Author Topic: How to buy a car (if you must)  (Read 4060 times)

ChpBstrd

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How to buy a car (if you must)
« on: June 09, 2021, 02:01:50 PM »
Cars are a perennial topic here in the MMM forum, so here's a step-by-step plan for buying a car and minimizing the damage. Perhaps it can become a sticky topic here and others can add insights. The point is to save thousands of dollars when obtaining a car, compared to what most people do.

1) Understand your minimum transportation requirements
This is the most important step, and the step where the most money is at stake. 90% of the 4WD SUVs you see driving around never go off-road. 90% of the trucks never haul anything. 90% of Jeeps are used to commute between a suburban house and an office building, or idle in the Chick-fil-A drive-thru. So unless you are driving fire roads in the wilderness every few weeks, hauling construction supplies for a living, or have six kids, you don't need the average vehicle on the road in the U.S. The average vehicle is a clown car aimed at consumer-suckers and represents the incineration of cash for the sake of an image which was cultivated by advertising. Despite what the ads say, the more you spend on a car, the less free you will be! You can have a fancy car or a nice early retirement; pick one!

You should consider whether you need a car at all. If you live in a place with bus or subway service, avoiding car ownership is an opportunity that could return thousands of dollars and dozens of hours per year back to your life. If you live within biking distance of work or groceries, riding a bike instead of using a car could add years to your life and delay the onset of age-related or obesity-related disability. If you only need a car, say, twice a month, the simple solution is to rent one. Thirty days of rental costs much less than one year of owning a comparable vehicle. Additionally, there are options such as carpool groups, electric bikes or gas-powered scooters, Uber, Lyft, taxis, getting deliveries, jobs where you can work from home, etc. You probably don't have to own a car.

Steps to perform - MANDATORY:
     a) Write out each of the functions the car will typically perform for you. E.g. "Drive each morning from home 6 miles to work." These are your minimum transportation requirements. NOT, "drive donuts in a rock quarry like the rugged half-shaved model on the TV commercials" and NOT "impress all the supermodels who will get into my car at the nightclub". It sounds dumb, but this is how most car-broke people think. Note that you will come across once-in-a-while items as you make the list, like "haul home 12 bags of garden mulch" or "road trip 500 miles with 3 friends". These are not "typical" uses, they are things that might happen every once in a while. For these situations, it's much cheaper to rent a truck or a van on those days while owning a well-used subcompact for all the other days.
     b) Determine on a scale of 1 to 10 how new the car should be. Let's say one point = 2 years of age and/or 15k miles. If you are driving for a living, putting on tons of miles, can deduct travel costs and depreciation, and cannot have your business disrupted by maintenance needs, you should pick a newer, lower mileage car, like 2 to 4. If you want a car to get groceries every week and plan to drive 5k miles per year, you should pick an older, higher mileage car, like 7 to 9. This is important because just as disrupting a business to deal with large amounts of maintenance is wasteful, so is letting a newish car depreciate and cost a fortune in insurance while it mostly sits in a driveway.   
     c) Ask yourself if you need to move instead of getting a car. If the typical uses in part (a) involve driving long distances from your exurban house to the grocery store in town, work in town, or to meet friends in town, perhaps the problem isn't the vehicle, it's that you chose to live an expensive distance from everything you go to do in town. Look at the big picture. Are the other benefits of your location worth the cost to wear out and replace vehicles so frequently? Is it worth the commuting time? The ecological damage? If you think living in your current spot will make you happy, are you actually happy yet? This is a final check before proceeding further.

2) Learn how to buy a car from a private party
You are not going to a dealership with bright lights, balloons, and salesmen in golf carts, all paid for by the financial mistakes of other people. You're going to buy a used car from someone who already made that financial mistake, and is about to accept a fraction of what they paid. If it's not clear to you why one should avoid dealerships, go to kbb.com and look up the value for a two-year old car. Note how they have different prices for dealers and private parties. Note how the prices for the dealers are about 15%-20% higher than from private parties. Yes, that's the reality. People pay thousands of dollars extra to buy from dealerships rather than out of somebody's front yard. And they get basically nothing in return. Plus, they typically get upsold on sneaky dealer fees, documentation fees, cleaning fees, crap warranties, etc.

As an added bonus, you'll know how to sell your own cars from now on, rather than getting ripped by dealer trade offers. This knowledge is worth thousands of dollars per transaction!

You may allow an exception on this point for low-budget dealerships with gravel lots, but still insist on the private party price. These small-time dealers buy at auction for the trade-in price and are happy to make $1k per car sold. Their advertised down payment is generally what they paid.

However, the barrier for many people is the mechanics of how to complete the transaction. There are issues such as liens, titles, bills of sale, sales taxes, etc. There's no need to reinvent the wheel here; just google "how to buy private party car" for loads of articles. Here's one of the best:

https://www.valuepenguin.com/auto-insurance/buy-used-car-private-seller

One note: Be extremely careful when signing the back of a car title. If either you or the seller signs on the wrong line, you'll run into all sorts of trouble at the revenue office and probably have to work with the seller to file for a new title at a cost of around $150. Also, get a bill of sale and write the seller's driver's license number on it. Your state may have additional requirements, such as a notary or emissions check.

3) Select some models that meet your minimum transportation requirements.
Now that you have your minimum transportation requirements in writing, it's time to decide which models are capable of meeting this minimum, and which should be disregarded because they exceed requirements and therefore cost too much. If you don't need seating for five or six, disregard all minivans and large SUVs. If you don't need to tow a trailer or haul hundreds of pounds of materials/objects, disregard all trucks. If you don't need 4 wheel drive, leather interior, a V6 or V8 engine, large vehicle size, etc. disregard all those. Likewise if you actually do need to haul a construction trailer through mud with 5 passengers, you'll disregard vehicles that don't meet that minimum requirement. Even then, though, the car makers will be selling something with a bunch of added expenses you don't need. E.g. does such a work truck need a luxury interior or an "exterior appearance package"? No.

With your list narrowed down, peruse the models on kbb.com, fueleconomy.gov or jdpower.com. Then read the reviews. If you'd like to know whether a vehicle is reliable, use Consumer Reports or carcomplaints.com. Car complaints provides a list of recalls, technical service bulletins, etc. as well as lots of input from real consumers.

My favorite source for information about used cars is https://www.edmunds.com/tco.html. This is the only website I know of that offers a five-year projected cost of ownership. It's an invaluable resource. You may gasp at this number, and this may be your final warning that you are buying too much car or that you are prioritizing a car too much over financial independence. This, in addition to the reliability information, should allow you to narrow it down to 2 to 4 models. Almost there!

Next, install an app or shortcut on your phone for Carfax or similar that will allow you to purchase a vehicle history report on the spot if you are interested in a particular car. Consider doing the same with KBB.com.

