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Help Me Choose!

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  • texasestexases Posts: 5,424

    You might reconsider the touch screen, if it comes with a backup camera. Rear visibility of recent cars is TERRIBLE, I find the backup camera extremely useful.

  • benjaminhbenjaminh Posts: 1,623

    @thebean said: Thanks for the suggestions. Yesterday, I went to a Toyota dealer and looked at the Camry SE. It had a touchscreen for the audio stuff, and the salesman said all Camrys have touchscreens...The Mazda 6 also has a touchscreen that is standard, even on the Sport (base) model. It's discouraging to not be able to find what you want in a car, but I understand the reasoning behind putting something in either all or none of the cars built. It doesn't make me ready to buy, however

    Thanks again for the suggestions, and it anyone has any more, they will be greatly appreciated.

    Bean

    Bean: The Accord LX and Sport do not have a touch screen, at least as far as I know. Also, since those models don't have a sunroof, they will have a bit more headroom. You might give them a try. Best, Ben

  • thebeanthebean Texas!Posts: 14

    Good suggestion - thanks. That did cross my mind when I started the process. I guess I also need to go look at a Sonata at a Hyundai dealer. I really shouldn't rule it out without looking at them and researching the reliability more. One of the reasons I really don't want to buy a Kia Optima is that my local Kia dealer (who I visited with a friend who test drove a Soul) doesn't give off a good vibe. Lots of emphasis on financing with them (even before a deal is close to final), and the service department is small and cramped. There are a couple of Hyundai dealers within a reasonable drive, and I bet they are much more customer friendly.

    I do appreciate everyone's help.

    @backy said: ...one option is to buy a CPO car with low miles and extended warranty.

  • benjaminhbenjaminh Posts: 1,623

    Bean: A Hyundai Sonata should be very reliable, and offer very good performance and value. It has only one big drawback, as far as I know, which are large blind spots in the rear. You may not realize it, but you've been spoiled by your current Civic as far as visibility goes. The midsize car with the best visibility is the Accord, with the Mazda6 and Camry next, and the others fairly far down the list after that. The Optima, otherwise an excellent car, doesn't have good rear visibility because of the thick rear roof pillars. Ben

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,628

    The greenhouses of the Accord and Legacy are pretty similar IMO. The Camry has a pretty thick C pillar, and the Mazda6 isn't much different from the Sonata in rear visibility. Besides the Accord and Legacy, the Passat has a pretty tall greenhouse with a thin C pillar.

  • johnvantinejohnvantine Santa Monica, CAPosts: 3

    I've had a 2006 Dodge Stratus since I graduated college. It's nothing special, but it has treated me well and I've always been happy with it. I recently became aware of some expensive repairs that will need to be made (possibly costing over $1000) and I'm wondering if it makes sense to start looking into getting a new car rather than sinking more money into this one, as it has over 100k miles on it.

    I don't have a budget yet, as I really haven't done much research, but I am totally open to buying a used older model sedan. I want something practical, reliable, and relatively fuel efficient. What kind of budget should I be looking at here?

  • suydamsuydam Posts: 883

    @johnvantine said: I've had a 2006 Dodge Stratus since I graduated college. It's nothing special, but it has treated me well and I've always been happy with it. I recently became aware of some expensive repairs that will need to be made (possibly costing over $1000) and I'm wondering if it makes sense to start looking into getting a new car rather than sinking more money into this one, as it has over 100k miles on it.

    I don't have a budget yet, as I really haven't done much research, but I am totally open to buying a used older model sedan. I want something practical, reliable, and relatively fuel efficient. What kind of budget should I be looking at here?

    We need to know some parameters. Budget, size (compact, sedan, hatch?), preferences if any as to make (Chrysler, Toyota, Hyundai?).

  • Kirstie@EdmundsKirstie@Edmunds Posts: 10,676

    @thebean said: One of the reasons I really don't want to buy a Kia Optima is that my local Kia dealer (who I visited with a friend who test drove a Soul) doesn't give off a good vibe. Lots of emphasis on financing with them (even before a deal is close to final), and the service department is small and cramped.

    Good call. What we've seen across most brand is that, if you have a good dealership, with a good service department, you are probably OK. However, if the dealership isn't giving off a good vibe, and you have an issue that should be covered under warranty, you're not going to get the support you'd like on making a claim under warranty instead of out-of-pocket. A good dealership will look at the history, other complaints, etc., and back you up. If the dealership isn't making you feel like a valued customer before you've even purchased, there are many options.

    Need help navigating? kirstie_h@edmunds.com - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

  • benjaminhbenjaminh Posts: 1,623
    edited January 16

    @johnvantine said: I've had a 2006 Dodge Stratus since I graduated college. It's nothing special, but it has treated me well and I've always been happy with it. I recently became aware of some expensive repairs that will need to be made (possibly costing over $1000) and I'm wondering if it makes sense to start looking into getting a new car rather than sinking more money into this one, as it has over 100k miles on it.

