Author Topic: Older Cars--I want to love you! Please help convince me  (Read 7001 times)

Rosewhipped

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Older Cars--I want to love you! Please help convince me
« on: November 24, 2014, 11:12:45 AM »
I need help with a clown car purchase. 

I havenít had a car since mine was mysteriously unfixable last January (it was a 2004 Ford Taurus with 60,000 some miles on itóthe engine liked to cut out randomly for no reasonóthis was an electrical issue that the ďspecialistĒ couldnít solve). At the time I was moving back home anyway so even though I had started saving for a car I didnít have enough unless I wanted to buy on credit.  In about 6 months with only my student loans holding me back I added to my savings and had $12,000óplenty for a car.  I decided to throw all that money at my student loans which wiped them out. 

So I kept saving and have almost $9000 right now.  I am interested in a used car and was originally looking at the ever popular Honda Fit.  Iíve been researching cars for a few months now and I like that model and I also think Nissan Versa, Honda Civics or Toyota Yaris would work as well.  I tend to like hatchbacks, but itís not a necessity.  Good Mileage is important to me.

The main topic is I am considering older cars and everyone is trying to talk me out of them.  My dad and brother think itís better to finance (a used car) even if I pay it off early so I can build credit, but last I checked my credit was really good.  I asked my dad to guess the asking price (from dealer) for a 2008 Honda Civic with 131,728 miles and he guessed $1,000!   (It was $8,779)  He has a 2006 Kia Sedona (purchased 1-2 yrs old from enterprise) and hasnít been car shopping in a few years, but still. 

Convince me older cars are a good investment purchase.  By old i mean less than $10,000.  I want a reliable Brand with less than 100,000 miles and cars like that are over $10,000 in my area.  I get a lot of the logic, but as a person who would be at the mercy of the mechanics it worries me that I will always be paying for repairs.   My family views cars at 100,000 as being finished, I guess.   This is my first car purchase--past cars were shared family cars and I have always lived close to work places.

Sorry to ramble on.  All advice is appreciated.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Jags4186

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Re: Older Cars--I want to love you! Please help convince me
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2014, 11:33:07 AM »
I don't know how much you drive so that makes it a little tougher to answer.  The real answer is to do a cents/mile equation and figure out the most advantageous way to own.

The most common way that plays out is by buying an older car for cash and maintaining it.  This works out to be best because the biggest expense for a car is depreciation.  A used car under 10k has already had most of its depreciation.  You can turn around and sell your older car several years later for almost the same as what you paid for it. 

Lets say you buy a $5000 Honda Civic...there's a good chance in 4 or 5 years you'll be able to sell it for at least $3500.  And if it costs $1500/yr to maintain, your cost of ownership is $1800/yr over a 5 year period.  Find me a new car that costs that much to own...I doubt you'll be able to.

This doesn't even take into account lower insurance costs...

2Birds1Stone

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Re: Older Cars--I want to love you! Please help convince me
« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2014, 11:54:58 AM »
I purchased a 2004 Nissan Sentra back in early 2011 for $7000 Cash. Nearly 4 years and 45,000 miles later it's worth $4800. I have had to get 2 new front tires, replace an O2 sensor, and do the front brakes once. Extremely low cost of ownership vs buying even a new econobox. Like the above poster said too.....insurance is 1/2 of what it would be on a new car let alone a financed car with full coverage.   

greaper007

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Re: Older Cars--I want to love you! Please help convince me
« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2014, 11:56:50 AM »
$9000 will be able to buy you a really nice used car.   I've never spent more than $5000 on a car and I've driven all of them for 10+ years.

Can you do your own maintenance, or are you willing to learn?    That's really the key to being able to drive a cheap, older car.    Paying a mechanic to fix the little things that like to break on older cars is what really drives up the cost.   