4) Do Research. Decide how much to spend.
KBB.com will tell you roughly how much it should cost to buy the year and model of car you are looking at. However, it may look like all the private party cars posted on Craigslist, Facebook, etc. are priced higher than this. That's because in real life people negotiate. You should not pay more than the KBB price for a car, but don't pass up the cars with high asking prices. Expect to make an offer slightly below the KBB price and negotiate for something around it.

Next, factor in the costs of your state's sales tax on cars, and registration/tagging fees. Also, if you are moving up from an old car to a new car, your insurance will become more expensive, and you might want to go from liability-only to full coverage. If you are a worth somewhere in the high six figures and buying a car that represents maybe 1-2% of your net worth, consider self-insuring rather than purchasing full coverage. Totaling such a vehicle would be the equivalent of one minor down day in the market.

If you keep spreadsheets or budgets to track your progress toward FIRE or your post-retirement spending, update those numbers with the new five-year cost of ownership from Edmunds TCO. Verify you will still be on track, financially.

5) Come up with the cash.
As a Mustachian, you should be able to dig up a few thousand by going through all your jeans pockets, opening your piggy bank, and looking under your couch cushions, but if that doesn't work you have a few options:
     a) If the car is cheap enough, you might just pay for it from your checking account.
     b) You might need to sell investments. If you can harvest tax losses, do that first. The only thing that sucks more than the cost of car ownership are paying capital gains taxes to enjoy the costs of car ownership. Do not touch your IRA to buy a car! NO!
     c) It may be more economical to borrow. Yes, borrow. [whispers of heresy from the no-debt crowd] Hear me out: If your local bank or credit union is offering single-digit loan rates, that might be a better option than paying capital gains taxes and taking money out of investments. Gather information on the loan opportunities available to you, your investment alternatives, and any fees or conditions associated with the loans (e.g. a minimum balance in one's checking account). Automate the payments.
     d) Likewise, if you are aggressively paying down your 3% mortgage or buying bonds yielding 1-2%, maybe just stop doing that for a few months to accumulate the cash.

6) Transact.
Now that you have a specific plan, scour Craigslist, Facebook, your local newspaper, etc. Ideally, give yourself a couple of months to look for the right deal, but if you need a car ASAP you'll need to be flexible. Prepare to take decisive action, because good deals disappear the same day. If you don't have a car, prepare to rent or borrow one so that you can travel to look at a few cars. Prices drop as you get farther from metropolitan areas, but think hard before doing a multi-hour road trip to look at a car.

Take the right steps and ask the right questions, per the private party car buying guides, and drive a hard bargain if needed. If you end up walking away from a few cars because the owner won't go down on price, you're probably doing it right, gaining experience, and earning hundreds of dollars per hour for your troubles.

Personally, I am not offended by cars with salvage or rebuilt titles, as long as they aren't flood cars. Your VIN check will inform you of this. Expect to pay 30-40% less for a car with a salvage, rebuilt, or previously damaged title. Be 100% aware of the laws in your particular state for these specific terms. In my state, nobody cares what the title says, but in other states you cannot register or drive the car at all!

BEWARE OF SCAMS: Ads with well-taken pictures of vehicles priced at 1/3rd of value are scams. All adds with an email address or phone number written over the picture or "for more details, email ***@gmail.com" are scams. Any deal involving mailing a check, depositing the seller's check, using an escrow service, wiring money, or providing personal information are scams. On some platforms like OfferUp, most ads are scams. Look long enough and you'll notice the patterns.

RWD

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2021, 03:21:38 PM »
Copy/pasted with edits from my own post a few years ago:

Research
Fuel economy: https://fueleconomy.gov/
Safety: http://www.iihs.org/ratings
Reliability: http://www.dashboard-light.com/

Shopping
Facebook Marketplace
Craigslist
AutoTempest

Due diligence
NMVTIS report ($2 per car)
Pre-purchase inspection

Zamboni

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #2 on: June 09, 2021, 04:39:08 PM »
Well this certainly seems like a good list! Thank you for pulling it together.

Flat9MKE

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2021, 07:47:47 AM »
Good information and I agree with a lot of it.  I do prefer to buy from a dealer though.  It might cost a little more (maybe), but the challenge is unloading your old car.  I cannot stand dealing with all the tire kickers/flakes/etc. with online transactions.  For me, the ability to get a reasonable price for trade-in and not deal with the hassle of selling my old car is worth it at this point in my life.

I think buying a pre-certified used car from a reputable dealer also gives me a little more comfort than buying off the street.  You could get a lemon from a dealer, but it seems like it is more transparent and at least they had a professional mechanic take a look at the car. 

You can certainly get great cars off the street, but I prefer buying from a dealership. 

RWD

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2021, 08:07:39 AM »
Good information and I agree with a lot of it.  I do prefer to buy from a dealer though.  It might cost a little more (maybe), but the challenge is unloading your old car.  I cannot stand dealing with all the tire kickers/flakes/etc. with online transactions.  For me, the ability to get a reasonable price for trade-in and not deal with the hassle of selling my old car is worth it at this point in my life.
You can trade your car in to a dealer without buying a car from them. Or your can sell it to a hassle free service like CarMax or Carvana. Buying a car from a dealer while also trading in your previous car just makes the negotiations more complicated (in the dealer's favor).

I think buying a pre-certified used car from a reputable dealer also gives me a little more comfort than buying off the street.  You could get a lemon from a dealer, but it seems like it is more transparent and at least they had a professional mechanic take a look at the car. 

You can certainly get great cars off the street, but I prefer buying from a dealership.
The inspection part of a Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program mean almost nothing. All that matters is the terms of the warranty the dealer might be providing. Though keep in mind both of these things don't require a dealer either. You can buy third party warranties and you can get an independent (unbiased) mechanic to inspect a vehicle for you.

chemistk

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2021, 08:45:05 AM »
Adding some things as I read through:

4WD is not necessary for winter driving! A lot of people try to justify having a 4WD/AWD car for winters, but unless you live out where annual snowfall is measured in tens of feet, a set of snow tires on dedicated rims is far cheaper than a car that has 4 drive wheels.

---

Be honest with yourself about your ability to perform repairs, and be flexible/open to learning how to do basic maintenance! Oil, brakes, spark plugs, coolant, lights, etc. are all usually very straightforward repairs and can be done with a small set of tools. Even better, you become familiar with your vehicle and can recognize when something sounds off, and even as far as figuring out out whether the issue is something serious or minor.

Being handy, even with simple maintenance, can expand your options for a new car as you'd be willing to consider something older/with more miles on it.

