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Used Vehicles Best Values



  • igozoomzoomigozoomzoom Waleska, GeorgiaPosts: 801
    For $4000 or less, there are a few cars that Consumer Reports rate as Average or Above Average for Reliability-

    Saturn SL1/SL2
    '02- Better than average
    '00-'01- Average

    Ford Focus-

    '02-'05- Average

    Ford Taurus
    '00-'03- Average
    '04-'05- Above average

    I went on and found at least one local example of each with under 100,000 miles on it for $4k or less!

    I also found several '99-'01 Nissan Altimas for under $4k, but they had from 110,000 to 135,000 miles on them. A well-maintained Altima (even with mileage in the low-mid 100's) would be a very good choice, too!

    Ideally, you'll get the most for your money buying from a private seller. The best case scenario is buying from the original owner (and they have maintenance records)! Depending on the laws of your state, you may or may not pay sales tax if you buy from an individual (we don't here in Georgia).

    Before buying from a dealer or indivdiual, I highly recommend having the car checked out by an independent mechanic!!! It's well worth the $50-$75 they'll charge you to avoid buying something that needs major repairs!
    2015.5 Volvo S60 T6 Drive-E Platinum, 2012 Mazda CX-9 GT
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 23,178
    My value system hasn't come up here. I think a large car is ideal for the new driver.

    I'd suggest a brief talk with your insurance agent, or in my case with his aide who is an agent herself training to take his spot when he retires. Get him through the first 6 months and 1 year without an accident.

    I suggest a used Crown Victoria, Gran Marquis, Chryslery product that's full-size and not chic, or an older Olds 88, leSabre, etc. I'd include the older Malibu/Lumina, Taurus, and so on with some miles left. Low cost insurance--almost a throwaway if it does get wrecked.

    The older car has something of a culture to it. The other kids don't encourage carelessness with it leading to the showing off in the sporty, loud-mufflered, flashy colored cars. Then he/she can get a different car after a year. I noticed a few non-chic cars seeming to be traded down to newer drivers at the school my son attended.

    Before someone says my values aren't workable, my now 17 year-old had a 10 year old leSabre. Didn't hurt his ego a bit. Band practice during summer. School parking lot for rest of year. Now we picked up a newer smaller economy GM car that he can use along with the leSabre (a two car high schooler) and I can use the newer car (2008) when I have some longer drives).

    I had kept the leSabre with this in mind. But I'd be shopping the for sale signs and local store post it boards for a similar 10-year old with 100K and more on it for that first car for $3000 and less. The older GM cars of that period are actually in demand at the low end of the buying price range for adults wanting cars with life left in them.

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • tidestertidester Posts: 10,059
    You may also be interested in Best Car for a new teenage driver.

    tidester, host
    SUVs and Smart Shopper
  • Hi!

    I'm new to this forum and purchasing used cars. I've been looking at 2004 Audi A4 & TT's, 2004-5 BMW 3 series coupes and convertibles. All seem to be in the price range but only have miles around 70K-80K.

    Is it worth buying a used car with that many miles whether a "luxury" car or not?

    If not, I'm also thinking buying a 06-07 VW jetta that's "pre-loved" or certified. I'm worried about the lack of a warranty on the older models I mentioned. I'd rather have peace of mind with the car rather than luxury (i think - convertibles are pretty appealing).

    Are Certified pre-owned worth the extra costs? Or is buying un-certified used, getting it checked out and relying on it's good condition and AAA enough?

  • volvomaxvolvomax Posts: 5,274
    CPO is definitely worth the money. However, you can't compare a car thats a couple years old with an older high mile car.
    Everyone will tell you that old high mile European cars are expensive to keep up and they are correct. Not only repairs but maintenance as well. If the thought of keeping up an older car is too daunting,stick with the newer CPO car.
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    IMO, A luxury vehicle has to be nice inside, at least somewhat refined, and most of all have a good engine/drive-train combination(which means rear wheel drive and not slow as a slug).

