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Used Vehicles Best Values

Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,077
edited March 2014 in Ford
We've had a lot of questions about which vehicles are the best value for pre-owned purchase. Ask questions and post your opinions here!


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  • benderofbowsbenderofbows Posts: 544
    I always recommend late model, low mileage domestics such as Taurus, Impala, etc. These models have low resale values and can be bought at very good prices. They are also reliable enough to give many good years of service. See also: Galant, Mazda6, etc.
  • greenicegreenice Posts: 41
    What do you guys think are good used values for entry-level luxury or luxury cars?

    How about Infinity I30/35 or last model Acura RL? I noticed 2002 RLs with less
    then 40000 miles can be bought for not much more than $20k.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 26,110
    exactly the type of car I was about to post on. ;)

    Personally, my money is on a Volvo in this case. A few years back, I purchase my (then) 3-year-old off-lease S70 T5 with 30K miles for $20K. That's not much more than half its original sticker. These days, its still similar dealings on S60s.

    The 2 you mentioned aren't bad deals, either, but it depends on what you're looking for. Based on my personal preferences, I'll most likely be looking for another used Volvo when mine dies.

    '10 Equinox LS; '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '14 Town&Country Limited; '18 BMW X2. 49-car history and counting!

  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 26,110
    The Mazda is my top choice out of that group of cars.

    Only thing is (and this goes for the Volvo i just mentioned, too), you gotta like the car because even buying it 2 or 3 years old does not exempt you from suffering harsh depreciation in the coming years.

    '10 Equinox LS; '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '14 Town&Country Limited; '18 BMW X2. 49-car history and counting!

  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    A used Hyundai or Kia, because they depreciate like a rock and I think they made the warranty transferable now- not sure about that.

    I always like to recommend the Ford Taurus, Chevrolet Impala, Mitsusbishi Galant, Infiniti I30/I35 (although resale on those are fairly high) the Saabs (sure, after a while they develop problems, but if you can find one with low miles, it can be a cheap, prestigious, fairly luxurious automobile) and Volvos.

    I try to tell people to stay away from Lexus, Honda or Toyota. Resale on a ES330, Accord or Camry is outrageously high. Especially on a Lexus.

    The local Lexus dealer had a CPO 2004 ES330 with 25,000 miles on it for $31,000. Why would I even consider a year old one with high miles when a brand new one can be had for just $2,000 more?!

    I always say, if you want a Lexus and are looking at used ones, ask yourself, can you afford the extra $2,000-$3,000 for the brand new one? If the answer is yes, then get the brand new one.
  • suydamsuydam Posts: 4,111
    I personally like used Hondas, Toyotas, and Mazdas, because even though the first two cost more than other used cars, I have a lot of faith that they will be reliable over the long haul and cost less over time than others. There are also lots of choices among dealers and independent mechanics because people are familiar with them. Subarus, Saabs, and Volvos are more iffy when it comes to good service and cheap parts ( not even a possiblity with a Volvo!). Pay money up front or down the road, it's a choice.
    '14 Buick Encore Convenience
    '17 Chevy Volt Premiere
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 26,110
    Its definitely a possibility with a Volvo.
    Based on maintenance costs of the particular jobs I've done or had done on both my Volvo and Honda, the Volvo has been cheaper.

    '10 Equinox LS; '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '14 Town&Country Limited; '18 BMW X2. 49-car history and counting!

  • suydamsuydam Posts: 4,111
    That's interesting to hear. I have several friends, who love their Volvos dearly and wouldn't own anything else, but they have all said that Volvo parts are more expensive than comparable parts for other cars. I'm happy to stand corrected as I don't own a Volvo.
    '14 Buick Encore Convenience
    '17 Chevy Volt Premiere
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225

    You are kidding...right?

    I see the repair bills from the Volvo dealer on some of the Volvos we take in as trades!

    With a Volvo, it seems like something is ALWAYS wrong and it's usually something electrical. Check engine light on, ABS light etc.

    When they need brakes, they usually need rotors etc...

    Nice cars to drive to be sure but as they age they can become big time money pits. At least that's what I see.
  • jlawrence01jlawrence01 Posts: 1,828
    A used VOLVO 10+ years old might have been a good solid used car a few years back. However, some of the repairs on some of the under 5 year old Volvos that I have had in the fleet have been quite expensive.

