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Selecting and Buying My First Car

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Comments

  • steine13steine13 Posts: 2,714
    No.
    -Mathias
  • jlawrence01jlawrence01 Posts: 1,828
    During the negotiations process, you let the seller know that you want to have the car inspected by YOUR mechanic. You let the mechanic look it over and give his opinion.

    YOU are paying for the inspection ($75 or so). How many do YOU want to have inspected?

    Generally, the car has to pass by me first. If I don't like the looks or the drive, the mechanic will not see it.
  • lathamlatham Posts: 33
    I just got this reply from the owner of the Protege:

    Hi, it has a salvage title, But the car has no accident I bought it from auction
    it was missing the seats, wheels, stereo ,and the driver side wendow was broocking
    so I got the seats the wheels with new tires the stereo and new window. you can
    come over and check it your self and you are more then welcome to take it to any mechanic
    to check it for you to see if the car ever had any accident or not so this is like a clean title car
    and you are getting it for very less price cuase the blue book for this car is $7300.
    And I'm selling it cuase I bought one more car together with this car from auction and the
    other one is a 1999 toyota corolla CE and it dosen't matter wich one I sell cuase they both good cars if you want the corolla this one had a very miner damge from the driver side fender so I got it fixed and painted It has 107000 miles and i'm asking $4650 this car is also nice and very clean so please think about it Like I said take it a mechanic then you'll know if I'm writh or not.

    Is a salvage car just not worth considering? In any case, I guess I'll pursue the Prizm now. What about it being a rental?
  • steine13steine13 Posts: 2,714
    "Is a salvage car just not worth considering? In any case, I guess I'll pursue the Prizm now. What about it being a rental?"

    I'm no big fan of ex-rentals either, but it's a $5-6 car, not a $15 car... so check it over really good, take a flashlight and peek in the cyl head through the oil filler & past the baffle.. if it's clean there, it's been maintained. There isn't much else to look for in terms of long-term concerns.

    Short-term, if someone broke something, it's broke now, so have it looked at closely by a mechanic you have reason to believe is competent.

    Check for all the VIN stickers to make sure it hasn't been severely crunched and rebuilt... a little q-panel repaint ain't a big deal, though...

    Good luck,
    -Mathias
  • lathamlatham Posts: 33
    I'm fairly clueless about cars. Can you tell me where all the VIN stickers should be? One in the door I know. I'm not even sure how/where to "peek in the cyl head". Is there any reasonably simple source of information for what I should look for when I see the car.

    Thanks so much for your help.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Seller seems honest, but if you go for it just consider it a beater and drive it to the ground. Don't plan on selling, as you see from the sample here few people want a salvaged car.

    -juice
  • kyfdxkyfdx Everywhere, USAPosts: 126,124
    There are thousands of cars for sale within driving distance of just about anywhere..

    Just say no to a salvage car.. especially since you want to buy a car to last for ten years..

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

    Edmunds Moderator

  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    As I mentioned earlier, avoid salvage cars.

    Actually, I think used rental cars could be a good buy. Just don't look for high resale when you want to trade it in. eBay has Taurii on the cheap, and most are former rentals. For a used rental car, try to find one with more equipment and lower miles. Most rentals were probably base models. (unless you search really hard)
  • jlawrence01jlawrence01 Posts: 1,828
    A few points:

    1) I would agree with you that there are a LOT of used '02-04 Taurus vehicles out there for sale. However, a lot of them are from corporate fleets (think salesmen, reps, insurance agents, etc.) and not just the rental car fleets.

    I do believe that they offer some of the BEST values. I bought an '02 Taurus last year for $5500 with 55k miles. It flipped it later to a friend. It is a good deal.

    2) However, in 2003, a lot of corporate fleets switched from the Taurus to the Chevrolet Impala which in my book is a much better car than the Taurus both in terms of reliability and fuel economy. Last year, 2 yo Impalas with 50k were pretty pricy - $7500-8500 off lease. this year, I am seeing them go for $5800-7000 which is IMO, a screaming good value.

    3) I have been to muni auctions in the Chicago area where used Impala - Police Packages are going for $4800 consistently.

    4) "Base" models are not stripped down models. Most fleet vehicles have most of the popular options (except leather, sunroof and wheels). In general, you are getting a lot of cars.

