Advice on best way to buy a used car?

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JHU Alumni
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Advice on best way to buy a used car?

Post by JHU Alumni » Sun Oct 25, 2015 5:40 pm

Family is growing so thinking about buying a used toyota sienna. Looking at used cars online mainly on Craigslist and local dealers, 2005/2007 models with high mileage cost ~ 6-12K, and newer cars 2011-2012 cost ~20K. My questions are:

1. Why used cars cost this much? I thought I will be able to get 2011-12 model for ~13-15K but apparently not?

2. Currently I drive a 2004 C230 that I will no longer need if I buy a minivan, should I sell the car individually or just trade it if I end up finding something reasonably priced at the dealer?

3. Is buying a high mileage car a good idea to save few thousands assuming the car was well maintained? I will be driving it for at least 10 years. Ideally I prefer not to visit the mechanic every few months.

Thanks for the input.

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macaroon
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Re: Advice on best way to buy a used car?

Post by macaroon » Sun Oct 25, 2015 7:08 pm

Check out http://www.beepi.com-- a friend's son just bought his car this way and is very satisfied with the price and the service. It looks like an improvement over Carmax and they claim to be cheaper than a dealership used car. They even deliver!

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Watty
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Re: Advice on best way to buy a used car?

Post by Watty » Sun Oct 25, 2015 8:38 pm

Family is growing so thinking about buying a used toyota sienna.

It would be good to make a list of several possible models to see if some other model might have better deals. Usually the best used car deals are for less popular but OK brands.

As I recall electronic stability control (ESC) was added to many new cars around 2012 so it would be good to research that, especially with a van.

1. Why used cars cost this much?

Supply and demand and cars are made a lot better now than they used to be. For high demand cars like Toyotas and Hondas many Bogleheads, including myself, have decided it is better to buy a new ones instead of a late model used car.

2. Currently I drive a 2004 C230 that I will no longer need if I buy a minivan, should I sell the car individually or just trade it if I end up finding something reasonably priced at the dealer?

You will get a much better price if you sell it yourself. This is especially true for older cars that most better used car dealers would not really want on their lot. I got about 40% more for the last car that I sold than I could have traded it in for. Trading the car in might reduce your sales tax in some states.

3. Is buying a high mileage car a good idea to save few thousands assuming the car was well maintained? I will be driving it for at least 10 years. Ideally I prefer not to visit the mechanic every few months.

I have not found it to work that way since you can easily spend more on maintenance than you would on car depreciation with a newer car. As you have found out even a five year old Toyota will not have depreciated that much so compare that depreciation to what the maintenance costs on a ten year old Toyota might be. A ten year old Toyota will still be depreciating too so you need to take that into account.

My basic plan is to buy new base model Hondas or Toyotas when there are good deals, like year end clearances, and keep them for about ten years or 150K miles. I have found this to have a reasonable yearly cost and to give me very reliable cars. I sell them while they are still working well and not too old since it is surprising what a car like that will sell for. The last one I sold like that was a nine year old Camry with about 130k miles. I was able to sell it for about a third of what it cost new since it was in great shape and had all the records.

That is not the least expensive way to own a car but since I do few of my own car repairs it works for me.

Even with a well maintained car that you bought new there is a lot of luck involved with getting one that will last to 200K miles.

hnzw rui
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Re: Advice on best way to buy a used car?

Post by hnzw rui » Sun Oct 25, 2015 9:57 pm

Watty wrote:My basic plan is to buy new base model Hondas or Toyotas when there are good deals, like year end clearances, and keep them for about ten years or 150K miles. I have found this to have a reasonable yearly cost and to give me very reliable cars.

Yeah, it seems like you get a better deal on year end clearance sales than buying used. At times, it's like just $1-2K difference between a 3-year old used Honda or Toyota versus one on a year-end sale.

fishmonger
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Re: Advice on best way to buy a used car?

Post by fishmonger » Mon Oct 26, 2015 8:39 am

Agree with previous posters. A year ago, I was shopping for an older (2004-2007) Tacoma. Was blown away to find that many still go for $10-12k. I lucked out and found a family friend that was moving out of the area with a high mileage 2004. Paid $6,000, could probably sell it tomorrow for $8,000.

If you plan to have the car for 10 years, I highly recommend buying new

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Dog_Papa
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Re: Advice on best way to buy a used car?

Post by Dog_Papa » Mon Oct 26, 2015 6:08 pm

Toyotas are good cars, but I feel they are over-priced when used. They still have a limited functional life like any auto does. I also think
you will find that expensive high milage used Toyotas, do not sell very well. Most rational people understand that once a car gets over a 100K
miles on it, it may last a couple of months or several of yrs. Really now way to tell. If you do have a major component failure, such as the
engine or transmission, a rebuilt is very expensive and does not last anywhere near as long as the original one did. I have had transmissions go
out on both Toyotas and Hondas. So, it does happen, just like with other cars.

Minivans are expensive, but I don't think you are going to save any money buying used.

Alto Astral
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Re: Advice on best way to buy a used car?

Post by Alto Astral » Tue Oct 27, 2015 12:07 pm

Got my honda sedan at less than 20k miles when it was 2 years old. Its been over 10 years now around 90K miles. Still going strong and no major issues. Did not feel it was a great deal price-wise at the time of purchase, but definitely a lot lower than a brand new one.

Next minivan will also be used at a lower mileage. I would keep a couple of options open: sienna and odyssey, maybe?

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