    Here is my own personal short list given the same criteria and price range(though I also want manual, which is highly recommended but YMMV of course :) )

    - First gen CTS with the 3.6 engine.
    - 2004 GTO (almost 30mpg with manual and 350hp!) *added exception - not "luxury"*
    - previous generation G35 sedan (ie not the G37)
    - IS300

    If you add in automatics, the list grows by quite a bit. Top of my "automatic models" list would probably be the GS300 or a Buick Lucerne CXS(eerily like driving a late 90s S420, which for GM is/was a huge step forward)

    The problem with the newer BMWs and most of the other luxury European brands is that they all source from Bosch and similar mostly German electrical companies. It's why a VW/Audi has a solid engine but the switches and radio and so on self-destruct at 7-10 years age almost every time. It used to be that these premium brands were really built better, but now it's all plastic and cheap underneath with a plush covering to hide the corners that were cut.

    BMW and Audi are out. Mercedes is as well - too expensive to run used. Maintaining any of these three brands will cost nearly the same as a new vehicle would in monthly payments. Things get stupefyingly expensive for the most basic stuff. It makes even Toyota's overpriced insanity look reasonable. I know - I've had Mercedes in the past and it gets insane - like $60 for a shifter knob and upwards of $5K for a transmission rebuild. You really should only own these brands, even used, if you can afford them new. Or lease them and avoid the idiocy.
  • I am trying to buy a used convertible under $8k. The ones I found in my range and liking are some 2003-2005 Eclipse with 50-70k miles and Sebring 2002-2005 50-70k miles. I put average amount of miles on my car( like 12k in 2 years). My ideal car would be a 2004-2005 model with 50-60k miles and around $6k and the car should last me atleast 6-7years without too much repairs. Additional features inside car and everything will be a plus.

    Which convertible would you guys recommend for me and why? how do 2004-2005 Sebring, Mustang, Eclipse, etc hold up against each other? I tried to find a side by side comparision using google, but didnt find any.
  • steine13steine13 Posts: 2,685
    Not really my bailiwick... but the Sebring is a pretty miserable car. Beloved of rental fleets and not many others, and Chrysler FWD transmissions as a bonus.

    Mitsubishis are fairly rare around here (MI), and the few people I know who had them were not pleased with parts availability and prices. You may wish to ask around; they may be a good value, depending on where you are.

    If you're buying an older car with the intention of keeping it, I think the Mustang is a much better choice. Fairly simple technology, any mechanic will know what to do, great parts availability.

    The question there is value... I don't know how Mustang convertibles depreciate; at any rate, you picked the right time of year ;->

    Good luck,
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 25,621
    edited October 2010
    your criteria really point to a POS, frankly. I mean, even an '03 V6 stang with 60k miles is going to cost you $8k at a minimum. Same goes for an '04 Eclipse.

    An '04 sebring 4-cyl will run you more like $6500-$7k.

    To get your ideal '04 w/60k for $6k ... yer gonna have to look for one that is beat to hell or has a bad history.

    If you are driving 12k in 2 years, that is far below average, actually. At just 6k per year, I'd be looking for something a bit nicer, maybe with higher miles. For example, off the top of my head, you might find a '98 BMW 323 vert with 75k miles for $6k-$7k. After 4 years, you are still just under 100k on it. Same goes for a '98 C70. You could try to find a low mileage '00 mustang GT and probably pick it up for around $7k.

    In any case, spending $6k on a convertible and asking it to give you 6 years of no-to-low upkeep cost is a TALL order!

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

  • igozoomzoomigozoomzoom Waleska, GeorgiaPosts: 801
    Would a 2-seater work for you? If so, you can't go wrong with a Mazda long as you're well under 6ft tall. =)

    I just ran a search on AutoTrader for all convertibles within 100 miles of my Zip Code and I found several low mileage, very good condition examples of the following-

    Toyota Solara Convertible
    Volvo C70 Convertible
    Saab 9-3 Convertible

    Personally, I find the C70 to be most appealing and the Saab 9-3 comes in a close second. It's very ironic that the Swedes built two of the best convertibles of the last decade...I doubt they sell very many of them in Sweden (I hear it's kinda chilly).

