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Help Me Choose!



  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,682
    Couple of things...

    1) a 2002 LX is really poor in safety... no ABS... no side airbags, for example.
    2) the car has a timing belt I believe... which would be due for replacement at 120k miles. A pricey service.

    I think for $6k or a little more you could get a much newer car (not a Civic of course) with full set of airbags and ABS (and maybe ESC). For example, I recently bought a 2005 Mazda6i Sport hatch in great condition for only $4900, from an Infiniti dealer. It has 160k miles on it, but highway miles and was well maintained by its one lady owner. Has 6 airbags, ABS, and traction control. And a heckuva much nicer car than a 2002 Civic... roomy, power seat, leather wheel, 17" five-spoke alloys, hatchback convenience etc. Had to replace the alternator already, but that cost $160 part/labor. And it has a timing chain, not a belt.
  • gmanusmcgmanusmc SoCalPosts: 436
    Ace - I had a 2003 Civic LX - gave me 63k trouble free miles. Is this one owner? Couldn't tell in the ad. By the pics, it looks very well cared for but a car can be made to look great with a good detailing. I agree with those who say you should be able to get the price down - maybe to 4500? Of course, contingent on a thorough inspection by a good mechanic. Car looks nice though. I liked mine but upsized to an accord.

    Bill G
  • Thanks gang. I asked him if he'd consider KBB/Edmunds prices closer to $4,250 (I don't know if that's a good negotiation tactic, but it's straightforward) and he said he wouldn't.
  • suydamsuydam Posts: 924
    Well, then it may be overpriced. For the record, according to Edmunds, the LX did have side curtain airbags and double wishbone rear suspension. No ABS though. We all did live without it for a very long time! My current '04 Vibe doesn't have them either.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,682
    The 2002 Civic never had side curtain airbags. Those didn't come to the Civic until the 2006 redesign. The 2002 Civic did offer as an OPTION front-seat-mounted side airbags. They would help only the driver and front passenger; not the same thing as side curtain airbags which protect all passengers except the rear middle.

    For both ABS (optional) and standard side airbags on a 2002 car that could be had at a good price, and IMO a better car than the 2002 Civic, try the Elantra.
  • suydamsuydam Posts: 924
    edited August 2013
    Thanks for clarifying. The info of options is a little confusing. Yes, I did see it as an option. Those only were standard on more upmarket cars like my '01 Maxima. But it does mean that this Civic might have them and might be something to find out or use in negotiating a lower price if they don't, as well as lacking ABS. You're generally not going to find standard ABS and the better side curtain airbags as standard equipment on mainstream cars before 2006. That the Elantra may had them that early surprises me, but I still think the Civic overall will be a longer-lasting car from that era than the Elantra. According to Edmunds the '02 Elantra's air bags were also the front mounted type.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,682
    Edmunds is wrong. Starting in fall of 2000, the 2001 Elantra was the first car in its class to have side airbags standard. I should know, I owned one. :-)

    My sister still owns that 2001 Elantra and it's held up quite well. I still own a 2004 Elantra, from the same generation, and after nearly 10 years in the Rust Belt it's held up great, would still look new if not for parking lot dings/scratches, and has been very reliable.

    When I bought that 2001 Elantra I also looked at the then all-new 2001 Civic. Not only did it cost thousands more than the Elantra, but the Elantra offered much more power, smoother and more quiet ride, more comfortable driving position (8-way adjustable seat), more interior room (EPA mid-sized class by volume), longer warranty, and the standard side airbags. Now as a used car, if you can find a well-maintained Elantra of that 2001-2006 generation, it would make a very nice vehicle IMO. The main downside is that ABS/TCS is optional and hard to find. Standard ABS starting in 2007.
  • acemanhattanacemanhattan Posts: 79
    edited August 2013

    I test drove this vehicle at a dealership and, not surprisingly, it drove fine like a 4 owner Corolla w/ 100k would. I don't know what an "outstanding" car actually looks like, it is certainly clean (but by no means flawless), but KBB and Edmunds both suggest that the dealership price ranges from $5,000 to $6,100 depending on whether it is clean or outstanding.

    What is my best bet for getting the car somewhere in the middle of that price range? When I was there he mentioned that he had "a couple hundred to work with." Of course I'd have a mechanic check it out first, but that isn't even worth my time if it turns out they won't drop their asking price substantially.
  • suydamsuydam Posts: 924
    edited August 2013
    Once again I would use safety and other features as bargaining points to lower the price. On that car side curtain airbags were optional, so it probably doesn't have them. Probably no ABS either. Does it have a CD player? Remote entry? I would start several hundred dollars lower and bargain down depending on what it lacks. Once you get a price, get it checked out. That way, if something is wrong (say, CV boots), you can ask them to fix it at the price you've already agreed upon.
  • Suydam,

    You're correct, it has neither ABS or side curtain airbags, and it does not have remote entry (or sun-roof or a handful of other things). When you say "start several hundred dollars lower," what price point are you talking going lower than? Lower than the sticker price or lower than the $5,000-$6,000 suggested dealer retail price?
  • suydamsuydam Posts: 924
    Lower than the sticker price, which is their opening bid.
  • Okay. So then, if I'm to offer a few hundred below the sticker price, it seems there is no reasonable way to get to between $5,000 and $6,000 which was the suggested retail for that car depending on condition.