    DITTO for the Saabs. They also can be real money pits. I have a real bias against these vehicles as the one in my fleet has been in the shop seven times before 25k on mostly minor issues and it also chews up tires.

    If you are looking for a Honda or a Toyota under 2-3 years old, you are almost better off buying new. Many private Honda owners ask for stupid money on their used cars ... and occasionally get it. I think that the quality is better than some of the domestics but the margin is shrinking.

    If you are looking for solid transportation, I generally like the fleet vehicles as they can be had for a very reasonable price. My personal favorites at this time are the Chevrolet Impalas, Buicks, and the NEW Chevrolet Malibus (not the old style which is an inferior car). The Escorts are pretty reliable. Most of the Taurus models post 2000 are fairly reliable. And we had some good luck with the Intrepids and Concords that we have had.

    Personally, I look for the best car I can get with $6-7k which is a 3 year old domestic that is $4-5k less than the comparable Honda/Toyota and invest the difference for any major repairs.
  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    Reliable American built cars (Ford, GM, Chrysler) tend to be nice- reliable, dependable and they depreciate like a rock. (since they're American)
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 26,110
    Ah, see, but that's from a dealer. I fix my own cars. check engine light comes on once a month and its ALWAYS a loose gas cap. I have the ability to clear the light with my Palm Pilot, so i tighten the cap and clear the code.

    Now, notice I said "cost of particular jobs." Yes, I've had the ABS light and had to have the module repaired ($180, so no big deal) and have yet to have such an incident with the Honda, so I can't compare that. BUT, I've priced rotors for both vehicles and the Honda (Pilot) was way more expensive (even the online suppliers want $87 per front rotor!! I paid $125 for a PAIR of Brembo replacements, INCLUDING PADS, for my volvo) - so I wound up just letting the Honda dealer do the Pilot because their quote of $425 all of a sudden didn't seem so bad (although they only cut to rotors for that price). Even if I let the dealer do the brakes on my Volvo, they wanted $600 for all 4 new rotors and pads. Again, seems like a bargain compared to the Honda, but, of course, since I did all 4 in my garage for $250 in parts, I went that route.

    Oil changes are $27 for each vehicle ... so that's dead even. But then I have that $55 for the differential fluid on the Pilot every 15K miles.

    Now, granted, my experience so far is with 106K on the Volvo and 46K on the Pilot, so who knows what the future may bring .... but, as I said, comparing repair to repair ... my Volvo has not been anywhere near the cost that many non-owners report it to be.

    And the true failure of components hasn't been extraordinary. Let's see... other than the ABS module, its been pretty typical stuff like new shocks, one seized caliper, a bad wheel bearing, and a broken power antenna .... that's all I can think of. Not too bad. My sister had 2 seized calipers on her 45K mile Civic, so I really don't expect miracles from any car.

    '10 Equinox LS; '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '14 Town&Country Limited; '18 BMW X2. 49-car history and counting!

  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    " Ah see, but that's from a dealer"

    True, but it's also from ME. I try to keep the "dealer" part out of things and just call things as I see them.

    Last week...Volvo S-80 traded in with ABS and some engine light on. Our cost at the Volvo dealer was 1900.00 to repair. Typical from what I've seen but your experience may vary. Nothing as bad as an Audi but still naggy problems.

    I once owned a bulletproof Volvo 240 that was a primitive, rugged car. the newer ones are so much more complex.

    Not knoocking Volvos but I'm vary of them for the reasons I stated.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 26,110
    Oh, sorry, Isell, my comment about "from a dealer" wasn't directed at you, I meant that the high costs you are referring to are from a dealer. Volvo dealer repairs are expensive, no doubt. Which is why I don't go to a volvo dealer for my repairs.

    As far as what you've seen, I think its fair to say that many trade-ins suffer from neglected maintenance, don't they? I mean, when someone has their mind set on trading a vehicle in, they tend to let it slip a bit. Plus, the mentality is usually, "well, why fix the current problems when I can just let someone else do it." I would think you get to see most brands of cars at their worst, no?

    '10 Equinox LS; '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '14 Town&Country Limited; '18 BMW X2. 49-car history and counting!

  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    Well, not really. It's just that when I get into a Volvo, Audi or VW to show a customer I fear that SOMETHING is going to be amiss. I fear it won't start, a warning light will be on, the power windows won't work etc.

    And, this fear comes from years of experience. I don't have the same fear if I'm showing a used Honda or Toyota because they usually don't act up.