    Regardless of which model you choose, take it to a mechanic for a thorough inspection and be sure to pull a Carfax report for it. Convertibles are structurally weaker than the fixed-roof models they're based on. A good analogy is comparing a box with a lid, then without the lid and see how much easier it is to flex and twist it with the lid removed! For that reason, I would definitely avoid any convertible that has been wrecked before. The already weakened structure is almost impossible to fully and correctly repair. A good mechanic will be able to tell if it has been repaired and the Carfax will reassure you of the car's past. =)
    2015.5 Volvo S60 T6 Drive-E Platinum, 2012 Mazda CX-9 GT
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    Get a 1999 Celica GT Convertible. KBB retail/mint condition value is just a bit over $7K.

    Done. Nothing will work better or cost less to keep running in your price range.
  • I have found some 2004 eclipse with 65k miles for $8k and some sebring for $7k. Clean carfax and everything. I just wanted to buy a car with doesn't give too much problem. Some cars model just don't last very long. Hence the questions.
  • igozoomzoomigozoomzoom Waleska, GeorgiaPosts: 801
    Consumer Reports has Owner Satisfaction ratings, which are actually more useful than most any other test. The question owners are asked is "If you had it to do over, would you definitely purchase this same vehicle again"?

    Here are the percentages that said YES-

    Mazda Miata- 86%
    Volvo C70- 70%
    Chrysler Sebring- 51%

    The median/average percentage for this class of car (convertibles) is 72%. The Sebring was by far the lowest rated with barely half of the owners saying they would buy it again....which implies 49% aren't happy campers.

    The reason you find more late model Sebring convertibles at dirt cheap prices than any other model is because they depreciate worse than any other car on the road! On a brand new one, at 36 months it's only expected to be worth 28% of the original price and at 60 months, just 18%. In comparison, a Mustang convertible will be worth 57% at 36 months an 44% at 60 months. I truly pity anyone who a Sebring convertible new...can you imagine buying a car with a $28k sticker price and, just one year later, it's barely worth $10k!!! But very few individuals buy a Sebring convertible brand new, the overwhelming majority are sold to rental fleets. And I can almost guarantee that the used ones you're finding are former rental cars...

    I still think your safest bet in terms of mechanical reliablity, reasonable maintenance and repair costs, decent fuel economy and driving dynamics (comfortable, easy to drive, plenty of power) is the Toyota Camry Solara Convertible. I found several within 300 miles of my zip code that are in perfect condition and being sold privately by their original owners! A one-owner private party sale is always the best way to go with any kind of vehicle. If you can locate one that you like and you either have cash or can arrange a loan thru your bank or credit union, you'll get the best and most car for your money...

    I found a 2002 Solara SLE conv for $8200 from a private seller in VA. It's silver, has 85k miles and the leather interior looks like it belongs in a Lexus. Just do a search on and use zip code 23602 (that's where the car is located).

    I also found an identical looking (silver with gray leather) 2001 SLE conv in Florida in pristine condition. It only has 68k miles and priced at $7900. Clean Carfax history, but not sure if it's the original owner, but it is private sale.
    2015.5 Volvo S60 T6 Drive-E Platinum, 2012 Mazda CX-9 GT
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 25,621
    edited October 2010
    As the above post states, just forget the Sebring. Put it out of your mind. It may or may not hold up mechanically for you, but it really falls apart elsewhere. If you are so inclined, go ahead and take a look at a used one or two. You'll find that they are worn out and beat up. I can't say why. Could be because they weren't treated well or, more likely, it is because the materials are subpar and just don't hold up.

    I just went through this same search myself, but my limit was $6k. I did not find one Sebring that didn't look like it had been through a war. I couldn't locate a Mustang GT that fit the bill, nor a C70. Wound up with a '99 Saab 93 SE with 120k in very good condition for $4500.

    You aren't getting much feedback on the Eclipse because most folks don't know anything about them. They are rather unpopular cars.

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

  • oldfarmer50oldfarmer50 Posts: 12,791
    "...hold up against each other?..."

