Another car thread, need a new/used car and some advice!!!

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guitarguy
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Another car thread, need a new/used car and some advice!!!

Post by guitarguy »

OK, wife's car is on its last leg (99 Malibu with 140k and a dash that's lit up like a Christmas tree. Still runs but has a slight oil leak and a bunch of other ticky tack problems). Time to go car shopping for her.

I drive a Grand Prix with 160k. Has a couple of little things that need fixing but runs fine. I plan on driving this until the wheels fall off...hoping to get 200k out of it...but still anticipating needing a second "new" car in 2-3 years or so.

Here is our list of other considerations through this car buying fiesta:

- We're hoping to have a baby soon (trying now).
- We need one larger vehicle (I prefer a large sedan like my Grand Prix) for me to transport band equipment to gigs. I prefer this car not be new as it tends to take some abuse, but it has to be reliable.
- We'd prefer 1 smaller vehicle that's good on gas, either for wife to drive full time or for me to commute in once we have a baby.
- We have $5k saved now and set aside for a car. Currently saving $600/m. Could pull a few thousand more and still have a decent E-Fund but don't really want to. We'd really love to pay cash but I'm not sure it's the best option.
- We're open minded as to new or gently used, but whatever we buy we want it to last a while. Wife really wants new, and if not brand new, she wants something almost new. She has been putting up with her car for a while now and she really deserves to finally be able to drive something nice.
- We do have mechanics in the family.
- We want fwd cars as we live in the Midwest and do get some snow to deal with.

I've thought about this in my head so much I'm driving myself crazy. Rather than type out all the scenarios I've came up with, I'd love to hear what advice you all have as to what to look for, when/if to use financing or keep saving, new or used, etc. I can't believe how much I'm wrecking my brain on this!!
k-slice
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Re: Another car thread, need a new/used car and some advice!

Post by k-slice »

The best quality cars for the best price are cars that are used with 10,000 miles or so on them, a year or so old.
They are much less than new but have zero problems because the first owner took in under warranty every tiny problem that ever popped up.
If you want to find excellent cars in great shape used, they have them here in California by the bushel.
I love Toyotas in general for their reliability.
Check out craigslist where you live and maybe some gem will appear.
I have not bought new here because I would NEVER pay the state of California $1500 for the privilege of a sticker on my license plate. I refused.
texasdiver
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Re: Another car thread, need a new/used car and some advice!

Post by texasdiver »

For the big car for hauling band equipment you want something like one of these:

http://www.edmunds.com/toyota/sienna/2006/
http://www.edmunds.com/honda/odyssey/2006/

Seriously you can't beat one of these for hauling stuff and they make a very nice car for extended driving. The middle row seats pop out and the 3rd row seats fold down so that you have a space the size of a 4x8 sheet of plywood that is about 3.5 ft high. I brought TWO Ikea couches home in one once. They were boxed but still. Try getting two couches into any other vehicle. You'll have to go back to about 2006 to get one in your price range. I'm still driving my 2004 Sienna I bought new in 2003. It has 210,000 miles on it and the only thing I've had to pay for other than regular maintenance was a burnt out air conditioning compressor at 200,000 miles that cost about $600.

For the small car, any late model Japanese or Korean sedan will probably do the trick. There are a zillion options. On a budget I'd probably look at Hyundai
chaz
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Re: Another car thread, need a new/used car and some advice!

Post by chaz »

I like my Corolla.
Chaz | | “Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons." Woody Allen | | http://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/index.php/Main_Page
Muchtolearn
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Re: Another car thread, need a new/used car and some advice!

Post by Muchtolearn »

I recommend you just pay cash for whatever you get. Then you don't need to worry about any loans.
tibbitts
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Re: Another car thread, need a new/used car and some advice!