----

Be aware of the different avenues for buying a car private party, and the pitfalls you'll run into with each. Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Autotrader, CarGurus, and others are the best places to search for a used car, and each takes time to understand how to evaluate whether a deal is good or bad. If it's too good to be true, it's 99% of the time a scam. Also be aware that on just about every used car site, there are plenty of dealers who pose as individual sellers and it can be very difficult to tell the difference.

There are edge cases where a dealership can provide a better deal but they're so infrequent that it's not even worth trying to convince yourself that you can be the buyer to find the diamond in the rough.

-----

One of the absolute best places to determine whether a car suits your needs and the pitfalls that a particular model can present is that car's forum! Search for "your car + forum" and you'll find at least one or two forums with plenty of information from current owners. For all the cars I've ever owned, every corresponding forum has a stickied post along the lines of "Prospective buyers check here" or "Purchasing checklist" or something similar - you don't even need to create an account to ask the question, but you always can. No better information than from current owners.

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I can't stress enough how important it is to be a prepared buyer. Know about the car you're trying to buy. Ask questions, check in areas you've learned there could be issues, be objective.

-----

As the buyer, insist on dictating where the transaction will take place. A public parking lot, police station, bank, library, the DMV etc. are all good places to finalize the transaction. NEVER go to someone's house or offer for them to come to your house to finalize a transaction. A public place with plenty of daylight is always the safest spot to buy a car (or really, anything).

It can be especially reassuring for the seller if you offer to transact at their local bank (especially if they still owe money on the car), as they can verify that your funds are 'good' (if you're not paying cash) instantly.

Flat9MKE

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2021, 09:52:23 AM »

You can trade your car in to a dealer without buying a car from them. Or your can sell it to a hassle free service like CarMax or Carvana. Buying a car from a dealer while also trading in your previous car just makes the negotiations more complicated (in the dealer's favor).

The inspection part of a Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program mean almost nothing. All that matters is the terms of the warranty the dealer might be providing. Though keep in mind both of these things don't require a dealer either. You can buy third party warranties and you can get an independent (unbiased) mechanic to inspect a vehicle for you.

I think you have more leverage on the trade-in if the dealer thinks they are going to sell you a car too.

If you know a mechanic, yes.  If not, how do you get a 3rd party mechanic to accompany you shopping for cars?  That's not realistic.

I agree on the warranty stuff though.  I never pay for them, but if the car has an issue, the dealer isn't going to fix it if the car isn't covered under the manufacturer warranties.

RWD

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2021, 10:03:11 AM »
You can trade your car in to a dealer without buying a car from them. Or your can sell it to a hassle free service like CarMax or Carvana. Buying a car from a dealer while also trading in your previous car just makes the negotiations more complicated (in the dealer's favor).

The inspection part of a Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program mean almost nothing. All that matters is the terms of the warranty the dealer might be providing. Though keep in mind both of these things don't require a dealer either. You can buy third party warranties and you can get an independent (unbiased) mechanic to inspect a vehicle for you.

I think you have more leverage on the trade-in if the dealer thinks they are going to sell you a car too.

If you know a mechanic, yes.  If not, how do you get a 3rd party mechanic to accompany you shopping for cars?  That's not realistic.

I agree on the warranty stuff though.  I never pay for them, but if the car has an issue, the dealer isn't going to fix it if the car isn't covered under the manufacturer warranties.

Maybe, but they'll just four square you and make it up somewhere else. CarMax and Carvana are already giving competitive offers for used cars without any strings attached. Might as well get a quote from them before heading to the dealer at the very least.

I was not implying you should bring a mechanic with you at all. That's not the proper way to have a pre-purchase inspection done anyway as there is a limit to what they can do outside of a shop. The correct procedure is to have the seller bring the car to an independent mechanic's shop and you pay that mechanic $100-200 to give you a complete inspection report. No need to be acquainted with the mechanic (though calling ahead to confirm they can fit you into their schedule is good courtesy).

darknight

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2021, 09:59:16 AM »
Love this advice. I've purchased dozens of cars (used, mustachian-grade) and NUMBER 1 thing for a good "deal" is having patience. Don't decide what color you want.. or get yourself in a situation where you HAVE TO HAVE SOMETHING BY THIS WEEKEND.

Use "fuelly" to check Mpg of potential cars, don't take the seller's information blindly. Be patient. I've also worked in a detail shop when I was going to school, and it's unbelievable what a professional level detail will do for your current vehicle. If you already own a "mustachian car" but are looking for a casual upgrade, take your vehicle to get detailed. Paying 200-300 dollars for a professional detail will potentially help you avoid buying another car, or worse case will give you a fantastic looking car when you decide to sell

darknight

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2021, 10:03:24 AM »
Good information and I agree with a lot of it.  I do prefer to buy from a dealer though.  It might cost a little more (maybe), but the challenge is unloading your old car.  I cannot stand dealing with all the tire kickers/flakes/etc. with online transactions.  For me, the ability to get a reasonable price for trade-in and not deal with the hassle of selling my old car is worth it at this point in my life.

I think buying a pre-certified used car from a reputable dealer also gives me a little more comfort than buying off the street.  You could get a lemon from a dealer, but it seems like it is more transparent and at least they had a professional mechanic take a look at the car. 

You can certainly get great cars off the street, but I prefer buying from a dealership.

I used to put up with people being flaky etc until reading about MMM and not holding something a little longer to get a few hundred etc more out of selling the old car. Price it correctly (I use NADA), and then take off $100 to $1000 from the sales price and you can eliminate many tire kickers. In the current market, selling a used car is quite easy as the demand is through the roof.

ysette9

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2021, 03:28:04 PM »
I have always researched using consumer reports (membership required to access old reliability data or you can check out their car buying guide from the library), and then done prepurchase checks at a mechanic that is located close to the buyer.

It is a bit of a pain in the ass to find an available mechanic that is also somewhat near a credit union that is open on the day I can do all of those transactions, but I’ve made it work. I wish the US had a better way of transacting with private parties other than cashier’s check. We are so behind the times.

APowers

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #11 on: June 13, 2021, 07:02:55 PM »
If this post could become a sticky post, that would be great!

Morning Glory

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2021, 07:22:39 PM »
Good information and I agree with a lot of it.  I do prefer to buy from a dealer though.  It might cost a little more (maybe), but the challenge is unloading your old car.  I cannot stand dealing with all the tire kickers/flakes/etc. with online transactions.  For me, the ability to get a reasonable price for trade-in and not deal with the hassle of selling my old car is worth it at this point in my life.

I think buying a pre-certified used car from a reputable dealer also gives me a little more comfort than buying off the street.  You could get a lemon from a dealer, but it seems like it is more transparent and at least they had a professional mechanic take a look at the car. 

You can certainly get great cars off the street, but I prefer buying from a dealership.

