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Selecting and Buying My First Car

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  • bobstbobst Posts: 1,783
    Sure, you can get a very good reliable car for $2-3K if you know what you are doing and are also kind of lucky.

    I haven't bought a used car since 1973 and even then I paid way too much for it, so I don't know a thing about buying used cars.

    My guess is that it takes patience, perserverance, and a good deal of knowledge and skill to get a really good used car. That's why a lot of us would rather get a new car and keep it for a long time, like 10 years or so.
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,110
    You're basically talking about cars that are at least 10 years old. Expect them to be high mileage cars (above 120,000 miles). E.g. you could get a '98 Ford Escort for $3,500 or a '97 Toyota Tercel for about the same price. Personally, I wouldn't go back much further than that.

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  • gsemikegsemike Long Island, NYPosts: 1,770
    Check out a Taurus. Make sure the tranny and electrical are in good shape. I've seen Taureses go 150k or more. You can probably get fairly straight 8 to 10 yo example for 3 grand-ish. Be forewarned, insurance in NYC is sky high. Make sure that you need the car and want the car enough to justify the insurance. If you're licensed less than 3 years, count on $200 a month. An old Maxima could be a good option as well. Look on Craig's list for cheapo cars.
  • newb1newb1 Posts: 4
    Hi, I need help picking out my first car. My budget is around $8000. I do prefer imports over domestics and I am looking for reliability, good fuel economy, and decent interiors that are spacious. Also, I would like it to be a model that is less expensive to insure. I am a 20-yr old male in NJ. (ugh at the insurance rates here). Early 2000's would be preferred, but I wouldn't mind late 90s either if it fits my criteria. Thanks! =)
  • gtpoomptgtpoompt Posts: 2
    Been looking around for my first car. I'm 21, college student in Atlanta GA, been driving for 5 years with no accidents/crashes/tickets. Looking for a car I can run into the ground, so lets say 10 more years. I really don't care how the thing looks. I'd rather have automatic then manual, less distraction when driving in the city. Got $4000 to spend (can push to 5K if it's really that much better). Also I'm looking for good safety ratings so it is cheaper to insure.

    I've heard good thing about Ford Crown Victoria's and Mercury Grand Marquees'. But gas mileage seems like a problem on those large cruisers. Corolla's and civic's at that price range have pretty much the same milage and year as volvo sedans and every other car out there. I do intend on learning some auto repair next year, so I can fix up my car. Any advice? Thanks :).
  • gsemikegsemike Long Island, NYPosts: 1,770
    Getting 10 years out of a $4000 car is alot to ask. Some brand new cars won't make it 10 years although they all should.

    For the previous poster looking to spend $8000, a Maxima could prove to be a spacious imported car that is reliable and a little economical. The insurance could be high however.
  • suydamsuydam Posts: 980
    and newb also --

    Buicks! Better on gas mileage than the large cruisers, cheaper than imports. I am a Honda and Toyota fan generally, but for used you will be able to get a newer Buick often with less miles. They are extremely reliable. Either a Regal or LeSabre will get nearly 30 mpg highway. Other than the Pontiac Vibe, which would be too pricey for either of you, they are one of the few GM cars I would consider.
  • gtpoomptgtpoompt Posts: 2
    Ah, my mistake. I forgot to mention I drive less then 15 miles a day, and have quite a bit of school left, so around 7000 miles a year.

    One other question. How is the Chevy/(Geo?) Prizm? Is this the same car as the toyota corolla? They seem to sell for WAY cheaper then the corolla's.
  • jlawrence01jlawrence01 Posts: 1,828
    I'd rather have automatic then manual, less distraction when driving in the city. Got $4000 to spend (can push to 5K if it's really that much better). Also I'm looking for good safety ratings so it is cheaper to insure.


    You may be able to find a car for $4k that will last you 3-4 years without a lot of problems. Ten years is very doubtful. Components fail as much due to age as mileage. A $4k car will be about 7-8 years old.