    What then would be the price I should be aiming for, $6,500ish?
  • acemanhattanacemanhattan Posts: 79
    edited September 2013
    So my research shows that the price he is asking is fair in comparison to the price other dealers are selling for. What I don't know is, and I know there is no "across the board" method for determining how much markup is built into that price, how much I should be buying this car for.

    It appears that the trade in value the dealer would have paid (according to KBB NADA EDMUNDS) would have been roughly in the $3,500 range. I don't know how auction prices compare to those, but if it is the case that they have marked the vehicle up that much, then I want to make sure I let them profit off of me as little as possible (not to be construed as "I'd like to steal it", but simply that I don't want to be foolish). I don't know much about the used car market, but I think I know people fairly well, and I doubt that a 02 Corolla w 100k miles for $6,995 is going to be hard to sell. That being the case, I don't imagine that I have much of an advantage since, it would seem, the dealer can probably just wait for someone to come and buy it at a price pretty close to what they are asking. I could be wrong about that though.

    So, suggestions as to what price I should be aiming at? Perhaps I should just be waiting for a private party seller? I did see one yesterday for $4,500 and it was the same year w same miles.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,682
    edited September 2013
    The #1 question you need to ask yourself is: do I really want this car? $7000 seems to be a very high price for a basic 2002 Corolla with 100k miles and 4 owners.

    I just did a search within 100 miles of the Twin Cities using one of the popular car search sites, looking for 2001+ cars ala Mazda3/6, Civic, Elantra, Corolla, Yaris, Sentra, Rabbit/Golf. I found several that are newer and/or with lower miles for a lower asking price, e.g.:

    2003 Corolla LE, 83k miles, $6900
    2003 Elantra GLS, 51k miles, $6880 - has ABS and moonroof
    2002 Civic LX, 90k miles, $6800 - has the optional side airbags
    2005 Mazda6i Sport, 86k miles, $6400 - 6 airbags, ABS/TCS

    So you probably have options besides that 2002 Corolla, if you broaden your search a bit. If anything, you could use other cars as bargaining chips to work the price of the Corolla down.
  • suydamsuydam Posts: 924
    How invested are you in this particular car? Can you negotiate for a lower price, knowing you might be unsuccessful and that car might be bought by someone willing to pay nearly 7 grand. Is that you? The trick to used car shopping is not to really care whether you get that exact car and to figure that another may come along at a better price point. There are a lot of used cars out there. Only you can decide how you want to approach this or any other car transaction.

    Myself, I take more of a "meant to be" attitude. If I could negotiate a price I thought I could live with, the car checked out mechanically, and the dealer accepted that price, then it's meant to be. If not, move on.
  • The only real feelings I have about this car is that it embodies some of what I am looking for in a used car: good cosmetic condition, below average mileage, and it's of a make and model that's known to go another 150k miles.

    The #1 priority for me though is that I am making a purchase that is financially intelligent. To me this means that the car was purchased at a price much below what an uninformed buyer would have bought it at and that I found value in a way that another buyer wouldn't. At this point I still feel like I am at a HUGE information disadvantage and am so uncomfortable w spending $7,000 on ANY car that I really have no particular warm and fuzzy feelings about this one.

    My uncertainty is largely based on an unfamiliarity with how a dealer would price this vehicle. If it was standard for them to price a vehicle at 25% above what they are willing to let it go for, then I can reasonably offer them a price that I'm comfortable gets me the value I am looking for. If it is the case that they are only pricing the vehicle at 10% above what they are willing to let it go for, then there would really be no value in the car for me at all.

    Backy, were these prices dealer prices or private party?
  • Not emotionally invested at all and would be perfectly happy if it was purchased from under me.

    What I'm struggling with is how to know what a fair price is for the consumer. The only real information I have to go off of are the popular online retail price suggestions, but if dealers simply never sell them at or around that price, it would be foolish of me to burn energy trying to figure out how to get them to do so.
  • Okay, so let's say it keeps getting repeated by knowledgeable folks like the forum members at that this car is worth $5,000. In that case it would be reasonable to think that the guy who owns the dealership also knows in his/her heart of hearts that $5,000 is what this car is worth.

    My question is, what is a more reasonable assumption about how dealers purchase their vehicles: (1) They know the car is worth $5,000, they buy it at $3,500 and mark it up to $7,000 hoping for a sweetheart of a buyer but with the possibility of selling it at $5,000 to a smart buyer. (2) They know the car is worth $5,000 but, since they aren't looking to sell cars to knowledgeable buyers (and since wholesalers know how the game works), they buy it at $4,500 and mark it up to $7,000 looking for a sweetheart buyer with no intention of letting it go to a knowledgeable buyer for $5,000.
  • suydamsuydam Posts: 924
    There is no point in trying to get inside a dealers head. They all have different motives depending on how their month is going. Just pick the price you want to pay and offer it. All they can say is no. End of story. Believe me, they aren't wasting that much effort over a 12 year old economy car.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,603
    Instead of trying to micro analyze this deal...what a dealer paid etc, I would suggest that you focus on what you think the car is worth TO YOU!

    Used cars sell for what the market dictates and popular models simply do not last long. We often paid well over book at the auctions for exceptional cars and, of course, we sold them for over book too to customers woul knew the market.
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