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Help Me Choose!



  • As a self-described cheapskate, I find myself agreeing with what others are saying here, particularly since you initially talked about keeping the vehicle for 6-7 years, and that was gonna be a mostly-used-up used vehicle. So, if you can keep a semi-beater for 6-7 years, surely you can plan to keep a brand new vehicle for at least as long, if not longer, eh?

    One advantage to owning it from new is you get the full length of the manufacturer warranty (some of the longer warranties don't transfer in full to the 2nd owner), and you will know how it's been maintained (hopefully very well) and cared for. Then, once you're finished paying for the vehicle, you'll have that uber-pristine used vehicle you were thinking of buying right now, only it'll be almost FREE for you to own it.

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  • What is the typical length of the manufacturer warranty and what might I be surprised to find that it does not cover?

    Also, if I want to go the new car route, but with the budget of someone on a modest teacher's salary, and I want to get 100k miles out of it with great gas mileage, what other makes and models might I consider?

    I saw the mention by benjaminh of a Mazda3 (thanks benjamin), what else might I consider?
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,618
    edited August 2013
    If you go new, you can get 100k+ out of any car with proper maintenance.

    If you want to keep your out-of-pocket cost as low as possible and fit payments into your teacher's salary, you might check out something like a Kia Rio (I just leased one) or Kia Soul. I've seen great lease deals on these lately, e.g. $159/mo. with nothing out of pocket, 3 years, 12k miles a year. No worries except gas and regular maintenance and insurance. Five-year/60k bumper to bumper warranty, 100k/10 year powertrain warranty.

    My 2004 Elantra GT, purchased new when you could get a fully-loaded Elantra for $13k (not any more!), has almost 90k miles, is still under factory warranty, and has had little beyond regular maintenance--no problems at all for the first 8 years. So it's possible to not spend much for a new car and run it 100k miles or more with few problems. I like the Hyundai/Kia warranty for long-term ownership because engine/transmission problems are the most costly to fix, and I don't have to worry about paying for those for 100k miles or 10 years, whichever comes first.

    BTW, that Elantra has a KBB private party sale value of about $6k... after 9-1/2 years!
  • suydamsuydam Posts: 878
    A CPO 3 yr old car is not a bad way to go either. Agree that a Honda or Toyota is probably not a good value at that age. In fact used car costs across the board are higher in the last few years. My '04 Pontiac Vibe is also listed at around 6k. So if you go that route consider a car that has good reliability history but not so well known, such as the Mazda3, Elantra, Nissan Altima or Sentra, or pretty much any Buick sedan. We bought the Vibe as a 3 year old car and it has been extremely reliable, needing only a battery and tires until this year --leaking struts :(.

    Buying used can be a good idea though. Insurance will be lower on an older car than a new one. If you check it out carefully you can hopefully get a couple of years without major problems. The key is to find a car that has been well-maintained by its previous owner and to ask about those items that might be problematic for a 5 or 6 year old car, such as battery, alternator, starter etc. It sounds like you are doing that kind of background work now.
  • benjaminhbenjaminh Posts: 1,621
    edited August 2013
    Most new car warranties cover almost everything for 3 years and 36,000 miles. In addition, the engine and transmission are usually covered for 5 years and 60,000 miles.

    The Honda Fit, which is a very functional hatchback, is Honda's entry level car. Base price is about $17,000, but discounts are hard to get. You might get $700 off or so, but there's just not that much profit in the car, in part because it's made in Japan.

    The Civic is made in the USA in a huge state-of-the-art factory in Indiana. They are pumping them out full tilt and there are tons of them out there. I think it was the best selling car for Honda last month, and just behind the Camry. The Civic had significant improvements for 2013. In other words, don't get a 2012.

    Dealers are dealing on the Civic, and you should be able to get $2000 off list without much trouble. Even the base model has a few things not found on other cars in its class, like a back up camera.

    The Civic also was the only small car to get a good rating on the IIHS crash test. Check out this video:

    Not everyone agrees, but Honda fans like me feel that Hondas are often a little better at some things, like this crash test. In other words, for Honda fans there is a reason why they cost a little more. I think that extra is worth it and is buying you a slightly better car. Of course, fans of other brands feel the same about their cars, but watching that video above you can see that Honda did better than everyone else in that particular test. Same with midsize cars with the Accord. Probably some of the competition will catch up next year, but for now...
  • If I understand correctly, is the LX the base model for the Civic?
  • benjaminhbenjaminh Posts: 1,621
    edited August 2013
    Yes, the LX is now the base model of the Civic.

    They used to sell a DX, but it was kinda silly, since it didn't even have AC or a stereo iirc.

    The LX has everything you need, including bluetooth, etc. Nice car. You should test drive it though, and see if you think it's worth $2000 more than a Mazda3. You might decide it's 1k better but not 2?
  • Thanks Benjamin,

    I am going to try to test drive a both a Civic and a Mazda3 this weekend.
  • I've been quoted a price of $18873.77 on a 2013 Civic LX and have been told it includes Oregon DMV fees. What are your thoughts on this price, and what fees might NOT have been added in there? For the record, I wont be needing any dealership added accessories.

