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Selecting and Buying My First Car



  • danf1danf1 Posts: 935
    True but on a 2-year old Hyundai, you will not get the 10yr powertrain warranty.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Everywhere, USAPosts: 126,124
    Yeah.. I thought of that.. But, if that is the determining factor, not sure that is the car I want...


    Plus, with the $6K I saved by buying used, I can buy a lot of powertrain work.... Or, just dump the car, if it is a problem...


    I can see the desirability of that, though... most people couldn't handle a $2K-$3K repair..

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  • lathamlatham Posts: 33
    From responses I've got so far here are some possibilities. To be able to compare, it'd be nice to have some numbers attached, so I guess I'll put down TMV for new, unless you folks have better numbers. For used, I'll post some nearby me, feel free to point out better prices:


    '05 Elantra - 11,928 (after extra $400 college grad rebate)

    '05 Accent - 10,935 (after same rebate)

    '03 Elantra - 8,988 w/30k miles link

    '02 Elantra - 5,988 w/46k miles link


    I think I might be a bit concerned about the used Elantra's, both because of reliability concerns for older Hyundai's, and because CR says 2001-2003 models scored poor on the offset-crash test result.


    '02 Prizm - 6,450 w/40k miles link


    Writing these out makes me favor either the new Elantra or '02 Prizm so far, but I'm far from sure, and hope to see other choices.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    I agree with you. The resale on these is worse than horrible. So what if you lose the 100,000 mile warranty? It only applies to the POWERTRAIN! Any modern car should be able to do 100,000 miles without powertrain problems. It's the other stuff that usually breaks.


    Yes, as used cars I think they can be a lot of car for the money...IF you happen to like them.
  • lathamlatham Posts: 33
    And a couple Toyotas


    '05 Corolla 13,661 (same college rebate as Hyundai)

    '05 Echo 11,674 (same rebate)
  • kyfdxkyfdx Everywhere, USAPosts: 126,124
    That Prizm is an automatic.. if you keep looking, I'll bet you find a 5-speed for even less money... That looks like the best option, IMO.. and not a bad price...


    If you don't care about options... stay away from the LSI model.. If you are willing to take a manual, without power locks or windows, you can get them dirt cheap...




    Did you get a good deal? Be sure to come back and share!

    Edmunds Moderator

  • steine13steine13 Posts: 2,714
    kyfdx is right (he's usually right).

    Go used, keep your eyes open for a super-duper cheap car, but a good target price is $5-6k; LOTS of car for the money in that area.

    Forget Hondas, too much money typically; Toyota is also expensive. Prizm is your best bet, and maybe Mazda Protege. A Ford Ranger reg cab 4cyl is great for $6 or so becuase if you buy it right, the value will just hang there; everyone wants a $5 or less pick-em-up truck.


    As far as keeping your eyes open: Two Sundays ago, I open the paper and see "99 Prizm LSi, 115k miles, cared for, one owner, $2,000."


    I didn't want it, but I would have bought it immediately for resale... I googled the phone number and went straight there for a look-see... this is Sunday morning 09:00, and I didn't want to call... I'm looking at the car -- very nice -- when a lady leaves the house... "Is this your car?" Yep, I just bought it!


    Apparently some people know a good deal when they see one; assuming most people don't get the Sunday paper before 06:00, that car lasted 3 hours!


  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    How about a year old rental fleet Ford Focus? Resale is horrible, the warranty is transferable, and the reliability has been recently upgraded by Consumer Reports from Worse Than Average up to Average. Sure, it may not be as reliable as a Civic, but it offers a lot of car for the money. Or you could try a two or three year old off lease/rental car Taurus. Cheap, gets you where you need to go, and relatively easy to find.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    A used Hyundai still carries a 5/60 bumper to bumper warranty. Suzuki has the fully transferable one, though.


    For Honda and Toyota it would be 3/36, i.e. basically it would be little or no B2B coverage on a used car, unless it's CPO.


