Author Topic: buying a used car help  (Read 4864 times)

wifeytini623

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buying a used car help
« on: September 11, 2013, 08:19:36 AM »
Okay mustachians, I need to know whether this is a good idea or if I need a punch in the face!

After almost four years of marriage and two kids, I think it's time we get a second car. We've been able to be a one-car household while my husband takes the other car to work, which leaves the kids and I at home without a car. This worked until my son was born six months ago. Son has special needs and we have bi-monthly visits to his specialist and to a hospital that's 90 minutes away. Not having a second car has meant that I get up at 4:30 am, bundle the kids in the car, drop husband off at the train station, drive back home, drive 90 minutes away to son's hospital, drive back, and the drive back to the train station (20 minutes away) and back to pick up husband at the end of the day. Ridiculous, right?

Oh, and husband is now in an outpatient treatment center for some addiction problems, so for the next 6 weeks it won't be possible for me to drive him at all (he goes to the treatment center after work). It might be possible to rent a car for the next six weeks, but I think it might be time to bite the bullet and actually BUY a car (used, obviously!).

I'm looking at two options from private sellers - a Honda CRV for $12,400 and a 2003 Honda Pilot for $12K, both have under 60K miles. I've only heard good things about hondas, so that is a plus. The pilot seems laughably big, but it gives us room to grow if we have more children, and it has ample storage space in the back, which is nice because we anticipate my son having a wheelchair when he is mobile (he has Spina Bifida). (it also has a DVD player for those loonnnnng trips up to the hospital, just saying! lol.)

I'm thinking I will negotiate at least 20 percent off of either vehicle we choose to purchase, and pay in cash.

What say ye? Am I making a totally stupid decision? is a Honda Pilot a total waste of space and money? I am having trouble finding a used honda or toyota (my favorites) with less than 100K miles on it, for less than $5k. So this seems like a good alternative to me, but I'd like to get some input. Thoughts?

PindyStache

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Re: buying a used car help
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2013, 08:49:31 AM »
It sounds like you are working very hard to help your family, great for you!

I'm guessing you've already read the MMM posts on used cars:
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/04/19/how-to-come-out-way-ahead-when-buying-a-used-car/
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/03/19/top-10-cars-for-smart-people/

It sounds like your family's needs are a bit different than the assumptions MMM is making about small cars, but as you say this second car would be used for fairly specific and limited purposes. If you've been able to get along just fine as a one-car household up to this point it doesn't seem like you'd need to start driving the new-to-you car every day. Even a growing family can be accommodated with a fairly small car that is more fuel-efficient and cheaper than either a CRV and certainly the Pilot. We just bought a 2004 Toyota Matrix with 108k miles on it for this purpose ($8,500 from a dealership--not many manual transmissions available from private sales in our area).

Thus a few suggested conclusions:
1) If you only need this second car for occasional driving, I'd encourage you to look at vehicles with over 60k miles, or even over 100k miles. What is really important is not the mileage it comes with, but how many more years it will get you where you need to go.

2) It is probably inefficient to get a larger car now for the sake of a potential future growing family with 3+ kids. You should do the math on depreciation/maintenance of owning a larger vehicle (Pilot! eek!) for several years when you're basically not using it vs. buying a smaller car now and then revisiting the question again if your family does actually grow to need more than 5 seats/space for wheelchair in several years.

3) Have you explored public transit options for people with disabilities in your area? My city offers free and personal/individual service to folks in wheelchairs point-to-point all across town. There are some inefficiencies and waits involved at times, but you may be able to find a service that allows you to stay a single car family--it would be worth quite a bit of time waiting. Even if you waited an hour a week and value your time at $50/hr, it will take you more than 5 years to recoup just the purchase price of the vehicles you're considering.

Also, I don't know much about negotiating used car sales, but assuming 20% off seems awfully bold to me.

Best of luck to you and regardless of what you decide the most important part of this picture is certainly your commitment to your family!

Mr.Macinstache

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Re: buying a used car help
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2013, 08:52:41 AM »
Dont sweat it, get that 2nd car if its within your means.

I would go more toward a Honda Odyssey or Toyota Sienna... if/when it comes to a wheel chair, vans are amazing in that regard. The fold down back seats are priceless. Do yourself the favor and go test drive them. They get decent mileage too, better than an SUV in the 19-25mpg range. They ride nicer too. The CRV is on the small side for a family vehicle IMO.

katheh

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Re: buying a used car help
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2013, 08:56:06 AM »
Well, what kind of car is your primary car?

Because if your husband is commuting, maybe you could keep car #1 and he can drive an efficient cheapie.

wifeytini623

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Re: buying a used car help
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2013, 09:46:23 AM »
Wow, THANK YOU for the responses!

