Author Topic: Car Shopping  (Read 4887 times)

timtom123

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Car Shopping
« on: July 22, 2015, 06:53:20 AM »
Hey mustachian braintrust,

I'm looking for a new car. Starting my first shirt and tie office job in a week, but until those checks start coming in I only feel comfortable playing with about $5000 of my savings.

That being said, should I finance something more expensive or should I pay cash for a junker? I think I already know what all of you will say, and I'll probably get laughed at for even considering a loan. But to me it seems that everything that's out there in my price range are just beaters. Everything seems to be well over 100,000 miles, and most are 10-15 years old. I worry about the longevity of a car like that, and I don't know anything about car repair.

On the other hand, I test drove a 2012 Toyota Matrix with 25,000 miles on it the other day and I loved it. It gets great gas mileage, it's roomy without being over the top, and what's most reassuring for me is that it's in perfect shape. Only trouble is that it's $15,000.

What do I do folks?

DeltaBond

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Re: Car Shopping
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2015, 07:04:54 AM »
I strongly recommend that you buy a one month subscription to consumer reports, and when you have a car in mind, look it up.  Their website will show you all the years for that car and if it had problems, what problems they tend to have.  Then also look it up on edmunds.com, then on cartalk.com  I would love to say Honda Accords are the best, but there are actually some years that every car has a low point, so start with those websites.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2015, 07:08:11 AM by DeltaBond »

James

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Re: Car Shopping
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2015, 07:06:14 AM »
Just because you don't feel comfortable paying only $5,000, doesn't mean you need to jump to $15,000...

I would bet you could find something in the $5-7k range that is decently reliable and relatively high mpg.
Start here: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/03/19/top-10-cars-for-smart-people/

Just because it has over 100k miles doesn't make it unreliable, and brand new doesn't make it reliable. I purchased a brand new van in 2005 and it spent 27 days in the shop the first year due to multiple problems.

I would look for something with over 100k miles in the above list of cars, and focus on the overall quality of the vehicle. Look for maintenance log and evidence of care, and have it inspected prior to purchase. Don't be afraid to walk away after inspection if you don't feel comfortable. Nothing wrong with staying in your $5000 budget, you can start a car fund and upgrade later when you know what you want and can afford it.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2015, 07:07:57 AM by James »

Phenix

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Re: Car Shopping
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2015, 07:38:27 AM »
Also remember that a $5,000 car will depreciate slower than a $15,000 car.  So the odds of you recouping most of your costs (or possibly making money if you snag a deal) when you go to sell & upgrade are much better with the less expensive car.  Also consider you'll pay 3x as much tax (a sunk cost) on a $15,000 car as you would on a $5,000 car.

I like to ask myself how many miles do I expect to get out of this vehicle and how much do I expect to sell it for.  I generally like to get at least 20 miles (more if it's a higher mileage vehicle) out of every dollar I paid for the car.  For example, my current vehicle is a 2005 Accord.  It had 143,000 miles on it when I purchased it.  With it being a higher mileage vehicle, my goal was to get at least 25-30 miles out of every dollar I paid for the car.  I estimate the car will make it to 250,000 fairly easy.  So my target price range for the car was $3,567 to $4,280.  I ended up buying the car for $4,000.  There are some other criteria the vehicle must meet as well, such as clean CarFax, maintenance records, pass my mechanics inspection, etc.  That's my process for buying a car.  Might sound crazy, but the 3 vehicles I've purchased using this method have had a total cost per mile (vehicle cost + Gas + Maintenance divided by miles driven) less than 17 cents.  Not too bad considering the government reimburses 57.5 cents per mile.

forummm

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Re: Car Shopping
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2015, 07:44:41 AM »

TheGadfly

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Re: Car Shopping
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2015, 07:49:01 AM »
Great advice from ThePFBCoach.

I purchased my car the same way.  I bought a 2007 Honda Fit last year with 141k miles for $4500 (not including taxes).  It was a craigslist purchase and so far I don't have any regrets.  I did have a little trouble with the car recently which forced me to pour $800 in repairs in to the car.

