Author Topic: Buying a mini-van - small loan or older vehicle?  (Read 2905 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Buying a mini-van - small loan or older vehicle?
« on: May 19, 2017, 12:19:26 PM »
We're expecting kid #3 this summer, and finally going to get a second vehicle for our family. It seems like Siennas and Odysseys have the best ratings/most reliability, and our preference would be to get one of those two.

However - the issue I'm running into in our area is that it's really tough to find something I feel good about buying. Many of the used ones for sale are quite old (2004-2006), and even if the mileage is decent for that age (110-130,000) I worry about buying something 10+ years old (we live in Michigan, so rust and wear accumulate more than other areas).

The alternative it seems, is to take on a car payment for something made in the last five years, and even then it might have 80-100,000 miles on it already. In order to do this, we would likely need to take a car loan between $5-10,000, at about 2% interest.

I'm wondering how others have navigated this situation. Were you comfortable buying an older vehicle if the mileage was good? Is it worth it to  do that so you can pay in cash? Or should we take on some debt to make sure the vehicle is reliable?

Or - do I need to consider another option besides those two, admittedly more expensive models.


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Buying a mini-van - small loan or older vehicle?
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2017, 12:33:27 PM »
We went with Nissan Quest. Hondas and Toys were just too expensive - no way they were worth the 30%+ premium. some of the Hondas have tranny issues as well IIRC.

The Nissan power train is bulletproof. We had it about 5yrs 50k miles iirc, had one minor electrical issue, and 2 wheel bearings go out. No biggie.

Good luck!

oh and Congratulations!!


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Buying a mini-van - small loan or older vehicle?
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2017, 07:35:04 AM »
I was in this situation a few years back.  I stalked the online car websites and dealerships checking prices almost daily and created a spreadsheet of prices.  We also managed to fit 3 car seats in our Toyota Corolla so the pressure was off timing wise.

I decided we wanted to stay in the ten year old range and less than 100k miles.

I wasn't finding anything that I could afford.  Then a Kia Sedona popped up that met those requirements and was only $4k.  I bought it the first day it was on the lot.  It was the first year that Kia redesigned their minivans and the crash test ratings performed better than same year Honda's and Toyotas.... I hoped that Kia's reputation for unreliability was overblown.  I was wrong.  Repair bills out the wazoo.

Two years later I was again shopping for a minivan and this time I was more firmly going to stick only to Honda's or Toyotas.  It took about six months but I found a  9 yr old Sienna that had less than 100k miles.  It was 400 miles away but fortuitously I was planning a weekend getaway trip to that city anyway (which was why I bothered checking car listings there in the first place).  We paid $7k and we're very happy so far.

If we ever get in a situation where we have to replace our van quickly I don't know what we'll do.  Each time it's taken months of looking to find anything I can pay cash for..  The honda and Toyota minivans are like unicorns and hard to find used without 200k+ miles on them.

Sent from my Nexus 5X using Tapatalk


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Buying a mini-van - small loan or older vehicle?
« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2017, 12:57:07 PM »
I'm in a similar situation and doing the small loan (2% interest, from grandparents, who have done all car loans for grandkids thus far). In my experience, the interest cost (a $5000 loan at 2% for 5 years nets $33 of interest) for getting a Honda/Toyota is worth not paying thousands more in repair cost, plus wasted time and sanity from less reliable cars.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Buying a mini-van - small loan or older vehicle?
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2017, 05:37:44 PM »
Thanks for sharing! We just looked at a 2006 Honda Odyssey today. 118,000. The dude wanted $9,000 for it and would not budge. So, we're going to keep looking...


  • Stubble
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Re: Buying a mini-van - small loan or older vehicle?
« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2017, 02:17:26 AM »
(a $5000 loan at 2% for 5 years nets $33 of interest)

A $5000 loan at 2% with 5 years of fixed monthly payments  means:
* $87.60 per month
* $255.95 of interest paid in total
* month 1 interest: $8.26, month 60 interest: $0.14


Wow, a phone plan for fifteen bucks!