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Help Me Choose!



  • int64int64 Posts: 19
    HI Guys,

    I am going to buy my 1st car. and i have below couple of options

    1. 2002 Camry XLE fully loaded, 50,000 miles price :$9000 red color
    2. 2005 Maxima SE (Auto transmission, leather seats, sunroof, low profile wheels, spoiler, bose system, customed grill, all black ) 61,500 miles, price: 12500
    3. 2007 Altima S base model, gray color 44000 miles price: 12400
    4. 2008 Altima S base model white color 25000 miles price:15200

    I am too confused right now. Personally I like white and black colors. I want to buy Maxima but i think its a bit pricy. Camry is a good reliable option too, but it may be too old allthough it has low miles.

    Please give me your suggestions, I dont have much idea about cars and its going to be my first car. Allthough i have driven cars before. :)
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,906
    Your price range is $6000. That's pretty big. I recommend first you decide how much you really want to spend. Is it $9000 or $15,000? There's a LOT of nice cars out there for $15,000.

    If you can afford $15k, I'd go for the newest car with lowest miles and most warranty left that you like in other respects. In this group of 4, that's the 2008 Altima. For $15k, you could get a 2010 Sonata with 4 years of factory warranty left. It would drive a lot like the Camry. But many other choices for $15k also, including newer Maximas with lower miles than the one you listed.
  • int64int64 Posts: 19
    I dont want to spend more than 12000. I like Altima and Maxima.

    Camry is an option here because it has low miles and resale is not a problem.

    Altima's listed here are from dealers. Not sure about prices but its really hard to find a altima or maxima in Ohio..

    I am more confused in first 2 cars. maxima and camry. would it make sense to buy any of these car for the listed prices? If yes, which one would make more sense? :D
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,906
    You said you like the Maxima better. So that is what I'd go for if I were you.

    And, it's dangerous (to the wallet) to put cars on your list that cost a lot more than your budget. ;)
  • tifightertifighter WAPosts: 1,891
    The Maxima sounds modded, with the wheels, grill, etc. Which would take immediately off the list for me. Highest miles makes the decision even they have receipts for the 60k service?

    15.5 XC70 T6 / 16 Soul EV / 17 Toyota 86

  • int64int64 Posts: 19
    he claims to have the receipt, And there is some extended warranty left on Maxima for around 2 years and free oil change

    not sure if i shud do this but below are the two cars m talk :surprise: ing about
  • int64int64 Posts: 19
    yeah, Its the first time m buying a car with my hard earned money. probably thats why m thinking too much.

    i am also looking at prospective like which will give me better returns if i have to sell them after 2-3 years.

    I like Maxima, Its beautifully modded. But he has added woofer and things. So i am a little concerned about that.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    A first car is always a problem. Here's what I've learned about first cars over the years.

    1: You want something that is inexpensive, bulletproof, and cheap enough so that if it gets destroyed or run into, it isn't a huge loss.

    2: You absolutely do not want to make payments at such a young age. Even if the economy was better than it is now.

    A: This means that you want a good, solid car for $4-6K most likely. You pay cash for it. Now, which car... You want a car that is super cheap to repair and that is not a gas guzzler. You also want something that has poor resale value, yet is not actually a terrible car. ie - maximize your profit going in. Lastly, you want something with a manual as it is a good skill to learn, is a huge amount cheaper to fix if it breaks, and it gets great MPG.

    If this was ten years ago, I'd have said to get a Volvo 240 with manual. Done. Unfortunately as these are approaching 20+ years old now, we need a better alternative. If it was five years ago, I'd have said a Civic Del Sol or Toyota Celica. BTW, the Celica is the least expensive used Toyota to repair since the original Tacoma/4Runners in the 80s. Maybe a Miata if you could have found one in mint condition.

    These are still good choices if you can find one in absolute mint condition. But something newer would be better of course.

    B: Get something classic. The advantage here is zero depreciation. Work on it a bit and drive it - then sell it for no real loss. The downside is you have to do some work yourself and shop carefully.
  • int64int64 Posts: 19
    I am not in a situation to work on cars. I have no idea about their repairs atall. And i allready have a full time job. So, I dont want to spend my time repairing cars. If someone can give me advise among above listed camry and maxima, it would be great.
  • suydamsuydam Posts: 3,006
    They are all good vehicles. For price and reliability the Camry is probably your best bet. The Camry will get better fuel economy too and will not need much in the way of repairs. Do get it checked out first to make sure it doesn't have any surprises. My daughter has a '99 Camry still going strong at 165,000 miles. The Altimas sound a little pricey for their age. I also own an '01 Maxima which has been a great car, but it is not as good on fuel economy as her Toyota.
    '14 Buick Encore Convenience
    '17 Chevy Volt Premiere
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 22,070
    The 2.5 liter engine in the Altima does have some issues on some years that can be catastrophic, so its best to avoid it altogether, IMHO.

