Author Topic: $5K vs. $8K for a reliable second car? Am I too cheap?  (Read 5060 times)

miniwrite

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$5K vs. $8K for a reliable second car? Am I too cheap?
« on: March 01, 2016, 11:20:20 AM »
My question:   In general terms, is there a LOT of difference between a $5K vs. $8K used, by-owner car?? Of course, we will get any potential car checked out by an independent mechanic.

Backstory: Our 22-year-old Honda Accord bit the dust (transmission problem too expensive to fix). We need a replacement car, but it can be pretty modest. I work from home, so drive for occasional errands, getting a kid to school, etc. I just want it to be reasonably reliable for maybe 3-5 years if that's possible. Not a complete beater.

I'm seeing used 2004-05 Honda Civics in the $5-6K range. Does that sound like enough to spend on a very secondary family car or am I being TOO cheap? If we move up to a 2007-08 model, we'd pay closer to $8K.

I'm just trying to figure out if a $5K car is TOO cheap? (I hope not, but my hubby is skeptical). I haven't bought a car in so long!

neo von retorch

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Re: $5K vs. $8K for a reliable second car? Am I too cheap?
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2016, 11:47:32 AM »
It doesn't sound like you're being too cheap. ~Ten years old sounds solid. How many miles are on the cars in this price range? My 8 year old Fit is worth roughly $5k with 80,000 miles on it in this area, and yet it'll easily go with relatively low maintenance for a long, long time. (It has new tires and I'm half way done with some tune-ups - ignition coils were pricey. Spark plugs will not be!)

AZDude

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Re: $5K vs. $8K for a reliable second car? Am I too cheap?
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2016, 01:51:07 PM »
How are your finances? The answer changes quite a bit depending on well you are doing.

Doing well financially, with no/little debt and nice savings? Spring for the $8k if you want.

Lots of debt, collectors hunting you down? You don't even need a second care, but if you must buy one, go with the $5K.

Somewhere in between, use your best judgement.

Jack

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Re: $5K vs. $8K for a reliable second car? Am I too cheap?
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2016, 01:57:24 PM »
No, you're not being too cheap. IMO, $5K is too high (at least for a normal, boring economy sedan), not too low!

2Birds1Stone

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Re: $5K vs. $8K for a reliable second car? Am I too cheap?
« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2016, 02:04:24 PM »
I'm currently toying with the idea of replacing my vehicle as well. For me the sweet spot seems to be around the $7-8k mark, however I am looking for something that is "fun to drive" and practical.

Larabeth

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Re: $5K vs. $8K for a reliable second car? Am I too cheap?
« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2016, 02:07:09 PM »
I would go with an 05 Civic in the 6K range.  8K is almost too high for my taste... I know in another year or two that same car will be in the 6K range.

bobechs

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Re: $5K vs. $8K for a reliable second car? Am I too cheap?
« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2016, 02:11:27 PM »
The difference between $5K and $8K is not all that great when considered as an element of total cost of ownership over the timeframe you've laid out.

You are going to spend much more than three thousand dollars on fuel, routine maintenance, insurance, repairs, incidentals and full depreciation than that.   Assuming you put a total of 200K miles (number just for convenience-- as a proxy for 'driving it 'til the wheels fall off') on either of the proposed cars over the remaining life that's just 1.5 cents per mile extra depreciation out of the half dollar or so you will be forking over for other stuff(or even higher per-mile cost if you really drive very, very little).

So, don't twist your guts over this either way, and don't listen too closely to those who will echo back that this is a big, big financial decision.

Edit: I mean, this is a big financial decision but the big decision is whether to own a car or not, not the marginal price difference of the two you have set yourself to choose between.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2016, 02:20:41 PM by bobechs »

ketchup

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Re: $5K vs. $8K for a reliable second car? Am I too cheap?
« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2016, 02:22:20 PM »
As long as you're careful with either purchase, both will likely be "fine."  An $8k car may last a little bit longer than a $5k car, so total cost of ownership per mile is probably pretty darn close especially if you're comparing cars with similar expected lifespans and reliability.  (This all assumes you have no BS debt and you're paying cash and are on decent financial footing etc.)

That said, no reason to spend $8k when you could spend $5k.  My dad just bought a 2007 Nissan last year with 84,000 miles for ~$4800 and it's been good to him so far.