    When you buy a car 3-5 YO for around $6-8k, resale should not be an issue IMO. You should be looking for a car you'll drive for a long time.
  • lathamlatham Posts: 33
    I agree, resale isn't very important for our situation. We will probably keep the car for a long time. Do you think the Taurus or Impala will provide a better deal than some of the other things I've been looking for?

    I'm hoping to go check out the Prizm this afternoon. If I like it, I think I should have it inspected, but my mechanic is close to an hour from the place with the Prizm. Do you think I can just call up a mechanic from the yellow pages nearby and ask him to inspect it?

    Any other advice for the visit?

    Thanks again!
  • jlawrence01jlawrence01 Posts: 1,828
    Having driven 25k miles in BOTH vehicles, I prefer the Impala over the Taurus for several reasons.

    1) The Impala is more comfortable for a big guy like myself. Comfort is a major issue with me as I have circulation problems.

    2) From *MY* experience, I got 28 mpg from the Impala vs. 24 mpg from the Taurus under the same conditions.

    3) The Impala is more reliable to a certain degree and I have had better experiences with GM products although Ford has always treated me well also.

    If you like the Prizm, that would be a pretty good car and easier to park than the others.

    I would take the car to a reputable shop in the Yellow Pages or ask for a referral to a AAA garage as they have an inspection process that they go through. Again, realize that we are not talking charity work. You will be charged for the inspection. But the inspection may catch a big issue that you will not see as a layman.

    For example, a friend buys a used Lexus at a very reputable Cincinnati dealership. I call the place reputable as the guy only sells quality used car and treats people right. The friend buys the car and takes it in to his mechanic a few weeks later. The mechanic notices that the car had about $15k in damage repair that had been professionally repaired. The car was later bought back by the dealership.

    Do realize, that any inspection may miss something. Maybe a problem is intermittant. However, you have a better chance of landing a good car.
  • lathamlatham Posts: 33
    So we went to check out the Prizm. We were somewhat surprised at the place. Called "Euro Wholesale", it was very small, they had like 20 cars, nearly all more expensive than this one, and 1 guy there. He let us take the car for a drive, and my wife and I each drove it, but he didn't come with us.

    The sticker price said $8,900 (the ad we followed said $6,450) When I mentioned that the car was a former rental, he seemed surprised, as if he didn't know. He didn't have any service records for the car. He was very much not the car salesman I was expecting. He didn't seem to care whether I wanted the car or not really.

    Anyway, on the whole the car seemed pretty good to me, though there were a couple buttons missing. However, there were two issues with the car which may or may not be a problem. First, it smelled somewhat of cigarettes, which bothered my wife. I wouldn't want her to have to use that car if we couldn't get the smell out. Second, when I turned it as far left as possible (u-turn), I heard what sounded sort of like a recurring grating sound. I mentioned it to the man when I returned, but got pretty much no comment. He was very willing for me to take it to a mechanic, but I haven't done so yet.

    We left unsure, because of the two issues I mentioned. What do you think? Can cigarette smell be removed?
  • lathamlatham Posts: 33
    Anyone else have an opinion on this Sentra?

    $6200 - 2002 Nissan Sentra 38k miles automatic link
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,077
    Cigarette smell can't be removed. It also sounds like there's either a problem with the Prism, or the dealer just doesn't know anything about it at all. Plus, the different price? Hm...

    Again, through personal experience, I'm a fan of the Sentra. The News & Views host, pf_flyer, drove one of those some 200K miles before buying another Nissan, so they can certainly live a long and happy life.

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  • kyfdxkyfdx Everywhere, USAPosts: 126,124
    I agree with Kirstie.. if the cigarette smell bothered your wife, just write that one off the list.. you'll never get it all of the way out..

    But, I like Prizms and Proteges much better than the Sentra..

    Nissans last a long time.. and that isn't a good thing, if you are the one that has to drive it...

    The Impalas and Tauri are a good deal.. but, you've been driving small cars before this.. If they meet your needs, no reason to spend more on fuel with a bigger car..

