Author Topic: Best Deal on a Used Car?  (Read 1008 times)

Frugal Vegan Mom

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Best Deal on a Used Car?
« on: November 14, 2018, 10:21:52 PM »
Ya, ya I know cars are anti-mustachian, but due to living in MN, jobs, and having 3 little kids, we are driving for now.  So help a girl out:

Is it better financially to buy a total beater with 180K miles for a couple thousand (assuming car runs fine now but doesn't have a lot of life or will need repairs soon) ? 

Or, buy something only 5 years old in great condition for twelve thousand, assuming it will last 10 more years?

Neither of us know a thing about cars, so no home repairs.  Money is in the bank for either situation, no other debts. 

Ecky

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Re: Best Deal on a Used Car?
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2018, 04:30:24 AM »
There may be other options.

I flew down to South Carolina on a long weekend and picked up a 195k mile 2007 Honda Fit manual for my girlfriend for $3000. It had never seen salt before so there's not a speck of rust on it anywhere. It was a one owner vehicle who wanted something a little nicer as she was getting older, and immaculate service records - showing basically nothing but oil changes and a few recalls.

So far so good. That particular Honda engine is bulletproof and may be good for 3-400k miles or more. I would not buy a high mileage automatic, but manuals have very little to go wrong and often deliver better real world fuel economy. It will need a clutch at some point in its life, but most small wear parts are cheap as dirt, and will be easy to replace since it's not rusted. Brakes for $6, $30 axles, $30 control arms, $30 bearings.

I'm not suggesting the Fit as a... well, fit for a family of 5, but just using it as an example of a good deal for our circumstances.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Best Deal on a Used Car?
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2018, 05:04:36 AM »
I think driving three kids around you want something more in the 5 years old category, as itís going to have substantial safety improvements over older cars: traction control for one.

But, Iím out of line with the community here as I bought a brand-new car (Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid) this year.

nereo

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Re: Best Deal on a Used Car?
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2018, 05:24:16 AM »
The two biggest factors in determining a used vehicle's price are (1) miles on the odometer follower by (2) age of the vehicle.  The former has a big impact on how much 'life' the vehicle has left while the latter less so.

In plain english, the best deals on used cars come from older models which have comparitively few miles on them.  They are harder to find, but thanks to online searches its getting easier.  As an example, a 2012 civic with 130,000 miles on it will cost slightly more than a 2006 civic with only 75,000 miles on it, yet the older car has been used less and will last longer (because it's been driven 55,000 miles less).  The one thing to look out for is excessive rust in older vehicles, which can be a problem in very snowy states but non-existent in warmer climates.

My personal preference is to search out cars that are 8 to 12 years old but with under 100,000k on them. Door dings and scratches are a mustachian's friend (it lowers the price but not the longevity), as long as the car hasn't been in a serious accident.

As for safety features, big updates in safety and crash testing occurred in '99 (dual airbags) & 2000 (rollover & stricter NHTSA) as well as the requirement of electronic stablity control ('07).  There haven't been (m)any major required updates in vehicle safety since. Most of hte newer technologies for improving safety are software based, like adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking.  Nice features to have but they aren't required and most models (even new) still don't have them.  Put another way, from a safety standpoint, virtually any vehicle from 2007 is substantially more safe than vehicles from even the late 1990s.

g'luck

chemistk

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Re: Best Deal on a Used Car?
« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2018, 05:53:25 AM »
In your situation, a "total beater" is not going to cut it. Unless you're up for learning as you go and are very patient and resilient, you'll encounter more strife than success.

Are your kids in car seats? Booster seats?

Do you roadtrip often? Need to carry around extra gear?

I'm sure you've heard. but I hope you're aware that AWD is not a necessity.

Are you overly concerned with safety? Would you honestly call yourself a good driver?

Taking the above questions into consideration, the first thing you need to do is determine what kind of car you need and the maintenance you're willing to put in. That will dictate the pricepoint.