    Also, one dealership I talked to said that they include a 100k powertrain warranty. I've been warned by other dealers that this is a trap of some sort. That if I miss any of their scheduled maintenance the deal is null and that, somehow as a result of the terms, I get roped into only doing business with their dealership (so if Jiffy Lube changes the oil, null). Thoughts on this? They say they also include free tires and free rentals.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,618
    Ask to see the warranty. It will spell out whether you must have all maintenance done by that dealer or not.

    Such warranties are not necessarily "traps", but ways some dealers use to differentiate themselves. A local car dealer chain in my area offers a free lifetime powertrain warranty on all new cars and all used cars with less than 60k miles. They are a reputable company so I doubt this is a "trap". But there may be conditions, e.g. keeping up with manufacturer's scheduled maintenance.

    Ask also to see the details on "free tires". Free loaners are pretty common.
  • Found a copy of the warranty: rvice-department-limited-warranty

    What concerns me is that the scheduled maintenance has to be done at their shop and at their fees. I don't know how their fees rate in comparison to other mechanics that I would take it to, so I'm a bit worried I'll end up spending a fortune on things like oil changes and wiper fluid top offs.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,706
    edited August 2013
    I was in the same situation a while back, though. I had about 7-8K to spend, but the problem was this:

    Economy cars, even if they are made by BMW or Mercedes (as has happened in the past, even for them) age incredibly poorly once they hit about ten years old. Civics are reliable and all of that, but they are also falling apart and rattling at ten years old. The engine will still run forever, but it's just a beater at that point.

    The problem is that 7-8K buys you nothing good. It's all high mileage, sketchy histories, ex-rentals, taxis, won't pass smog, the AC is on its way out, of the transmission is slipping. You have to go to the 10-14K range, and that's where you hit the real problem:

    - Banks loan money at terrible rates for used cars vs new.
    - Used cars are often out of their warranty at even that much money.
    - You will spend $100 a month on upkeep
    - Banks won't touch anything over 7 years old, anyways. That means a 2006 at the most. And that's way out of $7K.
    - After you resell the car in 6-7 years, you'll get about half of your money back anyways, effectively dropping the purchase price to lease levels.
    - You need a reliable car early in your life the most.

    So $12K at 5% interest (typical for a used loan) plus repairs and upkeep ends up being about the same money as a new car $4-5K more.

    - No upkeep, no anything, and 0% financing if you buy domestic. So you can literally get a car for $250-$350 a month and that's all you end up paying.

    Case in point - my car. A 2014 Mustang. Base model, manual, nothing on it (comes standard with Civic EX level equipment anyways, or close to it). $340 a month. If I dumped your $7 into it, my payments would drop to $225 a month.

    Now, if I went with a much cheaper car, I could end up paying $250 a month to own a car. As has been pointed out, a new car will last 5-7 years no matter what brand it is these days. Minus the $7K, you would be looking at $150 a month. Add in the money you get back (about 40% of new price when you sell it), and it's just going to cost you $28 a month. Provided you get a cheap but decent vehicle.

    The math:
    $14K-9K (depreciation) = 5K you sell it for.
    $14K-7K (your cash) = 7K owed.
    Net difference, $2K over 6 years. Or about $28 a month.

    In my case, it was $100 a month loss, but that's also nothing. Better safety, more fun, and all of the other perks of a new car. Worth the money I'd be spending on upkeep of my old car? DUH. :)
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,706
    edited August 2013
    Now, I feel that it's a poor person who gives advice without a solution or two being offered.

    I'll keep this short - Here is my short list of cars to consider new without breaking the bank:

    - Ford Fusion. Base model, nothing on it. $19-20K depending on the incentives you qualify for. Civic money for a car with more everything and about the same fuel economy.

    - Ford Mustang. Same deal - base model, nothing on it. $19K if you shop around a tiny bit. Mine gets about 24-25mpg combined in So Cal rush hour traffic/gridlock every day. Most economy cars don't do more than a few mpg better. Awesome fun to drive and comes very well equipped.

    - Honda Insight. At $17.5K, it warrants mention as it is a serious fuel-saver. Cargo space is OK as well. I like to think of it as a cheap econobox with a better engine than the Jeep Patriot. It's ticky-tacky and the interior screams budget, but it IS a Honda and it DOES get crazy mpg.

    - Chevy Cruze. You can get a left-over 2013 base model for about $15.5K. This is a tremendous value as it's almost Yaris cheap.

    - Ford Focus. The base model is $15K.

    - A base model Mazda 3 is also $15K. Though, the Focus is far better to actually drive.

    - A Honda Fit is $15K. Its claim to fame is cargo space. The manual in this is video game easy to drive, btw.

    - Mitsubishi Lancer. The 2013 ES are going for $14K.

    You can get new cars for $12K-$13K, but they tend to be very poor value.
  • benjaminhbenjaminh Posts: 1,621
    edited August 2013
    18.8 for a Civic LX seems high. How much are DMV fees? What is it without those?