    Of your choices, I'd also vote Maxima. Although I'd want a year without the CVT ... I couldn't tell you what years those are, though.

    '17 F150 Crew 2.7; '67 Coronet R/T; '14 Town&Country Limited; '09 LR2 HSE. 44-car history and counting!

  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    I'd add a couple of vehicles to your list to possibly look at as the Camry is possibly the most bland piece of Tupperware on the road (plus 10 years old is old, even for a Camry) and the Altima/Maxima isn't exactly that reliable.

    You have possibly 15K or so to spend.

    - 2004 Pontiac GTO with manual. This engine and transmission combination was offered for one year and its claim to fame is a 300hp Corvette V8 engine that gets 30mpg highway. That's not a typo. You can get the same mpg as the Camry or close to it and have a lot more fun. Note - any other year or with automatic and MPG drops to close to 20 combined vs 25 combined. 11-12K, so it's exactly what you want to spend as well. That leaves a lot left over for upkeep, though Corvette engines are known to be decently robust and cheap to fix.

    - 2004 Toyota Tacoma 4x4. This is bulletproof, holds its value incredibly well (off-roaders will pay 3K for a 25 year old 4x4 model even!), and most of all, can haul stuff. It's the perfect first vehicle. And it's unstoppable in bad weather. This is the last year of the previous design so all of the gremlins were worked out and it's also much much cheaper to fix and repair. 12K should get you a mint condition example.

    - If you were willing to spend a bit more money on a new car, the obvious choice is the 2012 Mustang with the brand new direct injection V6. It gets 31mpg highway and has 305HP. At 22K, it's an absolute steal. At the end of the model year in 5 months, expect 20K after rebates. It also uses regular 87 octane gas.

    Reviews are great and everyone loves theirs - it's sporty, fun, and frugal. The base model is fine as well - you don't need any options on it as it's all bling and spoilers and so on.
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,906
    According to KBB, a 2005 Maxima SE with the equipment and miles you noted has a private party value of $13k ("Good" condition) and retail value of $13.7k (Good condition) to $15.6k (Excellent condition) in my area. So the asking price of $12,500 is not out of line if the car is in good condition.

    The reliability of the 2005 Maxima is Average according to Consumer Reports. Also, 61,500 miles is pretty low for a six-year-old car.

    If you like the Maxima and can afford it, have it checked out by a mechanic and if it looks good, make an offer (maybe $12k even). Life is short. Drive something you will enjoy driving, if the budget allows it.

    P.S. 2005 Maximas have a regular 5-speed automatic, not the CVT, if that is a concern.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,025
    I'm assuming you didn't take into account potential insurance rates for a young driver when you made the "obvious" Mustang suggestion.

    It's a first car... bland is OK. Bland is good for insurance rates. Bland doesn't upset you when the vehicle finally dies or gets in a fender-bender. I'm a strong anti-advocate of getting an awesome first car. Wait til you've got the $$ and the experience, THEN get it.


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  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    edited April 2011
    The insurance rates for a young driver hardly are different between any of these cars, to be honest. The V6 Mustang isn't considered to be problematic. The insurance companies ARE smart enough to factor in the fact that it's the base model. (why I recommended that specific trim level) In fact, I ran across several posts about this after a quick online search that suggested that a base model Mustang would be about the same as a new Elantra or Accord or similar. It's the V8 and GT that is 2x normal cost. They still see the V6 as a bland commuter-box in their computers.

    He'll be paying close to $2K a year no matter what, anyways. Maybe the Tacoma would save him $300 or so a year, if that. I'd still recommend a used 4WD Tacoma as my top choice, though. Get a standard cab 4 cylinder model with manual and 4WD. The number of times I needed to haul stuff as a young person in my early to mid 20s numbered in the hundreds. Just not having to rent a U-Haul when you move is huge. Giving your friends help because you are the only one with such a vehicle is a great way to make friends as well.
    This is a perfect example - it even comes with a shell.
    Extended cab. Use it. Abuse it. And it's also going to plow through a Yaris like a tin can in a crash.

    Insurance rates are great, repairs are cheap as dirt, and 300-400K miles isn't uncommon before they die. And they are great in winter - just ignore any snow under about a foot.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,025
    It's also almost double his top-end price range.

    I'm just not sure why we're suggesting models that aren't appropriate for his stated wants & budget.