    Again, I'm not knocking European cars. I do think there are better choices for people on a tight budget.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 26,110
    fair enough. I certainly can't knock personal preferences or experiences.

    '10 Equinox LS; '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '14 Town&Country Limited; '18 BMW X2. 49-car history and counting!

  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    European Cars do have a tendency to be less reliable than their Japanese competitors.

    Which is why I ended up with a Japanese entry level luxury car earlier in the year instead of a German or Swedish one.

    For people on tight budgets, I think the Ford Taurus is ideal- its reliable, inexpensive to fix, cheap and is fairly safe. Plus it depreciates like a rock thanks to all those fleet sales. :)
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    Just avoid the early Taurus with the 3.8 engines. A lot of these had head gasket and transmission problems. The 3.0's were better.

    And, yeah..these have no resale and can be bought cheaply. Just be very sure to have it inspected by a competant shop. It seems these can be very good or very bad depending on the car. A lot of car for the money if you get a good one.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 26,110
    I'd probably rather go with the Grand Marquis. That 4.6 is a heckuva engine. And their sale prices even new are cheaper than cheap, so the used ones are worth about as much as used dirt. Great buys, IMHO.

    '10 Equinox LS; '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '14 Town&Country Limited; '18 BMW X2. 49-car history and counting!

  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    I like the ones from 2000-2005 as they dont' look too bad, are fairly roomy, reliable, and can be had dirt cheap.

    For GM, I'd probably go with a Saturn.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    Agree. The 4.6's are bulletproof.
  • timonytimony Posts: 2
    What would be the best bet for someone who is looking to purchase a used vehicle for under 4000?
  • rroyce10rroyce10 Posts: 9,359
    Buick Regal, Lesabre, Century

    Cadillac Deville

    Chevy Impala, Lumina, Malibu, Prizm

    Chrysler Pacifica, Crossfire

    Dodge Intrepid

    Ford Contour duratec V6, Taurus D-V6, Crown Vic, T-Birds

    Lincoln LS

    Mercury Grand Marquis, Sable duretec V6, Mystique V6

    Old's Intrigue V6, Aurora, Alero V6

    Saturn Ion, SL, L series

    --- Worst Buys ---



    Mitsu (except for their 4x4's)



  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    A higher-mileage 97-98 Honda Civic would be reliable, and I think you can even get a 99 for that price, but KBB raised its book value of my 99 Civic from $4500 to $6000 for some reason.

    Possibly a 2000 Taurus or Sable? I don't know the average selling price of those, but I'm sure it'll be cheap.

    A 1999-2000 Oldsmobile Alero might be around $4000, although I'm not sure. It should be fairly inexpensive too, since Oldsmobile doesn't exist anymore. I don't know how reliable the Alero was though.

    I think your best bet would probably be a 2000 Ford Taurus or Mercury Sable.
  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    Worst Buys...
    I think Hyundai made their warranty transferable now, but I'm not sure. But if it is transferable, then Hyundais might be the best values out there.

    On the worst buys list, I'd also add Lexus. The resale on one of those cars is outrageously high, so high that you're much better off just buying brand new.
  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    How about a 1998-2000 Saturn SL?
  • rroyce10rroyce10 Posts: 9,359
    ..... The Saturns are on the list ........ Hyundai's.? .. there ain't enough of those dudes out there with high miles -- no proven track record ...

    Give the kid a break, it's his first car .. we don't need to put him on a suicide watch ..l.o.l...

  • timonytimony Posts: 2
    Thank you all for the advice. I really appreciate it. It's given me some considerations.
  • steine13steine13 Posts: 2,715
    Up-and-coming player in used cars:

    Pontiac Vibe. The first ones came out a little over 3 years ago, as 2003 models. They're selling fairly well on the new side, and can be had for substantial discounts used. I have a 2004, so I check the auction pricing occasionallly.

    An '04 Prizm with automatic and 20k can be bought for $11-12k in 'average' shape. A new one is at least $16. It's not quite the discount the Prizms used to have, but I think when they become widely availlable as off-lease vehicles, the prices will drop a little.
    It should be noted that last November/December, they were doing about $1,000 less than they are doing now. Must be the price of gas.

    A similar Matrix XR can not be bought for less than $14... at the auction. That is nuts.

  • jchan2jchan2 Posts: 4,956
    You could try looking at some of the 2000-2003 ones to save money.
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