Author Topic: How to buy a car (if you must)  (Read 4247 times)

desert_phoenix

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #50 on: August 22, 2021, 12:25:32 AM »
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.

Right after re-reading this thread, I noticed that each of the used car types you mention are for sale not far from me:

15 year old Japanese sedan:
https://washingtondc.craigslist.org/nva/cto/d/manassas-clean-and-reliable-2006-toyota/7368747712.html
Notable because the insane asking prices for used cars has now hit the private sellers too.

Buick with the 3.8l: https://washingtondc.craigslist.org/nva/cto/d/arlington-1994-buick-lesabre-limited/7366577968.html
Notable because putting only 17,000 miles on a 27 year old car is not something you see every day!
« Last Edit: August 22, 2021, 09:25:19 AM by desert_phoenix »

Paul der Krake

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #51 on: August 22, 2021, 12:51:32 AM »
To be fair, people often have wildly, err, optimistic, prices for their very average cars. They think the sunroof and leather seats on their 8 year old sedan still justifies the premium they had to pay when they bought it from the dealer. It doesn't. With a bit of practice and enough awkward interactions with marginal characters, you can learn to spot ads that are a waste of time.

Only a fraction of ads are priced to market, and those move quickly. The rest linger on classified sites for longer, which can create the impression that nothing is available under $X,000. This is true most of the time, not just now.

The main issue as a second hand buyer is that you need to have good knowledge of what the market will bear. If you're a well-behaved Mustachian, you buy a car once every 5 to 10 years and probably don't follow price trends that closely, if at all. Figuring out today's fair market price (not last year, not 10 years ago) is not easy and requires observing ads in your local market over the course of multiple weeks.

alsoknownasDean

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #52 on: August 27, 2021, 08:51:53 PM »
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??

Yeah I didn't have a regular mechanic at the time, plus the recommended timing belt intervals were 60,000km and the car had 111,000km so I assumed that it would have been done at some point. Lesson learnt, if there's no documentation proving it's been changed, assume it hasn't been. It was still a reasonably reliable car so it worked out in the end.

Not sure if this is a big deal over there, but here it seems that small used cars with an automatic transmission are hot property on the used market, and larger sedans aren't generally as desirable. It seems that anyone who wants more space than a Corolla-class car delivers goes straight to SUVs/crossovers these days. Maybe it's not so bad to get a used Camry if it's cheaper than the equivalent Corolla, depending on the miles driven per year.
« Last Edit: August 27, 2021, 08:56:36 PM by alsoknownasDean »

ChpBstrd

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #53 on: August 27, 2021, 09:40:41 PM »
Not sure if this is a big deal over there, but here it seems that small used cars with an automatic transmission are hot property on the used market, and larger sedans aren't generally as desirable. It seems that anyone who wants more space than a Corolla-class car delivers goes straight to SUVs/crossovers these days. Maybe it's not so bad to get a used Camry if it's cheaper than the equivalent Corolla, depending on the miles driven per year.
Looking at the 2017 year models:

Corolla: 31mpg, 5y cost of ownership: $32,633
Camry: 27mpg, 5y cost of ownership: $35,639
CRV: 28mpg, 5y cost of ownership: $35,180

Comparing the Camry to the Corolla, you get a whopping 5 extra cubic feet passenger space and 2! cubic feet extra cargo space. For these privileges, you pay $1250 more over 5 years just for fuel per fuel economy.gov (insurance, depreciation, and maintenance are also more expensive). What's the point of the Camry?

Comparing the Camry to the CRV, you actually get BETTER fuel economy in the CRV, plus the cargo and ground clearance benefits of the SUV style, AND Edmunds.com calculates a slightly LOWER total cost of ownership. Again, what's the point of the Camry?

alsoknownasDean

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Re: How to buy a car (if you must)
« Reply #54 on: August 28, 2021, 12:06:53 AM »
Looking at the 2017 year models:

Corolla: 31mpg, 5y cost of ownership: $32,633
Camry: 27mpg, 5y cost of ownership: $35,639
CRV: 28mpg, 5y cost of ownership: $35,180

Comparing the Camry to the Corolla, you get a whopping 5 extra cubic feet passenger space and 2! cubic feet extra cargo space. For these privileges, you pay $1250 more over 5 years just for fuel per fuel economy.gov (insurance, depreciation, and maintenance are also more expensive). What's the point of the Camry?

Comparing the Camry to the CRV, you actually get BETTER fuel economy in the CRV, plus the cargo and ground clearance benefits of the SUV style, AND Edmunds.com calculates a slightly LOWER total cost of ownership. Again, what's the point of the Camry?

How about older than 2017? Maybe 2009? 2012? What about the purchase price?

By my observations a used ~10yo Camry and a used ~10yo Corolla are worth about the same here, and the CR-V would be two or three grand more than either (all automatic transmissions). If you get a good deal on the Camry it's not a terrible choice.