Author Topic: Wife and I might have to buy our first car  (Read 7269 times)

Guitarguy

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Wife and I might have to buy our first car
« on: December 14, 2013, 05:00:26 PM »
And we need some advice. Our budget is somewhere between 8-12k. She's just out of grad school and has a full time job and we're not planning on having kids for a few years... I was thinking a used Mini cooper from 2003-2004 with roughly 75k miles on it. We can get some around here between $8,000-$9,000. Is this a terrible choice? We were looking around at fits, prius's, insights, etc. but they tend to be more expensive, in the 13-15k range. I guess the reason I'm asking is because we're trying to do the mustachian thing and pay off her student loans very quickly.

Her current car is a '01 mustang with 178,000 miles on it, and it leaks oil like a sieve. Other than that though, besides the engine, most of the car is pretty new. Any ideas on how we should proceed? I don't want her old car to just up and die because depending on where that happens, it could be a dangerous area to get stranded.

Any thoughts or comments would be extremely helpful.

Thanks!

Daleth

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Re: Wife and I might have to buy our first car
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2013, 05:17:46 PM »
What's the climate like where you live, and what would you be using the car for?

Spork

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Re: Wife and I might have to buy our first car
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2013, 05:26:54 PM »
I'm mostly interested in the replies.

We also have a Mustang (1995) and are looking to replace it ... possibly with a Mini.  We'd LIKE to have the same budget, though if pressed we could go higher.  For us, it's a bit of an emotional appeal (which makes me suspect).  I'm a little afraid of higher cost (and more) maintenance.  From my limited research I was thinking it needed to be 2008 or newer.  Cars before that have slightly less reliable ratings.

But I'd like to hear what you do... and what the reasons are for your decision.

sideways

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Re: Wife and I might have to buy our first car
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2013, 05:32:09 PM »
I'd caution against the Mini. Minis of that vintage have terrible reliability ratings (if you like I'll share the Consumer Reports screenshot). The cuteness and fun factor will vanish pretty quick once stuff starts breaking on it.

$8-$9k sounds like a lot for a car that old anyways. As a reference point, a year ago we bought a 2003 Volvo in good condition with 90k miles for $5.5k.

How much driving do you plan to do, and in what conditions?

Spork

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Re: Wife and I might have to buy our first car
« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2013, 05:34:03 PM »
$8-$9k sounds like a lot for a car that old anyways. As a reference point, a year ago we bought a 2003 Volvo in good condition with 90k miles for $5.5k.

another reference:  We bought a 2005 Toyota Matrix with 55k miles for $7k.  It's not nearly as cute or fun as a Mini.  But I expect to be driving it a long time.

Frankies Girl

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Re: Wife and I might have to buy our first car
« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2013, 05:51:35 PM »
Minis are not very reliable; but then neither are Mustangs... you need to steer clear of the cute or "sporty" lines of autos as those are for folks that are more interested in looks and fun driving experience and not built to be dependable and economical.

My personal experience:

Scion Xa any year
You can get one of these for under 8K, and they are super dependable, plenty of room especially with the back seat folded down. This is the type of car that the MMM family owns, and is my husband's daily driver (2004), and our experience has been great - average of 30m/gal and over 100K and still going strong with no mechanical issues so far. It is probably going to be going for another 100K.

Scion Xb any year
This is the square wagon type. It is incredibly roomy - the amount of stuff you could cram in this vehicle is insane. Same reliability, same pricing range and was a consumer reports best buy for several years running.

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/03/19/top-10-cars-for-smart-people/

Spork

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Re: Wife and I might have to buy our first car
« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2013, 05:58:56 PM »
Minis are not very reliable; but then neither are Mustangs...

Had one since 1995.  It's probably one of the most reliable cars we've ever owned.  Yes, I know, studies where n=1 are not worth much.  But in my case the Mustang has been rock solid.  It just uses lots of gas and after having it for 18 years, it is time for a change.

...but I've also had an English* car since about 1983.  Yeah, they don't have a great reputation.  And that is well earned.

*yes, I know the Mini isn't really English.... it's German-English.  I'm taking liberties here.

needmyfi

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Re: Wife and I might have to buy our first car
« Reply #7 on: December 14, 2013, 06:49:38 PM »
Been going thru  car buying myself lately, mini not a mustachian choice.  8 to 9 is too much to pay for a car that may have only 75,000  miles left, poor reliability and high repair costs.  No kids and just out of school with debt?  Forget Prius-fancier  toyotas etc.  Subcompact-preferably Japanese although any rated with good reliability by Consumer Reports- with just around 100k miles and a few dents, hopefully in a really ugly color should do the trick Private sale, but use your mechanic to check it out.

ps-if you are worried about safety consider asking insurance co about roadside assistance coverage

Mr.Fixit

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Re: Wife and I might have to buy our first car
« Reply #8 on: December 14, 2013, 07:03:26 PM »
Might want to steer clear of the mini. Reliability isn't the best. Most all parts must be bought thru BMW at high prices and some types of failures you will have to go to BMW dealer.

