Author Topic: So... Im in need of a car!  (Read 11822 times)

MrSal

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So... Im in need of a car!
« on: June 08, 2015, 06:40:56 PM »
With finally a job after my move from Europe I am now in need of a car...

Since I have no experience with cars on this side of the ocean I have no idea which brands are more reliable and so forth... in Europe VW is usually the to go brand for reliability and cheap parts but it seems its not so here!

What do you recommend for a reliable, cheap, and good gas mileage? My commute is 18 miles each way per day.

I live en Central PA and was budgeting to around 2500-3000 max !! Not that i cant afford hhigher but to me it seems such a waste!!

Opinions are welcome as well as places to look into buying them... dealership or sale by owner? what portals online are good to look for cars?

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Re: So... Im in need of a car!
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2015, 06:48:03 PM »
I strongly recommend that you look into buying an older vehicle.  If you make the right selection and take care of it once you've bought it, you'll have great transportation AND save yourself a boatload of money.

I drive a 1996 Dodge Dakota (142,000 miles) and my wife drives a 1998 Subaru Forester (243,000 miles).  Both cars have proven super reliable and have done everything anyone could reasonably expect any vehicle to do (including 2000-mile-plus round trips).  And owning these older vehicles has helped us build our FIRE stashes much faster because we didn't have to allow for the purchase or upkeep of a newer vehicle.

So... don't jump into buying something new (or even semi-new) until you've taken a good look at the older vehicle alternative.

MrSal

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Re: So... Im in need of a car!
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2015, 07:06:06 PM »
I strongly recommend that you look into buying an older vehicle.  If you make the right selection and take care of it once you've bought it, you'll have great transportation AND save yourself a boatload of money.

I drive a 1996 Dodge Dakota (142,000 miles) and my wife drives a 1998 Subaru Forester (243,000 miles).  Both cars have proven super reliable and have done everything anyone could reasonably expect any vehicle to do (including 2000-mile-plus round trips).  And owning these older vehicles has helped us build our FIRE stashes much faster because we didn't have to allow for the purchase or upkeep of a newer vehicle.

So... don't jump into buying something new (or even semi-new) until you've taken a good look at the older vehicle alternative.

I dont think you read my post otherwise you wouldnt be saying "dont buy new" "recommend buying older used"...

I state that right away! I dont want new... but being new in US I have no idea what brands are more reliable, cheap service with abundant and cheap parts.

In Europe, usually that title belongs to VW's where they last and last and last... here no idea I have heard VWs are expensive and parts are also expensive.

I just want something that takes me from point A to point B in a cheap manner and that will last a while!

Dibbels81

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Re: So... Im in need of a car!
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2015, 07:17:42 PM »
Geo Prizm!  They are essentially Toyota Corollas at half the cost.  Find a well maintained 97 model for around 2k and drive it till the end of time.

Bicycle_B

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Re: So... Im in need of a car!
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2015, 08:03:14 PM »
Mr. MM's article "Top 10 Cars for Smart People" has some tips on reliability and repair, implicitly US-relevant:

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/?s=best+car+for+smart+people

It's from 2012, but since you need an old car, should be fine.  Includes additional sources of information based on surveys of large numbers of car owners (eg, Consumer Reports), then summarizes results.

Sid Hoffman

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Re: So... Im in need of a car!
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2015, 08:06:29 PM »
In Europe, usually that title belongs to VW's where they last and last and last... here no idea I have heard VWs are expensive and parts are also expensive.

In Europe, VW is being compared against brands like FIAT, Renault, Opel, Citroen, and many others that are simply even less reliable and more expensive to maintain than VW.  Also from what I've read from US military based in Germany, VW's are quite a lot cheaper to keep serviced in Germany than they are in the US.  I suppose this doesn't surprise me too much.