Post by tibbitts »

k-slice wrote:The best quality cars for the best price are cars that are used with 10,000 miles or so on them, a year or so old.
They are much less than new but have zero problems because the first owner took in under warranty every tiny problem that ever popped up.
If you want to find excellent cars in great shape used, they have them here in California by the bushel.
I love Toyotas in general for their reliability.
Check out craigslist where you live and maybe some gem will appear.
I have not bought new here because I would NEVER pay the state of California $1500 for the privilege of a sticker on my license plate. I refused.
Used cars as described often cost as much or more than the same model new car. My experience has been that the 10k mile ship sailed a number of years ago. For every car with "every tiny problem" taken care of, there's one that just couldn't be fixed within that 10k miles. However there can be state-to-state anomalies; for example in some states you pay tax on the msrp or book value, no matter what you trade or pay for a new(er) vehicle.

Paul
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wander
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Re: Another car thread, need a new/used car and some advice!

Post by wander »

I bought my car new and am trying to drive it to the ground. Right now, it is running at 300k+ miles with original engine, transmission and problem free.
I'd like to drive new so I know from day one how the car is treated.
carolinaman
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Re: Another car thread, need a new/used car and some advice!

Post by carolinaman »

Edmunds.com is a good site to research cars and help determine what models and options to shop for. Once you have determined what you are looking for, Carmax.com and Autotrader.com can help you find vehicles and best prices. I searched Carmax.com for the models I was looking for, extending search to 500 miles from my city. This gave me a good idea what the sales price ought to be. It is better than using Kelly Bluebook, NADA and Edmunds valuations because I found too much variability in those. Using those to bargain with a car salesman is a futile effort.

I then searched Autotrader for models in my area. I found one at a local Toyota dealer that seemed underpriced by about 10-15% based upon Carmax. I went to the dealer and tried the car out. They had just got the car in and had not cleaned it up which was even better to me. I tried negotiating the price but only got it reduced by a few hundred. However, I was able to get them to buy my current car at a better price than the local Carmax dealer would. Carmax will buy your current car even if you do not buy from them. This enables you to know what a fair tradein is and to treat the selling of your car as a separate transaction if necessary.

After we bought the car, the salesman said they had lots of calls about the car (a 2007 Toyota Avalon). They sold it as a Toyota certified used car which gives it a 12k bumper to bumper warranty so it was unlikely to be a lemon.

Could I have got a better deal. Perhaps, but this was a very efficient way of buying the car and it required minimal haggling and gamesmanship. My wife was amazed that it only took 3 days to find and buy the car. We only visited 3 car lots (Carmax was one of these). The Internet can be a great resouce?

I am lerry of buying used cars from individuals. That works best if you know and trust who you are buying from. I have done that twice. I got a great deal one time and the worst deal ever the second time (a guy sold me a wrecked car that had been rebuilt without my knowledge). There are too many sharks doing selling cars individually so definitely buyer beware.
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guitarguy
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Re: Another car thread, need a new/used car and some advice!

Post by guitarguy »

Thanks for all the advice guys!!

OK, I think the best plan for us is to buy a small sedan for her to commute in now, then when my car eventually dies out we can replace it with another larger car. At that point, we can make the switch and I can drive the smaller commuter car and she can have the larger vehicle to cart around baby stuff and run errands (assuming we have a baby at that point) or we can decide who will drive what at that time. We talked last night and we both think this is a good way to go.

Now for the HOW. We have $5k saved up now, and could probably get $1k on a trade in or sale of her Malibu. That leaves us with roughly $6k cash to work with now, assuming we don't use any of our E-Fund. Should we:

A: Find something we can pay cash for. We could maybe stretch it to $7k or so by tapping our E-Fund a little, but I wouldn't want to go much more than that because I don't want to dip below 3 months expenses in there. This would be the ideal option, as long as we can find something in this price range that's worth buying. Can one find a good small sedan in this price range that will last a while and will be decently comfortable to drive? We're not going to be picky, but we don't necessarily want to settle for something we really don't like either. This would leave us starting over saving for vehicle number 2.

B: Set like a $10k maximum and finance something with a small down payment, keeping our cash on hand to have our options open for the next vehicle, while making minimum payments on the loan and continuing to save hard core for vehicle number 2. The only reason I like this option is that it keeps us flexible with the cash on hand later on. But, I hate the thought of not only taking out another loan after not having a car payment for the last 4-5 years, but letting it hang around :annoyed

C: Set like a $10k maximum and pay half down and finance the other half. Pay off the remaining $5k in about 6-7 months, then start from scratch saving for vehicle number 2. This would give us a nicer vehicle now which would be paid off quickly, but might limit our options if car number 2 dies sooner than expected and we don't have a good chunk saved up to replace it.

