Author Topic: HELP! New Car Purchase?  (Read 3194 times)

Hikergirl

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HELP! New Car Purchase?
« on: December 29, 2015, 12:27:39 PM »
Longtime lurker here!  Have a car purchase question to pose to everyone.  I know this is a very personal decision but would love to hear advice from others.

A little about me - Single female (divorced for many, many years).  Child that is a senior in high school going to college for free/paid for.  $55k a year income, owe $3k on a credit card that will be paid in full w/bonus in March.  No other debt.  Rent a small house with no desire to own (being a single female I enjoy calling my landlord to fix things).  Am hopeful for a raise and promotion in January.  If it comes, salary will be around $61-$63.  Live in a relatively LCOL area.

Currently, I drive a 2002 Honda Accord with 180k+ miles on it.  It was bought brand new and I'm the only owner of the car and until recently it's been very inexpensive to maintain.  In the next month I need to tag it, change the oil, $500 in repairs that should have been done 6-9 months ago and new tires that should have also been replaced 6-9 months ago.  I commute 18 miles to work each way.  I live 1 mile from my elderly parents right now and do not want to move closer to work until they pass or move into their chosen retirement community (in next 3-5 years) which is near my work. 

I have new car fever.  My longtime mechanic has told me that I'm going to need to start replacing things on the Accord because of age and wear which is what the $500 repair is that I should have already done.  I'm really torn between keeping the car and making the repairs for another year or two or break down and get a new (new to me) vehicle.  Ideally, I would upgrade to an SUV.  I have a 55+ lb dog that I camp/backpack and play in the woods with.  There are many places I would love to go off road but can't because the Accord sits so low to the ground.  I've actually damaged my car trying.  Would love to own a Jeep Wrangler but that's definitely not the best choice of vehicle for me.  I also want to do some driving trips and sleep in my vehicle on occasion.  Another point, I despise driving in the snow/ice.  Having a newer, taller vehicle with better traction makes me feel safer (at least in my mind right now).

My questions.........when do you know its the right time to give up the clunker car?  And how to choose between new and new to me?  It's been 14 years since I bought my last car and I'm pretty confused.  I've visited one dealership to test drive SUV's (Honda) and visited a few others when they were closed to just look at some other cars.  The more I look the less decisive I become.

Hope I have given you enough information to go on.  Thanks!!

sweettea

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Re: HELP! New Car Purchase?
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2015, 12:41:27 PM »
I assume you would commute in your new car. 40 miles a day seems like a lot: your gas costs could go up from a gallon a day to two or three if you get a particularly inefficient car, and that's 500 or 1000 dollars more per year. Is that 500 a year better spent on gas or repairs?

Also, f you sell your current car, you will likely need to fix things before selling it... At least in MA, where I recently bought a used car, if one buys a used car and it fails its safety inspection and repairs cost more than some percent of the sale price, they can legally return the car to you and get their money back (look for 'lemon law').

JLee

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Re: HELP! New Car Purchase?
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2015, 01:44:57 PM »
For what it's worth, you won't have any more traction with a bigger taller vehicle.  You will get better traction with winter tires.

I understand the desire for some offroad ability (I've had a 4x4 of some sort for most of the last decade, and when I didn't have a proper 4x4 I had a Subaru Forester); how much ability would you use on a regular basis?  Wranglers are terrible daily drivers IMO.

AccidentalMiser

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Re: HELP! New Car Purchase?
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2015, 01:50:20 PM »
2012 Subaru Forester with low miles.  Donate your car to charity.  I wouldn't buy a new car, too much depreciation hit. 

I would actually drive the Accord until it wouldn't move another inch but I'm just like that.

The_path_less_taken

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Re: HELP! New Car Purchase?
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2015, 02:33:24 PM »
I'm going to stay out of the "should I or not" part of your question, as it involves too many factors. At some point, for the not-mechanically inclined....when you factor in the two years free maintenance/roadside assistance (Toyota) and sometimes 0% finance rate, it would be cheaper to buy a new one than a lightly used one. That holds true until the used one has over 50k miles on it, generally.

It sounds as though ground clearance and off road capability are important to you....but Dodge has a pretty poor reliability factor, just saying.

If you are going to purchase a new car, this Thursday is the day. The dealership will want "one more deal" on its books...if you've done your research, argued with them through their internet department (DON'T put your phone # in the query), and go in with a "this is what I will pay: take it or leave it" attitude, you should be able to negotiate a good deal. Ideally, you should have---in writing via email---something from that that agrees to your price.

Demand to see their "inventory" (it's not their actual inventory cost, it's 'dealer inventory in Vin Solutions). Inform them you will not pay more than $100 over that invoice, excluding any rebates. IOW, the price will be $100 over what it says under that dealer invoice on VIN Solutions, plus taxes/fees, minus any rebate the vehicle has.

