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Is financing older cars a stupid decision?

celliot130celliot130 Posts: 6
edited August 2015 in General
I know a lot of dealerships around here are basically giving away almost new Cruzes and Sonics that are only a couple years old. I've considered a few of these deals, but I'm not thrilled with the idea of giving up all the great features I have in my current vehicle while taking on a car payment. I'm also concerned about the depreciation of these cars. They're made to be used and thrown away, and I feel like after a 5 year loan, it'll be worth nothing and a nightmare to drive. Also, I live in one of the snowiest metros in the country, I've owned compact cars in the winter, and I don't miss it. I'm only comfortable spending $11,000, so I'm starting to look at older vehicles.

Our mechanic recently inspected a 2005 Audi A4 Quattro 1.8T for another dealer. It's immaculate, has been serviced every 10,000 miles religiously at the Audi dealer, and only has 82,000 miles. I've known my mechanic for a very long time and trust his judgment that this is a solid vehicle.

The lowest offer the dealer will accept is $8300, with $6800 financed on a four year loan. I also have the option of buying an independent 3 year bumper to bumper repair plan for $900. I love the car: AWD is an asset on our nasty rural winter roads, it's spacious enough to rear face my toddler, not expensive to insure, and I expect it to hold its value much better than a newer car. Financing for four years instead of 5-6 is also appealing, as even with a higher interest rate I'm spending considerably less on car payments in the long run. And it's been way too long since I owned a car that was actually fun to drive. I work two jobs and spend a lot of time in my car. Comfortable to sit in and fun to drive are big pluses for me.

But it's 10 years old.

Am I crazy to consider financing something this old, despite it being in such great shape? Also, what kind of maintenance costs am I looking at? In the past, I've bought newer vehicles that have had minimal maintenance beyond brakes, tires, and oil changes until after they've been paid off. I don't have time or money to spend on a vehicle that needs to constantly go to the shop, hence the reason I need to trade my current vehicle. Is the $900 repair plan worth it? I've had $1500 worth of repairs done in the past year on my Buick, with $1500 more required to pass inspection by the end of next month, and it's only a year older than the Audi. The frame is starting to deteriorate, so repairing it and keeping it seems like a bad decision.

Should I be looking for newer cars instead? Different older cars? What is the best way to spend less than $11000 on a financed vehicle without needing to do a whole lot of maintenance/repairs for the duration of the loan? It would put me well above my price point to take on both frequent repairs and a car payment. Future trade in value 6-7 years down the line are important to me. I'm planning to undercoat/wash weekly whatever I buy in the winter, but our climate is very hard on vehicles.

Comments

  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    edited August 2015
    Will your mechanic work on the Audi?

    If you nose around the net, there's a lot of complaints about VW and Audi reliability. But it's hard to pin down reliability on a specific car. You have low miles and some service history working for you (even better would be having an actual printout of all the work done on the A4 over the last decade). And apparently the 06 generation of the A4 was more problematic than the years through 2005.

    So, conventional wisdom would say run the other way. Your mechanic, someone who's actually gone over the car, says it's a good car. That would carry a lot of weight with me.

    Going by conventional wisdom, the $900 repair plan would be worth it.

    You love the car and you drive a lot and it checks out okay. I don't think you need much other justification; you've spelled out the pros and cons well.

    I wouldn't count on it holding it's value all that well over six plus years, but no used cars are cheap anymore and you may very well come close to breaking even if you trade it then.

    If it helps, I spent $10,500 on an '09 minivan a year ago that had 125,000 miles on it. 20,000 miles later, so far, so good...(touch wood, lol).
  • MichaellMichaell ColoradoPosts: 121,837
    I would make sure I understand exactly what is and, more importantly, is not covered by that warranty. $900 is not a lot for piece of mind, but if it's a third party warranty (and it probably is), you might find it hard to collect if something goes wrong.

    You might try to search the warranty company on the 'net and see what kind of rep they have.

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  • celliot130celliot130 Posts: 6
    edited August 2015
    Thanks for the reply.

    My mechanic works on Audis, and I do have the entire service history on it. I don't have any evidence of the car ever having a major repair, but all the maintenance was done on schedule. I'm have no experience with 3rd party service plans-- the one offered seems to cover everything except maintenance. But maintenance can get pretty expensive. I'm going to hit 100,000 miles in less than 2 years. I'm trying to get an idea of how expensive maintenance is on an Audi... I know it's more expensive, but HOW much more? $1000 for a timing belt type expensive? That could be a deal breaker for me.

    Can anyone recommend any vehicles that might be a bit more practical, newer and still in the same price range? I don't need an Audi, but I really enjoyed the tiptronic transmission, easy acceleration, and high safety rating. The dealer is highly recommended by my mechanic who inspects all his vehicles, and I noticed he has a 2012 Mazda3 with less miles on it. Maybe I'll set my boyhood fantasy aside and take it for a ride.

    If anyone can recommend some other models which might be affordable and still offer a good driving experience, I'd really appreciate the input. I've been driving a Buick LeSabre Limited for 7 years and love the interior features, but I wasn't overly impressed with its slow gear shifts and stiffness.