    Keep looking.. lots of cars out there..

    regards,
    kyfdx

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

    Edmunds Moderator

  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 25,962
    the noise you heard sounds like just the tires rubbing. First thing I would do is check the sticker on the door jamb to see what size tires SHOULD be on there and compare it with what IS on there. If the tires on there are wider than they should be, that is probably your problem. Not really a big deal at all. Just don't turn the wheel all the way (sounds sort of like that doctor joke, doesn't it?) ;)

    The price difference isn't surprising. Happens all the time. If someone shows the ad and they honor it, no big deal, right? But if someone comes in off the street, never saw the ad, they might wind up paying more based on the sticker. Not the nicest way to do business, but its a used car lot, after all, so you can't expect much.

    I differ on the cigarette smell. I believe enough Febreeze can get rid of anything over time.

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

  • kyfdxkyfdx Everywhere, USAPosts: 126,124
    Yeah.. but...

    It is his wife that has the cigarette smell problem...

    You know what I am getting at?

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

    Edmunds Moderator

  • lathamlatham Posts: 33
    How does this one sound?

    $2950 - 2001 Ford Escort 66k miles automatic link
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 25,962
    I'm not a fan of Escorts, but if everything checks out ok, it certainly sounds like you should be able to get your money's worth out of it. I think its about a $2K car on the wholesale side, so the price isn't bad, but you can probably get it a little lower. I'm sure nobody is banging down the seller's door for this gem.

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

  • lathamlatham Posts: 33
    After hearing many speak about good prices on Tauruses, Impalas, Prizms, Proteges, etc. I'm curious about how you find them. I've been searching online (through edmunds, sfgate, craigslist) and posting the best that I find, but have a very difficult time finding the deals that I hear about. Am I looking in the wrong places? Any tips for finding these good deals?
  • kyfdxkyfdx Everywhere, USAPosts: 126,124
    autotrader.com

    cars.com

    Your local paper

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

    Edmunds Moderator

  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 25,962
    one of my favorites is getauto.com

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

  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    Try eBay. Sure, it might be a little risky, but you can lower the risk factor by buying from someone with a high feedback rating and by looking for ones that are CarFax certified, whatever that means.

    I agree that the Impala is a better car than the Taurus. But both are screaming deals, in my opinion. Too bad they dropped the Duratec V6 from the 2005 Taurus Sedan. On the Wagon I think you can still get the Duratec. But for the sedan, its back to the old Vulcan 3.0L 155 horsepower V6.

    If you really don't mind shelling out more for gas and accepting a mildly higher risk factor, I think bidding on eBay on an Impala or Taurus might be the way to go.
  • lathamlatham Posts: 33
    My wife and I ended up getting a brand new 2005 Elantra GLS manual for $9,123 + TTL. When we saw the ad, we couldn't pass it up. The value for the brand new car was well worth it for us.

    I just wanted to thank all the people who helped educate me and give me many pieces of valuable advice in the work to replace my wife's stolen car. I know I learned a lot, and feel very good about how it turned out. You folks made a difference.

    Thanks!!
  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    Congratulations on the Elantra.
  • lathamlatham Posts: 33
    This morning the police called and we got the stolen car back (minus the stereo). It's funny, because the police had earlier said if we didn't get it back in 10 days, that we probably wouldn't, and if we did gget it back, that it would probably be stripped of parts. I guess we're the rare case where they find it weeks later, in fine driving shape. Now we have to decide what to do with 3 cars!
  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    Wow. You must be lucky. I guess you could go buy a new stereo.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Wow!

    Keep it as a beater?

    We have 3 cars, the "extra" one comes in handy when we have guests. They don't have to rent.

    You also don't accumulate too many miles on the new car (so it stays under warranty).

    My Forester, purchased new, has 71k miles on it. But my 3rd car has handled about 25k miles during the same time period.

    So if I didn't have my 3rd car, I'd be close to 100k and thinking about trading it in. This way I'll end up keeping it 2-3 years longer.

    The only catch is you pay extra to insure them. To me it was worth it.

    -juice
  • Well I have 3 cars. It doesn't cost that much anymore for insurance and registration (maybe $250 total a year) as I have the 3rd one listed as a "pleasure" vehicle.

    But you'll still have some maintenance to do on the 3rd car as well as any extra depreciation.

    The real challenge for me though is which car to keep out of the garage.
  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    At one point, I had three Hondas parked in my driveway. Two sat in the garage, and one was in the driveway. How I determined which one to put in the driveway would have been whichever car had more miles...
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