax when you buy a used car.  You also have to pay annual registration fees whether your vehicle is used or new (you also have to pay for an emissions test if your vehicle is older than 7 years to get your vehicle registered as well).

It's similar here, 5% of purchase price I believe, but the yearly tags are a little crazy until 7-10 years out. Add to that insurance on a late model vehicle and it really adds up. I went through that once (late model, pre-owned) but much prefer my current driver. Sales tax on that was roughly the cost of a tank of gas. Annual registration on the order of $50. No emissions or annual inspections here.

HenryDavid

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Re: Why buying cheap used cars is better than new
« Reply #17 on: March 27, 2018, 08:11:25 AM »
It helps if you have a relative or friend with a line on good used vehicles.
A good friend of yours does marketing for a group of dealerships. She knows all the guys who see all of the trade-ins coming in.
Her own car came from this stream of checked-out vehicles, as will our next one, if there is a next one.
Failing a well-placed friend, maybe you have a car-savvy relative. It's not essential to have all of the knowledge your own self.

I do agree with those who say a durable moderately-priced new car, driven for 15 years, can be good value. My father does that. It works. But then there are folks I know who say "my lack of car knowledge forces me to lease a new SUV every 3 years so I can be sure it's reliable because I don't know jack about these things and might get stranded someplace." (So, we know that in this case over $6k every year = the price of ignorance.)

GuitarStv

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Re: Why buying cheap used cars is better than new
« Reply #18 on: March 27, 2018, 08:20:05 AM »
Here in Ontario you have to pay tax when you buy a used car.  You also have to pay annual registration fees whether your vehicle is used or new (you also have to pay for an emissions test if your vehicle is older than 7 years to get your vehicle registered as well).

It's similar here, 5% of purchase price I believe, but the yearly tags are a little crazy until 7-10 years out. Add to that insurance on a late model vehicle and it really adds up. I went through that once (late model, pre-owned) but much prefer my current driver. Sales tax on that was roughly the cost of a tank of gas. Annual registration on the order of $50. No emissions or annual inspections here.

Liability insurance prices are cheaper here for a new Toyota corolla than an old one (something about the additional safety features of lane assist and back up camera), and that's the only insurance you need to carry.

MrMoogle

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Re: Why buying cheap used cars is better than new
« Reply #19 on: March 27, 2018, 09:30:15 AM »
If you purchase an efficient new car, then drive it into the ground for 15+ years, I suspect that the net costs for the period of time are pretty much a wash.

I'm sure it will surprise no one that MMM comes out against buying the new car.

https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/11/28/new-cars-and-auto-financing-stupid-or-sensible/

His examples cover a new 2012 Corolla, which means the article was written a while ago.
MMM went up to 15k miles per year.  If you drive enough, I'd guess buying new is a good deal.

I drive like 3k-4k miles a year, so there's hardly any point in getting anything new.

daverobev

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Re: Why buying cheap used cars is better than new
« Reply #20 on: March 27, 2018, 01:58:21 PM »
Here in Ontario you have to pay tax when you buy a used car.  You also have to pay annual registration fees whether your vehicle is used or new (you also have to pay for an emissions test if your vehicle is older than 7 years to get your vehicle registered as well).

You don't need an etest if you don't live in a city. Amazingly. We are just outside the 'city' of Ottawa; no etests for us.

Honestly they should replace it with a full safety every two years. The number of rust buckets is terrible. Jagged rusty metal holes all over.

GuitarStv

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Re: Why buying cheap used cars is better than new
« Reply #21 on: March 27, 2018, 02:00:09 PM »
Here in Ontario you have to pay tax when you buy a used car.  You also have to pay annual registration fees whether your vehicle is used or new (you also have to pay for an emissions test if your vehicle is older than 7 years to get your vehicle registered as well).

You don't need an etest if you don't live in a city. Amazingly. We are just outside the 'city' of Ottawa; no etests for us.

Honestly they should replace it with a full safety every two years. The number of rust buckets is terrible. Jagged rusty metal holes all over.

Really?  WTF.

I've been really disappointed with the implementation of this drive clean program, the more I learn about it.

kaizen soze

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Re: Why buying cheap used cars is better than new
« Reply #22 on: March 27, 2018, 03:47:40 PM »
Here in Ontario you have to pay tax when you buy a used car.  You also have to pay annual registration fees whether your vehicle is used or new (you also have to pay for an emissions test if your vehicle is older than 7 years to get your vehicle registered as well).