It sounds like you're not in a giant hurry to get a replacement car, so I'd say keep your eyes peeled and strike quickly once you spot a deal (price vs miles/condition/age) in your range.  Time being on your side is a big plus.  The cheaper the car, the more careful/patient you have to be to get something good.  When my dad was car shopping last summer, his old car was on its last rusty legs, and finding his Nissan took him about a month.

humbleMouse

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Re: $5K vs. $8K for a reliable second car? Am I too cheap?
« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2016, 02:55:36 PM »
I just bought a 2006 ford ranger for 3.5k on craigslist.  140k miles, meticulously maintained, new tires, remote start, etc. etc. 

It's been about a month and the truck runs perfectly.  The engine sounds great and it's a pleasure to drive.  There is also no rust and the truck looks like it's new.

Don't let the price alone drive your decision.  Actually do some research into the car that you want to buy and make sure it was maintained properly.  If you just go off KBB or whatever you think is the "correct price to pay for a used car" you are going to miss out on sweet deals. 


Gone Fishing

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Re: $5K vs. $8K for a reliable second car? Am I too cheap?
« Reply #9 on: March 01, 2016, 02:59:36 PM »
Hondas are good, but in my opinion, the "Honda Premium" has eaten up a lot of the value in used ones.  How do similar Toyota models compare?  I'm not there yet, but Kia's and Hyundai's are starting to look attractive as well.

Jack

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Re: $5K vs. $8K for a reliable second car? Am I too cheap?
« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2016, 03:08:32 PM »
I just bought a 2006 ford ranger for 3.5k on craigslist.  140k miles, meticulously maintained, new tires, remote start, etc. etc. 

Please tell me it's 2WD and automatic so I don't have to die of envy.

DebtFreeBy25

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Re: $5K vs. $8K for a reliable second car? Am I too cheap?
« Reply #11 on: March 01, 2016, 03:21:16 PM »
I just bought a 2006 ford ranger for 3.5k on craigslist.  140k miles, meticulously maintained, new tires, remote start, etc. etc. 

Please tell me it's 2WD and automatic so I don't have to die of envy.

I, too, would love to have your truck. If it's a 4WD, that was a seriously find.

Anyway, back to OP, who does your maintenance? If you DIY, you can afford to drive a car that needs more frequent repairs. Assuming that you (or your spouse) don't do your own maintenance, I would look for a vehicle with lower miles regardless of age. You already drive your cars until the wheels fall off, so in my opinion, it is completely reasonable to spend a little more on something that will likely last longer.

I personally buy whatever I want within the parameters of under 10k, under 70k miles, solid mechanics and decent fuel economy. We're always willing to do some minor body work to get a low miles, late model vehicle at a good price. My husband's a mechanic though, so repairs and maintenance don't hit us as hard.  If I were you I'd look at the total cost of ownership of several different cars, not just Hondas, before making a purchasing decision.

DL;DR: No, 8k is not too much for reliable car with low(ish) miles.

jzb11

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Re: $5K vs. $8K for a reliable second car? Am I too cheap?
« Reply #12 on: March 01, 2016, 04:29:13 PM »
www.hertzcarsales.com

You can get 2013-2014 with 50k miles for under 10K. All kinds of compact/subcompact cars available with the occasional mid size sedan as well. Put in your zip code and give it a go.

lbmustache

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Re: $5K vs. $8K for a reliable second car? Am I too cheap?
« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2016, 05:13:33 PM »
www.hertzcarsales.com

You can get 2013-2014 with 50k miles for under 10K. All kinds of compact/subcompact cars available with the occasional mid size sedan as well. Put in your zip code and give it a go.

Yes! Some of the cars are dirt cheap. You are kind of "rolling the dice," but IMO the rental cars to really worry about are the more "fun" ones. Are people beating on a Hyundai Accent or Chevy Spark? Probably not. I think if you go with a reliable car (Corolla etc.) that was a rental there shouldn't be any issues.

tobitonic

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Re: $5K vs. $8K for a reliable second car? Am I too cheap?
« Reply #14 on: March 01, 2016, 07:58:39 PM »
My question:   In general terms, is there a LOT of difference between a $5K vs. $8K used, by-owner car?? Of course, we will get any potential car checked out by an independent mechanic.

Backstory: Our 22-year-old Honda Accord bit the dust (transmission problem too expensive to fix). We need a replacement car, but it can be pretty modest. I work from home, so drive for occasional errands, getting a kid to school, etc. I just want it to be reasonably reliable for maybe 3-5 years if that's possible. Not a complete beater.