I used to put up with people being flaky etc until reading about MMM and not holding something a little longer to get a few hundred etc more out of selling the old car. Price it correctly (I use NADA), and then take off $100 to $1000 from the sales price and you can eliminate many tire kickers. In the current market, selling a used car is quite easy as the demand is through the roof.

Yep, I've had a pretty easy time selling on Facebook marketplace lately. So I've sold a car, a pickup, and a tractor pretty quickly. Price it right and take offers for a couple hundred less. I just had the people come to the house and pay cash, but these were not high dollar vehicles by any means. The car and the pickup each went within a day. Tractor took a couple weeks and I accepted a much lower offer than I'd hoped for, but I still feel good about it.

Archipelago

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #13 on: June 13, 2021, 07:24:43 PM »
Copy/pasted with edits from my own post a few years ago:

Research
Fuel economy: https://fueleconomy.gov/
Safety: http://www.iihs.org/ratings
Reliability: http://www.dashboard-light.com/

Shopping
Facebook Marketplace
Craigslist
AutoTempest

Due diligence
NMVTIS report ($2 per car)
Pre-purchase inspection

+1 for Auto Tempest. Excellent search aggregator for used vehicles.

ender

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #14 on: June 13, 2021, 09:27:41 PM »
Maybe, but they'll just four square you and make it up somewhere else. CarMax and Carvana are already giving competitive offers for used cars without any strings attached. Might as well get a quote from them before heading to the dealer at the very least.

Yep.

What you ought to do is:

  • Figure out what the price the car you want to buy needs to be
  • Figure out what your tradein is worth

and go from there.

If you think the car you want to buy should cost $15k and your car is worth $5k, then it doesn't matter if you get $12k/$2k or $14k/$4k or $15k/$5k (assuming this is sales tax neutral).

Having an offer from Carvana/Carmax/etc is helpful here because the dealer, assuming you are buying from them in a state where trading in reduces your owed sales tax, can still meet the impact with an offer lower than those. Or you can sell private sale if you want to deal with that hassle and probably come out ahead of all these options.

Then again, in 2021, most guidance goes out the window since the market for cars is so jacked up this year.

Bloop Bloop Reloaded

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #15 on: June 13, 2021, 11:49:25 PM »
The most important thing if you're buying a car is to have thick skin. Dealers (and even private sellers) will screw around with you psychologically.

I went shopping with a friend the other day to help her buy a car. We are both lawyers and pretty intelligent - so you would have thought dealers would have respected that. Nope - here are some lines we actually got:

- I can't believe you're haggling on a $50k car. Yesterday a bloke came in and bought a $130k without haggling a cent. (My response: "Only insecure people refuse to haggle. We're not insecure.")

- Residual values are so strong, the car prices will go up next week. (My response: "Then why even sell it today? Keep it under wraps till next week.")

- This offer is valid only till close of business today. (My response: "Why, when the car's been listed as available at this price for a week? Can you give me some rationale?")

Conclusion:
- Call out dealers on their bullshit.
- Do your homework on prices.
- Tell yourself that if you visit 3 dealers and don't piss at least 2 of them off, you aren't haggling enough.
- Take pride in walking away. The dealers will call you back.
- Don't be surprised at how low dealers will stoop. They truly are scum of the earth.

nereo

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #16 on: June 14, 2021, 04:27:47 AM »
Generally I agree with you @Bloop Bloop Reloaded - though I think “scum of the earth” is taking it too far

Their job is to get the greatest profit selling cars. Some may be sleazy, others are not.

ChpBstrd

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #17 on: June 14, 2021, 07:07:47 AM »
- Don't be surprised at how low dealers will stoop. They truly are scum of the earth.

...which is another reason to only buy private-party used cars. I can think of a couple thousand more reasons.

Bloop Bloop Reloaded

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #18 on: June 14, 2021, 09:31:13 AM »
- Don't be surprised at how low dealers will stoop. They truly are scum of the earth.

...which is another reason to only buy private-party used cars. I can think of a couple thousand more reasons.

In my state there is a very significant advantage to buying from a dealer: you get a statutory warranty buying second hand from a dealer that covers 12 months in most cases. You buy from a private seller, you buy "as is" (and even if you technically are relying on certain representations, good luck enforcing it). In other words, if a dealer car turns out to e a lemon, it's fixable. If a private turns out to be a lemon, you're out of luck.

As for dealers being good/bad, when I go by myself I generally get very good service (because I'm a car guy and know the talk) but when my non-car friends (particularly women - who tend to get the 'hard sell') have gone to dealers they have been fleeced/intimidated.

ericrugiero

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #19 on: June 16, 2021, 07:36:31 AM »
...
- Don't be surprised at how low dealers will stoop. They truly are scum of the earth.

Some are scum, others are good honest people.  All of them will make money off of selling you something so they have an incentive to talk you into buying more than you need. 

True scum of the earth are the timeshare salespeople.  They are using high pressure dishonest practices to sell a terrible product.  Nobody who isn't scum would stay there once they see the truth of the industry.  That's different than the auto sales industry where an honest person can work and make a good living.  I wouldn't walk into a dealership assuming they are scum.  Just be prepared in case they are. 

GuitarStv

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #20 on: June 16, 2021, 07:55:56 AM »
4WD is not necessary for winter driving! A lot of people try to justify having a 4WD/AWD car for winters, but unless you live out where annual snowfall is measured in tens of feet, a set of snow tires on dedicated rims is far cheaper than a car that has 4 drive wheels.

Oh man, this x1000!  The number of people who have some weird belief that 4WD is magic for winter driving . . .

4WD lets you accelerate slightly better in snow.  It doesn't improve traction in snow or ice while cornering, and it doesn't help you stop at all.  Winter tires > 4WD pretty much any way you look at it.  If I had a dime for every befuddled 4WD owner I've helped to push out of the ditch after they careened off the road . . .

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #21 on: June 16, 2021, 08:37:14 AM »
4WD is not necessary for winter driving! A lot of people try to justify having a 4WD/AWD car for winters, but unless you live out where annual snowfall is measured in tens of feet, a set of snow tires on dedicated rims is far cheaper than a car that has 4 drive wheels.

Oh man, this x1000!  The number of people who have some weird belief that 4WD is magic for winter driving . . .

4WD lets you accelerate slightly better in snow.  It doesn't improve traction in snow or ice while cornering, and it doesn't help you stop at all.  Winter tires > 4WD pretty much any way you look at it.  If I had a dime for every befuddled 4WD owner I've helped to push out of the ditch after they careened off the road . . .

Take a cue from the snowiest regions of Canada - winter tires are required; 4WD isn't.  In snowy Quebec most daily commuters drive FWD, fuel efficient vehicles - in part because fuel is typically a dollar more per gallon over the US.... and because 4WD doesn't give them any benefit.