I knew nothing about fixing cars 6 years ago, then I decided to start changing my oil, then the brakes and I just branched out from there.    Now I'm comfortable tackling just about anything short of major engine or transmission work.  I only spend about $300-$400 a year fixing 2 cars that are over 10 years old.    Watch Youtube videos and get the factory service manual for any car you own, it will give you step by step instructions on how to fix anything in your vehicle.

Good luck

mrsggrowsveg

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Re: Older Cars--I want to love you! Please help convince me
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2014, 02:45:47 PM »
I have always driven older cars so it is easy for me to see the value.  However, now I am also in the market for another used car.  I calculate my own cost/mile.  The things I consider are expected life of the vehicle, purchase price, increased insurance cost, maintenance expenses and miles per gallon.  For the amount of miles that I drive, I have found that the $7,000-$10,000 Honda Fit and Prius have the lowest cost/mile. 

Villanelle

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Re: Older Cars--I want to love you! Please help convince me
« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2014, 02:55:42 PM »
2000 Toyota Echo (the precursor to the Yaris, basically) with about 86k miles.

The key is low mileage, which is far, far more important than age.  You could probably get my car for less than half your savings. (KBB on my car is about $3700.)  I'd drive a 15 year old car with 75,000 miles before I drove a 7 year old car with 125,000miles, and it would cost me much less. 

neo von retorch

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Re: Older Cars--I want to love you! Please help convince me
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2014, 02:58:31 PM »
This summer, I bought a 2008 Honda Fit Sport with 56,000 miles on it for about $9400. Anyone with better negotiation skills than me (i.e. anyone) should be able to get a slightly better deal than that!

Villanelle

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Re: Older Cars--I want to love you! Please help convince me
« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2014, 03:00:16 PM »
2000 Toyota Echo (the precursor to the Yaris, basically) with about 86k miles.

The key is low mileage, which is far, far more important than age.  You could probably get my car for less than half your savings. (KBB on my car is about $3700.)  I'd drive a 15 year old car with 75,000 miles before I drove a 7 year old car with 125,000miles, and it would cost me much less. 

I'd look for a car that is at least 8--preferably 10--years old, with 50k miles or less, assuming you aren't especially skilled a car repair or interested in becoming so. 

Holyoak

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Re: Older Cars--I want to love you! Please help convince me
« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2014, 03:33:02 PM »
Man, I wouldn't know what to do with a $10k car!...  I'm used to having sub $2k, but I did recently buy a 2006 Toyota Matrix for around $8k w/70k miles...  Yep, more than it was probably worth, BUT...  It had every service record dealer done, a zillion oil changes (ABSOLUTELY zero sludge/all shiny metal under cap), brake fluid changes, no leaks, new brakes all around, air filter regularly changed, good Eagle GT tires with lots-o-tread, trans fluid changed twice, it looked like new inside not detailed to look "new", hardly any rust underneath (EXTREMELY hard to find in W. PA), and a manual trans that I wanted.  To me the outstanding service the car had, very little rust, and like new interior got my ca$h.

What you want is out there, so try and be patient, and keep your eyes peeled/ask around/place a "I want" on CL.  Good luck!

Bob W

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Re: Older Cars--I want to love you! Please help convince me
« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2014, 03:41:19 PM »
Our 2001 Toyota Camry had 365K on it.  I did as little maintenance as possible.  Passed it on to my daughter.   I drove the shit out of it and treated it like crap.   

If I were looking used I would consider a 99-2002 Camry with less than 200K that was taken care of a little.   If you find a one owner your golden.  You could find one for 3-5K.   They get 32 mpg. 

Buy it at 180K and drive it for another 200K for 5K!    That's like 2.5 cents per mile.  People  are scared about the mileage but these things can run for ever.   I've heard the newer Camrys aren't as good? 

ketchup

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Re: Older Cars--I want to love you! Please help convince me
« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2014, 03:57:32 PM »
Any decent car will get you to 200K if you take care of it.  A better-than-decent car will get you way past that if you take care of it.  100K is nothing.

