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Help Me Choose!

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  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,902
    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: 18,749
    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: 997
    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: 1,785
    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:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8elevprV5A

    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: 1,785
    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: 18,749
    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:

    http://www.dickhannahhonda.com/believe-in-nice/why-buy-from-dick-hannah-honda/se- 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: 3,738
    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: 3,738
    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: 1,785
    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:

    www.cresthonda.com

    2013 Honda Civic LX Sedan
    MSRP:$19,755
    DEALER DISCOUNT:$2,264
    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:

    www.carwoo.com

    Good luck!
  • benjaminhbenjaminh Posts: 1,785
    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: 997
    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: 1,785
    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: 1,785
    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.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,902
    Another way to get firm pricing is to try one of our Price Promise dealerships in the area:
    http://www.edmunds.com/inventory/srp.html?action=inventory&make=Honda&sub=Civic%- 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: 997
    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.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,749
    Stay clear of that warranty, then. It seems as if you do even one oil change someplace other than the dealership, it voids the warranty. I've had to do such a thing out of necessity before, i.e. when on a long trip and it was time for the oil change, so I took the car to a dealer where I happened to be for the service. Have done that a few times over the years.
  • acemanhattanacemanhattan Posts: 79
    edited August 2013
    Hey everyone, thanks a ton for the information; I'm reading through it all carefully and doing a lot of research as a result.

    A few questions on the new vs used paradox:

    (1) does anyone know, off hand, the cost difference between liability insurance on a 10 year old sedan vs full coverage on a new sedan? I am running the numbers online and I find that the liability insurance would be roughly $80.00 and the full coverage would be $105.00; does this sound correct? A big part of working out the math on this requires that I understand the difference in cost of insurance.

    (2) Much of the assumption seems to rest on the fact that we are spending about $1k a year on repairs. I have seen that number quoted before on this site, is there an article breaks that cost down? I ask because I ran the number by some car guys (they perform all their own routine maintenance and drive cars that are 10 - 20 years old), and though their experience is only anecdotal, the three of them each thought that $1k was way inflated.

    (3) In keeping with (2), let's say that we limited our used car search to 8 year old cars that had the expected number of miles and were being sold by the original owner, an owner who always/only got the car dealer serviced and, seemingly, treated the car well; if the $1000 a year is the cost of maintenance on an average used car, how much less will the car described cost us per year in maintenance?

    Thanks everyone.
  • I looked into it a bit more and it seems that, though I'm sure they build it into the selling price, the warranty is free. So I don't necessarily lose anything I've paid for in the event that I deviate from the terms of the warranty.
  • suydamsuydam Posts: 997
    All good issues to consider. The $1000 is only a rough guide. Some years you won't have any maintenance at all other than an oil change; one year you could get a big whack like leaking CV boots, alternator, all in one year. There's no way to tell. You greatly improve your chances if you buy a 1-owner, well-maintained car that has historically been very reliable (like the Civic you are most interested in). You improve your chances still more if you get it thoroughly checked out before you buy.

    Liability insurance only is waaaaay less than full coverage. But it depends on the state and area where you live. I would call a couple of insurance agents and ask them to give you an idea over the phone. If you can give them specifics they will often help out with a general quote --you need the model type, such as LX or DX, and if you are looking at a specific car the VIN. Where I live, liability only on my 12 year old car was around $100 for 6 months; on my new Accord full coverage is over $400. And I live in a rural area where insurance is much cheaper than in a city.
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    I'm a pretty frugal money conscious kind of guy so my initial impulse when I hear "purchase new" is "OMG no, depreciation!!!!" but I do see that a used car can end up costing the same, if not more. Essentially, my goal, is to have the most reliable vehicle possible, while incurring the least overall cost

    There's always secret option C, which I chose. A nearly-new, certified used car.