    I don't have a budget yet, as I really haven't done much research, but I am totally open to buying a used older model sedan. I want something practical, reliable, and relatively fuel efficient. What kind of budget should I be looking at here?

    My guess is that it takes about $5000 to get an OK used midsize car these days. And even at that budget, you'll have to make compromises. Cars at that price might not be any better than your Stratus.

    But maybe a low mile Buick Century or similar from a decade ago might work. Or a maybe a Pontiac G6 sedan. Maybe an older Ford Fusion would work.

    You're probably not going to like my recommend, but maybe see if you can skip used and go all the way to new. You might be happier in the long run. An old used car you buy now will likely need major repairs or even replacement in a few years. If you go new, knock on wood, you're probably set for about ten years.

    And new cars are significantly safer, more fuel efficient, and just better in every way than old used cars.

    For instance, a 2013 Honda Fit with Auto trans can be had for c. $16,000, with 0.9% financing available for 5 years.

    The epa says the Fit should save you about $600 in gas each year over a 2006 Stratus, which obviously adds up to c. $6000 over a decade.

    Just a thought.

  • benjaminhbenjaminh Posts: 1,623
    edited January 17

    I just earned an "Ancient Membership Badge"! No kidding. Now doesn't that make me feel old. It says: "Ancient Membership. Nobody remembers a time when this person wasn’t a member here.benjaminhYou earned this badge 6:10PM39 people have earned this badge."

    Well, hello to my 39 ancient brothers and sisters....lol.

    Anyway, with all my annoying age (49, actually) and wisdom, I'm going to try to make the case yet again for why a new car can sometimes be even cheaper than used in the long run.

    johnvantine, as we know, is looking for a car. Say he buys a low mile (c. 80k) 2004 Buick Century owned by a little old lady from Pasadena. Just say that he buys it for $5000, and then drives it for 5 years with maintenance and repair costs of about $1000 a year for 5 years. At the end of that, at c. 140k (assuming it lives that long), the car is dying and he has to get another one.

    Take inflation out of the equation, and say that in 5 years John is able to get another low mile beater for $5k, with another 5 years of life and $5k in maintenance and repairs.

    Over ten years, in this scenario, he's spent. c. $20k on buying and repairing and maintaining his used cars.

    What if instead he walked into his local Mazda dealer and got a brand-new 2014 Mazda3 sedan with an auto trans for what CarsDirect says it can be had for: c. $17,500. He finances it with Mazda for 1.9% over 5 years, and so interest costs are minimal, and in fact probably less than inflation.

    Good new cars these days, like Mazdas, require very little in maintenance and repair in their first 10 years if they are well cared for. For instance, back in 2002 I bought a new Accord LX, which I kept for 8 years and drove about 95,000 miles. That whole time I had no repairs whatsoever. Maintenance mainly consisted of lots of oil changes (at c. $35 a pop at the dealer), one set of tires (nicer than the original tires, they were something like $900 with a puncture warranty), and one set of brake pads (a couple of hundred iirc).

    In other words, and some may dispute me on this, there's a chance someone could take a new car today, drive it ten years at c. 10,000 miles a year and have maintenance costs of c. $2500. Perhaps that's optimistic, but I'm not sure. I've now owned my 2008 Accord for more than 6 years, and the story has been exactly the same so far--lots of oil changes, one set of tires for c. $1000, and a set of brake pads that actually Honda gave us under warranty because the originals squeaked a little.

    Anyway, for now I'm going to stick with my story that the new route also leads to spending about $20,000 over ten years for purchase and maintenance.

    So it seems like a tie, right? Wrong.

    A 2004 Buick Century gets an epa rated 21 mpg combined and has an estimated annual fuel cost of c. $2400

    A 2014 Mazda3 gets an epa rated 34 mpg combined and has an estimated annual fuel costs of c. $1450.

    In other words, you save about $950 a year in gas with the Mazda3. Over ten years, obviously, that's more than 9000 bucks.

    But hold on, there's more: resale. In 5 years, as the 2004 Century dies, you'll be lucky if it has resale of c. $1000, and let's just say that when the next beater dies in 10 years it's the same. So total resale value with the used route might be c. $2000.

    A ten year old Mazda3, however, which is well maintained and cared for, is likely to have pretty good resale value even in the year 2024. Just for comparison, the Edmunds used vehicle estimator says that a 2004 Civic EX in Clean condition with 100k miles is today worth about $5000 in a private party sale. The 2014 Mazda3 is a larger, safer, more powerful, and really much more impressive car than the Civics of old, and it might be worth as much as 7 or 8 thousand in 10 years.

    Anyway, that's what this Ancient member wants to do to waste time tonight and avoid work: tilt at windmills trying to prove again that new cars can sometimes be cheaper than used in the long run.

    Total savings going for a new car and using these numbers is, I think, c. $14,000....