    You have to decide what is really important - gas mileage, reliability, longevity and focus on that. The Crown Vic will last a long time but the mileage is not great but they are cheap to fix. Smaller cars will probably not last as long but will get better mileage.

    As for learning auto mechanics, my brother was a mechanic 15 years ago and has all the tools. He takes his cars into shops as he lacks all of the diagnosis equipment. Modern cars require a lot more than the beasts of the past.
  • suydamsuydam Posts: 980
    >You may be able to find a car for $4k that will last you 3-4 years without a lot of problems. Ten years is very doubtful. <

    Not necessarily, especially if you drive less than 7000 miles per year. If you get a used car in pretty good shape it could indeed last, maybe not 10 years, but surely 7 or 8. My son drove the wheels off a '90 Mazda -- like over 15,000 miles a year as a full time college student--for 5 years and it was still running when we sold it. My other son has a '98 Le Sabre with only 68,000 miles (bought used in 2001 with only 30,000 miles on it!) that should last him several more years. Like the above poster, he doesn't take as many long road trips.

    Yes, Chevy Prism is a good choice, as is also the Mazda Protege.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I'll echo some suggestions above...Prizm and Vibe depreciate more than their twins do, yet they're every bit as good.
  • asafonovasafonov Posts: 373
    One other question. How is the Chevy/(Geo?) Prizm? Is this the same car as the toyota corolla? They seem to sell for WAY cheaper then the corolla's.

    They have different body panels, and perhaps batteries and stereos, but are identical otherwise. Bulletproof cars, mostly, and extremely economical gas-wise. Stay away from the 3-speed automatic if at all possible, unless you never go over 60 mph.
  • newb1newb1 Posts: 4
    I should've mentioned this in my earlier post. I am currently trying to decide between a 2002 Infiniti G20 with approx 67k miles on it or a 2001 Honda Civic with approx 86k miles on it. I will need to drive about 30 miles each day, round trip, so fuel economy means a lot to me, but so does reliability. I'm a bit reluctant on the Infiniti because I heard its auto trans is a bit weak, but I thought I'd ask for your input first. Both are around the same cost. Which would car do you think would be better for me?
  • cccompsoncccompson Posts: 2,388
    The Infiniti has better safety equipment and, unless you plan to keep the car only a short while, is better bang for the buck IMHO.
  • user777user777 Posts: 3,341
    if it were me, the civic. i presume lower costs to repair but not sure. how does the fuel economy compare?

    call your insurance company. which would be the cheaper to insure?

    have you seen, driven both vehicles? what is their relative condition based on visual inspection? any idea of the state of the brakes / tires? was regular maintenance performed?

    are all the civic's VIN stickers on all the doors, trunk, hood, front and rear-end present and match?

    question to consider, what is the recommended maint on the timing belt for the civic? is it 90K or 100K? has it been done? that's a good chunk of change.

    if buying something used private party, or from a dealer, no matter the vehicle, i'd personally demand you have the ability to bring it to an independant shop to have it looked over as a pre-condition of the sale. and i'd pay the $50, $75, $100 (not sure) it might cost to have it checked out.

    i'd also pay the $25 to run a carfax on each. it's not foolproof, but you don't need to purchase a vehicle that has been reported to be in an accident or been flood damaged.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,424
    For the same cost, I think G20. I mean, its a much more substantial car, is a year newer, AND has almost 20k fewer miles. Really seems like a no brainer, to be honest. Used Civics are just too darned expensive.

    think of it this way, at 30 miles per day, you'll get over 2 years of driving out of the Infiniti before it even reaches the starting miles on that Civic.