    In 2010, I bought a 2009 Sonata GLS V6 with moonroof/popular equip package - a $24k car, for $14,400 out the door. It had 48,000 miles on it, clearly had been used as a highway car (the interior was and still is perfect, and it came with a 10 year / 100k bumper to bumper warranty, like a new car). I've had two main dealer service visits outside of regular maintenance/oil changes. One was a belt pulley that had a bearing go bad and my Stability Control system got a software update to prevent random "ESC OFF" lights on my dash. That's it.

    The thing to weigh out when going this route is the cost of used vs. new. There was clearly a big gap in price at the time because while the vehicle I bought had adequate reliability ratings from places like Consumer Reports, it's resale value wasn't great. That made my car a veritable steal. However, Hondas and Toyotas hold their value very well; this is great if you buy new, but it makes buying used a less cost-effective proposal.

    My Hyundai has been reliable like a new car (because it nearly was) but didn't have the up-front cost. It now has 109k miles on it and still gives me 30mpg on my commute.

    Just another perspective. ;)

    TheGrad
  • wagonorbustwagonorbust Posts: 3
    edited August 2013
    For many years I've owned two old wagons. They certainly required a lot
    of maintenance, but I probably saved 40-to-50K with these wagons. Except
    for jobs like roofing, I never called a contractor. Sometimes I thought about
    buying a pickup truck, but I could carry lumber, pipes, etc., inside the wagons
    or on the roof racks. The best decision I ever made was not buying a truck.

    One of the wagons develped massive electrical problems. My incredibly
    good local mechanic refused to say, "junk it!" After several months I donated
    the car to a charity. I want to sell or trade wagon number two.

    The only "real" wagon that I occasionally see is a large, rectangular shaped
    Volvo. Like all Volvo cars, it's very expensive.

    Sites like AutoTrader have a wagon category, but most modern wagons are
    a hybrid cross between an SUV and a mid-sized sedan. The car I see all the
    time is the Subaru Outback. It doesn't have the length of my old wagons,
    which means a roof rack would be the only option for small quantities of lumber.

    My spending limit is 25K. A slightly used 2011, 12, or even 13 is what I'm looking
    at right now. I could easily buy a car with cash. A smart relative once told me
    not to do that. He said, "car dealers don't care about you, once they've got all
    the cash." These days, warranties are much better than years ago. I suppose
    paying with cash is safe, if you have a lengthy warranty.

    Frankly, I'm having a minor nervous breakdown! I have to buy something, but
    I don't know enough about the blizzard of vehicles available these days. Huge
    SUV's are like trucks. I won't buy a truck or a monster SUV. If you know a lot
    about cars, can you help me find a good substitute for my old wagons?
  • thegraduatethegraduate Posts: 9,731
    It sounds like a Ram Van Cargo Van might fit your needs (based on the Grand Caravan passenger model); they still get in the 20s of MPG and can be had new in the low $20k range.
  • benjaminhbenjaminh Posts: 1,785
    edited August 2013
    graduate has a great point here.

    Hyundai's have at least as good quality as Toyota, and have for at least 5+ years. And yet the reputation hasn't quite caught up, and so resale values aren't quite as strong, although they've been going steadily up.

    A 2010 Sonata, just before they introduced the all new 2011, is a very good car, but probably could be had at a big discount from your local Hyundai dealer. The longer standard warranty on the Hyundai is a plus.

    Hyundai's are very well engineering and built cars. Built in the USA in a state-of-the-art factory.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,749
    Or ANY slightly used Caravan/T&C with Stow n Go seating should work. Likely be able to find more used regular vans than the cargo vans, and they depreciate fast so could easily fit well under $20k. Probably want the Caravan as it can be had with less fancy trim than the T&C, thus lower price.
  • suydamsuydam Posts: 997
    What about a minivan like the Honda Odyssey or Toyota Sienna? Much easier to maneuver than a cargo van.

    The other possibility is a large Volvo wagon like the V70. One from 2006-2008 or so should be in your price range.
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