The most reliable brands you typically see for the US market are Honda & Toyota, neither of which seem to get any traction at all in Europe.  It's impossible to get a good condition Honda or Toyota for $3000 in the west, but in Pennsylvania you'll probably have much better luck.  In general you want to get a 4-cylinder car as new as you can (in this price range that still likely means 2000-2005 at the newest) and if at all possible, have them meet you at a car repair shop so the shop can inspect the car.  A good repair shop inspection is worth far more than a simple test drive, especially if you're not a mechanic yourself.

kendallf

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Re: So... Im in need of a car!
« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2015, 08:41:41 PM »
Craigslist  would be the online site for the widest selection of cars for sale by private owners.  Of course, this means you'll get good ones, bad ones, and ugly ones.. are you mechanically savvy enough to inspect the car yourself?  If not, find a local independent mechanic who'll look the car over after you've narrowed down your choices and made an initial selection. 

Pylortes

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Re: So... Im in need of a car!
« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2015, 09:16:38 PM »
I agree with Sid.  A 5-10 year old Honda or Toyota is probably the sweet spot as they have excellent reliability track records. I would recommend a Honda Accord or Civic or a Toyota Camry or Prius.  Those are some of the best long term reliable cars.   I have an 8 year old Accord with 115,000 miles on it and I think it will easily go 250 to 300k if maintained (which I do).  I suggest picking up a Consumer Reports Auto issue lots of good info and recommendations based on your budget.  They thoroughly test the cars out on a course and also survey their readers annually to determine which cars are holding up best over time.  Good luck!

pagoconcheques

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Re: So... Im in need of a car!
« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2015, 05:07:49 AM »
Older Honda Civic or Accord (a bit larger), Toyota Corolla or Matrix are probably the safest bets.  Central PA means rust, so be cautious about being suckered as a naive foreigner into a car that can't pass inspection. 

If you have some time, consider making a journey down to the DC area where cars do not rust nearly as much.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: So... Im in need of a car!
« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2015, 07:03:50 AM »
You can run the VIN of cars for free, so always ask for the VIN. That'll tell you if anything horrible happened to them. Make sure they've passed inspection recently - don't buy a car that's up for inspection without requiring the seller to do the inspection.

VWs and Audis are horrible cars from everything I've heard and experienced.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2015, 10:30:10 AM by ShoulderThingThatGoesUp »

cjottawa

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Re: So... Im in need of a car!
« Reply #10 on: June 09, 2015, 08:21:00 AM »
Check out the previously linked MMM article on "cars for smart people."

Suzuki Aerio (aka "Lianna" in other markets) is kinda like a Honda Fit before the Honda Fit existed. Too bad it didn't catch on like the Fit.

2004-2006 Hyundai Elantra hatchback is a class winner. Tonnes of passenger and cargo space, inline 4-cylinder engine so it's cheap and easy to maintain and they're a few grand less than comparable Honda, Toyota and Mazda models.

Find one in good condition, have it inspected by an independent mechanic and it'll serve you well. (disclosure: I have a bias toward hatchbacks and wagons and I've had 2002 and 2006 Elantra GTs)



http://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s--Z2VjCN9M--/c_fit,fl_progressive,q_80,w_636/1235149957625142629.jpg

http://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s--Z8y9q4Z_--/c_fit,fl_progressive,q_80,w_636/e5q2zi0ipisqq5k0gbak.jpg

http://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s--IIxjQkh7--/c_fit,fl_progressive,q_80,w_636/1223398500554370856.jpg
« Last Edit: June 12, 2015, 11:30:00 AM by cjottawa »

Sid Hoffman

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Re: So... Im in need of a car!
« Reply #11 on: June 09, 2015, 10:27:37 AM »
You can run the VIN of cars for free, so always ask for the VIN.

Please tell me what site you are using to run a VIN for free.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: So... Im in need of a car!
« Reply #12 on: June 09, 2015, 10:30:24 AM »
You can run the VIN of cars for free, so always ask for the VIN.

Please tell me what site you are using to run a VIN for free.

