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Help Me Choose!



  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 16,907
    Current: Benz, Ford, Chrysler, Volvo, Nissan.

    Land Rover

    Grew to hate my Honda, the Land Rover never made it on the road (project vehicle that never took off), we weren't terribly fond of the Subaru, and my 135i was a problem child. Other than that, all good stuff.

    '13 Stang GT; '86 Benz 300E; '98 Volvo S70; '12 Leaf; '08 Town&Country

  • Hey all,

    I am coming off a lease on a 2010 Nissan Altima 2.5S Sedan. I just hit 31K miles on it and it's in pretty good condition. I am considering purchasing it since the set purchase price is decent (around 12.5K, KBB value is around 13.3K), the mileage is low, and I know where it's been the whole time :).

    What are your thoughts? How does the Altima hold up over time? What are the maintenance costs like as the car ages? I'd plan on keeping it for the next 4-5 years. I have a longer commute nowadays so I am probably looking at 12-15K miles a year of usage. To be truthful, the car has been great but I am not particularly attached to it and would rather get into something like a small SUV (Rogue, Forrester, CR-V, Escape). But of course, I don't want to lose out on what seems like a good value on this car.

    Thoughts, opinions, reality-checks are much appreciated.

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,629
    Unless you really need an SUV, keep the Altima. I've driven the Rogue. It's based on the old Sentra. I think you'll find it a come-down from the Altima. The others are nicer, but will cost a lot more than $12.5k if you buy new.

    One thing you might do is check with Nissan re special deals as you come off lease. I had a Sentra that came off lease this past summer, and Nissan was offering me 4 months waived payments, money towards wear & tear, and cash incentives to buy or lease a new Nissan. Leases are really good on the new Altima, or you could see what they would do on a Rogue or even a Murano if you want to go the SUV route.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 16,907
    Its definitely a fair purchase price. Seems they hit the nail on the head with the residual. That would probably get you right around $10k as a trade-in, $11k dealer auction, and $13k-14k retail.

    If you like it, I'd say keep it. At 31k miles, its just broken in.

    '13 Stang GT; '86 Benz 300E; '98 Volvo S70; '12 Leaf; '08 Town&Country

  • I'm going to echo the other 2 members who've said to buy it.
    Even if you're not totally in love with it, it hasn't made you despise it. If you've got your eye on an SUV, your best bet would be to buy this (since it's at a lower price than you could likely find the same vehicle for on a dealer's lot), pay it off as quickly as you can, and then trade it in on an SUV. It'll make a nice downpayment.

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  • Thanks all. I appreciate the perspective.

    Backy - I wasn't a fan of the Rogue when I test drove it and chose the Altima over it so I think you're right that it would feel like a step down.

    Qbrozen and Kirstie, it does seem like buying it is the way to go. My other option would be to try to find a used CRV or Forester but it seems that those cars are a few K above the price my Altima, have higher mileage, and have the uncertainty of unknown previous owners. Does anyone know what the avg. yearly depreciation on a vehicle like the Altima is past year 3? 10%?15%?

  • Q might be able to answer more directly, but you can check our True Cost to Own tool. It lists all of the costs, but breaks them out so you can see depreciation. Since your vehicle isn't at the 5-year mark, years 4 & 5 are estimated. If you want to look at more historical data, you can choose an earlier model year, though the depreciation is going to change based on other factors present for that particular model year (desirability, body style, etc.)

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  • evolk1evolk1 Posts: 11
    edited October 2013
    I just sent my always reliable 1997 CV to the junkyard, a victim of underbody rust. Got 280,000 miles out of the 'ol girl.

    I use it for getting to sales calls entertaining or clients or prospects ever are in the car.

    I now have a choice to make

    1.) A 1999 CV with 106k miles on it. A friend of a friend inherited it from her recently deceased Dad, who bought it new and most likely was garaged all the time. Lived in Florida until 2010 until he moved in with her family here in Indiana. No body damage, base pkg, white with grey cloth interior. No idea if the plastic intake manifold top was replaced during the recall, but I'd guess it was since seniors usually jump on that stuff right away. No idea on the transmission. Probably get it for around $2,200.


    2.) A 2004 Crown Vic with all leather interior and 139,000 miles on it. Some nicks and scratches, mainly cosmetic. Had a mild collision that popped the air bag sensor but not the airbag itself. Airbag sensor has been replaced. Rear rotors are warped, as the car surges straight when braking. Mild smoker smell, but not bad and doesn't cause any residual odor in one's clothes. Has a non-oem stereo replacement that doesn't quite fill in the space left my the original. I can get it for $3,000 from a friend who has a wholesale license and bought it at the auction here in Indy. He says he can get $4,500 for it at retail, but I'm helping him out work wise with some extra training, so he'll let me have it for $3k. I trust him btw.
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,225
    I'd take the '99. Known history, lower miles, and no significant changes from '99 to '04 that would be a "gotta have" in my book. I sold one recently that belonged to a deceased relative and it was in pretty poor condition with 140k miles. Got $2k for it the day it was listed so I think that one sounds like a great deal.
  • Stever@EdmundsStever@Edmunds YooperlandPosts: 39,015
    A reporter is interested in speaking with a car buyer who recently purchased a new sedan, but did not consider any of the German brands (such as Volkswagen) during the shopping process. If you can assist, please contact by Wednesday, October 23 2013.
  • Am planning to buy Nissan Maxima 04 SL Automatic fully loaded car crossed 80000 miles ,Asking price is 8900$ , I found out Nissan Maxima 04 is having transmission problems , is it worth to buy this car for the money ? and also i would like to know the resale value of the car after 15 months ?
  • suydamsuydam Posts: 887
    Where do you get info as to transmission problems? When I look at reliability data on various sites I only see "infrequent" or "minimal" transmission problems. It's generally a reliable car. Before you buy have a mechanic check it out.

