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Selecting and Buying My First Car

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  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,430
    I agree with asafonov. ESPECIALLY since you are concerned with mileage and ESPECIALLY since you are moving to LA, you should carefully consider your need of an SUV.

    By the way, I'm pretty sure you won't be finding an XC90 for $20k unless its really miled up.

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

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Every person I know that owned a Grand Cherokee ended up calling it a lemon. My former roommate's step mom, a high school buddy, and a college buddy all had terrible problems and would never buy another Jeep.

    The Cherokee was a good design for 1984 when it came out, but by the 90s it was simply outdated.

    Pathfinder - careful here, the later ones that got the 240hp version of the VQ engine need premium fuel. Imagine using lots of gas and expensive premium fuel at that. The earlier models didn't have much HP, so I'd pass on these, too.

    4Runner is reliable, but not fuel efficient. And they hold their value well, so you'll pay more for them up front.

    Volvo XC90 is expensive and so are the parts to keep it going. TCO may be the highest of the bunch, and that's mostly because it's in a higher class than the others.

    Honestly? Try a 4 cylinger Highlander, perhaps. Or try smaller SUVs like the Forester, RAV4, CR-V. Newer Escapes are actually reliable and they depreciate quickly so that might be an option.

    I drove a '98 Forester for 9 years and loved it. Life time MPG average was 25.1mpg on cheap old regular fuel, none of the SUVs you mentioned would even come close. Zero break downs.

    Come to think of it you could buy a brand new Forester X for $19k and get the full warranty and everything.

    We needed more space for the family so we got a van, but I miss it enough that we may buy a 2009 model when those come out.
  • lhylhy Posts: 48
    I have some questions about inspecting a used car.

    I recently checked out a 1997 Honda Accord EX with 119K and an automatic transmission. The dealer is asking $4000 for it with a 3-month/3K powertrain warranty. At face value, this seems like a very good deal, but I have some questions about the car.

    - How important is the color of the transmission fluid and oil?

    The tranny fluid was a dirty brownish-pink and the oil was somewhat darkish brown-black. I know that transmission fluid should be pink in color and the oil should be light brown.

    How concerned should I be about this? Does this indicate serious problems with the transmission and engine or just that the transmission fluid and oil haven't been changed recently?

    - Another thing that I noticed about the car was there was some rust issues in the engine compartment--particularly small patches of rust under the hood and on some of the engine components/case.

    The dealer said that the rust was only on the surface of the engine, but is this issue something that I should be concerned about?

    This Accord is a one-owner car that was driven in the Northeast. The car seems a bit rough in appearance for a one-owner though. The rear power window was having problems working. Some of the trim was coming off, and there were some cosmetic issues.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I think those are red flags that ought to send you looking for another car.

    The dirty transmission fluid could be flushed and refilled, but it's hard to say how much damage was already done.

    Dirty engine oil may mean the prior owner didn't take the best care of the engine, too.

    Add to that the rust, and the price suddenly seems high for a car that is well worn and has a lot of miles.

    I'd shop elsewhere.
  • mortal1mortal1 Posts: 6
    Hi, I may have asked this before, but does anyone here have a car with adaptive cruise control? I'd like to get your impressions as to whether it's really worth it or not.

    The only cars that have it tend to be high priced luxury cars, and I'm not really sure I want to drop that much cash on a car. However, if it does truly make interstate and highway jogs so much easier, it may be worth it.
  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,110
    You may want to try asking in some of the vehicle specific topics related to Infiniti EX35, Lexus ES 350 and Volvo S80 and XC70.

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Toyota Siennas also have that option.
  • avtheravavtherav Posts: 1
    I am close to purchasing a vehicle for the first time in several years, and for the first time I am choosing to get something nicer used over a more basic new model.
    the cars i am looking at are the volvo s60 and the infiniti g35x.
    my question is (aside from any advice about these specific models): when faced with a newer car that has more miles or an older one that has fewer which is generally the better bet? to give an example of some cars i am looking at, i could get an 07 infiniti with 63000 or an 06 with 45000 for about the same amount.
    for that matter there is the possibility of an 07 volvo with 35000 miles vs. an 08 with 45000
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,430
    For the most part, it depends on how much you drive.

    For example, I drive quite a bit. When putting 20k per year on my cars, I like to get one with as few as possible because it will "even out" at some point. If I buy a 4-year-old car with 30k, it has only seen 7500/year. If I own it for 3 years and put 20k/yr on, it will have 90k and be 7 years old, making the average nearly 13k/yr, which is much more in line with typical used cars. Conversely, I don't want to buy a car with 63k if it will have 120k in just 3 years.

    On the other hand, you don't want a car TOO old just because it has low miles. One that has only seen 5k per year for 5 years, for instance, may have been neglected and many components are ready to fail, regardless of the low miles.

    Of those examples you listed, I'd go with the '06 Infiniti (nearly 20k less miles and the last year of the first generation, so less "buggy"), but the '08 Volvo (only 10k more miles for a year younger is a good trade off).

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

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I had luck with a very low mile 8 year old car. It had just 26k.

    My brother-in-law buys newer cars with 200k miles on them, I think he's nuts. Things break all the time. Not my cup of tea.
  • carpedrewumcarpedrewum Posts: 17
    edited September 2011
    Its all good and advisable to ask on a forum like this but a bit of your own research is good. Go online, use car sites that allow you to type in certain search queries like "model" "year" "price" "auto/manual" and so on. An added bonus is that you can come up with a good list from which to choose, you may find cars that you didn't think of, you know exactly where and how to find your seller should things go wrong, and even though you might not find exactly what you want you will get a good deal out of it.
    I used a site in South Africa, I looked for and it went pretty darn smooth, relative to what I expected. The only thing is I wish their search was slightly more intuitive but I made that suggestion and hopefully they listen.
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