Author Topic: Should we buy this well-used Camry?  (Read 996 times)

314159

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Should we buy this well-used Camry?
« on: April 11, 2021, 08:49:35 PM »
Hello Mustachians, I'm looking for some car advice. I am not a car guy, so please bear with me, and apologies for the long post.

My girlfriend and I are in our twenties. During the pandemic, she moved in with me here in Minneapolis from several states away. She drives a 2009 Camry hybrid with 202,000 miles. (It's not my car so I can't take credit for it in the "Brag about your high mileage car thread" :-p. I don't have a car of my own.) The car is borrowed from her dad, who bought it used with 70k miles on it several years ago. He took good care of it, and it is in good shape for the most part, the exception being the touch screen in the center dash which doesn't turn on anymore. Kelly Blue Book trade-in value is around $2500, private party value around $4500. The car is currently here with us in MN.

She's currently finishing her graduate degree and has a permanently remote job lined up for after she graduates this spring. Meanwhile I am planning to find a new job this summer or fall. I want to cast a wide geographic net with my job search, so we will probably be moving to another state (likely E or W coast) when I get a new job, but we don't know where yet! When she moved in with me we packed all her belongings into the Camry for the drive. Everything just barely fit, and I likely have about the same amount of stuff she does, so we could not repeat the performance.

In the past, GF hasn't been asked to pay anything for the car other than maintenance and gas (i.e. doesn't pay for insurance, did pay for new tires last year) but she would like to assert some independence by either returning the car to her dad or buying it from him. So the question is, should we buy it?

Reasons to have a car:
  • It is convenient
  • We like hiking/camping which the car enables
  • With the car we can do some slow travel cross-country to visit friends while still working remotely, which would be fun. Possibly we could do this during the spring/early summer before returning the car to her parents.
Notably, commuting is not a factor. Neither of us commute currently due to covid, and before covid I bike commuted. I'm hoping/prioritizing not to car commute at my yet-to-be found new job.

Reasons to buy this car specifically:
  • We trust the history of the car since her dad took good care of it
  • Seems to be going strong at 200k mi (I don't know the repair history though)
  • GF thinks her dad would sell it to her for the trade-in value. GF's parents are empty nesters and already have two cars, so they don't need the Camry back ASAP, and don't particularly miss it, though they do hint they would like it back at some point.

Reasons not to buy any car:
  • We don't know where we'll be in the fall nor whether we will need/want a car there!
  • Cars cost money
  • Moving is hard, and the Camry doesn't seem well suited to it. It doesn't have a hitch and can't tow very much anyway. We could potentially get a hitch installed and tow a 4'x6' trailer. I don't know if that would contain our stuff nor how safe/affordable it would be.

My own thoughts are: Ideally we could wait till I found a new job, and then decide with more information, but regardless, I don't favor buying a car speculatively/"just in case". I am wary of buying this car just because it's already here; there could be another car that meets our needs better. I'm not convinced we want/need a car at all right now and nobody knows if we will want/need one by the fall.

My girlfriend is more undecided, and we would both like to hear your opinions!

TL;DR: We could get a well used '09 hybrid Camry for cheap, but we will soon be moving somewhere far away, don't know where. Buy the car?

RWD

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Re: Should we buy this well-used Camry?
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2021, 09:14:54 PM »
You can still use it for now even if you don't buy it, right? At the very least you should delay making a decision until you move in a few months. Then you will have a better idea of if it will continue to fit your life. If you can buy it for trade-in value that would be a hard deal to pass up. At the private party value you may want to think a bit harder about whether you want that exact car.

Don't worry much about whether whatever vehicle you have is suited to moving. Moving is a very infrequent event and you can rent a box truck + trailer or Pods or whatever to meet your needs at that time. Whatever vehicle you end up with definitely shouldn't be decided based on the less than once-a-year use case.

ender

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Re: Should we buy this well-used Camry?
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2021, 06:54:08 AM »
How does someone put 130k miles on a car in just "several years?"

sonofsven

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Re: Should we buy this well-used Camry?
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2021, 09:08:39 AM »
I would buy it but negotiate down to $500, or better yet, free.