-----Also for you small sedan people, can anyone chime in on how well they perform in the snow? Should this be a concern for us? Michigan winters vary a lot but can indeed be brutal from time to time.

Thank you all for the advice!
bungalow10
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Re: Another car thread, need a new/used car and some advice!

Post by bungalow10 »

guitarguy wrote: -----Also for you small sedan people, can anyone chime in on how well they perform in the snow? Should this be a concern for us? Michigan winters vary a lot but can indeed be brutal from time to time.

Thank you all for the advice!
I'm in Wisconsin and commute 30 miles each way on rural two-lane highways and haven't had any snow-related issues with either my Civic or Fit. I actually think my Fit handled better in snow than my Toyota Highlander.

Your wife drives a small sedan now (Malibu), the handling of a Honda will be a huge step up if she goes that route.
An elephant for a dime is only a good deal if you need an elephant and have a dime.
texasdiver
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Re: Another car thread, need a new/used car and some advice!

Post by texasdiver »

bungalow10 wrote:
guitarguy wrote: -----Also for you small sedan people, can anyone chime in on how well they perform in the snow? Should this be a concern for us? Michigan winters vary a lot but can indeed be brutal from time to time.

Thank you all for the advice!
I'm in Wisconsin and commute 30 miles each way on rural two-lane highways and haven't had any snow-related issues with either my Civic or Fit. I actually think my Fit handled better in snow than my Toyota Highlander.

Your wife drives a small sedan now (Malibu), the handling of a Honda will be a huge step up if she goes that route.
I lived in Juneau Alaska for 10 years (which trust me has worse snow and ice conditions than Michigan) and drove both a Toyota Camry and Nissan Pathfinder. The front wheel drive Camry was my preferred snow car unless it was really deep snow in which case I didn't drive and waited for the plows anyway. You really don't need a 4x4 for snow and all cars are 4x4 on the breaking anyway. What you do need is a good set of snow tires. Basically the heavier the vehicle the harder it is to control on snow and ice. I can't remember how many times I saw big SUVs pull up to icy intersections and then just slide right through the red light because they were so heavy they couldn't stop. Unless you are doing seriously rural driving where you need to get through deep snow on unplowed roads, you'll do fine with any small front wheel drive sedan, especially if you put snow tires on all 4 wheels. And if you are doing seriously rural driving on unplowed lanes you want a big 4x4 truck with a snow blade mounted on the front anyway.
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guitarguy
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Re: Another car thread, need a new/used car and some advice!

Post by guitarguy »

Glad to hear a smaller car like a Civic or something should do OK in the snow. The Malibu is definitely a size up and would more compare to the Accord or Camry more than the Civic though, which was my reason for concern.

I think I'm going to re-post the finance question in the Personal Finance Forum. I think it's probably better suited there anyways.

Thanks everyone.
texasdiver
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Re: Another car thread, need a new/used car and some advice!

Post by texasdiver »

guitarguy wrote:Glad to hear a smaller car like a Civic or something should do OK in the snow. The Malibu is definitely a size up and would more compare to the Accord or Camry more than the Civic though, which was my reason for concern.

I think I'm going to re-post the finance question in the Personal Finance Forum. I think it's probably better suited there anyways.

Thanks everyone.
The smaller and lighter the car the better it will do on snow and icy roads. Its all in the tires--basic physics and coefficients of friction. A big car and small car has basically the same square inches of rubber touching the road. The smaller and lighter car will just be easier to control in limited traction conditions. Of course you want front wheel drive though. A small 2wd pickup with no weight in the back is about the worst snow car there is. One of the best and most fun snow cars I ever drove was a 1962 VW bug which I drove across the country one December on the way home from college for Christmas. Had snowy and icy roads from Iowa all the way to Oregon. What an adventure.
letseatpaste
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Re: Another car thread, need a new/used car and some advice!