Can you go small (a Honda Fit or Toyota Matrix)?

If not small, medium (a Toyota Prius/Prius V or Mazda 5)?

If not medium, then a minivan would be the best choice.

If you're unsure - For example. a 5-7 year old used minivan with 80-100k miles would be approximately at the top end of your budget and (unless it's a Chrysler product) should last you at least another 5+ years/80k+ miles. Alternatively, a 12-15 year old used minivan with 160k+ miles could last that long but with more maintenance required, for half your budget or less.

Tester

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Re: Best Deal on a Used Car?
« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2018, 06:56:11 AM »
This yeat I bought a 2009 honda odyssey for 9200 usd, tax and registration included.
It had 145000 miles on it.
Changed the timing belt and water pump for another 800.
Now I am approaching 10k miles with it, signs are that it was a good buy and I will use it for many years.

The gas mileage is poor as it is driven on hills in thr city...

ReadySetMillionaire

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Re: Best Deal on a Used Car?
« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2018, 07:17:24 AM »
Anecdotal, but my good friends have two kids.  They are relatively frugal and went the route of purchasing very old cars (150,000ish miles).  Both of their cars are breaking down after just a couple years and now they are getting nicer used cars.

I personally tried for the three-year sweet spot -- most leases are three year leases, and people turn them in, and then dealers just want to get them off the lot.  I got a great deal for a 2014 Honda CR-V and don't regret it at all.

RWD

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Re: Best Deal on a Used Car?
« Reply #7 on: November 16, 2018, 07:30:56 AM »
You can buy brand new cars for under $12k. Granted, you'll be stuck with the terrible Mitsubishi Mirage, but just putting it in perspective that that is a fairly generous budget for a used car.

Here is a 2013 Subaru Legacy with 67k miles near Minneapolis for $10k.
https://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale/vehicledetails.xhtml?listingId=497670117

nereo

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Re: Best Deal on a Used Car?
« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2018, 07:55:44 AM »
...just adding to my earlier thoughts upthread...

The OP asked which was better:
Option A) buying 'total beater' for a couple thousand, or
Option B) spending up to $12k for a car about five years old with plenty of life left on it.

Given that the OP knows little about cars or car repair (self-described), I would go with "Option C" - model year cars 2008-2010 with around ~80k miles.

These cars aren't 'beaters' in any sense of the word but (as RWD highlighted) can be acquired for much, much less than $12k ($6-8k would be more common).  Even an 'older' model-year 2008 car will have electronic stability control, dual & curtain airbags and ABS. At ~80k these vehicles should give your average driver many years of low-maintenance/high-reliability driving.

FWIW I don't consider a $5k car with 150k on it to be a 'beater'. Modern cars can easily run past 240k with proper maintenance, so for many mustachians a 'beater' denotes a car that's <$1k and has >200k . If I were to buy a car with 150k on the odometers I'd expect it to last me at least 6 more years with maybe one or two major repairs during that time frame. YMMV (pun intended)

ketchup

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Re: Best Deal on a Used Car?
« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2018, 09:58:52 AM »
...just adding to my earlier thoughts upthread...

The OP asked which was better:
Option A) buying 'total beater' for a couple thousand, or
Option B) spending up to $12k for a car about five years old with plenty of life left on it.

Given that the OP knows little about cars or car repair (self-described), I would go with "Option C" - model year cars 2008-2010 with around ~80k miles.

These cars aren't 'beaters' in any sense of the word but (as RWD highlighted) can be acquired for much, much less than $12k ($6-8k would be more common).  Even an 'older' model-year 2008 car will have electronic stability control, dual & curtain airbags and ABS. At ~80k these vehicles should give your average driver many years of low-maintenance/high-reliability driving.