The one I went back to and realized I was wrong about.

cjottawa

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Re: So... Im in need of a car!
« Reply #13 on: June 09, 2015, 10:59:42 AM »
Free VIN check via URL:

http://portal.remorainc.com/autocheck.php?vin=3FAFP11381R218389

Replace the numbers after "vin=" with the VIN you want to look up.

CAUTION: these types of free online checks are notorious for omitting a great deal of info about a car.

I would suggest, if such a check shows anything fishy, walk away from the car.
If the check seems clear, have the car thoroughly inspected by an independent mechanic you trust. (1hr of labour, check all fluids, take a test drive etc)

Sid Hoffman

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Re: So... Im in need of a car!
« Reply #14 on: June 09, 2015, 12:42:15 PM »
Free VIN check via URL:

http://portal.remorainc.com/autocheck.php?vin=3FAFP11381R218389

Replace the numbers after "vin=" with the VIN you want to look up.

Thanks, I was getting errors on some and it appears some people are listing an invalid VIN in their ads in the first place.  One of them wasn't even enough digits to be a VIN.

Cole

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Re: So... Im in need of a car!
« Reply #15 on: June 09, 2015, 01:39:46 PM »
Free VIN check via URL:

http://portal.remorainc.com/autocheck.php?vin=3FAFP11381R218389

Replace the numbers after "vin=" with the VIN you want to look up.

Thanks, I was getting errors on some and it appears some people are listing an invalid VIN in their ads in the first place.  One of them wasn't even enough digits to be a VIN.

People on craigslist are usually hesitant to give out info on the ads themselves(weird I know) but it you email them you could probably get more info. Always ask about broken glass, seat tears, etc. The little cosmetic things are generally omitted from craigslist ads. Make sure to check if it has a salvage title, if it does just make sure you know what your getting in to(generally a rebuilt car by an unknown mechanic).

iamlittlehedgehog

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Re: So... Im in need of a car!
« Reply #16 on: June 09, 2015, 02:05:19 PM »
All I have to say is to avoid Chevy Aveos - they are terribly unreliable and you'll see no shortage of them for sale in your price range and there is a reason for that.

Sid Hoffman

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Re: So... Im in need of a car!
« Reply #17 on: June 09, 2015, 04:19:18 PM »
but it you email them you could probably get more info.

Yeah, actually I've only had maybe 1 out of 20 email me back.  I don't even email anyone anymore.  I'm not sure that the type of people who live in my area and sell $2-4k cars are the same type of people as live in your area.  I think some of the sellers I am attempting to work with don't even know what an email is.  In fact the guy I bought my car from last year said he had no idea how it works, that it was his wife that posted the ad.  He just answers voice phone calls, which seems common in my area, in this price range.

It's a bummer, because cars in this price range are the ones where it is the most important to get the research right, since they have the highest probability of something wrong with them.  However getting a VIN, replies to emails, letting me take the car to a shop for a PPI, basically all impossible.  They nearly all say the same thing: "I don't have time for that, cash or nothing."  The last time I tried to get a car inspected, I made an appointment with them for just a few hours later, and when it came time I called them and they said they just sold it to somebody else instead.  Classy.  But that's what I deal with in the $2-4k range in an area where many of the sellers are very low-education individuals anyway.

SJS

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Re: So... Im in need of a car!
« Reply #18 on: June 09, 2015, 04:22:51 PM »
Go with a Honda or Toyota - Civic or Corolla.  Even with high mileage, as long as they were well maintained (possibly one from original owner with all records) you will still get many more years out of it! 

Any chance you can car-pool with someone, or even pay for gas if they use their car?  Just wondering if you had any other options?

Bob W

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Re: So... Im in need of a car!
« Reply #19 on: June 09, 2015, 04:46:54 PM »
Go with a Honda or Toyota - Civic or Corolla.  Even with high mileage, as long as they were well maintained (possibly one from original owner with all records) you will still get many more years out of it! 

Any chance you can car-pool with someone, or even pay for gas if they use their car?  Just wondering if you had any other options?