314159

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Re: Should we buy this well-used Camry?
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2021, 06:01:09 PM »
@RWD: thanks for your post. Definitely good advice to keep options open until we have a sold plan, and not base the decision on the rare instance of moving.

@ender: Good question, it boggles my mind too! It works out to about 50 miles a day(!!!), assuming previous owner had the same driving habits as GF's dad, which sounds insane to me. But GF's parents do live in a rural area and drive a lot for commuting, errands, church, etc. GF says in years past they lived closer to work, but still drove a lot: they had seven kids over almost two decades and liked to see all the kids' high school games, even the away games which can get quite far away (rural area, like I said), as well as visit them once they left the nest.

@sonofsven: Haha :-) When you put it like that, GF's dad should really be paying her to take it off his hands!

ender

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Re: Should we buy this well-used Camry?
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2021, 07:26:49 PM »
@ender: Good question, it boggles my mind too! It works out to about 50 miles a day(!!!), assuming previous owner had the same driving habits as GF's dad, which sounds insane to me. But GF's parents do live in a rural area and drive a lot for commuting, errands, church, etc. GF says in years past they lived closer to work, but still drove a lot: they had seven kids over almost two decades and liked to see all the kids' high school games, even the away games which can get quite far away (rural area, like I said), as well as visit them once they left the nest.

ok, so "several years" here means more like "almost 10 years" and not two to three?

sonofsven

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Re: Should we buy this well-used Camry?
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2021, 08:01:24 PM »
@RWD: thanks for your post. Definitely good advice to keep options open until we have a sold plan, and not base the decision on the rare instance of moving.

@ender: Good question, it boggles my mind too! It works out to about 50 miles a day(!!!), assuming previous owner had the same driving habits as GF's dad, which sounds insane to me. But GF's parents do live in a rural area and drive a lot for commuting, errands, church, etc. GF says in years past they lived closer to work, but still drove a lot: they had seven kids over almost two decades and liked to see all the kids' high school games, even the away games which can get quite far away (rural area, like I said), as well as visit them once they left the nest.

@sonofsven: Haha :-) When you put it like that, GF's dad should really be paying her to take it off his hands!

Yes, now you've got the right idea!
Seriously though, if you are going to give actual real money for it, take it to a shop and get it looked over as if it was a stranger transaction.
If it comes back with a diagnosis of expensive repairs needed, you really might be doing them a favor by taking it off their hands.
If you get it for free just run it til something breaks and you can decide then if you want to fix it (continuing with good maintenance, of course).

314159

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Re: Should we buy this well-used Camry?
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2021, 02:56:33 PM »
ok, so "several years" here means more like "almost 10 years" and not two to three?

@ender Yes, apologies for any confusion!

@sonofsven Good thinking on getting it looked over for any issues.

draco44

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Re: Should we buy this well-used Camry?
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2021, 05:13:01 PM »
GF thinks her dad would sell it to her for the trade-in value. GF's parents are empty nesters and already have two cars, so they don't need the Camry back ASAP, and don't particularly miss it, though they do hint they would like it back at some point.

It sounds like you are up for buying it if the price is right, but ultimately only you can decide if a car-having lifestyle is for you. However, what stood out to me from your post was this:

To my mind not enough information is known (or at least provided) about your girlfriend's father's position. This vehicle is not your property. And it is very generous of the dad to have let you use the car for so long without paying more or covering the insurance. All of your lifestyle and future goal information is irrelevant if he doesn't want to sell you the car.

You mention that the parents have hinted they want it back. Does the dad know you two are even considering offering to buy the car? It sounds like you all have a good relationship, so before you worry about details I would advise floating the idea of buying it and gauge his reaction. From there you could get into specifics of what would be a fair price.

ChpBstrd

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Re: Should we buy this well-used Camry?
« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2021, 01:36:15 PM »
If you bought the car for trade-in value now, and ended up selling it for a $500 or $1,000 profit later, would that create bad blood with the GF's parents? I.e. They could have gotten the private party value themselves, and thought they were doing a favor, but you just profited off of their generosity after implying you needed the car.