Post by letseatpaste »

I was in a similar situation, except my wife is just over 4 months along. We had about $6k saved up, and the wife's little 2-door Civic wasn't going to work great for a car seat, plus her tummy's getting bigger and that will be a pain to get in and out of pretty soon. If we didn't have a baby already on the way, we probably would have just made do with what we had until we had enough saved up.

We decided to dip into our e-fund and paid $10k cash for a 2004 Honda Odyssey this past weekend. It's awesome, we love it. It will be great for all the baby stuff, and easy on my back. Sooo comfortable to drive and ride in. It has 90k miles, but has already had all the expensive work done on it (timing belt, etc) about a month ago. Leather seats, alloy wheels, sun-roof, etc... It has little scrapes here and there, but we've also had people that ask if it's brand new at first glance. Decided to splurge a bit on a new stereo to make our "new" 9-year old van feel a little more up to date so we can connect our phones/mp3 players, bluetooth, etc...

Your money can go a bit further buying from a private seller. You just have to arm yourself with carfax and a trusted mechanic or some personal know-how. You also have to have the patience to wait for the right deal and be able to make a decision quickly when you find it.
bungalow10
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Re: Another car thread, need a new/used car and some advice!

Post by bungalow10 »

letseatpaste wrote:I was in a similar situation, except my wife is just over 4 months along. We had about $6k saved up, and the wife's little 2-door Civic wasn't going to work great for a car seat, plus her tummy's getting bigger and that will be a pain to get in and out of pretty soon. If we didn't have a baby already on the way, we probably would have just made do with what we had until we had enough saved up.

We decided to dip into our e-fund and paid $10k cash for a 2004 Honda Odyssey this past weekend. It's awesome, we love it. It will be great for all the baby stuff, and easy on my back. Sooo comfortable to drive and ride in. It has 90k miles, but has already had all the expensive work done on it (timing belt, etc) about a month ago. Leather seats, alloy wheels, sun-roof, etc... It has little scrapes here and there, but we've also had people that ask if it's brand new at first glance. Decided to splurge a bit on a new stereo to make our "new" 9-year old van feel a little more up to date so we can connect our phones/mp3 players, bluetooth, etc...

Your money can go a bit further buying from a private seller. You just have to arm yourself with carfax and a trusted mechanic or some personal know-how. You also have to have the patience to wait for the right deal and be able to make a decision quickly when you find it.
Congrats! I also had a 2 door Civic before having kids, we didn't trade it until the second was on the way (I'm stubborn like that). It was very uncomfortable to drive the last two months of pregnancy... but then again EVERYTHING was uncomfortable the last two months of pregnancy. I could have had a chauffeured limo and been miserable :)

Enjoy the baby and the new van :)
An elephant for a dime is only a good deal if you need an elephant and have a dime.
NHRATA01
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Re: Another car thread, need a new/used car and some advice!

Post by NHRATA01 »

texasdiver wrote:
guitarguy wrote:Glad to hear a smaller car like a Civic or something should do OK in the snow. The Malibu is definitely a size up and would more compare to the Accord or Camry more than the Civic though, which was my reason for concern.

I think I'm going to re-post the finance question in the Personal Finance Forum. I think it's probably better suited there anyways.

Thanks everyone.
The smaller and lighter the car the better it will do on snow and icy roads. Its all in the tires--basic physics and coefficients of friction. A big car and small car has basically the same square inches of rubber touching the road. The smaller and lighter car will just be easier to control in limited traction conditions. Of course you want front wheel drive though. A small 2wd pickup with no weight in the back is about the worst snow car there is. One of the best and most fun snow cars I ever drove was a 1962 VW bug which I drove across the country one December on the way home from college for Christmas. Had snowy and icy roads from Iowa all the way to Oregon. What an adventure.
You're neglecting one of the other major facets in the friction between the car and the road - the normal force, or basically the weight of the car on the contact patch. 8-) There are points of diminishing returns with respect to the mass of the vehicle and the momentum vs. the weight on the 4 wheels.