Our current cars have 164K and 160K on them and were purchased with 158K ($700) and 146K ($1000) respectively.  No major issues with either so far, and even when that does happen, it won't be nearly expensive enough to make the old car not worth it.  Maintenance maintenance maintenance.

Just find a car known for being reliable and long-lasting, and find one that was well taken care of (like Bob Werner's Camry!).  Those two variables matter far more than age or miles to determine what kind of value you're getting out of the car.

I take great pride in knowing that the combined price of both our cars is less than I make in a month.  And I don't say that to brag about how much money I make.

Self-employed-swami

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Re: Older Cars--I want to love you! Please help convince me
« Reply #11 on: November 24, 2014, 04:05:43 PM »
We owned a 2001 Echo, and it was fantastic.  We bought it for $2200 a few years ago (discounted from the seller's price of $4000, as she had a quote of $1800 to get some minor front end damage repaired and have it repainted).  It had about 100,000km on it when we bought it, and my Dad replaced the damaged front panel and headlight for about $350, and we didn't repaint it, as the aftermarket panel came in close enough to the colour that no one noticed.  We bought some snow tires and rims for it (used for about $400) and sold the whole thing for $4500 later in the year, when I needed a truck for my new business.

It wasn't fancy, but it was reliable, and always started, even at -20.

Rosewhipped

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Re: Older Cars--I want to love you! Please help convince me
« Reply #12 on: November 24, 2014, 07:09:45 PM »
Thank you all for the feedback!  I really appreciate it. :-)

These car stories are definitely encouraging.  I'll keep my eyes open and look for a reliable brand.  Since I've been looking for so many months I feel like i have seen some cars that i would consider a great deal--they disappear quickly so I will just be ready to move with it.

Does anyone have Triple A or something similar?  Think that's worth it?  I feel like the peace of mind could make it worthwhile to me. I don't drive on the highway often but visit a friend every couple of months and she's like an hour away on the highway. I guess it makes me nervous that two cars I've driven in the past would just randomly have the engine cut out.  But one was a Ford and the other an Oldsmobile. 

Holyoak

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Re: Older Cars--I want to love you! Please help convince me
« Reply #13 on: November 24, 2014, 07:24:54 PM »
Many insurance companies will offer an equal or superior type service, that can be added to the policy for a few bucks a month...  My USAA policy costs $1 a month and offers:

Towing & Labor:

    Towing and Labor helps pay for costs such as:

        Towing to the nearest repair facility
        Lost keys and lockouts. (The cost of the key isn't covered.)
        Gas delivery
        Changing tires
        Performing labor where the breakdown took place

Also stuff like jump starts, etc.  Crazy cheap for peace of mind.  Look at your insurer, see if you have the option, and save a ton over AAA.

pagoconcheques

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Re: Older Cars--I want to love you! Please help convince me
« Reply #14 on: December 09, 2014, 06:52:05 PM »

The key is low mileage, which is far, far more important than age.

Not necessarily.  If you will only drive say 5-7,000 miles a year it may make sense to buy a newer relatively high mileage car.  It will be discounted due to the mileage which is likely to be from relatively painless highway miles. If you buy a 3-year-old honda with 90K miles and only do 5 k a year, in 4 years it will be 6 years old and have average miles.  If looking at cars like that, the condition of the interior will say a lot about the owner and how worn the pedals are will give you an idea of highway vs city miles. 

Good luck!

hodedofome

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Re: Older Cars--I want to love you! Please help convince me
« Reply #15 on: December 09, 2014, 06:58:43 PM »
Yeah older Camry, its bulletproof.

thurston howell iv

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Re: Older Cars--I want to love you! Please help convince me
« Reply #16 on: December 10, 2014, 07:48:26 AM »
Old cars all the way!
Purchased a 1988 Ford Festiva as a fun project for $400 - it had issues. We fixed it up. Wife drove it everywhere. Sold it and purchased a 1998 VW Jetta- (That one was a pain, but it ran great)- Sold it and purchased a 1997 Honda Civic hx - $2250 and 150k on the clock. It has 220+k on the clock now. Minimal maintenance and great mpg. It's one of the most reliable cars we've owned! 