Ditto,  my Camry just puked at 375K.   Am buying an 06 with 148K for 6K.

Also would consider Prius (batteries really do go to 200K) and ford focus.   You can get a Focus in the 08-11 range cheap.   I even just saw a 2013 with 40K for 11K.     That really is a deal.   Fords are at or surpassing Toyota for quality. 

So yeah,  Toyotas,  Hondas,  newer Fords.   If you choose a newer model you can scam on 4% financing for 5 years while keeping your egg in the market.   

Merrie

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Re: So... Im in need of a car!
« Reply #20 on: June 09, 2015, 05:58:26 PM »
Tell everyone you know that you are looking. Maybe someone will know someone who is selling. That's how I bought my first used car, without having to comb through a lot of jerks on Craigslist.

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Re: So... Im in need of a car!
« Reply #21 on: June 12, 2015, 12:33:43 AM »
I would recommend you to buy a used car. Buying cars at auctions can be a good option as you get the opportunity to get a good make at a very low price. It solves your purpose of commuting and also does not burn a hole in your pocket. I recently bought SATURN 2005 VUE BASE car from a bid online auctions website. A very good deal it has been indeed!

Mrkineticz

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Re: So... Im in need of a car!
« Reply #22 on: June 12, 2015, 01:32:47 AM »
if you are looking for a reliable honda. the 98-2002 honda accord 4 cylinders are very easy to maintain and dont have alot of maintenance issues. you can have a honda accord for that price range. the 6 cylinders are also reliable but more costly in repairs and less mpg. Honda civics are golden as well.

here is a list of cars that are super reliable and cheap . early 2000s
toyot echo
toyota corolla
toyota camry
honda accord
honda civic
honda crv
nissan altimas


Cornelia

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Re: So... Im in need of a car!
« Reply #24 on: June 13, 2015, 07:43:40 AM »
Exactly the thread I was hoping for!

I've never bought a car before, but am in the market right now as well.. I'm looking at a 2004 toyota echo,4 door, hatchback w/ 200000km. It's offered for 3700$.

My question is how do I negotiate a better price? Any good tactics for standing strong?

MrSal

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Re: So... Im in need of a car!
« Reply #25 on: June 13, 2015, 10:12:28 AM »
Go with a Honda or Toyota - Civic or Corolla.  Even with high mileage, as long as they were well maintained (possibly one from original owner with all records) you will still get many more years out of it! 

Any chance you can car-pool with someone, or even pay for gas if they use their car?  Just wondering if you had any other options?

Not really...

I do get free gas though but my commute i dont know anyone that departs from my address or nearby to my work place.

I was thinking of a motorcycle too - cheaper insurance, cheaper altogether, but the big storms that we do get sometimes and the winter kinda put me hesitant towards it.

My wife is a teacher and she has a car and her commute is 100 yards pretty much so we were thinking if i bought a motorcycle, i could laways use it in the summer and she stays with the car so that she doesnt have to be all summer without a car, and during winter, i could use the car since she walks to school anyway.

Cole

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Re: So... Im in need of a car!
« Reply #26 on: June 15, 2015, 08:49:17 AM »
Exactly the thread I was hoping for!

I've never bought a car before, but am in the market right now as well.. I'm looking at a 2004 toyota echo,4 door, hatchback w/ 200000km. It's offered for 3700$.

My question is how do I negotiate a better price? Any good tactics for standing strong?

A little off topic but, Generally I hit them a little low (Not a total lowball) and then attempt to make them lower there price closer to mine then I go to theirs. The most important part is being prepared to walk away if they don't meet a price you are comfortable with. (Some people refuse to haggle)
ex: I bought a ring on Craigslist, they wanted $1000, I offered $500(really low) and then proceeded to settle on a price of $675.

MrSal

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Re: So... Im in need of a car!
« Reply #27 on: June 27, 2015, 02:49:58 PM »
So I found a a Honda Accord year 2000 with 125k miles.

It looked pretty good no rust at all either than like 1/8 of an inch on the back and it wasnt any corner or seam.