    Are you planning to own the car for only 15 months? In that case I'd get an old car for the smallest amount of money.

    Our '01 Maxima had over 130,000 miles when we sold it in good condition. I am sure it will go another 100k.
  • I agree. If you only plan to own a vehicle for 15 months, your best bet is to choose one that has already hit a low point in depreciation. For example, my son bought an older Honda Accord last year for $3700. 13 months later, it's still worth about $3700, maybe a couple hundred less. As a bonus, it's pretty good on gas and his insurance costs are low.

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  • We drive very few miles a year (probably about 6-7,000 total). Our primary vehicle is a 2011 Jetta Sportwagon TDI, which we own outright. It has 10k miles on it after 2 years. Our other car is a 2006 Saab 9-3. We purchased this about 1.5 years ago for about $9.5k. We've put 1.5k miles on it during that time.

    Unfortunately, the Saab has been a huge headache. We've probably put $2k into it in repairs, and it's been in the shop on multiple occasions. This is extremely inconvenient, both because I have a busy work schedule and hate taking time out for this kind of thing, and because although we don't drive much, there are specific times during the week where we need two cars.

    The Saab is in the shop again for a $700 repair, and I'm fed up. I'm considering selling the Saab (only worth $6.5k now to private party) and leasing a Nissan Leaf. This could be an ideal second car for us, since the vast majority of our trips are <75 miles, and for those few times where we take a longer car trip, we can use the Jetta TDI. I've always read that leasing is the worst financial decision (when compared to buying new and buying used), but I came across this article ( about leasing a Leaf that makes it sound like a pretty good deal because of the Federal tax credit. And to be honest, I'm so tired of dealing with maintenance with the Saab that I don't think I can bring myself to buy another used car. The Jetta has been so nice in that respect; we've taken it in for the annual service and that's it.

    I realize that even if we spent $1k on repairing the Saab each year, it would probably be cheaper financially to do that than to lease a new Leaf. But as I wrote above, money is only one consideration. I suppose another option would be to sell the Saab to a private party, and apply that to the outright purchase of the Leaf. With the Federal tax credit, and the money from the Saab, we'd only have to shell out $15k which is not bad.

    I'd love to hear your opinions and advice! Thanks.
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,225
    Well of all the vehicles you could buy and put such few miles on....the Saab is most likely to cost you the most per mile. To get the most benefit out of a lease, you really need to utilize it for the stated miles. Basically you're paying for those miles whether you use them or not.

    Personally I think this is a great opportunity for a newer high mileage car. You can pick up a couple year old Camry/Accord with 60k-80k miles for $10k-$12k which means you're out of pocket $6k max. Most anything besides a Saab (or anything European for that matter) will need next to nothing for many years with such little use. I'd look for a private party car with great maintenance history and mainly used for highway driving. These cars usually go 100k-150k miles with almost no repairs.

    Buying a new car and putting very few miles on it will hurt the most because it's going to depreciate a huge chunk of money whether you drive it or not. A used car with high miles has already lost 50% or better and if anything after a few more years it will have average miles.
  • suydamsuydam Posts: 887
    There are a number of different possibilities for you to consider. I have also thought about leasing a Leaf as an around town car. Advice now is to lease because it is hard to say what the value will be in 3 years. Nissan recently cut the price rather dramatically.

    The other choice would be to sell private party and get a new subcompact the size of the Leaf, like a Honda Fit. You could still have a new car and something like the Fit holds its value well.
  • Yes, my experience has shown that owning a used Saab can be an expensive proposition. Before we got rid of ours, it was costing about $800/month in repairs... always something different. So, I can certainly understand the feeling of being worn out & burned by a "needy" used vehicle. However, as mentioned, pretty much any used vehicle is going to be better.

    And yes, leasing the Leaf would entail giving away miles.

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  • This would certainly be a sensible choice, as would buying a used car like a Camry. I'll need to look into options further, but to be perfectly honest at this point I may be willing to pay a little more for something nicer to drive. I test drove a Fit twice and it just felt like a tin can, especially compared to our current vehicles (Jetta Sportwagon TDI and Saab 9-3).
  • sebring95sebring95 Posts: 3,225
    I would have a hard time believing there's a big difference in "tin can" feel between a Fit and a Leaf. I don't like small cars at all so they all feel like that to me. You could pick up a lot of very nice used vehicles for the price of a new Fit and get far more for the money. Again, outside of Euro cars you should be able to own the thing for many years without spending much in repairs.
  • suydamsuydam Posts: 887
    That was my thinking too. The Leaf and Fit seem pretty comparable to me. Why even consider the Leaf, then? Just get a used Camry and it will probably run forever.
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