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #22 on: June 16, 2021, 08:41:57 AM »
I'd also suggest to assume that any used car you buy needs some catch-up maintenance immediately. Budget $1000 and get it inspected as soon as you can. Don't assume a dealer's done even as much as an oil change, anything they spend eats into their profits. Likewise for a private sale, do you think the previous owner was going to spend big money on a car they were about to sell?

I bought a car, drove it 10,000km, took it to my mechanic for a service and they showed me that the timing belt was hanging by a thread (the belt had a lot of cracks in it). It was 60,000km past due.

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #23 on: June 16, 2021, 10:12:02 AM »
I'd also suggest to assume that any used car you buy needs some catch-up maintenance immediately. Budget $1000 and get it inspected as soon as you can. Don't assume a dealer's done even as much as an oil change, anything they spend eats into their profits. Likewise for a private sale, do you think the previous owner was going to spend big money on a car they were about to sell?

I bought a car, drove it 10,000km, took it to my mechanic for a service and they showed me that the timing belt was hanging by a thread (the belt had a lot of cracks in it). It was 60,000km past due.

I've been pleasantly surprised how many people actually keep records (often including receipts) of all work they've done on their car. There's a section in the manual for scheduled maintenance with a place for stamps, and most dealers and many certified repair centers will stamp it as part of their operation. 

If I'm shopping for a car from a private seller and he can't show me records or tell me when and where it was serviced I'm more likely to pass. Even if they just give me the name of the mechanic/shop I can call them up and ask for service records - any reputable shop will keep them for several years.

Sounds like you didn't bother having a mechanic look at the car when you bought it - otherwise why didn't you notice the timing belt was so worn??

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #24 on: June 16, 2021, 10:24:18 AM »
Good information and I agree with a lot of it.  I do prefer to buy from a dealer though.  It might cost a little more (maybe), but the challenge is unloading your old car.  I cannot stand dealing with all the tire kickers/flakes/etc. with online transactions.  For me, the ability to get a reasonable price for trade-in and not deal with the hassle of selling my old car is worth it at this point in my life.
You can trade your car in to a dealer without buying a car from them. Or your can sell it to a hassle free service like CarMax or Carvana. Buying a car from a dealer while also trading in your previous car just makes the negotiations more complicated (in the dealer's favor).

I think buying a pre-certified used car from a reputable dealer also gives me a little more comfort than buying off the street.  You could get a lemon from a dealer, but it seems like it is more transparent and at least they had a professional mechanic take a look at the car. 

You can certainly get great cars off the street, but I prefer buying from a dealership.
The inspection part of a Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program mean almost nothing. All that matters is the terms of the warranty the dealer might be providing. Though keep in mind both of these things don't require a dealer either. You can buy third party warranties and you can get an independent (unbiased) mechanic to inspect a vehicle for you.

I had a friend buy a CPO car to later have a warranty claim denied, with the dealership insisting that my friend had crashed the car and thus the repair wouldn't be covered under warranty.

He filed a complaint with the county consumer protection division, who ended up tracking down the previous owner and confirmed that the previous owner had indeed been involved in a collision -- the dealership not only missed that it was in a crash, it also missed that there were literally missing pieces that had not been replaced.

Paul der Krake

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #25 on: June 16, 2021, 10:08:51 PM »
Great list.

The default car choice should be something like a Civic or a Prius or a Mazda 3, and you deviate from the subcompact/compact categories if and only if you have a damn good reason.

Examples of bad reasons:
- I live in the midwest and there is snow
- I'm thinking about starting a family soon
- I need extra power to go up the hills
- I like to be seated higher
- I like to go skiing and all the ski people have Outbacks
- I like to go surfing and all the surf people have Tacomas
- I have one or two small kids
- I go on gravel roads once in a while
- I like having a shit ton of space so I never need to think about how to pack efficiently
- I am afraid of losing in a collision with a bigger vehicle
- I'm a manly man

Examples of good reasons:
- I am very tall and cannot physically fit in a small car
- I have 3 or more kids, or maybe just two very bulky ones
- I live in a very remote area where I routinely need to off-road on very primitive trails
- I am a professional who needs to move tens of cubic feet of equipment regularly
- I routinely tow things that are significantly heavier than a jetski

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #26 on: June 16, 2021, 10:21:41 PM »
Great list.

The default car choice should be something like a Civic or a Prius or a Mazda 3, and you deviate from the subcompact/compact categories if and only if you have a damn good reason.

Examples of bad reasons:
- I live in the midwest and there is snow
- I'm thinking about starting a family soon
- I need extra power to go up the hills
- I like to be seated higher
- I like to go skiing and all the ski people have Outbacks
- I like to go surfing and all the surf people have Tacomas
- I have one or two small kids
- I go on gravel roads once in a while
- I like having a shit ton of space so I never need to think about how to pack efficiently
- I am afraid of losing in a collision with a bigger vehicle
- I'm a manly man

Examples of good reasons:
- I am very tall and cannot physically fit in a small car
- I have 3 or more kids, or maybe just two very bulky ones
- I live in a very remote area where I routinely need to off-road on very primitive trails
- I am a professional who needs to move tens of cubic feet of equipment regularly
- I routinely tow things that are significantly heavier than a jetski

I’m always skeptical of the “I’m too tall” argument.  I’m 6’5” and fit quite comfortably into many smaller cars.  My boss (6’7”) drove a Fit. It’s absolutely true that compact cars of decades past were very uncomfortable for tall drivers, but more modern (e.g. 2010 and later) designs have largely solved this.

I suspect many are either basing this on how they fit into small cars 20 years ago and haven’t updated their thinking, or they are just succumbing to marketing/social perception that “big dudes need a big car”.


GuitarStv

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #27 on: June 17, 2021, 07:23:55 AM »
Great list.

The default car choice should be something like a Civic or a Prius or a Mazda 3, and you deviate from the subcompact/compact categories if and only if you have a damn good reason.

Examples of bad reasons:
- I live in the midwest and there is snow
- I'm thinking about starting a family soon
- I need extra power to go up the hills
- I like to be seated higher
- I like to go skiing and all the ski people have Outbacks
- I like to go surfing and all the surf people have Tacomas
- I have one or two small kids
- I go on gravel roads once in a while
- I like having a shit ton of space so I never need to think about how to pack efficiently
- I am afraid of losing in a collision with a bigger vehicle
- I'm a manly man

Examples of good reasons:
- I am very tall and cannot physically fit in a small car
- I have 3 or more kids, or maybe just two very bulky ones
- I live in a very remote area where I routinely need to off-road on very primitive trails
- I am a professional who needs to move tens of cubic feet of equipment regularly
- I routinely tow things that are significantly heavier than a jetski

I’m always skeptical of the “I’m too tall” argument.  I’m 6’5” and fit quite comfortably into many smaller cars.  My boss (6’7”) drove a Fit. It’s absolutely true that compact cars of decades past were very uncomfortable for tall drivers, but more modern (e.g. 2010 and later) designs have largely solved this.