Also have AAA Plus (more towing mileage- just in case)

Once in a while I get tired of the 110 gutless horsepower and pine for the old days when I had big gas guzzlers that were comfy and powerful- maybe a newer mid 2000-BMW, Benz or Caddy?  But, since coming here, and learning, albeit slowly, I can't bring myself to part with my little 17 year old civic.

You can't go wrong with a civic. Try to find one that hasn't been owned by a teenager. :)


ketchup

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Re: Older Cars--I want to love you! Please help convince me
« Reply #17 on: December 10, 2014, 07:56:24 AM »
Once in a while I get tired of the 110 gutless horsepower and pine for the old days when I had big gas guzzlers that were comfy and powerful- maybe a newer mid 2000-BMW, Benz or Caddy?  But, since coming here, and learning, albeit slowly, I can't bring myself to part with my little 17 year old civic.
Damn, it's all relative.  I'm used to my 55hp '99 Metro.  I was driving a friend's '97 Mercury Tracer last night and it felt like a racecar.  I just looked it up, and it's exactly 110 "gutless" horsepower.

stashy

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Re: Older Cars--I want to love you! Please help convince me
« Reply #18 on: December 10, 2014, 08:08:05 AM »
Cars nowadays are very good.  If you are interested in Hondas here is some advice-  Get a 2002-2005 honda civic with 90000-120000 miles.  I just bought a 2002 civic sedan LX with 90K miles for my GF for $5600.  The key is to find one that has had the timing belt done and isn't all dented up.  It gets 38 mpg, costs $20 a month to insure and its a nice little car.  I like driving it, it works great.  MMM says that luxury is just another weakness and he's right.  Cars made 10 years ago still look good and have everything that 99% of people need in a car.  There is a lot of value and technology in cars of this age, they typically have ABS and automatic mirrors, windows etc.  Good luck!

Bob W

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Re: Older Cars--I want to love you! Please help convince me
« Reply #19 on: December 10, 2014, 10:00:01 AM »

The key is low mileage, which is far, far more important than age.

Not necessarily.  If you will only drive say 5-7,000 miles a year it may make sense to buy a newer relatively high mileage car.  It will be discounted due to the mileage which is likely to be from relatively painless highway miles. If you buy a 3-year-old honda with 90K miles and only do 5 k a year, in 4 years it will be 6 years old and have average miles.  If looking at cars like that, the condition of the interior will say a lot about the owner and how worn the pedals are will give you an idea of highway vs city miles. 

Good luck!

Excellent point!

Rage

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Re: Older Cars--I want to love you! Please help convince me
« Reply #20 on: December 10, 2014, 10:05:21 AM »
As someone mentioned up-thread 200K is the new 100K.  Yes, if you bought a car in the 70s or maybe even 80s it wasn't good for anything past 100K - the odometers stopped at 99,999!  For some reason this 100K number is stuck in everyone's mind.  Same with the Honda/Toyota thing.  Only buy a Honda or Toyota is what everyone keeps saying even though it stopped mattering 10 years ago.

I can't believe how many cars I see on craiglist with 104K miles, 106K, 108K.  People think their cars are dead at 100K.  If you buy one of these for $4K (and in my area you can get a very nice one for that), you could spend $3K fixing it up and have a sweet, smooth ride.  Replace the tires, the suspension, have a full tune up done, replace the timing belt if due for that.  Have any goofy issues fixed - allignment, worn out rotors, malfunctioning window switches, whatever.  Boom, that car is practically new.  Compare that to a 75K miles car for $10K which is on its way to needing all of this stuff replaced.  In 5 years, with 150K on it, your car is still worth $2K to $3K - especially if you mention all the work you had done on it. 