Stick with one of the Japanese brands. Really any year is good. Especially civic, accord, corolla. These cars have tons if aaftermarket parts available and any auto shop can make any repair. Your greatest risk is that the car has a major underlying problem that can not be detected (which the seller may or may not be aware of..).  If the dealer/seller has a 6month or 1yr powertrain warrentee-it could be worth gold if the transmission/engine had issues...

Another tip... go to auto trader.com.... choose your car, mileage, price, and set the radius to 500miles.  Tighten the filter so you only see 3-5 cars.  Try for multiple cars and mileage. This will give you a great sense of the market. When you do buy it make sure it "would " rank in the top 5 best deals to help you not make an emotional decision.

needmyfi

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Re: Wife and I might have to buy our first car
« Reply #9 on: December 14, 2013, 07:32:37 PM »
mr fixit is right about warrenty-but if you get car with remaining warrenty check to see that it transfers to second owner-not all do and some makes reduce 100k to 60k powertrain for second owner

MoneyCat

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Re: Wife and I might have to buy our first car
« Reply #10 on: December 14, 2013, 07:51:03 PM »
As others have mentioned, Minis have terrible reliability.  A friend of mine has a 2006 Mini and it is in the shop all the time.  In your budget range, you could try for a Toyota Matrix/Pontiac Vibe (same exact car with different names, although the Vibe might be cheaper because Pontiac was shut down by GM).  That's a roomy hatchback that gets great fuel economy and it is based on the very reliable Toyota Corolla.  If you are looking to really save some money, you could try for a low mileage Chevy Prizm, which is a Toyota Corolla with a Chevy badge slapped onto it.  Most people don't realize it is the same car and they price it lower because they think it's just a Chevy.  (I convinced my little sister to get one when she went to college and it's been great for her.)

SwordGuy

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Re: Wife and I might have to buy our first car
« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2013, 07:58:52 PM »
First of all, you don't need another car TODAY.  You don't have a "My hair is on fire 'cause I can't get to work have to buy a car TODAY!" problem.

That means you can wait for a bargain.

You want to find a low mileage, good gas mileage car in your price range.  They exist.  You just have to look frequently and wait for them to appear.
Just for grins I checked  Carmax for cars <$10,000 and with mileage less than 40,000.  There were 16 in my area.  Some had as little as 9k miles on them.

Resale value simply does not matter if you are going to drive it into the ground.  Mileage, mpg, reliability and safety do.  Cute doesn't.

Guitarguy

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Re: Wife and I might have to buy our first car
« Reply #12 on: December 15, 2013, 07:46:29 AM »
What's the climate like where you live, and what would you be using the car for?

We live in Kansas and she would be using the car to commute to work 95% of the time. Her commute is 6.5 miles. Not bik-able though :)

Guitarguy

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Re: Wife and I might have to buy our first car
« Reply #13 on: December 15, 2013, 07:50:24 AM »
I'm mostly interested in the replies.

We also have a Mustang (1995) and are looking to replace it ... possibly with a Mini.  We'd LIKE to have the same budget, though if pressed we could go higher.  For us, it's a bit of an emotional appeal (which makes me suspect).  I'm a little afraid of higher cost (and more) maintenance.  From my limited research I was thinking it needed to be 2008 or newer.  Cars before that have slightly less reliable ratings.

But I'd like to hear what you do... and what the reasons are for your decision.

Do you know if their mini NEXT program is worth it? It's a certified used program:
"MINI NEXT Protection Program provides specific coverage for an additional 2 years or 50,000 miles (whichever comes first) for defects in materials or workmanship after the expiration of the 4 year/50,000 mile MINI New Passenger Car Limited Warranty"

The problem is that any mini that qualifies for this program will automatically be in the 15-16k range- way outside of where we need it to be.

Guitarguy

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Re: Wife and I might have to buy our first car
« Reply #14 on: December 15, 2013, 07:50:56 AM »
I'd caution against the Mini. Minis of that vintage have terrible reliability ratings (if you like I'll share the Consumer Reports screenshot). The cuteness and fun factor will vanish pretty quick once stuff starts breaking on it.

$8-$9k sounds like a lot for a car that old anyways. As a reference point, a year ago we bought a 2003 Volvo in good condition with 90k miles for $5.5k.

How much driving do you plan to do, and in what conditions?