    Here is a Civic LX in Nashville for 17.5k, and they have a dozen or so at this price:

    2013 Honda Civic LX Sedan
    TRUE PRICE:$17,491
    Bodystyle:SedanTransmission:5-Speed AutomaticDrive Line:FWDEngine:1.8L I-4 cyl
    Exterior Color:Taffeta WhiteStock #:DE058454Trim:LX

    I think you should probably skip the warranty. Getting service done at the dealership is probably ok, but you're right to be cautious. A normal Honda extended warranty doesn't require service at a particular dealer.

    You should try multiple dealers and try to trade them off each other to get a better price. Try this site:

    Good luck!
  • benjaminhbenjaminh Posts: 1,621
    plekto offers some good advice here.

    I personally like Hondas and avoid Ford because of a bad experience many years ago, but I think Fords are better today. If you can get a steal of a deal on one of these new cars that plekto mentions it would be better than getting a ten year old Civic.
  • suydamsuydam Posts: 878
    These are all good points, but following this logic there would be no used car market and everyone should buy a new car. I agree that $10-12k is the amount that gets a better used car nowadays, but plenty of people buy much older cars and do fine with them. There are many people who don't have the income to afford a new car and its a little elitist to insist that's the only way to go. I find it amusing how many people on these forums brag about their cars going 200k with only regular maintenance and then state that after 100k you can't trust any car. I think it would be helpful to the poster to suggest ways to maximize the chances of getting a reliable older car. Most cars nowadays have a good life well after 100k. I bought a car for my daughter with 90k on it and she drove it another 90k. Did it need repairs, some of them expensive? Sure, but in the main it was a very reliable vehicle with low insurance costs.
  • benjaminhbenjaminh Posts: 1,621
    edited August 2013
    suydam makes a good point. Used can work out. And sometimes there's no other choice but used.

    In my personal experience, however, in the long run of ownership (c. 10 years) the "savings" of buying used is quite exaggerated. I'm sure there are exceptions to this, but I've found that a good new car with good resale value is not that far off in cost in the long run from getting an old used car with c. $1000 a year in maintenance and repairs. Both ways can work out, and often used is a bit cheaper, but the living experience with a newer car is almost always a lot better.

    Unlike with some things in life, cars really are in most ways better now than in the "good old days." A 2013 Civic, for instance, is significantly better than a 2003 Civic in pretty much every way, including safety, room, mpg, performance, NVH, features, etc.

    But if finances require used, perhaps a 3-4 year old Nissan Altima or something similar might be considered.
  • benjaminhbenjaminh Posts: 1,621
    edited August 2013
    Once in a while, maybe used could cost more than new in the long run.

    Imagine this scenario. Someone buys a 10 year old car for 5k and keeps it for 5 years, putting an average of 1k of maintenance and repairs each year. At the end of 5 years it's a 15 year old car, and maybe worth a thousand or so, and they trade it in on another 10 year old car for 5k

    Anyway, at the end of ten years this person has spent something like 18,000 to buy the cars and for repairs (subtracting the c. 1k each for the trade-in when each of the cars was 15 years old). And at the end of ten years they might need to come up with another 5000 for another car....

    Say instead the person bought a brand-new car for 18k. Over ten years it might need about 3k in maintenance and repairs, for a total of 21k. But at the end of ten years the car has a resale or trade in value of at least 5k, and so the total drops to 16k. And at the end of ten years, with luck and a tune up, the car still has five years left in it and you don't have to come up with another 5000. This is, I think, what Kirstie was talking about in a good point she made earlier.

    Maybe my figures are off a bit, but in this imaginary case at least new is slightly less than used in the long run.
  • Another way to get firm pricing is to try one of our Price Promise dealerships in the area: 20Sedan&trim=LX&zip=98662&radius=100

    They are OBLIGATED to honor the quote they provide. I don't mean the regular ones that say "get a quote," but the ones that have "special offer" where the price would be. I'm not saying the others wouldn't honor a quoted price, but the Price Promise dealerships have to, and we've seen several reviews from consumers that indicate that that was their experience.

    The thing about the extended warranty offered by the dealership is that it is specific to THAT dealership, meaning that if they go out of business, or you move, that portion of the warranty is useless to you as it is only honored at the specific business where you purchased.

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  • suydamsuydam Posts: 878
    The problem with that scenario is that used cars are holding their value at a much higher rate than previously. Try to get any car that runs for $1000! I just sold my 12 year old car for $4500 and had two pages of email requests. I could have gotten more but I just wanted to sell it quickly and get a fair price for it. My current 9 year-old Vibe is worth nearly $6000. I paid $10k for it 5 years ago, have replaced tires, a battery (just last year!) and this year, leaking struts. It's had 1 year of $1000 repair.

    Really old cars are even better. My teenagers could only afford extremely old cars. When they sold them, they pretty much got the same amount. So their only cost was maintenance.

    The real problem now is the fact that 3 year old cars, which used to be a bargain compared to new, no longer are. It's unfortunate that people with limited means no longer have this intermediate way of getting a vehicle. Exceptions to that are some GM models possibly like the LeSabre and Lucerne and also the Century. Some of them have very low mileage too.
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