I suspect many are either basing this on how they fit into small cars 20 years ago and haven’t updated their thinking, or they are just succumbing to marketing/social perception that “big dudes need a big car”.

I'm only 6', but have never had any problems fitting into a car either.  My suspicion has always been that the 'I'm too tall' argument is mostly 'I'm afraid I'll look funny - like driving in a clown car'.

ericrugiero

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #28 on: June 17, 2021, 08:20:22 AM »
Great list.

The default car choice should be something like a Civic or a Prius or a Mazda 3, and you deviate from the subcompact/compact categories if and only if you have a damn good reason.

Examples of bad reasons:
- I live in the midwest and there is snow
- I'm thinking about starting a family soon
- I need extra power to go up the hills
- I like to be seated higher
- I like to go skiing and all the ski people have Outbacks
- I like to go surfing and all the surf people have Tacomas
- I have one or two small kids
- I go on gravel roads once in a while
- I like having a shit ton of space so I never need to think about how to pack efficiently
- I am afraid of losing in a collision with a bigger vehicle
- I'm a manly man

Examples of good reasons:
- I am very tall and cannot physically fit in a small car
- I have 3 or more kids, or maybe just two very bulky ones
- I live in a very remote area where I routinely need to off-road on very primitive trails
- I am a professional who needs to move tens of cubic feet of equipment regularly
- I routinely tow things that are significantly heavier than a jetski

I’m always skeptical of the “I’m too tall” argument.  I’m 6’5” and fit quite comfortably into many smaller cars.  My boss (6’7”) drove a Fit. It’s absolutely true that compact cars of decades past were very uncomfortable for tall drivers, but more modern (e.g. 2010 and later) designs have largely solved this.

I suspect many are either basing this on how they fit into small cars 20 years ago and haven’t updated their thinking, or they are just succumbing to marketing/social perception that “big dudes need a big car”.

I'm only 6', but have never had any problems fitting into a car either.  My suspicion has always been that the 'I'm too tall' argument is mostly 'I'm afraid I'll look funny - like driving in a clown car'.

I am 6'-3" with a slightly long torso for my height.  My head hits the ceiling in some cars if I sit up straight.  That doesn't mean no small cars work, it just means there are a few that don't.  It's not just small cars either.  My SIL's Lincoln Zephyr (roughly the size of an Accord or Camry) is too low (ceiling height) for me to drive comfortably.  I suspect if it didn't have a sunroof it might be OK. 

The consensus that this is just an excuse is totally true though.  Some small cars won't work for me but there are others that are fine.  A few cars not working doesn't mean I need a new F150.  I just need to shop around a bit. 
« Last Edit: June 17, 2021, 08:26:03 AM by ericrugiero »

joe189man

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #29 on: June 17, 2021, 09:18:52 AM »
Great list.

The default car choice should be something like a Civic or a Prius or a Mazda 3, and you deviate from the subcompact/compact categories if and only if you have a damn good reason.

Examples of bad reasons:
- I live in the midwest and there is snow
- I'm thinking about starting a family soon
- I need extra power to go up the hills
- I like to be seated higher
- I like to go skiing and all the ski people have Outbacks
- I like to go surfing and all the surf people have Tacomas
- I have one or two small kids
- I go on gravel roads once in a while
- I like having a shit ton of space so I never need to think about how to pack efficiently
- I am afraid of losing in a collision with a bigger vehicle
- I'm a manly man

Examples of good reasons:
- I am very tall and cannot physically fit in a small car
- I have 3 or more kids, or maybe just two very bulky ones
- I live in a very remote area where I routinely need to off-road on very primitive trails
- I am a professional who needs to move tens of cubic feet of equipment regularly
- I routinely tow things that are significantly heavier than a jetski

What if i just want a new electric Ford F-150 Lightning even though my Mazda 3 hatch is running great and is paid for? Good or bad reason?

oh this may be the wrong thread - where's that "what are you lusting over" thread

a co-worker at work just bought a brand new truck because his "old" one had transmission trouble from hot rodding and chiping it, he called it an investment while shopping for a lift and new wheels and tires.

Maybe add "because i want it" and " a new car isn't an investment" to your list


StartingEarly

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #30 on: June 17, 2021, 09:45:06 AM »
I'm on my second Honda Insight first generation. This one is an 02 manual. I've driven that car in blizzards, not exaggerating, literal blizzards, did it take slightly longer than a Subaru, sure, but how often is a literal freaking blizzard? I get about 55mpg and it's pretty reliable if you know how to handle minor quibbles.

JLee

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #31 on: June 17, 2021, 10:01:44 AM »
I'm on my second Honda Insight first generation. This one is an 02 manual. I've driven that car in blizzards, not exaggerating, literal blizzards, did it take slightly longer than a Subaru, sure, but how often is a literal freaking blizzard? I get about 55mpg and it's pretty reliable if you know how to handle minor quibbles.

I love those! They were way ahead of their time.

StartingEarly

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #32 on: June 17, 2021, 10:18:43 AM »
Basically, unfortunately it's still the cheapest transportation for someone covering large amounts of miles per day. I did the math and a Model 3 at most superchargers costs about 10 cents a mile so the Insight is still way cheaper, it's also cheaper to maintain and depreciation, etc. Plus if I'm traveling about 800 miles in a day it saves roughly 2 hours. I'm eventually going to get it turned into a PHEV once the lithium project gets progressed enough. It will still always use gas when running, just have background assist at low levels to get better mpg.

JLee

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #33 on: June 17, 2021, 11:33:24 AM »
Basically, unfortunately it's still the cheapest transportation for someone covering large amounts of miles per day. I did the math and a Model 3 at most superchargers costs about 10 cents a mile so the Insight is still way cheaper, it's also cheaper to maintain and depreciation, etc. Plus if I'm traveling about 800 miles in a day it saves roughly 2 hours. I'm eventually going to get it turned into a PHEV once the lithium project gets progressed enough. It will still always use gas when running, just have background assist at low levels to get better mpg.

800 miles a day!? How tf!?

StartingEarly

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #34 on: June 17, 2021, 10:15:22 PM »
Basically, unfortunately it's still the cheapest transportation for someone covering large amounts of miles per day. I did the math and a Model 3 at most superchargers costs about 10 cents a mile so the Insight is still way cheaper, it's also cheaper to maintain and depreciation, etc. Plus if I'm traveling about 800 miles in a day it saves roughly 2 hours. I'm eventually going to get it turned into a PHEV once the lithium project gets progressed enough. It will still always use gas when running, just have background assist at low levels to get better mpg.