Would you mind sharing it?

capital

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Re: Wife and I might have to buy our first car
« Reply #15 on: December 15, 2013, 08:41:01 PM »
When it comes to money, the Mini would indeed be a terrible choice: they're unreliable little luxury cars  And we're all about saving money here and getting our high-speed kicks from bike riding.

Go to your local library and get the Consumer Reports Best Used Cars Guide. Most European cars don't age particularly well without a lot of expensive maintenance. Note that the Mini Cooper S is on Consumer Reports' list of worst used cars:
http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2013/04/best-worst-used-cars/index.htm

Here's their basic guide to cheap used cars:
http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2012/04/the-best-used-vehicles-for-under-20-000/index.htm

If you want a pretty, sporty little hatchback that's still reliable, the Mazda3 is well-regarded and reliable.

When I owned a car, I had a Pontiac Vibe, which was cheap, reasonably good-looking, efficient, and roomy enough to carry a ton of bikes or people or camping gear. Not particularly fast, but that wasn't what I was looking for.

Definitely use the fact that you don't need a car immediately to shop around-- they can be cheaper in the winter, or if you find folks looking for an easy transaction as opposed to top dollar. Buying a car means dealing with a huge amount of money, so if you save 10% by shopping around for a long time, it's a big win.

Also, where are you shopping that Fits and Priuses are so expensive? CR's guide puts older ones in the sub-$10k range.

unpolloloco

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Re: Wife and I might have to buy our first car
« Reply #16 on: December 16, 2013, 09:03:18 AM »
Not sure where you are, but I found a 2007 prius with 72k miles on it for 10k (and that seems expensive IMHO): http://kansascity.craigslist.org/cto/4201640115.html

Guitarguy

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Re: Wife and I might have to buy our first car
« Reply #17 on: December 21, 2013, 07:17:45 AM »
Thanks for weighing-in everyone. We are going to keep her car for the next three years while we pay off all of our student loans because, after doing the math, we realized that she will only be driving 5,000 miles a year.

melalvai

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Re: Wife and I might have to buy our first car
« Reply #18 on: December 21, 2013, 07:58:06 AM »
Congratulations on your decision!

I was going to throw out another suggestion, which might still be relevant: car pooling. I've been trying to convince my husband to carpool with someone. Even if he's the one driving they could buy gas. I wouldn't care if they didn't even pay and the only benefit was one less car on the road. I just hate the single-occupant vehicle every single day.

mm1970

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Re: Wife and I might have to buy our first car
« Reply #19 on: December 21, 2013, 08:07:30 AM »
$8-$9k sounds like a lot for a car that old anyways. As a reference point, a year ago we bought a 2003 Volvo in good condition with 90k miles for $5.5k.

another reference:  We bought a 2005 Toyota Matrix with 55k miles for $7k.  It's not nearly as cute or fun as a Mini.  But I expect to be driving it a long time.
I have a 2006 Matrix and I really like it.  Plan to drive it for quite a long time.  Only 80k miles on it right now.

mm1970

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Re: Wife and I might have to buy our first car
« Reply #20 on: December 21, 2013, 08:09:36 AM »
Thanks for weighing-in everyone. We are going to keep her car for the next three years while we pay off all of our student loans because, after doing the math, we realized that she will only be driving 5,000 miles a year.
And that's the mustachian choice!  My boss drives a mustang.  he's had it since I've known him so it's a 1999 or earlier...

bawaboy

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Re: Wife and I might have to buy our first car
« Reply #21 on: December 25, 2013, 09:28:54 AM »
I would also keep an eye on cars in your neighborhood that your friends/neighbors own and may be looking to trade in.

I had a 2003 Grand Am w/ 140k miles that was giving me fits. I knew that my neighbors were looking at a new car and trading in their 2001 Camry w/ 103k miles. They are the type that really take care of their belongings so I knew it was mint - new tires, timing belt and shocks/struts.

They offered into me for $4k. I put my Grand Am on Craigslist and sold it in less than 24 hours for $3600 cash. I basically got a more dependable car w/ 40k less miles and all major maintenance done for $400. Insurance is cheaper too!

Keep your eyes open - there are deals all around you and if someone is looking to trade in a good car, make them an offer over what the dealer is giving. Why would they turn it down?

Good luck hunting and I agree with the comments above - you "want" a different car but don't "need" one today. Take your time and find a good deal!

eyePod

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Re: Wife and I might have to buy our first car
« Reply #22 on: December 25, 2013, 10:22:05 AM »
I have a 2006 Scion XB and love it to death.  Tons of room and great gas mileage (~28 city).  I paid 12k for it two years ago.  You could probably get it for your range.  It is also all Toyota parts so they're very easy to find!