    I say treat yourselves, you can afford it, so get a nice new Corolla or Civic, since you've had luck with those brands before. Drive both and pick the one you prefer.


    Maybe toss in a Mazda3 test drive, and a Subaru Impreza/Outback Sport if you see snow.


    Good luck shopping.


  • Hey, my best friend and I need a car for our second year of college and we're looking to spend around $6k. Im looking for around a 2002 model with less than 30k miles. I was thinking of a 2002-2003 Accent, Elantra, Sentra, Cavalier possibly. Id like to have an existing warrenty on the car and for it to be reliable. Can anyone help me make the best decision?


  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Among those choices I think I'd take the Elantra or Sentra. The Sentra has that non-indy beam axle rear suspension, though, and a 2002 model would have no B2B warranty left.


  • lathamlatham Posts: 33
    I found this ad in today's paper, should I snap it up?


    HYUNDAI '03 Elentra GLS, AT, 13K, Hurry, Must sell $6150/obo.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 25,959
    interesting. That's about wholesale price (according to Galves).

    '18 BMW 330xi; '67 Coronet R/T; '14 Town&Country Limited; '18 BMW X2. 47-car history and counting!

  • jlawrence01jlawrence01 Posts: 1,828
    If you are buying a USED car, you should *never* snap it up ...


    While the ad sounds good, it is imperative that you have this car inspected by an independent mechanic BEFORE buying.


    That almost sounds like too good a deal...
  • lathamlatham Posts: 33
    So I called the number with this ad. The guy I talked to was difficult to understand, but he said the car is a salvage car. He said it had never been in an accident, but that it had been stolen, auctioned and resold by a dealer. He claims he needs the money to pay his taxes. He didn't have the VIN with him at work, so I'm going to call him back tomorrow. I'm thinking I'll run a CARFAX check on it, and maybe look at it then have it inspected by a mechanic.


    Can anyone give me any info on what exactly is a salvage car? Does this look fishy? Should I stay away? Does it still sound like a good deal?
  • Or should I say Savage cars.


    Salvage cars have been totaled by an insurance company as being too costly to repair. Usually they have been in major accidents. Although there can be exceptions such as flood damaged cars, fire damagaed cars, and a (very few) stolen cars that have been written off by the insurer and then recovered.


    These cars may be repaired as cheaply as posible and sold to the unsuspecting (ie you). These cars can be very very unsafe in an accident and also can have numerous nagging mechanical issues. Your resale value that you eventually get will have to be reduced alot just to get anyone to take a look.


    Skip this car and find something else. This car is no bargain.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    Anytime something is being sold well below market value there is usually a reason. Picking my words carefully here....there are people who make a living selling these salvage title cars.


    They are NOT a bargain. Run away from it!
  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    If you don't mind not having a warranty and driving an "American" car, you could try the Ford Taurus. Sure, its boring, and they're everywhere (at least at airports) but they're cheap, fairly reliable, and resale is pretty horrible. You could try eBay and buy one off of there.


    I once had a friend who had a 6 month old Taurus with 20,000 miles which sold for $13,500...


    Words of Advice:

    If you get a Taurus, try and splurge for the higher priced Duratec 3.0L 200 horsepower engine.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 25,959
    I just want to support what others have stated. Avoid this car!


    EVEN if you have it thoroughly checked over and determine its never been in an accident, that salvage title never goes away. So try explaining it when you want to sell or trade it. Not to mention, I believe such a thing would void the warranty completely.

    '18 BMW 330xi; '67 Coronet R/T; '14 Town&Country Limited; '18 BMW X2. 47-car history and counting!

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I agree, run, don't walk, away from that car.


    I doubt the frame is truly straight. Or can you imagine the mold coming in a few months after you buy a flooded one?