meyla

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Re: Older Cars--I want to love you! Please help convince me
« Reply #21 on: December 10, 2014, 11:06:33 AM »
I have a '99 Honda Accord coupe that now has 225,000 miles on it. I love this car to death and will continue to drive it until it absolutely falls apart. I bought it in 2007 with 160k miles for $6000. When I got it, I felt like the richest kid on the block. It has black leather interior, sun/moon roof, 6 disc CD changer (FRONT LOAD EVEN!), so I feel fancy. One year, I did put a pretty penny (maybe 1200?) into having all the belts and hoses replaced because we couldn't find where an oil leak was coming from. Other than that, I have never had anything fixed/replaced, only regular oil changes, alignment, brakes, etc. I think I am very fortunate to have had a good experience but I don't think this experience is that unique. I will say that if you go for Honda, you may want to get a manual transmission if you can. I've heard the automatic transmissions are flakey in post 97 models.

I found this chart a few weeks ago and I can't vouch for it being 100% accurate but for the vehicles I have experience with, it is right.

http://newtechdomain.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/good_cheap_car_chart.jpg

BooksAreNerdy

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Re: Older Cars--I want to love you! Please help convince me
« Reply #22 on: December 10, 2014, 11:12:14 AM »
We have an 01 elantra hatchback. Paid  $4500. Love that thing!  Has maybe 160k miles

Our other car is a 93 corolla. Paid $1000. Still runs great. I think its in the 230k ballpark for miles.

rtrnow

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Re: Older Cars--I want to love you! Please help convince me
« Reply #23 on: December 10, 2014, 11:42:53 AM »

The key is low mileage, which is far, far more important than age.

Not necessarily.  If you will only drive say 5-7,000 miles a year it may make sense to buy a newer relatively high mileage car.  It will be discounted due to the mileage which is likely to be from relatively painless highway miles. If you buy a 3-year-old honda with 90K miles and only do 5 k a year, in 4 years it will be 6 years old and have average miles.  If looking at cars like that, the condition of the interior will say a lot about the owner and how worn the pedals are will give you an idea of highway vs city miles. 

Good luck!

Exactly! There are lots of parts that wear out from age or lack of use. The general thought is newer with higher mileage is probably more reliable. Can be good or bad but year model is also more important to price/resale than mileage.

Villanelle

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Re: Older Cars--I want to love you! Please help convince me
« Reply #24 on: December 10, 2014, 11:47:44 AM »

The key is low mileage, which is far, far more important than age.

Not necessarily.  If you will only drive say 5-7,000 miles a year it may make sense to buy a newer relatively high mileage car.  It will be discounted due to the mileage which is likely to be from relatively painless highway miles. If you buy a 3-year-old honda with 90K miles and only do 5 k a year, in 4 years it will be 6 years old and have average miles.  If looking at cars like that, the condition of the interior will say a lot about the owner and how worn the pedals are will give you an idea of highway vs city miles. 

Good luck!

I'm not following.  Depreciation is largely based on age, so the older the car, the better the deal. Conversely, wearing out is based largely on miles rather than age.  So an old car with low mileage is going to be cheapest per mile you get out of it.

Instead of a 3yo Honda with 90k, an 8 yo Honda with 60k will cost less in purchase price and yet you will get more miles out of it.  Much lower cost per mile you get from it.  Lets say either car is going to die at 200k miles.  Car 1 costs more and only gets you 110k miles.  Car 2 costs significantly less to purchase and yet gives you $140k miles.  How can that not be a better deal?

Unless he car was sitting and no being used at all, I don't see how lack of use will cause more wear and tear.  A few parts and pieces may wear out due to time, but most are mileage-based, IME.


Rage

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Re: Older Cars--I want to love you! Please help convince me
« Reply #25 on: December 10, 2014, 12:48:41 PM »
OK, so a lot of people have bought high mile cars for cheap and put more miles on them.  I think what the OP wants to hear is that you were never left stranded in the wilderness in these decrepit cars, and that you never had to put $4K into a new transmission or something crazy, and were never left for two weeks without a ride because of some undiagnosable problem with your ancient horseless carriage.