Also, something like a Camary will easily pull a 4*6 trailer. I pull a 4*8 behind a Corolla, and even with several hundred pounds of stuff on it you can't even feel it. However, it would be hard to invest in a $250 trailer hitch and wiring adapter for a 12 year old car with 200k miles. That's like a tenth of its value for the trailering kit, lol.

You might end up somewhere with a substantial commute that will quickly wear out the remaining life on the Camry. Consider a wait-and-see approach to prevent having to buy the Camary, sell the Camary, and then buy something lower mileage.

314159

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Re: Should we buy this well-used Camry?
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2021, 09:54:43 AM »
@draco44, thank you for weighing in. We are very fortunate and thankful that he is lending the car to us. He does not know at the moment we are considering offering to buy it; excellent point. We bring it up with him.

@ChpBstrd, that is a good point you raise. Potentially could be solved by giving/splitting the profits to the parents if we were to sell the car later on. We'll have to think about it. Glad to hear a 4x6 trailer is an option, even considering the hitch and wiring.


Sounds like we will be waiting for now, and will reassess when we know more about where we want to move.

BuffaloStache

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Re: Should we buy this well-used Camry?
« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2021, 08:12:22 AM »
I agree with others on this thread and recommend the wait-and-see approach, as long as that option is amenable to the GF's family.

Also, I'm mostly replying her to remind you to let us know how it goes! I love hearing the end results of case studies like this.

Good luck!

Tester

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Re: Should we buy this well-used Camry?
« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2021, 09:52:00 AM »
I am driving a 2009 Honda Odyssey with 190k miles.
I bought it 3 years ago at 145k miles.
It was well maintained, but still had to do normal maintenance for the age/mileage of around 7k USD.
Some examples, 1.2k for replacing some electronic board, replaced brake rotors, 370 usd, replaced timing belt, water pump, 1300usd, got tires, 900, some front suspension work, 2-3k, replaced back (original) shock absorbers, 1.2k (forgot the price)???

The worst part for me is that I bought one without features like electric doors/other more modern stuff as I focused on price and how well it was maintained.

I don't think I would buy a car so old/with so many miles now, I want my next car to be less than 6 years old and less than 100k miles.
I might even buy new if I need a small car, I see small cars at 15k new?

In the end it is your decision, just make sure that tou are ready for more maintenance costs than for a newer car.

JAYSLOL

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Re: Should we buy this well-used Camry?
« Reply #13 on: April 29, 2021, 01:36:07 PM »
Buy it for whatever price seems fair for both parties and let him know that if you move and canít keep it he is welcome to buy it back for the same amount or less if much has changed for condition or mileage

314159

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Re: Should we buy this well-used Camry?
« Reply #14 on: July 01, 2021, 11:52:11 AM »
It's been two months, time for an update! Thanks again to everyone for writing in.

We are going to return the car to GF's parents. With used vehicle prices record high it makes the decision much easier, and we're very happy GF's parents will be able to get a great price for it.
 
We still don't know where we will be moving, since although I started my job search (if you're hiring in data science or data/software engineering, feel free to shoot me a PM ;-D) a couple weeks ago, the search process isn't as fast as I had naÔvely hoped. Our lease is up at the end of July, at which point we'll drive back one last time to GF's home state to see her family and drop off the car. Then we'll be home-base-less for a while as we travel (that is, fly) across the country. We're going to a wedding on the East Coast, then heading out West to stay with an aunt, then another aunt, and then who knows what! Should be fun. I may quit my job before I have the new one lined up, if I feel like it. Thank you, 'stache!

Our plan is to pack a small moving container (thanks for the advice there) (U-Haul U-Pack seems to be the cheapest by far, $1400 plus storage) with most of our belongings before we leave, let the company pick it up, and let it sit in a warehouse. Once we know where we're moving to, we'll have it shipped to our destination.

We aren't going to pack any furniture; just clothes, kitchen gear, and "stuff"; so we certainly don't need more space than a U-Pack. But if there were a way to send an even smaller volume for cheaper, we would consider it. We just don't want to pare down to 2 suitcases each, haha. If anyone has advice on the whole moving thing, I'd be glad to hear it.