Author Topic: Do you recommend used or new for car newbie?  (Read 1127 times)

ashwinmm

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Do you recommend used or new for car newbie?
« on: May 06, 2018, 07:18:21 AM »
I'm new to the US (Bay Area) and never driven cars before in my life. I bike/Uber express pool to work. But, we (me and spouse) definitely need a car so our small kid can be dropped to childcare few times a week, take him somewhere out on weekends and for us to see the Bay Area.

We are thinking about Honda Fit or Toyota Prius (both good Mustachian choices I hope).

For our situation, do you recommend we buy used, certified pre-owned (CPO) or new? If used, I'm thinking of not getting anything older than 6 years.
If used, what place do you recommend I search? Craigslist or CarFax or something else?
Any other things a newbie should be aware of?

PS: I know there is a lot of info online about this. I don't find much that is recent, focused on car newbies and those buying not too old cars.

BookLoverL

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Re: Do you recommend used or new for car newbie?
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2018, 10:21:23 AM »
I'm not in the US, but it'll definitely be a lot cheaper to get a used car than a new car. Basically all of the depreciation for cars happens right at the start, so even a nearly-new car would be a lot cheaper already. If you're not sure about the technical details of cars, see if you can find a friend or family member who is vaguely mechanical or into cars to look at them with you (I took my dad with me when I was looking for cars), because they will be able to pick up potential problems more easily. Try and get a test drive before you commit to buying, so you can see if any issues become apparent when the car is running, and also whether the car is going to fit well with your driving style. Rather than saying "I want X specific car", you may prefer to make a list of traits you want in a car and then be open to any model that you see in your selected venue that fits the criteria. This means you're not relying so much on people having decided to sell a specific car.

Used cars are plenty reliable, provided you do have that person who can help you spot major mechanical issues before you agree to buy.

Hopefully an actual US person can advise you on specific places that are good to look for a car in your location.

I'm not sure how it is in the US, but here in the UK we have differing bands for car tax based on what model the car is. So if you have anything like that over there, pick something from the cheapest band if you can.

RWD

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Re: Do you recommend used or new for car newbie?
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2018, 10:33:43 AM »
Research
Fuel economy: https://fueleconomy.gov/
Safety: http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings
Reliability: http://www.dashboard-light.com/

Shopping
Craigslist
AutoTempest
Autotrader

Due diligence
NMVTIS report ($2 per car)
Pre-purchase inspection
Read and understand all paperwork (dealer purchase)
General, misc.

Purchase
Read up on your state's policies for transferring a car title and registration
Inspect the title (no brands, in the name of the person selling the car, etc.)
Get pre-approved for financing ahead of time, if applicable (credit unions tend to be the best). You can get some really low rates, even on used cars (I got 1.69% recently).

I'm probably forgetting some stuff, but that should be a good start.

ashwinmm

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Re: Do you recommend used or new for car newbie?
« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2018, 10:48:33 AM »
Research
Fuel economy: https://fueleconomy.gov/
Safety: http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings
Reliability: http://www.dashboard-light.com/

Thanks! I've already done this research and thus picked the 2010+ Honda Fit and Toyota Prius. Both have high reliability, safety, low maintenance and great mileage. It's quite amazing that all this information is available for research! 👍

Shopping
Craigslist
AutoTempest
Autotrader

Craigslist seems to be overflowing with dealer posts. Very few owner posts. Are dealers ok or shady? New to the US, so I don't know.

Due diligence
NMVTIS report ($2 per car)
Pre-purchase inspection
Read and understand all paperwork (dealer purchase)
General, misc.

Purchase
Read up on your state's policies for transferring a car title and registration
Inspect the title (no brands, in the name of the person selling the car, etc.)
Get pre-approved for financing ahead of time, if applicable (credit unions tend to be the best). You can get some really low rates, even on used cars (I got 1.69% recently).

This is new info for me. I will read it up, thanks! I will be buying in cash, so no worries about financing.

sokoloff

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Re: Do you recommend used or new for car newbie?
« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2018, 10:51:07 AM »
Used / CPO before new, IMO. The new car premium is simply not worth it.

CarMax (M, not F) will be the easiest (and not the cheapest, but they're not bad) route to see a lot of different cars and pick one. It's a multi-brand showroom type experience.