    '13 Stang GT; '86 Benz 300E; '98 Volvo S70; '12 Leaf; '14 Town&Country

  • british_roverbritish_rover Posts: 8,476
    And the G20 should have the SR20DE engine in it which is indestructible. That engine is one of the most over built engines ever made.
  • suydamsuydam Posts: 980
    The G20 has less miles. If they are both in equal condition go for the one with less miles. Do find out if it would cost more to insure -- that will be a big issue if you are 20.
    It is pretty fuel efficient and will be much more fun than the Civic. It's rated high as a reliable used car. Definitely get them both checked out by an independent mechanic.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    This is no contest, Infiniti all the way.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,890
    Infiniti. But keep in mind that you are going nowhere fast in that car. I test drove one a few years ago (ended up with an I30, now have a G35) and it was none too peppy. Good car though, and some nice features for an economy-type sedan.

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  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I doubt a Civic would be any quicker, especially with an automatic.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 29,128
    Either of those vehicles would be 100% better with a stick... Especially the G20..

    I say: Keep shopping!!

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  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,890
    Yeah, but since I've never driven one, I couldn't comment. Stick would be way more fun in either, as kyfdx mentioned.

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  • I am very interested about buying MINI cooper S 07. I did test-drive last two week. It made me love it more and more.

    I am a first time car buyer. Now I am driving Civic 2000. And planning to sell and get MINI instead. I know that MINI limitation is about rear seat is very tiny. I would have consider MINI for 2 seats instead of 4 seats.

    I really would like to know for those who experience MINI or encounter any problem of MINI maintainance and fuel economy. I have read many review from MINI owners, tester from many websites. All they focused was about fun driving. But hardly mentioned about maintainance or any problem that generally occur. I also want to know about how it gonna be if driving when it snows. I never seen anybody talk about driving MINI when it snows. I think I am able to effort MINI but not maintainance oftenly. Some owner mentioned about keep going to dealer to get minor fixed, or some thing broke, did not work properly. I wonder how BMW can let these happen with the high price car especially under BMW.

    I would be appreciated for those who have any idea about this issues I just asked above. All I would like suggestion to ensure my confidence that I make the right decision to get MINI for my own first car.

    Thank you you all

    Paul
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I doubt your operating costs will be as low as they were with the Civic.

    However, among fun cars, it's not bad at all. It's still fuel efficient and depreciation is actually very low.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,890
    You'll probably find it helpful to visit our MINI Cooper group. We have several active discussions about the vehicle, and some on problems/maintenance/repair issues as well. Most of the posts there will be from those who own the vehicle, so you'll see positive & negative owner experiences.

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  • bodble2bodble2 Posts: 4,519
    I think Pat had just bounced him over from the MINI group. :P
  • jayd123jayd123 Posts: 6
    I am graduating and buying my first car would appreciate some advice:

    I am considering purchasing an '03 or '04 model (max. purchase price is 20K) of the Cherokee, Grand Cherokee, Pathfinder, or 4Runner (also thinking Volvo XC90) models. If my primary concerns are reliability in regards to repairs (since the models are 3-4 years old) and mileage because I am moving to Los Angeles, what do you advise me on?

    Also, how important would it be to buy from a dealer versus private party and should I spend the extra money to get a lower mileage vehicle still under manufacturer warranty?

    Any advice would be much appreciated.
  • asafonovasafonov Posts: 373
    None of the truck(let)s you listed are really fuel-efficient. The Grand Cherokee (did they even produce the original Cherokee in 03?) has spotty reliability; the Nissan and the Toyota are generally very reliable, especially the latter.

    What is missing from your request for information is how you will be using the vehicle. I am assuming you will commute to work/business, since you have graduated. How long the commute? Streets or freeway? (though I understand in LA a lot of freeway traffic is stop-and-go)

    Basically, you should articulate why you want a used SUV vs. a new sedan/wagon for the same price. Towing needs?

    If I were you, I'd get a new Accord/Mazda[3,5,6]/Altima, or a new RAV4/CRV if you must have a higher seating and more cargo room.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,890
    LOL, that happens sometimes. Well, by checking out this topic & the MINI discussions, he should get some really good feedback!

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