You do not want to trade in your car! You will sell it on craigslist.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2015, 02:35:56 PM by The_path_less_taken »

JLee

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Re: HELP! New Car Purchase?
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2015, 02:41:41 PM »
I'm going to stay out of the "should I or not" part of your question, as it involves too many factors. At some point, for the not-mechanically inclined....when you factor in the two years free maintenance/roadside assistance (Toyota) and sometimes 0% finance rate, it would be cheaper to buy a new one than a lightly used one. That holds true until the used one has over 50k miles on it, generally.

It sounds as though ground clearance and off road capability are important to you....but Dodge has a pretty poor reliability factor, just saying.

If you are going to purchase a new car, this Thursday is the day. The dealership will want "one more deal" on its books...if you've done your research, argued with them through their internet department (DON'T put your phone # in the query), and go in with a "this is what I will pay: take it or leave it" attitude, you should be able to negotiate a good deal. Ideally, you should have---in writing via email---something from that that agrees to your price.

Demand to see their "inventory" (it's not their actual inventory cost, it's 'dealer inventory in Vin Solutions). Inform them you will not pay more than $100 over that invoice, excluding any rebates. IOW, the price will be $100 over what it says under that dealer invoice on VIN Solutions, plus taxes/fees, minus any rebate the vehicle has.

You do not want to trade in your car! You will sell it on craigslist.

This will vary by state, but tax may also be a consideration when choosing private party sale vs dealer sale. In Arizona, you don't pay sales tax on private party vehicle purchases.

Hikergirl

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Re: HELP! New Car Purchase?
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2015, 09:21:44 AM »
Thanks for the advice everyone!  I think I still have some thinking and number crunching to do.  But, you guys gave me some things to ponder before I make this decision!

shadowmoss

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Re: HELP! New Car Purchase?
« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2015, 11:01:41 AM »
I just traded my 2008 Jeep Wrangler in and ended up with a 2014 Mazda3.  I am a single female who used it as a daily driver 17 mi each way to work.  It does not work well to camp 'in' or attempt to sleep in or haul anything.  It is heavy, so if needing to tow it in a trailer, it is difficult to get anyone to rent a trailer for it (towed it twice on cross-country moves).  It can't tow anything if you get the base model at least, because of the short wheel base.  It is difficult to get in the front seats, and pretty much impossible for anyone over the age of 10 to get into the back seats.

All that said, I loved my Jeep for 7 years.  It was time to get something else that I can take other adults along and/or camp and sleep in.  4WD brings other maintenance issues, and you want to look long and hard at that.  My Jeep had 85K miles on it and was starting to need this and that looked at.  Tires are expensive.  A soft top cannot be taken through an automatic car wash.  I'm trying to give you an extensive list of what owning a Wrangler is like on a daily driver.  On the week-ends it is hella fun.

Decide what is important to you.  Maybe fix up your current car as your daily driver/backup transportation and get a Jeep for the fun?

lbmustache

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Re: HELP! New Car Purchase?
« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2015, 05:52:28 PM »
I was in the same position and overwhelmed with the features out there myself. It's too easy to get caught up in the, "well, I need XYZ feature," and I had to punch myself to get out of that mentality!!

Here is what I did:

1) Set up THE PRICE OF THE CAR + AND THE TOTAL OUT THE DOOR COST YOU WANT TO PAY. Dealerships will trap you with monthly payments. Ignore this number for the most part - but play around with online calculators so you're not shocked at how much you will have to pay monthly. Focus on the price of the car, and the price of the car only. For reference, a $23k car in California will have about $2500 worth of taxes and fees added on top. Means you are financing about $25k over x months.
2) Know your credit score and I recommend - if you are getting a loan - to do it through a credit union first. At the very least, you will know what rate you qualify for before the dealership pulls their bs.
3) Figure out what you value in a car. For me, #1 was reliability, #2 was MPG, #3 was utility, #4 was safety (I ended up with a small Honda SUV)
4) Ignore most fancy features. Most modern cars come with everything you will need - I will say a backup camera is a nice bonus, as are heated seats!!

Based on what you have said in your post, I would recommend a Toyota Rav4 (AWD), Honda CR-V, or Subaru Forester. It doesn't sound like you need a massive SUV, you really just need a hatch for the dog. If you can go a bit smaller there is the Subaru Crosstrek, Honda HR-V, etc. although I don't know about sleeping in them. But people definitely do it in the Forester, there is a whole thread on it in the Subaru Forester forum!

RWD

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Re: HELP! New Car Purchase?
« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2015, 07:37:54 PM »
$55k a year income

Don't buy a new car.

One thing I don't think has been mentioned in this thread yet (though has been discussed plenty of times on the forums before) is that if you finance your car you will required to have full insurance coverage which also adds to the cost.