    Sebring for the price because they depreciate quickly. Roomy for a convertible. Eclipse for reliability and not too bad performance. 2005 Mustang V-8 for performance and looks (forget the V-6) 2004 Mustangs and earlier were built on an obsolete 1970's frame and are less desirable.

    2019 Kia Soul+, 2015 Mustang GT, 2009 PT Cruiser, 2004 Chevy Van, 2000 Chrysler Sebring convertible

  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    edited October 2010
    The Solara is also a good choice if the Celica is too small.

    Basically it's a Camry and a Corolla - Convertible. And as reliable as a normal Toyota. Oh, FYI - my last Toyota I finally sold a few weeks ago with 375K on it. And it still ran just fine. Anything else will just simply cost you a LOT more to fix and maintain.

    The MR2 also qualifies, but it's dangerously small and underpowered, IMO. The MX5 also has this problem - I just can't physically fit in the seats and it's asking to get punked in a crash. Yes, it's a blast to drive, but tiny is no good these days, especially when slightly larger convertibles and roadsters work almost as well but might save your life in a crash.

    Note - if you had 10-12K, I'd recommend a 1996 Corvette. It's a world better than most of the competition and is a serious deal for the money. The LT1 engine is about as bulletproof as it gets and repairs are pretty reasonable as long as the car isn't used up and worn out.(note - most are - shop carefully)

    Why get this specific year? It's the last year of the fourth generation run and isn't as flashy as the new models. It's a good "sleeper" option and is under-appreciated. The replacement model didn't have a convertible option until 1998, and it's still 15K for a good example.

    Not too bad looking, actually. Even better in black.
    A typical private party example.
    Don't take my word on it, either. This is a solid choice and has a soon to be "classic" look as the new models keep getting more and more like a giant jellybean.
  • I checked some reviews and consumerreports reviews and the Toyota convertibles came up pretty high in the ranks with Solora and Celica in mid range of ranks and followed shortly by Mitsubishi with Eclipse rated as best car for Mitsubishi.

    However, when I checked online and craigs for sale, the only Solora or Celica convertibles close to 8k with less than 80k miles were 95-99 models. Anything that was 2000+ had either 95k+ miles or had accidents on its carfax. Eclipses on the other hand were ranged 6.7-8k for 2000+ models with less than 75k miles. I do need a FWD for the snow and do not want to buy a seperate winter car. Hence the focus on these cars. Have found hardly any other FWD convertible in this area.

    I do want to buy the Toyota due to the good reviews for its dependablity, but the extra 2.5-3k is confusing me a bit since the Eclipse doesnt seem to have bad reviews by itself and even had good reviews in some places. Hopefully, some research or a good car selling in my area will resolve this.
  • oldfarmer50oldfarmer50 Posts: 12,791
    "...but the extra 2.5-3K is confusing me..."

    Used Toyotas and Hondas go for way too much in my opinion. Look up reviews of the Eclipse on Motor Trend's website. They reviewed the latest generation in a long term test and had ZERO problems after 40K miles and the car was faster and handled better at the end than when new. Toyotas may or may not be better cars but you're going to pay plenty for the PERCEPTION that they are.

    As for all the Sebring bashing going on, I owned the sedan version of that car which I bought used and got well over 100K miles with minimal repairs before I sold it.

    Have a mechanic check any car you plan on buying and then make your own decision based on the cost-benefit TO YOU.

    2019 Kia Soul+, 2015 Mustang GT, 2009 PT Cruiser, 2004 Chevy Van, 2000 Chrysler Sebring convertible

  • steine13steine13 Posts: 2,685
    As for all the Sebring bashing going on, I owned the sedan version of that car which I bought used and got well over 100K miles with minimal repairs before I sold it.

    The sticky wicket here is that the "Sebring" sedan was, at least at one time, a thinly disguised Mitsubishi, and the "Sebring" convertible was a Stratus with a softtop. A totally different car, totally a Chrysler, and not very good.

    Maybe that's no longer true for the more recent ones, but that's what I remember from ~ 10 years ago.