I'd go small, Japanese sedan/crossover. Have had excellent experience with our Honda CR-V (that we bought ~8 years and ~170K miles used). Others have had similar good experiences with other Hondas/Toyotas, etc. You specifically mentioned Prius, which seem to be extraordinarily reliable in service, so that's not a bad target car by any means.

Craigslist is more a PITA (though our Honda came from a CL ad), mostly because it takes a lot more legwork and there's way more shady crap on Craigslist than a CarMax or branded dealership.

ashwinmm

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Re: Do you recommend used or new for car newbie?
« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2018, 11:00:20 AM »
Used / CPO before new, IMO. The new car premium is simply not worth it.

CarMax (M, not F) will be the easiest (and not the cheapest, but they're not bad) route to see a lot of different cars and pick one. It's a multi-brand showroom type experience.

I'd go small, Japanese sedan/crossover. Have had excellent experience with our Honda CR-V (that we bought ~8 years and ~170K miles used). Others have had similar good experiences with other Hondas/Toyotas, etc. You specifically mentioned Prius, which seem to be extraordinarily reliable in service, so that's not a bad target car by any means.

Craigslist is more a PITA (though our Honda came from a CL ad), mostly because it takes a lot more legwork and there's way more shady crap on Craigslist than a CarMax or branded dealership.

Thanks! I got the huge shady vibe from Craigslist and eBay too. Especially for a person like me who's new to the US and to cars, I don't think I have the knowledge to wade through those sites intelligently. I will check out CarMax.

FuzzyRunner

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Re: Do you recommend used or new for car newbie?
« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2018, 05:04:37 PM »
I would go used and from either a dealership, Carmax, or some other company.  They will give you some sort of warranty and also check over the car before selling.  They have a reputation to keep so they will make sure the car is safe and in good working order before selling.  Also, check the factory warranties on both of the cars you are looking to buy.  Some companies offer better warranties than other so it may help push you toward one or the other if both are priced similarly.  Lastly, do a quick check for known problems with car year you are looking for.  I am a big Subaru guy and know that certain years have had big headgasket issues, other years burn oil pretty badly, etc.

Kind of obvious but get the youngest car your can in your budget.  You'll hit a balance between mileage and age but, if you can, try to get a car that still has its factory warranty in place.  The dealership, carmax, etc. will probably have a short warranty for anything that pops up within a couple months after purchase but having the factory warranty can give you nice peace of mind when purchasing a used car.

lbmustache

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Re: Do you recommend used or new for car newbie?
« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2018, 11:04:12 AM »
The good thing is that the average Fit and Prius have very few problems, if any, which makes shopping for a used one easier.

Since you are new to the US, avoid "buy here, pay here" lots - these are usually the suspicious looking, corner used car lots (idk how many of these exist in the Bay Area). They tend to be a bit shady and the quality of the cars can be very hit or miss. An actual dealership or Carmax is a much safer bet.

Trying2bFrugal

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Re: Do you recommend used or new for car newbie?
« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2018, 05:49:10 PM »
After coming to USA, for myself got a dodge for 2k from a friend who got it from auction and I beat it till it met an minor accident and gave it to another friend as his first car for 1000. I used same car for 7 of my friends to get first driving lesson and getting license, so they all saved on rental cars which could easily be 10k over time.

Then i want to up in game, bought a Prius from dealer certified 4 years ago and last 4 years nothing but basic maintenance. Decided Prius before knowing mmm community and I had enough cash to buy a lexus in cash. I bought prius in cash and refinanced in dcu (1.25%).

Helped many friends on new, used from dealers,  craiglist and owners. Telling this story since I was in your position with exact two car selection after driving all base to high end suvs.

Long story short, if you decide to buy hybrid, get precertified. Regular cars, just drive with a friend who is enthu about cars and also check with a mechanic. most decent owner folks will tell you upfront on what you need to change in car if you ask. And decide price before you meet up, be polite as they may be in a situation on need money or other things. If you don't like the vibe say sorry and leave.

It's 2018, so get something around 2010. And about craiglist,  you would save some money but it really depends on the owner who is selling. Precertified also require ground work. Craiglist need patience, you got to go meet with strangers.  Depending upon location it varies. You definitely don't want to go 'neighbor HOOD' or shady mechanical shoes where they reset odometer. In my personal opinion,  you should get precertified one.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2018, 05:55:13 PM by Trying2bFrugal »