  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    I'll say what everybody else says: Avoid the car. It'll be worth $0 when you try and trade it in, not to mention there could be some crucial structural problems involved. If your budget is tight, you might try an older car. Maybe an older Elantra or Sonata. Or possibly a Chevrolet Classic. Do whatever you can to avoid any cars with salvage titles. It'll be impossible to explain to the next potential buyer when its time to sell.
  • lathamlatham Posts: 33
    Thanks for the tips, I walked away from the salvage Elantra. Someone mentioned a Mazda Protege before. What do you think about this one?


    2000 Mazda Protege LX Sedan 4D $ 4950 ob 64k miles Automatic link
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    Nothing fancy but decent cars for less money than a Civic or a Corolla. Be sure to get it checked out. I don't know why but the Craig's List stuff always hits me as second rate but that's me.


    I guess I figure that if they cheaped out on advertising they may have done the same thing with maintenance.


    It could be a good car for you.
  • lathamlatham Posts: 33
    After looking so far, here are four I'm currently considering. I haven't yet followed up on these ads, so I'm not yet certain that there's not something hidden wrong, or that perhaps the price is negotiable lower. Which do you think is the best long term value?


    $4950 - 2000 Mazda Protege LX Sedan 4D 64k miles Automatic link

    $6450 - 2002 Chevy Prizm Sedan 40k miles Automatic link

    $4000 - 2001 Ford Focus 63k miles Manual link

    $9999 - 2005 Toyota Corolla 4k miles link
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 25,959
    I think you should be able to get that Prizm for $6K without much of a fight ... and that would be the pick of the list, in my opinion. I mean, you figure the 23K and 24K miles the other 2 of the first 3 have puts them about 2 years closer to the grave. As much as I'm a fan of the Protege, it would need to represent a bigger savings over the Prizm to justify itself.


    The Corolla COULD be ok, but the lack of information is not very helpful. If its a completely stripped base model, I don't think its so hot.

    '18 BMW 330xi; '67 Coronet R/T; '14 Town&Country Limited; '18 BMW X2. 47-car history and counting!

  • jlawrence01jlawrence01 Posts: 1,828
    >>Which do you think is the best long term value? <<


      I haven't gone back and read your earlier posts but the question I would counter you with is which one are you going to be most comfortable driving for the next 10 years or so? The best "deal" that I ever received in a vehicle (60k miles for $1500) was in a vehicle that I never liked.


    Personally, I would lead toward the Prizm.


    You really need to be "pressing the flesh" - that is visiting car lots and seeing what is available and gathering specific information rather than reading ads all the the time. That will get you to your goal more quickly.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,077
    i'm biased toward the Mazda since I had a Protege, and it was one of the best-ever cars I've owned (out of over 20). It never ate a dime in repair bills and ran on the smell of an oil rag.


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  • rroyce10rroyce10 Posts: 9,359
    ........ Nothing but good advice here, time for me to move on ....


  • lathamlatham Posts: 33
    Thank you all very much for your input. It's very helpful to me to know I'm getting some impartial advice from those more knowledgable than myself.

    jlawrence, that's a good point about trying the cars themselves. That's the next step for me I think. I'm going to try to go this afternoon with my wife to see and drive the Prizm and the Protege. As you can probably tell from the links, it looks like the Prizm is being sold by a dealer and the Protege by a private party.

    Do you have any advice for this stage of evaluation? Should I try to have the cars inspected? After I choose one, perhaps? Should I try to bargain for a better price from one or both?

    I also signed up for CARFAX at this point, and ran the Prizm through (I emailed the owner of the Protege for the VIN but haven't gotten it yet). It turns out the Prizm is a former rental vehicle. Is this good, bad, neutral? Is there a reason they wouldn't list this in the ad? Here's a link to the report for the Prizm.

    I really appreciate your input.
  • lathamlatham Posts: 33
    I just found another interesting one. It seems like a good deal (too good?). The ad says "Nissan GXE" which I think means Sentra.

    $6200 - 2002 Nissan Sentra 38k miles automatic link

    Would you choose this one over the Prizm and Protege?
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