As long as you keep up with regular maintenance, buying a car in the $5000 range is not terribly risky (provided that you follow ThePFBCoache's advice first).  With that said, once you start your job, be sure to save a little money in case you need to pay for a repair.

humbleMouse

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Re: Car Shopping
« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2015, 08:57:11 AM »
I would recommend looking for toyota camrys in the range of 1996-2001.  I bought one of these for $1k that had 149k miles on it and it runs amazing.  Only thing I have to do is put new tires on it and change the front brake pads once a year or 2.  If anything breaks, it's cheap to fix and every car fixing place can do it quickly.  Also, gets very good gas mileage. 

tvan

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Re: Car Shopping
« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2015, 09:13:01 AM »
I strongly recommend that you buy a one month subscription to consumer reports, and when you have a car in mind, look it up.  Their website will show you all the years for that car and if it had problems, what problems they tend to have.  Then also look it up on edmunds.com, then on cartalk.com  I would love to say Honda Accords are the best, but there are actually some years that every car has a low point, so start with those websites.

Let me summarize and save you the money of buying a consumer reports subscription:

1.  Toyota's are all really good
2.  Honda's are really pretty good
3.  Most every other manufacturer sucks (except for maybe Lexus - fancy toyota)


neo von retorch

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Re: Car Shopping
« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2015, 09:17:41 AM »
but there are actually some years that every car has a low point, so start with those websites.

Helps to read. Buying a car that has engine or transmission problems (yes, some Toyotas and Honda have these!) sucks a lot. So, probably read what DeltaBond posted. Glossing over important information is a good way to lose money. A one-time one-month $7 subscription is way, way, way cheaper than a transmission repair.

tvan

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Re: Car Shopping
« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2015, 09:22:44 AM »
but there are actually some years that every car has a low point, so start with those websites.

Helps to read. Buying a car that has engine or transmission problems (yes, some Toyotas and Honda have these!) sucks a lot. So, probably read what DeltaBond posted. Glossing over important information is a good way to lose money. A one-time one-month $7 subscription is way, way, way cheaper than a transmission repair.

And there are some perfectly rated cars that need new transmissions too.  It's a crap shoot.  $7 isnt gonna save you from it.  And unless you can calculate that risk (CR doesnt provide the data so you can't) it is meaningless. 

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Car Shopping
« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2015, 09:56:11 AM »
A friend who manages an engine shop told me to extend the life of my Honda's transmission by using the emergency brake every time I park. Now I cringe when I see it jiggle a little after parking because I know I'm sending that through the transmission.

Maybe that's stupid, I'm not a car guy.

timtom123

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Re: Car Shopping
« Reply #11 on: July 22, 2015, 09:58:56 AM »
Thanks everybody. I guess I'll just shop around a little bit more, and not be so picky when it comes to the mileage. I'll look around for an older Yaris or Matrix and see what I can find.

Scandium

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Re: Car Shopping
« Reply #12 on: July 22, 2015, 10:56:17 AM »
I'm not a fan of buying a car with over 100k miles, at least if you have any decent commute (i.e. a normal one). I'm looking in the 50k range. Yes you pay more, but it'll last ~4 years longer and you may get more for it if/when you sell again. So in the end the cost difference isn't that much. From what I've seen by 50k the car has taken most of the depreciation hit and it tapers off after that.

E.g. $5k/100k miles car vs $10k/50k miles car, with an average of 12k miles per year is a difference of $200/year if you drive it too 200k miles. Plus you can go 13 years before you buy a new car, instead of 8 years.

Also you may be able to get a newer car. The safety features in a 2001 car is vastly different than those in a 2012 car!

From what I've looked at in the range of 50k miles 2011-2013 I've seen prius for ~$13-14k, and Honda Fit around $10k.

neo von retorch

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Re: Car Shopping
« Reply #13 on: July 22, 2015, 10:57:17 AM »
And there are some perfectly rated cars that need new transmissions too.  It's a crap shoot.  $7 isnt gonna save you from it.  And unless you can calculate that risk (CR doesnt provide the data so you can't) it is meaningless.