    FWIW, the Solara ragtop is waaay too flexy according to the reviews I've read. Plus the Solara sedan it's based on is one of the boringest cars out there .. but at the same time a great road trip car because it's solid and quiet... my guess is you're giving up the coupe's main strengths to get the convertible.

    The Eclipse is starting to sound better all the time.

    Cheers -Mathias
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    edited October 2010
    However, when I checked online and craigs for sale, the only Solora or Celica convertibles close to 8k with less than 80k miles were 95-99 models.

    This is *exactly* the model that you want to be looking at - the 98-99 ones. They stopped making convertible Celicas after that and the Solara is basically a convertible sedan(nothing special)

    Though, I'd still save a bit more and get the 96 Corvette(last year of that style). The LT1 engine is really close to bulletproof and yes, purists go on about how they hate the automatics, but it's really easy to find a mint condition one with Automatic for a very reasonable price. 300+HP and automatic is still a shockingly fast ride.
  • oldfarmer50oldfarmer50 Posts: 12,791
    "...Sebring sedan was...a thinly disguised Mitsubishi..."

    Well, not really. The sedan and the convertible were built off either the Chrysler JA or JR platform (depending on year) while the coupe was based on the Mitsu Eclipse. To confuse things more the sedan/convertible used either a Mitsu or Chrysler engine. My '97 sedan had the Mitsu 2.5L engine which was the smoothest running motor I'd ever had. It took my son driving it 10 miles with no oil to destroy it. The rest of the car was above average as well.

    Strangly enough, a Toyota I owned was the worst car I ever had. That's why I suggested to the OP to have a mechanic check over any car he considers. To me a domestic car like the Chrysler would be worth it if cost was my main criteria. That's what I perceived his question to be. He might also consider the Eclipse and get a combination of Japanese quality with steeper depreciation than the Toyota.

    As always, you get what you pay for.

    2019 Kia Soul+, 2015 Mustang GT, 2009 PT Cruiser, 2004 Chevy Van, 2000 Chrysler Sebring convertible

  • I am also in the market for a mid level luxury car to replace my 1996 Infinity I30. I had bought this used car from a private seller and the car performed like a champ with no issues. Even today with 150K miles the car runs great. I am a person who prefers to buy used rather than a new car....just because I think that provides you with a better deal.

    So here is my dilemma...when I look for used car, with my search criteria there are 150+ E350 (2008/2009) available in the market compared to < 50 for Infinity M35 (2008/2009). It seems to me that people usually lease German cars where as they buy Japanese that because of reliability issues....which leads to cost of ownership? So far as design is concerned, I definitely like the styling of E350 better than M35.....though I really like the styling of M37.....but then it becomes a new car. I would like to know the opinion of other E350 owners regarding the reliability of the car? Are there frequent issues that costs a lot to fix? Also is there a peace of mind buying a CPO E350.... The deals that I have are....2008 E350 26k miles (CPO) with prem Pkg 1 for 34k + T&T,......same car without CPO costs 30K...... Thanks for the help Kaushik
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    The new Mercedes are very nice. But I've driven both and the Infiniti M is almost S Class in quality. Of course, it also drives like a big luxo-barge.

    The car that impressed me the most for the (extremely small amount of) money was the new LaCrosse.
    1 year old, certified, and the top model with everything on it. Domestics are also much better than they used to be, and the money you save can basically pay for a lifetime of repairs before you even get to the price of a used German vehicle. And have you priced a repair on a Mercedes? :P
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 25,621
    That's asking price on the E, right? Cause you should be able to get that CPO for $30-31k. Trade-in value is only $24,500-$25k.

    A comparable '08 M35 is worth very similar money. However, I'm willing to bet you could get a CPO Infiniti for less than a CPO Benz. This is directly related to the extended warranty cost the dealer pays when certifying a car. Although I don't KNOW, I have a FEELING the warranty on the Infiniti is far less.

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

  • all good models but in general this is all i know. this image helped me a lot. here's how to tell if the used car is at least worth your time

    3.png 888.2K
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