Motor looked good, no flimsy noises... battery voltage was also good.

Asking price 3000 dollars.

I think I can get it for 2800 dollars or so... I dont think he will move much in price.

Do you think its a good deal? I have scheduled another showing tomorrow so i can have a test drive and some more tests.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: So... Im in need of a car!
« Reply #28 on: June 27, 2015, 04:00:43 PM »
Mmmm, it's OK but not great. KBB is showing lower value. Go on to Edmunds and KBB and do some comparison pricing before you negotiate.

A nice-looking car in that price range is a serious find, though! Low inventory could make it worth a little more than it's worth, if you know what I mean. (That's why I'm getting ready to sink a bunch of $$ into my 99 Accord).

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: So... Im in need of a car!
« Reply #29 on: June 27, 2015, 04:03:05 PM »
Also, with a car in that age range, it might be worth springing for a mechanic's inspection if you're not super car-savvy. My car drives fine and it is not immediately apparent that it needs a new axle, for instance. (And brakes.)

MrSal

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Re: So... Im in need of a car!
« Reply #30 on: June 28, 2015, 08:00:52 AM »
Actually I was wrong it's a Honda Civic Ex..

MrSal

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Re: So... Im in need of a car!
« Reply #31 on: June 30, 2015, 07:38:56 PM »
So... it now comes down to two cars!

I am torn between the 2 and if possible would like some advice.

One car is a Honda Civic 2004 Coupe 2D EX with 169k miles. Looking at it looks very good. It's black, manual gear, has a sporty look. CarFax and Autocheck of it are supercomplete although I noticed that the hood the paint job was slightly different than the rest so i assumed there was some kind of accident. I confronted the owner to which he confirmed although only the side and hood was affected. Engine and all immaculate.

No rust at all.

KBB quotes the value of the car around 2.8k book value. Also, carfax cites the car has a value 1200 dollars above book value. So all in all, he won;t get lower than 4000 dollars (he was asking 5200).

Second car, is a Honda Civic Sedan 4D EX from 2001. It has 122k miles. Silver color ... mechanically is good, actually the engine looks newer than previous car (less signs of worn metal). It has a few scratches on the paint here and there but nothing serious. New brakes and new tires and new oil. I can get it for 3100 dollars. This one is automatic. KBB quotes a  value on this car around 3.2k dollars as well... . And car fax cites a value for the car of 200 dollars below look value although there is no accidents reported nor anything just serviceable stuff. (AC is currently not working on this last one though... he has no idea why. Car was his daughters)

The first car belongs to a 60+ year old gentleman that seemed very cautious with the car altogether and always maintaining it.

Considering these factor what do you think? I like the manual gear one... but im not sure i would pay extra 1000 dollars for a manual gear and more sporty look especially when considering its 50k miles more than the other one (even though 3 years newer).

Opinions?
« Last Edit: June 30, 2015, 07:53:43 PM by MrSal »

Merrie

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Re: So... Im in need of a car!
« Reply #32 on: July 03, 2015, 09:54:36 PM »

My wife is a teacher and she has a car and her commute is 100 yards pretty much so we were thinking if i bought a motorcycle, i could laways use it in the summer and she stays with the car so that she doesnt have to be all summer without a car, and during winter, i could use the car since she walks to school anyway.

Or, buy her a bike so she can tool around the local area during summer and won't miss having a car so much, and have her drive you to work from time to time if she wants to have the car during the day?

MrSal

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Re: So... Im in need of a car!
« Reply #33 on: July 04, 2015, 09:22:55 AM »

My wife is a teacher and she has a car and her commute is 100 yards pretty much so we were thinking if i bought a motorcycle, i could laways use it in the summer and she stays with the car so that she doesnt have to be all summer without a car, and during winter, i could use the car since she walks to school anyway.

Or, buy her a bike so she can tool around the local area during summer and won't miss having a car so much, and have her drive you to work from time to time if she wants to have the car during the day?