I've had troubles in the snow with very light cars getting them moving, including an older Saturn coupe. But at the end of the day the tire quality, and driver quality will be the biggest factors in snow travel. Narrow tires are preferable to wide. I spent 8 NY winters, 4 near the northern canadian border, in a rear wheel drive Firebird, and never got stuck. Still live somewhat in snow country now, and much prefer driving my large FWD Cadillac in the white stuff over my wife's previous AWD Rav4. The 3100lb Toyota floated around too much, the 4000lb heavy caddy is nice and planted.
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ryuns
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Re: Another car thread, need a new/used car and some advice!

Post by ryuns »

k-slice wrote: I have not bought new here because I would NEVER pay the state of California $1500 for the privilege of a sticker on my license plate. I refused.
Glad you're so very principled. Perhaps I'm missing something, but I'm pretty sure the vast majority of those "fees" are for sales tax, which the DMV will happily extract from you upon your next visit to register the car in your name. The solution there is just to buy cheap, or buy rarely, but simply buying used doesn't help. AFAIK, the bevy of fees they do tack on for new cars only add up to about $100-200.

https://www.dmv.ca.gov/wasapp/FeeCalcul ... cleFees.do
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guitarguy
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Re: Another car thread, need a new/used car and some advice!

Post by guitarguy »

Well...after only a couple days of searching we jumped on a deal :D

We found an EXTREMELY well taken care of 2006 Civic EX sedan with a little over 117k miles on it for $8750, well below blue book value. All dealership maintenance records organized better than I've ever seen on any used car, all receipts for everything down to tire rotations and oil changes. Carfax was totally clean, no accidents, and also verified lots of the maintenance work done becuase it was all done at a dealership. New brakes and rotors this year, and an oil change 200 miles ago. Tires in great shape.

It was rare and refreshing to see such a well taken care of car. I feel good about the deal and I was so happy we were able to pay cash for the car. We'll have to replenish our E-Fund a bit, but we should be back to where we want it in 4-5 months tops, and this sure beats the hassle of getting a loan. I really feel like we have a good car with good value and that we'll be able to drive for a long time.

Now we just have to figure out how to get the other vehicle in 2-3 years (God willing, longer!!). :?
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Re: Another car thread, need a new/used car and some advice!

Post by stoptothink »

guitarguy wrote:We found an EXTREMELY well taken care of 2006 Civic EX sedan with a little over 117k miles on it for $8750, well below blue book value.
A 6yr old civic with nearly 120k miles for $8750 is a steal nowadays? Apples to oranges comparison, but for what it is worth in '04 I bought a '97 Nissan pickup XE with less than 60k miles for $2500. Still running strong at 160k miles and I am hoping I have at least another 3-4 years before I have to test this terrible used car market.
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guitarguy
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Re: Another car thread, need a new/used car and some advice!

Post by guitarguy »

stoptothink wrote:
guitarguy wrote:We found an EXTREMELY well taken care of 2006 Civic EX sedan with a little over 117k miles on it for $8750, well below blue book value.
A 6yr old civic with nearly 120k miles for $8750 is a steal nowadays? Apples to oranges comparison, but for what it is worth in '04 I bought a '97 Nissan pickup XE with less than 60k miles for $2500. Still running strong at 160k miles and I am hoping I have at least another 3-4 years before I have to test this terrible used car market.
Yeah, it's a bit sickening to think about it that way, but prices are silly inflated!! FWIW the car blue booked at $9800+.

Unfortunately paying $15k+ for one a couple years newer with low miles wasn't in our budget. At that point I would've loved to just buy new, an Elantra/Cruze/Focus/etc type, but again at about $20k it just wasn't happening. That would've been a $10k loan at best (with a depleted E-Fund), and we're going to need another vehicle before too long. We didn't want to bury ourselves.

It does have a lot of miles but I actually believe the fella's typical "highway miles" story because the car is in such great shape with impeccable service and maintenance records. I still expect to be able to put another 100k miles on this car.
stoptothink
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Re: Another car thread, need a new/used car and some advice!

Post by stoptothink »

guitarguy wrote:
stoptothink wrote:
guitarguy wrote:We found an EXTREMELY well taken care of 2006 Civic EX sedan with a little over 117k miles on it for $8750, well below blue book value.
A 6yr old civic with nearly 120k miles for $8750 is a steal nowadays? Apples to oranges comparison, but for what it is worth in '04 I bought a '97 Nissan pickup XE with less than 60k miles for $2500. Still running strong at 160k miles and I am hoping I have at least another 3-4 years before I have to test this terrible used car market.
Yeah, it's a bit sickening to think about it that way, but prices are silly inflated!! FWIW the car blue booked at $9800+.

