Author Topic: How much is too much for a used car?  (Read 3769 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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How much is too much for a used car?
« on: September 07, 2013, 12:48:52 PM »
Some advice please! :-)

I have recently become car-less. I just turned in my 3 year leased vehicle last week. (I took out the lease before stumbling on MMM's blog and before changing my life to fit the Mustachian lifestyle - which I thoroughly enjoy and think I'm set on the right track). I don't drive very much as it is and always bike or walk to my full time job which is only about a mile away. My second job is a little further (about 10 miles) and although I would like to bike, it is a little more difficult with only 30 minutes between shifts and getting out late at night. I have been bumming rides lately and that can be pretty frustrating. I live in the beautiful mountains but with no mass transportation (the closest airport is 3 hours away), brutal winters, and no family around. Long story short I cannot go without a car forever and need to look into purchasing one.

Obviously, I'm going to get a used car. I really want something that I can drive for a long as possible. I know nothing about cars and don't even want to think about putting tons of money into it to fix it up. I was recently approached by a friend of a friend who is looking to get rid of her 2011 Subrau Forester because she is moving out of the area and will no longer need a car. She bought it new and it has 42,000 miles. It would come with a roof rack and a full set of snow tires. She is not looking to make any money off of it but just looking for someone to essentially take over the payments and pay off her car loan which is still $15,500. I have enough money saved to pay for it outright. My question is: is this a good deal? It is this still too expensive for a used car?! (even though it is pretty new) My original thought was just to find some little 2005/2006 car for about $8,000 (although these all seem to have high mileage and will require more in maintenance down the road). Should I buy it or keep looking?! I want to be happy and comfortable and I think this car would be perfect but am I parting with too much money? How much is too much for a used car?

Thanks for your help!


  • Bristles
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Re: How much is too much for a used car?
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2013, 01:03:47 PM »
Only you can decide if its too much.

For me?  Heck yes.  Something in the $3k-5k range should fit your needs nicely without being a piece of crap.  Cars in this range still look good, work well, and depreciate little.  Even with the occasional trip to the mechanic, it'll be WAY cheaper to own than the Forester.

Make sure you take into account fuel economy, insurance, taxes, registration, etc. when you look at cars.  The newer the car, the more expensive insurance, taxes, and registration usually are.

Frankies Girl

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Re: How much is too much for a used car?
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2013, 03:02:29 PM »
I'd suggest you run the vehicle through the Kelly Blue Book pricing ( and see if the price is reasonable for the trim line and area. I did a quick run based off the info you gave, and it seems to be a good deal considering I don't know all the details on the car. I also know that the Forester is supposed to be a really highly rated, reliable small SUV. I'd definitely have it taken to a mechanic for a good once-over and ask your friend for her maintenance records.

That being said, I agree with prodarwin; you're the one that has to decide if that is too much money. Just because this might be a good deal, doesn't mean it's a good deal for YOU specifically. If you'd be perfectly happy with a less expensive car, then I'd keep looking.


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: How much is too much for a used car?
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2013, 06:02:32 PM »

i thought i would share my experience even though probably may not apply to you... i have a car i'm leasing... i found a $1,000 honda crx 1986 and i've put another $1,500 into it so far and unfortunately didn't pass smog. i'll probably be another $500 or so into the car but after that it should be a decent driver. perhaps spending a little more upfront would be good. i would look at the cheapest new car you can purchase (in my case it was a $15,000) and you just go and find that car used with not terrible mileage and in my case that would have been a $8-9,000 purchase. instead i decided to try my luck with something much older and even if i came close to that $8,000 with all expenses i would still not self-face-punch.