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#1 of 161 Buying New vs. Used Vehicles
by Kirstie@Edmunds HOST
Sep 01, 2006 (7:55 am)
What's the best value considering your driving needs, budget, and depreciation? Post your thoughts here!
Sep 01, 2006 (9:45 am)
Not sure that it's about "value", but each buyer has their own approach.
For example, my wife refuses to buy used .. 'someone elses problems' she says. She also likes the new car warranty and knowing that she's been the only driver.
For a while, my sister and BIL bought slightly used --- first, an Infiniti G20 back in the mid 90's, then a used Explorer when they started to have kids. Now, they buy (or lease) new.
I'm sure that this topic will spark lots of debate .. for the same $20K, do I buy a new Hyundai Sonata with the 10 year warranty or the year old Camry or Accord?
#3 of 161 Re: kirstie [michaell]
Sep 01, 2006 (12:53 pm)
The best value? My second car was a Olds Cutlass Supreme. Bought it for $1,500. It was about 7 years old, had 74k miles and was in very good condition. Sold it 7 years later for $750. Probably averaged $100 a year in repairs...if that. So, driving a fairly nice car for a little over $300 a year for 7 years...that's pretty good. Anybody out there think they can beat that for value?
#4 of 161 1964 Pontiac Catalina
Sep 02, 2006 (7:14 pm)
Bought it for $200 in 1970 with about 70,000 miles drove it for 5 years, put on about 60,000 miles gave it to my sister .
#5 of 161 1970 Olds Delta 88
Sep 02, 2006 (7:22 pm)
After I got rid of the Pontiac, I bought a 1975 Rabbit. Big Mistake, piece of junk, got rid of it 3 years later in 1978 when I heard the engines were seizing up. Bought the Olds with 116K miles for $500. Everyone said I was crazy. Crazy like a fox. Drove that one for about 4 or 5 years. I did have to put in a rebuilt transmission for $350! Too bad GM doesn't build cars like that anymore.
#6 of 161 3-4 years old with 40-50K
Sep 04, 2006 (6:45 am)
I think the best deals are 3-4 years old with 40-50K. By that time you've typically knocked half or more of the brand new price and have well over half the useful like left. Even with some repairs you still eliminate the pain of new car depreciation. As with "someone else's problems" that can be overcome by a test drive by a someone with a good ear and a in-depth review by a trusted mechanic.
In Jan '04 I bought a 2001 Saturn SL2 with 53K for $4300 from a local dealer. This car has been great to drive, overall reliable and gets 25mpg in town. Now with 71K still has a trade in value of around $4000. Even in 3 more yrs with 100K I figure it'll still bring $2500.
I can see a new post: Best $500 or less car experiences...
#7 of 161 Re: 3-4 years old with 40-50K [krony]
Sep 07, 2006 (8:13 am)
I've had 3 used cars and I'm finally on my first new car. My first used car was an 88 Taurus wagon bought in 94, didn't last too long. Second car was a 96 Nissan Sentra bought in 99 with about 28k miles and it was perfect, I only got rid of it when I moved away to school. Third car was a used 2002 Acura RSX with 16k and absolutely perfect. Only got rid of it when I traded it in for a new Acura. I probably really should've stuck with the RSX, I purchased it at a fair price, it was in perfect condition (had it checked out by a mechanic and had it run through an insurance database), and it still had a high value when I traded it in.
I'd buy used again, I'd just be smart about it like I was with the RSX, I learned a lot in buying used a few times and it's definitely worth the money to have it checked out
#8 of 161 New and keep forever
Sep 07, 2006 (12:28 pm)
There is no way I can beat $300-$500/year in vehicle costs, but here is my example of buying a well-made new car and running it a long time.
I bought a new '95 Mazda Protege in March of '96 for $13.3K. It just passed 200K miles and runs great with a solid engine and manual tranny (still on the original clutch). Oil usage is only 1 quart every 5-7K miles. I have done most of the service myself. When washed and waxed, the car still looks new. Fuel economy is still at 31-39 mpg. I plan on driving it for another 10 years.
I have detailed cost numbers because I use this vehicle in my consulting business. Here they are:
Costs per mile for the first 10 years (192K miles):
Purchase Price and Finance Cost- $.074
Maintenance- .021 (labor not included for DIY work)
Registration and Wheel Tax- .004
Total cost per mile for first 10 years: $.154
Total cost per year for first 10 years: $2,957
*Estimated cost per mile for next 10 years:$.111
*Estimated cost per year for next 10 years:$ 2,131
*This assumes a doubling of average fuel costs, liability insurance inflation, and a new clutch.
Government deduction per mile for 2005: $.4317 (weighted average). This is great for my business.
So here is my lesson: get a reliable car (either new or used), take good care of it, and run it as long as possible!
#9 of 161 Re: New and keep forever [jrdwyer]
Sep 08, 2006 (4:05 am)
Great example, and detail.
So one question I have is at what point do you dump a used car? If the major mechanicals are ok I figure it's always worth putting tires, brake pads & rotors and other "consumables" on a vehicle. Even a clutch I could put justify for a manual trans. My most recent trade in 2004 I got rid of a '93 Buick with 140K. Could have ran it longer but the rocker panels were beginning to rust bad and other things were beginning to go wrong.
So what's your definition of forever? (Mine is until it costs more than $750)
#10 of 161 Re: New and keep forever [krony]
Sep 08, 2006 (7:14 am)
Forever in my definition means as long as the car is reliable (or fixed to be reliable), safe, and presentable (no big rust holes).
Rust is a car killer for many people in the north with body work being fairly expensive to try and eliminate it. I don't really have that issue where I live.
Auto Tranny failure is also up there for early death of a car. And electrical gremlins in today's complex cars drive many to drink or sell.
Cost of repair has not been a huge issue for me as most repairs and service to date have been under $300. I will spring for the new clutch at $800-$1000. I might even spring for a remanufactured engine if that issue came up before 300K miles. That would be a $2-3K repair.
I like the new car forever idea as it gives you all the information about the car's repair and service history. With this knowledge and history, I trust that my car will perform well. I also have a sense of what could go wrong ahead of time because I know what parts I've replaced. I would no problem driving the Protege across country tomorrow.
Buying new is also very important with the 5-10% of us who use a clutch. Clutch wear varies tremendously by user.
One could also get much of this information in the used market from an honest one-owner private seller with records. By the time a car is on the third or later owner the history and trust of reliability go away (especially past 200K miles). That said, as third owners we did run an '88 Olds Delta 88 from 100K to 200K miles before serious issues crept up and forced us to junk for $50.
I consider myself a good and safe driver, so I downplay the need for new safety features like ABS, side curtain airbags or traction/stability control. In fact, I think some of these features reduce the long reliability and increase the cost of maintaining a car.
Your limit of $750 to maybe a thousand is what most people consider the end. Past $1K and I would give repairs serious thought. My hobby of DIY repairs (where my labor is not counted) also makes many problems or maintenance items more feasible for long-term ownership.