800 miles a day!? How tf!?

Well, that would be Avondale, AZ to Blackhawk, Colorado, I do that in one day a lot. It's 12.5 hours according to maps, I drive 8 over everywhere and I get over 500 miles on a tank so I only have to stop a few quick times and generally do it right around 12 hours. There's a lot of 75 mph roads and even some 80mph roads so you chew through miles pretty quick. The fastest way is 813 miles.

nereo

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #35 on: June 18, 2021, 06:27:27 AM »
Basically, unfortunately it's still the cheapest transportation for someone covering large amounts of miles per day. I did the math and a Model 3 at most superchargers costs about 10 cents a mile so the Insight is still way cheaper, it's also cheaper to maintain and depreciation, etc. Plus if I'm traveling about 800 miles in a day it saves roughly 2 hours. I'm eventually going to get it turned into a PHEV once the lithium project gets progressed enough. It will still always use gas when running, just have background assist at low levels to get better mpg.
800 miles a day!? How tf!?

Well, that would be Avondale, AZ to Blackhawk, Colorado, I do that in one day a lot. It's 12.5 hours according to maps, I drive 8 over everywhere and I get over 500 miles on a tank so I only have to stop a few quick times and generally do it right around 12 hours. There's a lot of 75 mph roads and even some 80mph roads so you chew through miles pretty quick. The fastest way is 813 miles.


Yeah, it’s all 75mph zones around here and you can pretty much lock your cruise control at 85 and not worry about speed traps (plenty chose to risk going 90-95).  When I worked for the census I routinely covered 3,000 miles in a week that often involved 4 days of actual driving.  800 miles is still an edge case, but I’m no longer surprised when I meet a couple where one spouse commutes 150 miles each way into the “big city” daily.

About 2-3x per year we’ll make the trip to see my brother in an hour outside of St Louis, which is just a touch over 1100 miles one way. Takes us about 16 hours with stops (leave at 6, arrive around midnight). Given the complete lack of direct flights and the 3 hours of driving to/from the airports it’s actually not a lot slower than flying, and a heck of a lot cheaper and easier with 3 passengers. We’ve tried splitting it up into a 2 day jaunt but just prefer doing it in one straight shot.

Living in rural America means lots of driving for some.

StartingEarly

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #36 on: June 18, 2021, 10:55:37 AM »
What's funny is everyone thinks the Insight is completely tiny but it's a Tardis. I've heard of guys 6'3 owning it and wouldn't be surprised if taller guys could fit. The car being only a two door the front seats go back quite a ways even with the hybrid stuff compared to a 4 door and the car is so low that even though the roofline is low so is the seat.

StartingEarly

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #37 on: June 18, 2021, 10:57:14 AM »
By the way, since driving faster lets me work more hours and I averaged way more than I could ever burn in gas an hour I'm not singing the wasting gas song. I'm literally using extra gas for a very valid reason.

Paul der Krake

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #38 on: June 18, 2021, 11:25:04 AM »
Yeah, come to think of it, the size thing is very very dependent on the individual model. I had a tall coworker (6'6) who bought a Fit specifically because he was so comfortable in it after trying a dozen makes and models. This was in 2012, I have no idea if that's still the case today.

Another thing I have noticed is that some models don't let the passenger seat move as much. I can adjust the driver seat in my corolla to easily fit a taller person, but if they're not the one doing the driving they will suffer. I don't know why Toyota decided to have different ranges of motion on the front seats.

MrMoneySaver

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #39 on: June 18, 2021, 12:22:52 PM »
Does anybody have thoughts on buying new vs. used at this moment in time? Used cars are not the deal they once were. I am thinking of something basic like a Nissan Sentra, Hyundai Elantra, or similar. I would want either new, or something with under 30,000 miles. I want to stay under $20,000. I will probably not be driving much each year, so I plan to make this car last a long time.

In either case, I would be paying cash for the car.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2021, 12:24:48 PM by MrMoneySaver »

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #40 on: June 18, 2021, 12:33:47 PM »
Does anybody have thoughts on buying new vs. used at this moment in time? Used cars are not the deal they once were. I am thinking of something basic like a Nissan Sentra, Hyundai Elantra, or similar. I would want either new, or something with under 30,000 miles. I want to stay under $20,000. I will probably not be driving much each year, so I plan to make this car last a long time.

If you're not planning on driving much, what's the point of tying up new-car level resources in one? A late '90s/early '00s Sentra/Corolla/Civic will do you just fine, and put the rest of your money in investments.

IMO, "new car" and "used car with less than 30k miles" are the same overly expensive option. The "used car" options that will beat the value pants off anything are ~15+ yrs old basic Japanese sedans, or a similar age Buick with the 3.8l V6 previously owned by an older person.

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #41 on: June 18, 2021, 12:39:37 PM »
Does anybody have thoughts on buying new vs. used at this moment in time? Used cars are not the deal they once were. I am thinking of something basic like a Nissan Sentra, Hyundai Elantra, or similar. I would want either new, or something with under 30,000 miles. I want to stay under $20,000. I will probably not be driving much each year, so I plan to make this car last a long time.

In either case, I would be paying cash for the car.
The only winning move right now is to not buy anything if you can avoid it. Prices are through the roof across the board because of chip shortages.

Wait 6 months, maybe more.

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #42 on: June 18, 2021, 06:05:04 PM »
Yeah, come to think of it, the size thing is very very dependent on the individual model. I had a tall coworker (6'6) who bought a Fit specifically because he was so comfortable in it after trying a dozen makes and models. This was in 2012, I have no idea if that's still the case today.

Its not really height, but body proportions that are the issue. I'm 6'1/2" with 36 1/2" legs and my reach is 79" with wide shoulders,  my torso is shorter for my height. Small cars just don't fit.