You don't need an etest if you don't live in a city. Amazingly. We are just outside the 'city' of Ottawa; no etests for us.

Honestly they should replace it with a full safety every two years. The number of rust buckets is terrible. Jagged rusty metal holes all over.

Really?  WTF.

I've been really disappointed with the implementation of this drive clean program, the more I learn about it.

Don't know about Ontario, but I think this is pretty common in the US too. The rationale is that the costs of operating the testing program in rural areas exceed the benefits. Not saying I agree with that, or that I even know enough to have an opinion.

Cadman

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Re: Why buying cheap used cars is better than new
« Reply #23 on: March 28, 2018, 09:54:45 AM »
As a "car guy" I can appreciate living in an area without e-check or annual inspections. I keep my cars in good repair and it keeps my expenses low.

Not that I'm against the intent, but there's currently far too much corruption involved here in the States, and of course some oddball regulations. Take CA for example. 1975 models are commanding a premium on the collector market over the '76 version because pre-'76 is exempt from a smog check. Should you want to put a more efficient, cleaner burning engine in that '76, it's an automatic fail (non-original equipment). This has lead to some 'interesting' engineering, including buying older model diesel variants (permanently exempt) with blown engines and converting them to gas. It's a win all-around, but silly the rules have to be circumvented to get there.

My understanding is that Germany (and surely other places) separate the inspection from the repair such that a single facility can't turn the inspection into a money-grab.


Michael in ABQ

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Re: Why buying cheap used cars is better than new
« Reply #24 on: March 30, 2018, 02:18:25 AM »


I remember being 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22.  Buying cars for $400, $700, $2000, $2000, $1500.

1st car had no clue about cars, period.  Thing died immediately after the oil pressure light went on (seized motor).  Lasted 2 months
2nd car, still no clue -> broke down and repairs would have been more than the car cost originally.  Lasted 6 months
3rd car -> unfortunate accident where I hit a pothole just right coming over a hump in the road and there was a large metal beam sticking up out of the pothole.  Bent the frame, destroyed the radiator, fan, bumper, front grille, etc.  If I did have a new car with full insurance I would have been okay.  However, this was too costly to repair even though I spent $2000 on the car.  Lasted 1.5 years
4th car -> still not knowing enough, I was scammed into buying a car with a broken turbo and too tall tires.  The tires, being way too tall, worn treads and had poor traction; I lost control on an interstate interchange hitting the guard rail at 50mph.  Lost another $2000.  Lasted 1 year

5th car purchased brand new at age 22 for $14,000 lasted 13 years.  By this time I knew enough to be able to do all the maintenance on my own vehicles and could rebuild most anything on a vehicle (never touched an auto tranny though).

My anecdote, unlike your anecdote, indicates buying new and keeping for the long term is far superior in terms of cost.  Maintenance was far far cheaper on the 5th car compared to any of the previous (no more distributor caps, plug wires, timing light, 3000 mile oil and filter changes, 12000 mile spark plug changes, 24,000 mile fuel filter changes, 24000 mile radiator change, 60000 mile O2 sensor - the new car required plugs at 100,000, oil & filter at 7500, no fuel filter change unless an error code is thrown, no special equipment to set the points and timing on the distributor, 60,000 mile radiator fluid changes).

I think your problem was buying cars for $2,000 and under. Pretty hard to find a reliable vehicle at that price point. For $5,000 you probably could have bought a car that would have lasted several years. Or at least a few years before you sell it for $2,000 - $3,000 and then buy another $5,000 vehicle.

boarder42

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Re: Why buying cheap used cars is better than new
« Reply #25 on: March 30, 2018, 06:54:59 AM »
I don't think there is a break even point on buying a new vs used car. A properly purchased used car will likely always beat a new equivalent.

MrMoogle

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Re: Why buying cheap used cars is better than new
« Reply #26 on: April 03, 2018, 11:25:23 AM »
I don't think there is a break even point on buying a new vs used car. A properly purchased used car will likely always beat a new equivalent.
Yeah, if you are comparing buying new from a dealer vs used on craigslist, buying a 1 year old w/ 10k miles will always be better.  If somehow you're driving 250k miles a year, to the end of a life of a new car, there are probably ways to get a new car for cheaper than it would cost me to get one from the dealer, because you are buying so frequently.