I just simply disagree with you. Sure, you can't run high quality predictive analysis, but you can improve your odds by making an informed decision. $7 is worth improving the odds of avoiding a very expensive repair, because choosing cars with a demonstrated high reliability rate is likely to affect whether you get one.

pagoconcheques

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Re: Car Shopping
« Reply #14 on: July 22, 2015, 11:31:29 AM »
I would love to say Honda Accords are the best, but there are actually some years that every car has a low point

The Accords with expensive problems are typically those that have the V6 with automatic transmission.  Stick with the four-cylinder Accords and get a manual transmission if you can.  The 7th generation (2003-2007) is generally very good and they are roomy, comfortable, and reliable cars.  The lower-spec models near the beginning of that year range should be within your budget. 

Phenix

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Re: Car Shopping
« Reply #15 on: July 22, 2015, 01:00:28 PM »
I would love to say Honda Accords are the best, but there are actually some years that every car has a low point

The Accords with expensive problems are typically those that have the V6 with automatic transmission.  Stick with the four-cylinder Accords and get a manual transmission if you can.  The 7th generation (2003-2007) is generally very good and they are roomy, comfortable, and reliable cars.  The lower-spec models near the beginning of that year range should be within your budget.

I work with a few people who drive Accords in the 2003-2007 model years (all of us have the same gray paint color which makes it easy to go to the wrong car in the parking lot).  I bought my 2005 Accord LX back in 2011 for $4,000, so I'm certain a very clean 2007 could be found for $5,000 if you are patient.

lbmustache

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Re: Car Shopping
« Reply #16 on: July 22, 2015, 03:05:47 PM »
No need to join CR and waste money. Join the car lounge, sift through some threads:

http://forums.vwvortex.com/showthread.php?7065366-Daily-beater-for-3-5K&highlight=beater

http://forums.vwvortex.com/showthread.php?7186041-Most-reliable-vehicles-under-a-5000-purchase-price&highlight=5000

A bunch of people who actually have experience with various cars and are "car enthusiasts" will be able to guide you! There was also a recent thread about a reliable commuter for $3k or less but I can't seem to find it there anymore...

The_path_less_taken

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Re: Car Shopping
« Reply #17 on: July 22, 2015, 03:21:54 PM »
Thanks everybody. I guess I'll just shop around a little bit more, and not be so picky when it comes to the mileage. I'll look around for an older Yaris or Matrix and see what I can find.


Um...Yaris? When I worked for Hertz people would come in and scream about how horrible the performance was on those.

As in "it can't get out of it's own way!" "you can't merge onto a highway in it!" and "I'm amazed it made it up the slight incline of your driveway here!"


Before you go whole hog with research DRIVE a few things so you know. Test driving is free. Especially for guys it is essential: I have a friend who is so tall his windshield  tops out at his ears. So he's driving sort of looking down...uncomfortable and not real safe.

I think really old cars (think, 80's) before all the electronic ignition and electric sensors are the way to go if you don't need amenities: any shadetree mechanic can fix them.

But new cars aren't really built to last anymore. By design.

throwerm72

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Re: Car Shopping
« Reply #18 on: July 22, 2015, 03:56:08 PM »
Thanks everybody. I guess I'll just shop around a little bit more, and not be so picky when it comes to the mileage. I'll look around for an older Yaris or Matrix and see what I can find.


Um...Yaris? When I worked for Hertz people would come in and scream about how horrible the performance was on those.

As in "it can't get out of it's own way!" "you can't merge onto a highway in it!" and "I'm amazed it made it up the slight incline of your driveway here!"


Before you go whole hog with research DRIVE a few things so you know. Test driving is free. Especially for guys it is essential: I have a friend who is so tall his windshield  tops out at his ears. So he's driving sort of looking down...uncomfortable and not real safe.

I think really old cars (think, 80's) before all the electronic ignition and electric sensors are the way to go if you don't need amenities: any shadetree mechanic can fix them.

But new cars aren't really built to last anymore. By design.
That may be true but lots of people are also idiots and for some reason people in this country think they need a lot more power in their cars than they actually do.

My first car was a tercel with about as much hp as a lawn mower but my only problem ever getting up to speed on a highway/freeway on ramp was when idiots with big engine vehicles goofed around until the end of the ramp before laying it down.

To be fair prpfessional reviewers complain about low power in the Yaris also but again their tendencies skew to higher hp cars. All the more reason to search for a manual transmission.

I would only steer away from cars like the Yaris if one plans on regularly hauling multiple passengers.