    If I was paying cash, I would buy the A4 in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, my Buick went downhill so fast that I'm not well prepared to replace it this year. I can handle another loan, but none of this is in our budget.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    The timing belt and related services at 120,000 miles runs around $600 per the Edmunds Car Maintenance Guide. You can ask your mechanic if those "book" numbers are really on target. You can use that link to get an idea of other scheduled costs. A typical "full" oil/filter service runs $150 but your mechanic is likely cheaper than that.

    I assume you are in Subaru country so that's a possibility. That's what I drove in the snowy UP in recent years. People mile them up although the head gasket issues that affected older models may still be around in ten year old models. But that issue seems to have mostly gone away.

    Don't know - Mazdas have a good reputation too. Shoot, most modern cars are pretty reliable these days, thousands of complaining forum posts notwithstanding.
  • Thanks for that. People like to complain about bad cars more vocally than they praise good ones. The unfortunate truth is that cars are individual. Sure, there are models that are truly problematic and models that have certain issues, but for the most part a vehicle is a gamble we have a better bet on if it's well maintained. We had a really bad winter and I didn't keep up on my car as well as I should have. Someone who garaged, under coated, and took care of it would have had more time. I can't blame GM for my rotting frame, but a lot of car owners would. It makes accurately judging a vehicle model's reliability so difficult. I had a 94 Ford Probe that made it to 2009 with 180000 miles with only very minor issues. It would have gone longer if a bad mechanic didn't forget to put transmission fluid in after a tranny flush. I've seen more expensive cars go to the yard with 70000. I wouldn't mind a Subaru, but around here I've never seen one for sale at my price point without 120000+ miles on it! But as long as you don't get stuck in the driveway, FWD in a decently heavy car with halfway decent tires is more than adequate for me in the snow. My current car handled better in the winter than my mother's jeep.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    Yeah, I did twenty winters in Anchorage with only FWD and no studs some years. And yeah, Subies aren't cheap, especially in snow country. My MIL's Buick did fine in the UP.

    You've got a good handle on the pros and cons. I'd go with my gut and get something kind of fun since you drive so much. My gut is saying A4 even though my billfold twitches some when I say that. :)
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 128,257
    You might ask your mechanic what he thinks about the warranty. A $900 warranty on a 10-yr-old car is likely to be useless in the real world. It's an unrealistically low price and the companies that sell those warranties are famous for being shady.

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  • Thanks for all the help. I've decided I'm comfortable financing the car only if I have a better down payment. I'm going to have my mechanic look at my car to see if it's able to pass inspection with the frame as it is, and if it can I'm going to try selling it outright. I won't sell it if it's not able to pass with some work. Once it sells, if the A4 is still available, I'll finance it with the extra money to get a smaller down payment, unless my mechanic recommends otherwise. In the meantime, I have both the dealer recommended by my mechanic as well as my mechanic himself looking for another suitable vehicle. I have until October to get another car, and with a new job I'm also able to save up a lot more money for whatever I buy in another month. With the A4 as fun and immaculate as it is, I don't think it'll last that long in this area, but if it sells, I'll just have to find something else. Thanks again for all the help!
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    Audis are known for causing trouble as they age and they are expensive to fix. a lot of shops won't work on them and they store where I worked got to the point they wouldn't resell an Audi trade in, they would wholesale it. That should speak volumes.

    And, 900.00 sounds WAY too cheap for an aftermarket warranty. The warranty companies that are willing
    to sell a good warranty for an Audi will charge a LOT more than for say, a Honda or a Toyota.

    You sound like a Subaru customer to me!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I wouldn't touch the used Audi with a ten foot pole. It's out of warranty, and this model, its reputation and its age do not bode well for a successful conclusion. Even if the car performed well for you, normal maintenance and repairs is VERY expensive for this car. I agree, you'd be better off with a Japanese make or an American truck.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 128,257

    I wouldn't touch the used Audi with a ten foot pole. It's out of warranty, and this model, its reputation and its age do not bode well for a successful conclusion. Even if the car performed well for you, normal maintenance and repairs is VERY expensive for this car. I agree, you'd be better off with a Japanese make or an American truck.

    But, what if he dies of boredom? ;)

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  • celliot130celliot130 Posts: 6
    edited August 2015
    Exactly, fear of boredom is killing me! I have a LeSabre Limited and it's big, comfortable, dependable until now, a great winter driver, and 80,000 miles and six years later, I'm incredibly satisfied with the purchase. But it's so boring to drive, and the laggy transmission and combination of rough ride/sub par handling annoy me as much as they did the first time I took it on the highway. I need something affordable, low maintenance, practical for kids and weather, and it needs to be at least a little bit more fun than my boat of a Buick (even if it's more like a yacht). That's a lot to ask for in the $8000-$13000 range. I need to be practical, but would much rather be fun and stupid. I'm looking at a 2009 Acura TSX and a 2009 Honda Accord EXL V6 tomorrow. I'm definitely impressed with the price tag on the Accord. Plus it has the bigger engine and doesn't have the TSX's terrible EPS. Is there really any advantage to the Acura performance wise? Unfortunately where I'm driving, we're 20 miles away from a stretch of highway you can really move on, and I don't want to be that jerk who asks for two hour long test drives.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    Oh, if you buy a used Audi you'll never be bored. Every time you start it up you'll get to see which warning light come on that time. That's IF it starts!
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