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  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    edited April 2011
    Well, he did say $15K and sometimes you can get factory financing rates at the end of the year for $20K that are comparable to a used car loan for $15-16K. Just something to think about if he's willing to wait until the new model year is out. Considering that it comes with a warranty and this would serve as his first and second vehicle, since there's no reason to get rid of it in 2-3 years like a typical "first car", this might actually save him some money if he keeps it for 8-10 years. It will also break down less and be less of a headache.

    Your first car should be something simple as a rock and cheap to fix or new and make the most out of the warranty period. I did a search a while back for a similar car for myself - what is cheap as dirt and a fun car to drive? The Mustang made the short list as year-end base models can squeak in at just under $20K.

    I'd still recommend the Tacoma though. He could drive it for three years and sell it for $9K in a week to some off-roader. Something like $1K a year in depreciation, if that.
  • jatanjatan Posts: 92
    Stay away from the Maxima -- the 04-06 auto transmission will give you problems sooner or later and also the 04-08 engine's timing chain tensioners have a crappy design so both of those are costly repairs (check out and look around there) -- look for clean 02-03's they should be less problematic or an 07+

    I had a 95 Maxima for my first car (my dad bought it in 2003) and I traded that in for an 07 Maxima late 2009. The 07 has been running fine *knock on wood* and it has the CVT auto transmission which is ok (Nissan warranties it for 10yr/120k miles) and so far the timing chain tensioners havent given me a problem (looking to get a manual car in a year or so, will trade the car in then). The gas mileage is terrible -- 14-16mpg with winter gas, 15-17mpg with summer gas (mostly city driving with some highway)

    The 07+ Altima also has a CVT trans (warranty til 10yr/120k mi) but it was the first yr redesign so it might have more rattles than a newer one, but havent looked into them much to see what common problems they have (check out and look around there before buying)

    The Camry seems clean (not sure if they have any engine/trans problems) -- look around on

    I also remember seeing 1 or 2 good sellers on eBay Motors from OH with really good feedback a couple months back so also look around on there for cars

    Whatever car you buy make sure you get insurance quotes first so you know how much it'll be and also make sure you leave some money on the side incase the car does need repairs/maintenance -- take someone with you who knows a lil about cars and have them drive it to make sure it feels fine (pick up/handling/braking) and also check the tires to see how much tread is left
  • tallman1tallman1 Posts: 1,874
    Well, he did say $15K...

    Actually, he made it very clear: "If someone can give me advise among above listed camry and maxima, it would be great." He didn't say, "I have $15k, what should I buy?"

    It cracks me up how some people come here asking for advice on two or more specific cars and then they hear about vehicles that are vastly different from what they want.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    edited April 2011
    Well, "I have 15K" almost always means "I can afford/have a loan limit of 15K for a used car". (ie - not cash) Used car rates are usually 2-3% higher than new car rates (7-9%+ isn't uncommon), and Ford and GM are known to give 0% on previous year cars. The difference in payments is only a few dollars more for the new car after you factor in repairs and upkeep on a 7-10 year old car.

    You want your first car to be new and serve as your second or third car OR it needs to be 2-4K and dirt cheap. 12-15K is asking to eat a ton of money in repairs, depreciation, and cost to get another car in a few years. Anything that's 10 years old, he won;'t want to drive more than 3-5 years, and that means he loses a lot of money every time he trades.

    In simple math - 15K(inc tax) - 8K in depreciation in four more years. Cost is $19K(~$4K in interest) plus $4K in repairs and upkeep(transmission somewhere around the 10-12 yr mark). Total loan and repair cost over 4 years is $23,000 - 7K sale price. 16K to own for 4 years. About $333 a month. Not too terrible, actually.
    Note: loan payments run about $395 a month/48 months plus ~$100 in repairs.

    $22K for a new car at 0% financing. Keep for 4 years. $25K including tax plus $1K in repairs(if that). $26K over 4 years. Sell for $15K. $11K loan and repairs cost(!) That covers the extra cost of insurance and registration for the new car and then some. But obviously you don't keep the new car for just 4 years. You keep it for *8*. Then you sell it for $8K. Add another $3K in upkeep. Net cost is 29K - 8K, or $21K for 8 years. About $220 a month.
    Note - loan payments run about $520 a month/48 months plus nearly nothing in repairs.

    It looks deceiving - but the secondary costs (repairs grow faster on the used car) and the depreciation hit you hard on the used car in this case, mostly because of the interest you are eating on the used car loan vs none on the new car. I calculate that you'd still come out slightly ahead at even 2.9% on the new car. Because, remember, you'll need another "used" car in 4 years which repeats the process. Buying new saves you an entire car loan cycle, which is where your cost savings comes in.