FWIW I don't consider a $5k car with 150k on it to be a 'beater'. Modern cars can easily run past 240k with proper maintenance, so for many mustachians a 'beater' denotes a car that's <$1k and has >200k . If I were to buy a car with 150k on the odometers I'd expect it to last me at least 6 more years with maybe one or two major repairs during that time frame. YMMV (pun intended)
Definitely agree with this.  If you go with the binary thought of $1k beater or $12k used car, you'll find yourself talked into the $12k used car very easily.

I'd consider both our cars to be one tier above "beater."  One is a 2005 Kia bought with 112k miles earlier this year for $2k, and the other is a 2001 Volvo bought with 140k miles last year for $1800.  Now they're at 125k and 180k respectively, and probably each have 2-3 years before hitting true "beater" status.

Another tier above ours probably makes sense for you, with kids (less breakdown tolerant, though I've had none other than flat tires with our current cars) and less mechanical knowledge.  You can get something like a 2008 Hyundai with ~100k for three grand these days.

kms

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Re: Best Deal on a Used Car?
« Reply #10 on: November 16, 2018, 10:15:15 AM »
In my personal experience buying an older car (older meaning older than around 7 years) is only financially sound if the following three conditions are met:
  • The lower the mileage the better, ideally you want something with less than 100,000 miles. On the other hand you want to avoid cars with a suspiciously low mileage, like 1-2k miles per year, and cars that haven't been driven in more than a year.
  • Your livelihood should not depend on it. In other words: if you show up late for work you won't get fired.
  • You know your way around fixing cars yourself.
That last point is the most crucial one by far because it will make the difference between an interesting hobby/project and a money pit. A car can last a very long time if it is well taken care of. However, things will start to break after a while due to expected mechanical wear and tear, and even minor repairs and maintenance can get incredibly pricey at this point. That does not mean that you need to know how to take an engine apart (although it would certainly help) but a basic understanding of how a car works and how to analyze and fix problems will go a very long way. If you can not only tell the difference between brake pads, a timing belt, and an air filter but also where each part belongs and what it does you're already half-way there.

Since, however, you state yourself that "Neither of us know a thing about cars, so no home repairs." I advise you to stay away from older cars. The risk of facing a ginormous several thousand dollar repair bill in the near future would be too high. Get the 5-year old car, maintain it properly, and you should be able to enjoy it for many more years.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2018, 10:20:20 AM by kms »

Dr.Jeckyl

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Re: Best Deal on a Used Car?
« Reply #11 on: November 16, 2018, 11:10:07 AM »
I think driving three kids around you want something more in the 5 years old category, as itís going to have substantial safety improvements over older cars: traction control for one.

But, Iím out of line with the community here as I bought a brand-new car (Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid) this year.

I like that Pacifica hybrid. We just bought a Town & Country and love the utility that the van offers but we figured in a few years when they hit the used market we may upgrade and then we would rarely have to use gas.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Best Deal on a Used Car?
« Reply #12 on: November 16, 2018, 12:34:30 PM »
I think driving three kids around you want something more in the 5 years old category, as itís going to have substantial safety improvements over older cars: traction control for one.

But, Iím out of line with the community here as I bought a brand-new car (Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid) this year.

I like that Pacifica hybrid. We just bought a Town & Country and love the utility that the van offers but we figured in a few years when they hit the used market we may upgrade and then we would rarely have to use gas.

Itís fantastic. People struggling with their budgets shouldnít buy it. But it is great.

alsoknownasDean

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Re: Best Deal on a Used Car?
« Reply #13 on: November 17, 2018, 03:29:56 AM »
For you and your situation (not knowing a lot about cars, three young kids, etc), get the newer one. Safety ratings, not having to worry about a breakdown with three kids, etc. A good five year old used car is still far cheaper than buying new and trading in every few years.

Alternatively, someone that is single with a bit of mechanical knowledge who doesn't rely on the car too heavily can definitely get away with driving a beater. I paid $3000 for my low km 2002 hatchback four years ago and aside from one or two minor issues (mostly age related), has been reliable.