  • biker4biker4 Posts: 746

    ^ I think the assumption that you'll spend $1000/yr on a used car is all wrong. Who would buy such a car in the first place? Yes, the maintenance might be a bit more than new, but not $1000/yr more. You want to get a car in the sweet spot of its reliability 80-120K vs. depreciation.

    You could buy a 10 yr old Mazda 3, drive it for 2 years and resell for about the same money and not spend any on maintenance. You could do the same with a Civic but you'll have more money tied up since resale values are higher on the Civic.

    The only way a new car is "cheaper" than used is if you do an apples-oranges comparison. In 2009 I bought a 2006 TSX for $18,500 (a car that stickered for $31K). Five years later it is still worth $10,000K and I spent zero more than I would have on a brand new car.

    What you want to find is a private party sale (dealer mark up negates a lot of the savings) on a model that has good reliability ratings but has high depreciation.

  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,628

    @biker4 said: You could buy a 10 yr old Mazda 3, drive it for 2 years and resell for about the same money and not spend any on maintenance. You could do the same with a Civic but you'll have more money tied up since resale values are higher on the Civic.

    Yes, if you're _really _lucky, you could buy a 10-year-old Mazda3 or Civic and not spend any money on maintenance in 2 years. But you're just as likely if not more likely to spend some bucks in those two years. A 10-year-old car will have 120k-150k miles on average. At that age and mileage, lots of stuff can fail or wear out... brakes, cat converters, struts, alternators, fuel pumps, electronics, ignition coils, clutches, even auto trannies if you're real unlucky.

    I bought an 8-year-old Mazda6 this past summer. It seemed to be in great condition, well treated and maintained by its lone owner. I've already spent $1000 in repairs on it, for a failed alternator, fuel pump, and rear hatch struts. And those fuel pumps are pricey buggers!

    With a 10-year-old car, expect that anything can fail at any time, and budget accordingly.

  • kyfdx@Edmundskyfdx@Edmunds Posts: 25,906

    Hard to make the case that a new car is cheaper, but $1000/yr for repairs/maintenance is about right for an old car, I think..

    Moderator - Prices Paid, Lease Questions, SUVs

  • benjaminhbenjaminh Posts: 1,623
    edited January 19

    Well, I still think the math I did above makes some sense. It reflects my real world experience, anyway, of the what I perceive to be the false economy of used vs. new in the long run.

  • johnvantinejohnvantine Santa Monica, CAPosts: 3

    Well this certainly gave me more to think about, as I wasn't even considering a new vehicle before. Thanks you!

  • benjaminhbenjaminh Posts: 1,623
    edited January 20

    @johnvantine said: Well this certainly gave me more to think about, as I wasn't even considering a new vehicle before. Thank you!

    You're welcome!

    And, as I said, it really is true to my experience. From the early 1990s until the 2008 I owned a series of used cars that I got from my family or bought, including an old Chevy, a 1987 VW Jetta, and a 1988 Oldsmobile 98. Those old cars were in the shop all the time, not only costing a lot of money, but a lot of wasted time, stress, and aggravation.

    When I added all of my maintenance and repair receipts up, and combined that with the purchase prices, I realized that if I could have gone back in time I would have been much better off in every way if, back in the early 1990s, I just got myself a new Civic or even a base Accord.

    Anyway, good luck. And no matter which way you go, hope you'll update us.

  • suydamsuydam Posts: 883

    I've had pretty good luck buying used. Key is to get a model known for reliability and have it thoroughly checked out.

  • benjaminhbenjaminh Posts: 1,623

    johnvantine: If you decide to consider new, in addition to the Mazda3 you might consider the Honda Civic. There are still some 2013 models of the Civic left on the Honda lots around the country, and you might be able to get c. $1500 off of the list price plus get 0.9% from Honda for 5 years. The Civic gets slightly lower mpg at 32 combined than the Mazda3, which gets 34 mpg combined. That translates into a difference of only about $100 a year.

  • biker4biker4 Posts: 746

    Just remember, if you consider getting a new car - if you can't pay cash for it you can't afford it.

  • benjaminhbenjaminh Posts: 1,623
    edited January 26

    I have a different point of view than biker4. Over time, cars are often our biggest expense in life, right after housing. Paying over time allows you to get a better car that will last longer. If someone has saved c. $5000, at this point that will probably only buy a so-so used car, and, as people have said, you're likely to have repairs and maintenance of c. $1000 a year. And then in c. 5 years or so, you might need to start the process all over again.

    But if you can buy a good new car, and finance it over 5 years, you might not need another car for a long as 10 years.

    Low interest financing allows the purchase of a decent car that will last longer. Some people are well enough off to pay cash for their new car up front. I was even fortunate enough to be in that situation the last time I got a car, but I decided instead to pay about half with my trade in and cash, and finance the other half with Honda at 1.9%.

    In this economy, a lot of people don't have the whole purchase price up front, but a reasonable new car in relation to income can still make a lot of economic sense in the long run imho.

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