Our primary car is a 2003 Toyota Matrix. (We got it for $5100 before my oldest was born with 80,000 miles on it. We LOVE IT.) I would gladly use that to cart the kiddos around and get my husband a cheap(er) car to take to work. I love that idea, I am just having a hard time finding any reliable used car around here (either through a private owner or dealership) that is less than $5k and has a reasonable amount of miles on it -- I'm a little gun-shy about buying a car with a ton of miles on it, just to have it crap out in a year. Is that wrong of me?

PindyStache

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Re: buying a used car help
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2013, 10:18:34 AM »
I'm a little gun-shy about buying a car with a ton of miles on it, just to have it crap out in a year. Is that wrong of me?

Well, this discussion is happening right next door:
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/buying-a-used-vehicle-how-many-miles-is-too-many/

Honda/Toyota have the reputation of reliability and longer mileage lifetimes, but the problem is that everyone has that same opinion and prices reflect that. Have you explored other makes?

There is some uncertainty in any car purchase, used or new--my parents bought a new Audi a while back and had its electrical system fail on them after 3 months. There are never any guarantees! Consider how many miles you would be driving each year on this 2nd car. For example, if you drive only 5,000 miles compared to the standard 15,000 per year, then you buying a used car with 100k miles on it will be about the same as a normal person buying a new car and expecting to get 10 years out of it (not an unreasonable assumption).

I'm jealous of the deal you got on your Matrix--that's awesome! We probably should have had more patience in our own car search.

wifeytini623

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Re: buying a used car help
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2013, 10:39:39 AM »
NICE! Thank you for the link pindy. That thread reminds me of a great point - maintenance may be just as important as mileage. If it's the first owner, garage kept, etc., then 150k miles might not be that bad.

Because of your suggestion we're now considering going cheaper - a 2006 Honda Accord with 130k miles, asking price $7500. If I can purchase for $6800-$7k I think it would be a great deal. And much better gas mileage than the pilot. That way the kids and I could keep the Matrix with the extra space in the back and we would have a cheap(er) vehicle with better gas mileage. I think that might be a better plan?

Don't be too jealous of our Matrix deal though - it's such a no-frills car it isn't even funny! The back two tires don't even have hubcaps, and you have to manually crank the windows and lock the doors so we look downright poor next to all our friends with brand new, leased cars. But it only cost $5k so I'm in LOVE :)

Mr.Macinstache

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Re: buying a used car help
« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2013, 10:52:11 AM »
Just be patient and the right deal will come along... I paid $5700 for our 02 Ody van with 117k. It has been great. Looking back I should have got the 06 Ody with 52k for $13k. That was a great deal.

Sometimes spending a little more up front on a lower mileage car is well worth it, but there are in demand so the price is up there for sure.

Jack

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Re: buying a used car help
« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2013, 02:32:37 PM »
Wow, THANK YOU for the responses!

Our primary car is a 2003 Toyota Matrix. (We got it for $5100 before my oldest was born with 80,000 miles on it. We LOVE IT.) I would gladly use that to cart the kiddos around and get my husband a cheap(er) car to take to work. I love that idea, I am just having a hard time finding any reliable used car around here (either through a private owner or dealership) that is less than $5k and has a reasonable amount of miles on it -- I'm a little gun-shy about buying a car with a ton of miles on it, just to have it crap out in a year. Is that wrong of me?

Get a $3k-$5K Hyundai Accent hatchback with a manual transmission for your husband to commute in. I'm partial to the 2001-2005 models because they had independent rear suspensions (i.e., sporty), but the 2006+ models probably get better fuel economy for commuting. Hyundai is just as high-quality as Toyota and Honda, too (at least since 2000 or so), but without the premium price.

wifeytini623

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Re: buying a used car help
« Reply #9 on: September 20, 2013, 06:32:46 PM »
Hey mustachians - I just wanted to say thank you SO MUCH for helping me with this problem. We decided to pull the trigger on a 2005 Honda Pilot with 51k miles. The sellers asking price/blue book value was $12k and I managed to negotiate it down to $9500! What up! Our house fund took a hit, but we managed to pay in cash and we truly love this car!

We are extremely pleased with the purchase and had a wonderful buying experience (super sweet family, mechanics said the car was in excellent condition, no problems so far, etc.). The only drawback is that this car is wayyy bigger than we need and gets crappy gas mileage (I wanna say like low 20 mpgs?). We're combating that by using it very sparingly and doing multiple errands in one trip. Plus the mileage is so low and the car was so exquisitely maintained, we figure we will be driving this baby for at least another 10+ years -- so I think we totally hit the jackpot, and I am thrilled. AAAANYWAY. Thank you guys!