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #43 on: August 18, 2021, 04:05:30 PM »
What is the upper limit on miles you'd accept on a used car? Or is that more dependent on how good the maintenance records are?

v8rx7guy

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #44 on: August 18, 2021, 04:53:45 PM »
Mileage is one of the single biggest factor in the price of a vehicle, but it's often hard to tell which vehicle is the better deal for the mileage.  So for my last 2 vehicles I have been using a formula that basically calculates the dollars per 10,000 miles remaining.  The lower the number, the better.  To do this,  first establish at what mileage the vehicle you are interested in will effectively be worth $0 and ready for a junkyard, this max mileage number should be the same for all vehicles comparing.  This is not particularly important to have perfect, but you need a number.  For instance, when we were shopping for a Honda Pilot about 5 years ago, I set this number at 200,000 miles... really you just need this number to define the slope, so don't get all caught up on it.
 Next, take the current mileage of the vehicle and use the following formula:

Price/(Max Mileage - Current Mileage) *10,000 = $/10,000mi remaining

I kept a spreadsheet of all the Pilots in the area, as well as major metropolitan areas that might be a cheap one way flight away.  I found that Pilots were pretty heavily grouped in the $1,300-$1,500 per 10K miles remaining locally, but sometimes I'd find an outlier under $1,000/10K miles remaining.  I ended up finding one in Portland (turns out they got significantly cheaper in Oregon) that was $813/10K remaining and it turned out to be a really good deal.  Here are some examples of Pilots I looked at:

Year    Price       Mileage     $/10K
2008     11500   128,000   1597
2003     11000   101,000   1111
2005     9150   99,000   906
2005     7500   149,000   1471
2006     10000   124,000   1316
2006     7800   124,000   1026
2004     8000   125,000   1067
2003     10250   74000   813

As you can see, this formula helps comb through a bunch of data to figure out what the "best deal" is.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2021, 05:00:44 PM by v8rx7guy »

reeshau

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #45 on: August 18, 2021, 04:56:43 PM »
Yeah, come to think of it, the size thing is very very dependent on the individual model. I had a tall coworker (6'6) who bought a Fit specifically because he was so comfortable in it after trying a dozen makes and models. This was in 2012, I have no idea if that's still the case today.

Its not really height, but body proportions that are the issue. I'm 6'1/2" with 36 1/2" legs and my reach is 79" with wide shoulders,  my torso is shorter for my height. Small cars just don't fit.

I am 6' 8".  The only car I haven't had to have the driver's seat fully back was the Citroen Grand Picasso 7-seater we had in Ireland.

I can fit in a lot of cars, some surprisingly small, but I usually turn a 4-seater into a 3-seater, as there is no leg room behind me.

Morning Glory

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #46 on: August 18, 2021, 05:09:13 PM »
Yeah, come to think of it, the size thing is very very dependent on the individual model. I had a tall coworker (6'6) who bought a Fit specifically because he was so comfortable in it after trying a dozen makes and models. This was in 2012, I have no idea if that's still the case today.

Its not really height, but body proportions that are the issue. I'm 6'1/2" with 36 1/2" legs and my reach is 79" with wide shoulders,  my torso is shorter for my height. Small cars just don't fit.
I'll second the body size thing. My husband is 6'6 and also broad shouldered and morbidly obese (at one point he was almost 450lbs, now he's ~375). He can get into many small cars but isn't comfortable for more than short trips across town, and there was no getting a rear facing car seat behind him even in a huge car. (We had a full size car when our kids were rear facing so they could sit in the middle and behind me. The dog sat behind him). I know he is an edge case and most people do not have this reason.

ChpBstrd

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #47 on: August 18, 2021, 09:40:23 PM »
What is the upper limit on miles you'd accept on a used car? Or is that more dependent on how good the maintenance records are?
This will be hotly debated, but I prefer to stick with a car for long periods of time. Like 7-10 years. This saves me a lot of the hassle faced by people who change cars every 3-4 years. I probably spend 60 hours on each private party car purchase I make, researching, shopping, transferring funds around, sitting at the revenue office, attaching accessories, and checking out various things.

Thus, if I buy a high-mileage car (e.g. 160k miles) that will only last me 3 years (to 190k miles), I am signing myself up to spend those hours three times as frequently. More importantly, I'll waste a lot more hours on maintenance, repairs, and the occasional tow. My investments in things like a hitch, window tint, etc. evaporate and often must be repeated with the new car.

My last car was bought 7.5 years ago with 45k miles, currently has 103k miles, and will be sold in 5 or 6 years when it has 150-160k miles. Critics will note that I paid thousands more in depreciation, insurance, and taxes by getting a low mileage car than I could have paid going through a couple of high-mileage cars during this time. I'll reply that I bought back a significant amount of my time, and this tradeoff was a purposeful decision (was busy with a new baby!). When my circumstances were different (younger, low-income, unattached) then I looked for a car to last me the next 3-4 years and would take my chances on higher miles, (e.g. 140k) in exchange for lower costs.

Morning Glory

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #48 on: August 18, 2021, 10:27:04 PM »
What is the upper limit on miles you'd accept on a used car? Or is that more dependent on how good the maintenance records are?
This will be hotly debated, but I prefer to stick with a car for long periods of time. Like 7-10 years. This saves me a lot of the hassle faced by people who change cars every 3-4 years. I probably spend 60 hours on each private party car purchase I make, researching, shopping, transferring funds around, sitting at the revenue office, attaching accessories, and checking out various things.

Thus, if I buy a high-mileage car (e.g. 160k miles) that will only last me 3 years (to 190k miles), I am signing myself up to spend those hours three times as frequently. More importantly, I'll waste a lot more hours on maintenance, repairs, and the occasional tow. My investments in things like a hitch, window tint, etc. evaporate and often must be repeated with the new car.

My last car was bought 7.5 years ago with 45k miles, currently has 103k miles, and will be sold in 5 or 6 years when it has 150-160k miles. Critics will note that I paid thousands more in depreciation, insurance, and taxes by getting a low mileage car than I could have paid going through a couple of high-mileage cars during this time. I'll reply that I bought back a significant amount of my time, and this tradeoff was a purposeful decision (was busy with a new baby!). When my circumstances were different (younger, low-income, unattached) then I looked for a car to last me the next 3-4 years and would take my chances on higher miles, (e.g. 140k) in exchange for lower costs.

This is a good strategy, especially if you are able to do the maintenance yourself. We just sold 3 vehicles that we had for 16,11, and 7 years. The one we only had for 7 years was our farm truck that we didn't need any more (75 Chevy that still ran great!!). It went to a good home  All the people we sold to felt like they got a good deal because the vehicles were so well maintained and came with a bunch of extra oil filters and snow tires and stuff.

We bought a 2016 Subaru Forester that will hopefully last a long time (or was a giant mistake, I don't know). It has low miles but had a salvage title because of former collision damage. We chose it over the outback because I can actually see out the windows. I get motion sickness if I try to use the backup camera, so I have to see out.

-that's a good reason to have an older car instead of a new one. I hate tiny windows. Saves me money, but purely by chance. Maybe one day windows will be big again and I'll want a new car.

GuitarStv

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #49 on: August 19, 2021, 07:48:41 AM »
-that's a good reason to have an older car instead of a new one. I hate tiny windows. Saves me money, but purely by chance. Maybe one day windows will be big again and I'll want a new car.

Larger windows make it easier to see out of a vehicle, which makes driving it safer.  You're less likely to get into an accident if you can see and prevent the accident before it happens.  I'm not at all a fan of the modern approach of "let's make the accident more likely by doing things that will make people who are in a car accident safer".