I'm seeing used 2004-05 Honda Civics in the $5-6K range. Does that sound like enough to spend on a very secondary family car or am I being TOO cheap? If we move up to a 2007-08 model, we'd pay closer to $8K.

I'm just trying to figure out if a $5K car is TOO cheap? (I hope not, but my hubby is skeptical). I haven't bought a car in so long!

This might not be on your radar at all, but if you're interested in a safety boost, I'd go with at least an '06 Civic. That's the year when side airbags became standard in that model.

If you want to stick with an Accord, they got side airbags standard in '05.

Drifterrider

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Re: $5K vs. $8K for a reliable second car? Am I too cheap?
« Reply #15 on: March 02, 2016, 05:52:13 AM »
I'm just trying to figure out if a $5K car is TOO cheap? (I hope not, but my hubby is skeptical). I haven't bought a car in so long!

In my book you are a spendthrift.  In October I bought a 2005 Hyundai Accent (4 DR) with 106K miles.  I paid $3,500 (all in, TT&L).  I thought it was too much.  It has heat, air, new tires and I use 4 gallons of gas per week (loving that part).

NO $5,000 is not CHEAP. 

Rubic

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Re: $5K vs. $8K for a reliable second car? Am I too cheap?
« Reply #16 on: March 02, 2016, 07:44:44 AM »
If I can find a car for $2,000 on craigslist and I've made a mistake, it's only a $2,000 mistake (max).

I once bought a Saturn for $200(!), put in a rebuilt transmission for $750 and drove it for nearly 5 years (though the A/C went out after the first year).  Then sold it for $25 in scrap parts(*).

Currently skimming CL for my next $2000-3000 commuter, but not in any rush (yet).



* However, lest anyone consider me a frugal badass, in my spendthrift days I've also owned a Mercedes 560 SEL. Argh.



humbleMouse

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Re: $5K vs. $8K for a reliable second car? Am I too cheap?
« Reply #17 on: March 02, 2016, 08:50:46 AM »
I just bought a 2006 ford ranger for 3.5k on craigslist.  140k miles, meticulously maintained, new tires, remote start, etc. etc. 

Please tell me it's 2WD and automatic so I don't have to die of envy.

Yes, it's 2WD and automatic.  It has oversized tires and upgraded suspension too though!  And a towing package!  Pretty fun to peel off with the back wheels burning rubber all the time now :P

NoStacheOhio

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Re: $5K vs. $8K for a reliable second car? Am I too cheap?
« Reply #18 on: March 02, 2016, 12:08:12 PM »
This might not be on your radar at all, but if you're interested in a safety boost, I'd go with at least an '06 Civic. That's the year when side airbags became standard in that model.

If you want to stick with an Accord, they got side airbags standard in '05.

The other thing that's important to mention is the Takata recall. Make sure the car you're purchasing isn't recalled, or if it was, has had the airbags replaced.

miniwrite

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Re: $5K vs. $8K for a reliable second car? Am I too cheap?
« Reply #19 on: March 02, 2016, 08:58:58 PM »
As long as you're careful with either purchase, both will likely be "fine."  An $8k car may last a little bit longer than a $5k car, so total cost of ownership per mile is probably pretty darn close especially if you're comparing cars with similar expected lifespans and reliability.

This makes me feel better. Great point--spend more, longer life so the prices are comparable in that way.

I want to spend as little as possible without getting an absolute beater because:
1- We will be paying cash (and no, no other debt)
2- We are cash-flowing our oldest daughter's college right now so every bit of extra money is going there (state school), and
3- I drive so little because I work from home that I don't want a more expensive car just sitting in our driveway looking pretty.

I'm also not wed to Hondas. We've just had good luck with them in the past (the last one lasted 22 years and the interior still looks new!). A good Toyota or Nissan would work, too. I just started with Hondas.

sol

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Re: $5K vs. $8K for a reliable second car? Am I too cheap?
« Reply #20 on: March 02, 2016, 09:05:54 PM »
I'm seeing used 2004-05 Honda Civics in the $5-6K range. Does that sound like enough to spend on a very secondary family car or am I being TOO cheap? If we move up to a 2007-08 model, we'd pay closer to $8K.

Today I bought a very fancy 2012 commuter car for $7700.  Not a 2008.  GPS navigation, bluetooth integration, heated seats front and rear, led headlights, the works.  Craigslist is full of them.

Civics are overpriced, though.