Author Topic: Car options  (Read 2019 times)

Miranda

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Car options
« on: November 20, 2016, 02:04:26 PM »
Hello all.  I've spent some time going through old posts, but didn't quite see an answer to my question.  My current car is a 1999 Camry with 212,000 miles.  It seems to be doing great, but the windshield will need to be replaced before I can renew my tags, and I will need new tires within a year.  Given it's age, I want to have a short list of cars for the day when I need to buy another one.  I bought it two years ago, and I don't know much about how well it was maintained.

I live about 4 miles from work.  I do home visits covering a two county area, and frequently drive student interns and/or clients, so I need a four door vehicle.  About half of my driving is on city streets.  I park outside my apartment building, and it definitely has trouble on cold mornings.

I'm reasearching options that get good gas mileage, and I'd like to spend less than $5,000 and have it last a good while.  I've bought cheap cars in the past that needed expensive repairs in less than two years, so if I need to spend a little more for a car that will cost less to own, I will. 

Most recommendations I've seen are for cars in the $8,000 to $10,000 range.  Honda Fit seems great, but more than my budget.  Same with a Prius.  Cars like Honda Accords or Toyota Camrys in the $5,000 range usually have 200,000 miles.  Right now those appear to be my best options.  I know very little about cars, and don't have any friends or relatives that do. 

Again, I'm not looking to buy now, but I want to be prepared so when something major happens, I am ready.  Anyone have any better ideas?

Syonyk

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Re: Car options
« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2016, 02:45:44 PM »
My current car is a 1999 Camry with 212,000 miles.

Cool, it's finally broken in!  The gutless wonder Toyotas of the late 80s and 90s are insanely reliable cars.

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It seems to be doing great, but the windshield will need to be replaced before I can renew my tags, and I will need new tires within a year.

Windshield shouldn't be more than about $150, based on my experience with having windshields replaced.  Tires - you use small (read, "cheap") tires.  Keep an eye out in the newspapers or ad mailers for tire sales.  My best for 13" wheels was about $120 installed for 4, stacking coupons.  The guy ringing me out was impressed.

Yours are likely a bit larger, but if you shop around and find coupons, you should be able to do 4 brand new, decent quality tires for under $300.

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I bought it two years ago, and I don't know much about how well it was maintained.

On those, it really doesn't matter that much.  It's fine.  You almost certainly have a timing belt, and it's likely that it wasn't replaced before (unless you have records saying it was).  It would be worth paying a shop to do that - a timing belt failure is generally catastrophic to an engine.

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I park outside my apartment building, and it definitely has trouble on cold mornings.

What kind of trouble and how cold?  Slow to crank?  It's likely an old battery.  $75 should get you a new one, and most parts stores will install it for you if you ask nicely.

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I'm reasearching options that get good gas mileage, and I'd like to spend less than $5,000 and have it last a good while.

Good luck.  Cash for Clunkers ruined the cheap but good used car market, and it's going to be years before it recovers.

Though you might be able to find a Mazda 2 for not much more than $5k.

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Cars like Honda Accords or Toyota Camrys in the $5,000 range usually have 200,000 miles.  Right now those appear to be my best options.  I know very little about cars, and don't have any friends or relatives that do. 

You've already got one! :)

Not working on cars or not having friends who do is annoying, but YouTube makes it easy to learn now.  Doing your own work is seriously cheaper.

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Again, I'm not looking to buy now, but I want to be prepared so when something major happens, I am ready.  Anyone have any better ideas?

Replace your windshield, start looking for a set of tires, get the timing belt dealt with unless you have evidence it's been done (that'll be somewhat expensive, but shop around for a local repair shop that will do it - it'll be a lot less than the dealership), and learn to do your own work.

Other than some weird, unlikely failure, your car has plenty of life left in it.  Assuming it's not rusting out.

Turnbull

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Re: Car options
« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2016, 06:52:27 PM »
A 1999 Camry most likely has a non-interference engine (unless it's a 6 cyl VVT-i possibly) so I wouldn't worry about changing the timing belt. If/when it breaks it should not cause any damage.

Syonyk

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Re: Car options
« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2016, 07:55:07 PM »
A 1999 Camry most likely has a non-interference engine (unless it's a 6 cyl VVT-i possibly) so I wouldn't worry about changing the timing belt. If/when it breaks it should not cause any damage.

Fair enough! I'm not familiar enough with that series to know for sure.

Turnbull

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Re: Car options
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2016, 10:42:25 AM »
No problem. There seems to be no rhyme or reason for why manufacturers put timing belts or chains or make interference or non-interference engines in certain vehicles. Maybe someone with more mechanical skills than I have can explain this to us. When I start looking for a new (to me) vehicle that's one of the first things I always look up so I know if I'm dealing with a ticking time bomb or not.

I agree with you on the fact that a 212k Toyota (or Honda) is just broken in. And about using YouTube for simple repairs. I've learned a lot about working on my vehicles and saved a ton of money for years by using the wealth of information on YouTube.

Syonyk

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Re: Car options
« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2016, 12:09:12 PM »
Higher compression engines tend to be interference. Not always, but usually.

Miranda

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Re: Car options
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2016, 03:59:26 PM »
Thank you everyone!  I've read numerous places that my car can easily get 200,000 miles, but nothing about how long they last past that.  Years ago I had a car die unexpectedly and was totally unprepared to buy a different one, which led to a so-so decision.  I was trying to be prepared this time.

It's crazy how few cheap cars are available anymore, even on craigslist.  Thankfully it sounds like I have years still with this one, so I can save more before I buy again.

It does have trouble accelerating when it's cold; it feels sluggish and takes a while.  Once it gets going, though, it's fine.  I know so little about cars, and I cannot do anything with it since I park on the street.  It's illegal for me to even change my oil there.  I do have a trusty small town mechanic, I just haven't seen him in years, thankfully!  And the timing belt was changed right before I bought it as "scheduled" maintenance.  Glad to hear about the tires.  I don't have to go to work when it snows, so I've been okay with the cheap ones I have, but I slid in the rain the other day, so I will need to replace them before spring.

So glad to hear I can count on my car for a good while longer!  I don't like buying things.