After all, this is why people make the mistake of buying a new car or a not old enough car - reliability.

pagoconcheques

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Re: Older Cars--I want to love you! Please help convince me
« Reply #26 on: December 10, 2014, 03:54:46 PM »
I'm not following.  Depreciation is largely based on age, so the older the car, the better the deal. Conversely, wearing out is based largely on miles rather than age.  So an old car with low mileage is going to be cheapest per mile you get out of it.

Instead of a 3yo Honda with 90k, an 8 yo Honda with 60k will cost less in purchase price and yet you will get more miles out of it.  Much lower cost per mile you get from it.  Lets say either car is going to die at 200k miles.  Car 1 costs more and only gets you 110k miles.  Car 2 costs significantly less to purchase and yet gives you $140k miles.  How can that not be a better deal?

OP mentioned having about $9,000 which puts a purchaser in the range of a newer old car as long as you stay in the economy segment.  Using the example of a base Honda Fit, and getting private-party values from truecar for one with a manual transmission, I get the following:

2012 with 24,000 miles: $11,459 (out of reach)
2012 with 100,000 miles: $9,336 ($2,123 cheaper, and almost in reach)

2011 with 36,000 miles: $8,649 (in budget)
2011 with 72,000 miles: $6,985 ($1,664 cheaper.  This is twice the average mileage and seems to be a sweet spot)
2011 with 100,000 miles: $6,967 ($1,682 cheaper, though interestingly truecar gives the same value for a 2011 with 112,000 miles)

etc.

Note that as the car gets older and the average mileage increases, the purchase-price savings of the higher-mileage car diminishes.  As I mentioned in the post you quoted, this approach only pencils for relatively new cars (4 years old is probably too much). 

Granted, I'm assuming mustachian levels of driving (say 5,000 miles/year).  Since the OP is wondering about whether to drive an older car I'm assuming (I know....) some hesitation about reliability, etc.  Buying the higher-mileage 2012 Fit means OP can buy a 3-year old car instead of an older one.  Newer cars also tend to have more sophisticated safety features and get better mileage. 

At 5,000 miles a year it takes 20 years to drive 100,000 miles.  I've never owned a car 20 years--my record is 13.5 years and the most I've put on a car is 155,000 miles (my miles, not necessarily the odometer reading).  All the others were either wrecked (not my fault, and really glad it wasn't a 15-year-old car in that accident), needed a repair more expensive than what I was willing to spend, or were sold off due to a shift in functionality requirements (larger family).  I can't guess what kind of car I'll need in 20 years, so I don't plan on keeping them that long.  Also, as I've noted elsewhere, a lot of car parts start failing at around 10-13 years old, regardless of mileage. 

So, if I buy a 3-year-old Honda fit that has 100,000 miles on it, in ten years (when it will start experiencing problems with little systems based on age alone), I can sell a 13-year-old car with only 150,000 miles on it. 

Clearly, this is not going to pencil for everyone.  I guess I'm arguing that a lot of people buy a used car with unused miles they will never use; why pay for those miles?

I have a sort of gut feeling that the value sweet spot in age for price/fuel economy/safety is probably from 3-13 years, perhaps 5-10 years.  I also prefer to avoid driving super old vehicles and, since I like driving, appreciate a little variety over time.  YMMV.



Rosewhipped

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Re: Older Cars--I want to love you! Please help convince me
« Reply #27 on: December 11, 2014, 12:24:34 PM »
OP here!  Thanks everyone so much for all the responses.  Still looking at cars (since I love my savings rate without one--maybe i should never get one?!) and taking time to find the best option for me.

Loved the comments on reliability/safety etc. too!  I know that's something my mom brought up when I told her I was looking at older cars with "lots" of miles.  Plus, if you're wary of cars, which I am since I've had two in the past where the engine would just cut out, it's nice peace of mind to have something reliable.

I'm new to message board life in general and have to say it's awesome to have a lot of excellent advice from people--strangers, even!--who have been there, done that.  Just wanted to say thanks!