Unfortunately paying $15k+ for one a couple years newer with low miles wasn't in our budget. I would've loved to just buy new, an Elantra/Cruze/Focus/etc type, but again at about $20k it just wasn't happening. That would've been a $10k plus loan at best, and we're going to need another vehicle before too long. I didn't want to bury myself with a car loan.

It does have a lot of miles but I actually believe the fella's typical "highway miles" story because the car is in such great shape. I still expect to be able to put another 100k miles on this car.
Stories about the used car market scare me. When the time comes I'll probably just drop $15-20k on some new subcompact right off the lot. I absolutely love cars, but I am so over paying for them.
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tadamsmar
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Re: Another car thread, need a new/used car and some advice!

Post by tadamsmar »

I suggest you get a vehicle with electronic stability control (ESC) and probably traction control. ESC is an important safety feature. ESC and traction control make driving on snow and ice easier. Such a vehicle would be a dream to drive on ice relative to your older Malibu.

But it's hard to stay below $10,000 and get ESC.

A 2008 or later Malibu (new not classic model) LT or LTZ is a good choice. The 2008 LS trim does not have ESC. But it would run you about $12,000.

Or, you might want to go for the equipment-hauling vehicle now. SUVs started adding ESC earlier than sedans. Older 4Runners and Rav4s have ESC. It was standard on the 4Runner starting in 2000. You can find and old 4Runner for 10K. Of course, older cars are not as reliable.

Here's a blog on how to buy a used car with ESC:

http://epicurusgarden.blogspot.com/2011 ... h-esc.html
bh
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Re: Another car thread, need a new/used car and some advice!

Post by bh »

congrats on solving the first car issue.............i would suppose that you will possibly be able to drive that model for another 100k miles

for car #2 i would look at buicks and cadillacs; both have an older demographic to an extent and thus driven by retirees; this makes it possible to look at older model years (less expensive due to age) and still have few miles as they were not being driven as commuters every day.......buick line has been discontinued as I recall which should impact price favorably as well; repairs should be no big issue as GM (Chevy) mechanics stil familiar
kikie
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Re: Another car thread, need a new/used car and some advice!

Post by kikie »

uh how many cars do you want, and whats your budget? financing or paying cash?

guitarguy wrote:OK, wife's car is on its last leg (99 Malibu with 140k and a dash that's lit up like a Christmas tree. Still runs but has a slight oil leak and a bunch of other ticky tack problems). Time to go car shopping for her.

I drive a Grand Prix with 160k. Has a couple of little things that need fixing but runs fine. I plan on driving this until the wheels fall off...hoping to get 200k out of it...but still anticipating needing a second "new" car in 2-3 years or so.

Here is our list of other considerations through this car buying fiesta:

- We're hoping to have a baby soon (trying now).
- We need one larger vehicle (I prefer a large sedan like my Grand Prix) for me to transport band equipment to gigs. I prefer this car not be new as it tends to take some abuse, but it has to be reliable.
- We'd prefer 1 smaller vehicle that's good on gas, either for wife to drive full time or for me to commute in once we have a baby.
- We have $5k saved now and set aside for a car. Currently saving $600/m. Could pull a few thousand more and still have a decent E-Fund but don't really want to. We'd really love to pay cash but I'm not sure it's the best option.
- We're open minded as to new or gently used, but whatever we buy we want it to last a while. Wife really wants new, and if not brand new, she wants something almost new. She has been putting up with her car for a while now and she really deserves to finally be able to drive something nice.
- We do have mechanics in the family.
- We want fwd cars as we live in the Midwest and do get some snow to deal with.

I've thought about this in my head so much I'm driving myself crazy. Rather than type out all the scenarios I've came up with, I'd love to hear what advice you all have as to what to look for, when/if to use financing or keep saving, new or used, etc. I can't believe how much I'm wrecking my brain on this!!
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