Tried and no way... not worth causing problems in our marriage because of it :D isnt it happy wife happy life or something like that?I too think its ridiculous to use a car for everything in town... i usually walk or use the bycicle. I use the car when going to the strip like 7 miles away for dinner out or when going to lowes and bring lots of stuff that we are doing to the use.

MrSal

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Re: So... Im in need of a car!
« Reply #34 on: July 10, 2015, 04:38:59 PM »
Si I ended up buying the Honda with lesser miles!

Here it is:



Mechanically looks and feels very good.

Aesthetically, it has a few scratches here and there but nothing super bad ... and the silver color conceals it a bit.

Inside, the cloth of the roof on the back of the car is detaching a bit... but other than that its okay.

I closed it for 2900 USD.

Have been with it for a week and already did about 500 miles already. I haven't been able to measure the mileage yet since it was still the gas tank from previous owner.

Today I did about 120 miles with about a quarter of a tank, which would be around 2.6 gallons. If true - Ill see once the tank is over and do the calcs - then I am doing about 46 miles per galllon!!!!

MrSal

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Re: So... Im in need of a car!
« Reply #35 on: July 15, 2015, 05:37:03 PM »
Ok now with a full tank of gas gone... the average was 41 miles per gallon. Still pretty good for an automatic 1.7 L engine.

DeltaBond

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Re: So... Im in need of a car!
« Reply #36 on: July 16, 2015, 12:50:40 PM »
Good for you, I was going to recommend Honda, as long as its not a 2008, consumer reports showed that to be a not-so-good year.

acroy

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Re: So... Im in need of a car!
« Reply #37 on: July 16, 2015, 01:57:15 PM »
Geo Prizm!  They are essentially Toyota Corollas at half the cost.  Find a well maintained 97 model for around 2k and drive it till the end of time.

This - my extended family had 2 - complete lack of sex appeal, and complete lack of problems. Bulletproof.

MrSal

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Re: So... Im in need of a car!
« Reply #38 on: July 16, 2015, 02:41:39 PM »
I tried to find a Geo but no luck on my region...

I ended up with a Honda 2001 with 120k miles ... paid around 2900 dollars. It drives nice... good mileage. It takes me from point A to point B with reliability and is what matters.

There's barely any rust on this which is good.

MrSal

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Re: So... Im in need of a car!
« Reply #39 on: December 04, 2016, 04:47:22 PM »
So...

I have an opportunity to upgrade my car without money added.

I bought this car for around 2900 dollars as said ... I listed my car this Friday just because for 3999, and today got an offer for 3800 dollars.

I have been eyeying a Civic Hybrid from 2007 with less miles than mine 102k miles i believe, and selling for 3700 dollars. I am thinking of accepting the offer and buy a new Honda with less miles for around the same price.

Any opinions out there? Are newer Hondas more reliable or the newer they are the harder to work on the cars yourself as well? Does a Hybrid require always batteries? If they go belly up can the car just use the gas part of the system?

Thanks

MrSal

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Re: So... Im in need of a car!
« Reply #40 on: December 04, 2016, 05:00:35 PM »
Most important is ... the AC on mine does not work. Back windows dont work all the time - probably something electrical. Also, when i first bought the car i didnt realize how many scratches there were. Some spots have lots of dings withhout even the clear coat which might make it start rusting soon.

There is one of those bubble rust spots on the roof near the rubber seal. Paint on the roof is faded and scratched.

Even with me trying to bring it back i indeed removed a lot of scratches but still a few deep ones and rock chips.



Maybe the detailing i did on the car 8 weeks ago increased the value of the car :D ahah i cant believe it could be just that though.

MrSal

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Re: So... Im in need of a car!
« Reply #41 on: December 04, 2016, 05:12:31 PM »
Also, my car is currently sitting at 140k miles...

buying another Honda/Civic/Toyota for the same price but from 2008 Coupe however with 170k miles for 3500$ ... i thinki i can get it at that price. this one wouldnt be hybrid...