    Also, over time, the new car will be costing you $0 a month to the bank since the initial payments will be over in 48 months on both loans. You pay more now and less later, which is better. You've ended up slightly ahead at 4 years and the rest is gravy - keep it as long as you need or want to without payments every month. This gives you more mobility with your money/cash flow as well as a better credit rating due to a paid off loan and no debt load from a car loan.
    EDIT - AND, at the end of the 8 years, your new car is merely as old as the used car when you just got it. If you want parity, you'd keep your new car to 12 years! Then the math gets crazy as you've skipped *two* car loans.

    Given all of that, you'd obviously chose the new car that's more reliable and doesn't have someone else's farts and funk in it. :P
  • int64int64 Posts: 19
    M really thankfuL to all of u guys.
    Looks like I will be going for campy if I am not able to find something in that range.

    Maxima and altimas are no-no as they are either out of range or close to my upper range. As few people suggested that I should keep some money aside as m buying as used vehicle. Camry sounds a better option. Fits within price range and will have some money saved for unusual scenarios too.

    I wish I can find a altima 2007 for that price with low miles(wishful thinking) but prices in Ohio are higher. I was looking for altima in NY and there are a lot of good cars available for cheap prices. Anyway I will keep u guys posted whatever it wud be.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    Well, do at least run the numbers against the used car versus a similar new car like I suggested above. If you can absorb the initially higher monthly payments for a few years, you can end up way ahead if you keep the new car for 8-12 years vs 4 or so for the used one(you won't want a 13-14 year old Camry any more, trust me).

    Your bank will help you here - it's their job to make your money work best for you and they'll do a better job than I can do here.

    Also, a lease might be even cheaper per month. When I see an Accord at $250 a month with $0 down, that's hard to wrap my brain around. A used car loan will run that much in payments and interest, and you're stuck with repairs on the old car vs none on the new. One of these "we're dying for money" leases that the manufacturers are offering right now might be better still.
  • tallman1tallman1 Posts: 1,874
    Well, "I have 15K" almost always means "I can afford/have a loan limit of 15K for a used car"

    Again, that is not what the OP said... nor is it what he meant. In fact, in his second post, he said, "I don't want to spend more than 12000." In his first post, he asked for help with specific vehicles and listed the prices.

    You can make all the arguments you want about buying a new car but if that isn't what someone wants, it really doesn't matter... especially after they make it very clear.

    Finally, (and I do mean "finally") I have never heard one financial expert say that it made more economical sense to buy new. They always stress buying used. Not that I listen.... I haven't bought used since I bought my first car in 1976. ;)

    Good luck, int64. Let us know how it turns out.
  • int64int64 Posts: 19
    Loan is not an option for me at this moment. So I won't be able to spend more than what I have. I am in new haven for a visit right now and here I am getting a 2008 altima with 7k miles for 13500 (may be less, I yacht bargained). Initially I was thinking to buy this one and drive to Ohio and transfer title. The deal is very good. But I am not comfortable spending that kind of money
  • backybacky Twin CitiesPosts: 18,906
    One thing you might consider to stay within budget is to expand your search beyond Toyotas and Nissans, which tend to have higher resale values, to some comparable cars with lower resale values. Still good reliable cars, but less money. Examples are 2001+ Elantras (comparable interior volume to the Maxima, but compact outside and much lower price) and 2006+ Sonatas, and 2006.5+ Optimas. You should be able to find some of these well below $10k, with low miles and maybe even some of the five-year bumper-to-bumper warranty left.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    13.5 for a 2008 is essentially getting a new CPO vehicle. You should do well with this. Though, the CVT does take some getting used to - I personally can't stand it myself.
  • int64int64 Posts: 19

    I finally made my decision and bought the 2002 camry. I hope it will prove to be a good decision. Will keep you guys posted.
  • tallman1tallman1 Posts: 1,874
    Congrats! You've got lots of miles left in that car and it should be very reliable. Good choice for a first car.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,025
    Congratulations! You're welcome to drop by the Camry discussions here if you need any help or just want to chat with other owners.


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  • int64int64 Posts: 19
    Thanks guys,

    I need more help. The car has some breaking issues and when i bought the car. I took it to MIDAS for inspection. My friend was with me and according to him, they did not do a very good job to inspect it Anyway, according to them the rear brake rotors have some problem and needs to be replaced (may be read brake pads too). The cost will be around $300. I have been looking at some stuff online to check it, and looks like its not a big deal to change rotors, I want to give it a try myself. as the Machenic will charge me too much. Is there anyway you guys can help me? I want to know what kins tools and what size of tools i will need to change Rear Rotors, How to know If i really need to change rear rotors and brake pads? and if possible please share some vedio article about ho to do it, And which brand should i use for as rotors and pads?
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