Forum: Advice / Cars & Driving

Buying a used car
By QCdancer
On Sat Aug 28, 2010 05:06 PM

Hi there,

I'm planning on buying a used car in the next month or so. I have a very small budget, so I will probably be limited to older, cheaper cars. Ideally I would like to buy something small and fuel efficient. I also live in New England - the winters are pretty tough so it would need to drive well in the snow.

Do you guys have any suggestions for makes/models that hold up well over the years, or are known for their reliability? I really love VWs, but I'm not sure of how well the older models would hold up. I don't want to buy a cheap car and then spend hundreds on repair!

Thanks,
QC

15 Replies to Buying a used car

re: Buying a used car
By Theresamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sat Aug 28, 2010 06:53 PM
I've driven a 99 Sunfire for years, and it's doing GREAT. It's 11 years old, and in fact, the only reason we're replacing it is because of the age, it's still in great repair! I've had it 6 years, and in the 6 years, it's been in the shop for a new alternator once, and needed new brake pads once. That's IT. Love that car. It's also great handling on snow, which you wouldn't expect from looking at it.

The only wear to the body is from snow rust, and getting hit by my cousin.

Love that car!
re: Buying a used car
By pondflyPremium member
On Sat Aug 28, 2010 08:27 PM
In the past 10 or so years the reliability of cars have increased incredibly. Most vehicles from the mid 90's on are going to be a good bet, domestic or imported.

A couple of things to keep in mid are the following:
Avoid buying the first year release of a specific model. Most bugs come out in the first year.
Repairs on a domestic vehicle are significantly less than imported
Do some online checking of the vehicles you are looking at and see what the public says.
If you can, have a mechanic take a look at the car (well worth the money)
If not, check some of the following:
Tires- Turn a penny upside down and place in the tread, and if you can see the top of Lincoln's head, replace the tire. Same for bulging, wire showing uneven wear ect.

Fluids- Check the engine oil fill, if you see "milky" deposits on the cap or up top, do not buy.
Engine oil should be clean and not have an unusual smell
Trans- Fluid should be red, no metal and has a sweet, not burnt smell.
Brake- Fluid should be either clear or transparent and not have things floating in it.

Battery should be tight with no corrosion on the terminals, all electrical devices should work properly
Car should shift properly, brakes are firm, not spongy and steering should be straight with no pulling to a side.

There are others out there, but by searching online you can find plenty of information out there.

Now as for VW's, and other european models, they are very reliable vehicles and with proper care. Any vehicle with proper care has no problem now passing 150k miles.
re: Buying a used car
By kandykanePremium member
On Sat Aug 28, 2010 11:44 PM
You'll do better buying from a private buyer than a dealership. Most private buyers will negotiate on the price with you, too. I bought a 1999 Chevy Blazer with 130,000 miles on it for $3800 just a couple months ago.

kk~
re: Buying a used car
By Felsamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sun Aug 29, 2010 12:08 AM
I have an '02 sunfire and it is awesome! I drove for 10 hours on the highway on just over a single tank of gas. It has also done me good in the winter. It did not start one time and that is because I did not plug it in, but even on the nights when it hit -35 or colder, as long as it was plugged in it was good to go. It is also easy to handle on the snow and ice. I went to my cousins graduation and it was snowing so hard (yup it snowed in May) you could hardly see anything. The ONLY time my car acted up the whole ride was when I would switch lanes because there was snow and ice built up between the lanes and it would kick my car, but it was really easy to handle, and I was going 90 km/hr.
re: Buying a used car
By Shnaynaymember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sun Aug 29, 2010 03:15 AM
I'd go with a Honda if I were you. I live in New England, too, and I've had five cars, three of which have been Honda (two Accords, one Civic). The Civic was by far the best car I have ever had, that beast could withstand ANYTHING, and I do mean literally ANYTHING. Like, I crashed into a tree and it was fine. Like, someone rear-ended me on the highway in a blizzard and the car was totaled, and I got a VW Passat with the insurance money, and when that turned out to be a piece after a few months, I pulled that Civic out from under a pile of snow, changed one of the tires, and it was good to go.

A Honda will take you on a road trip, off-roading, driving through the mountains in the winter, it's guaranteed to be good on gas, and maintenance is cheap and pretty simple, compared to most other vehicles. Seriously, get a Honda, take care of it, and it will last you forever.

I would also like to specifically and very strongly warn you against getting a VW. I got mine because it was shiny and green, but it turned out to be the worst economical decision I could have made. One month into my ownership of that car, and I started having problems - I literally had to get my car towed every weekend for four weekends in a row, because it would break down randomly for a variety of reasons. Many mechanics told me that it was an extremely expensive and difficult car to fix - and, you'll have to go to someone who specializes in VW (a dealer, maybe) to have it worked on, and the parts are ten times as expensive as Honda parts.

Save yourself the trouble, and don't do it.

peace out
sh'naynay
re: Buying a used car
By dance27
On Sun Sep 05, 2010 06:22 AM
I would look for a reputable, reliable make, like a Honda or Toyota. The initial price is a little higher than some others, but they will hold up- there are also many older models on the market that have a lot of life left in them. Depending on what you buy, Toyotas and Hondas also hold their value decently so you'll be able to sell later on if you so choose. They're also versatile, safe cars- I grew up in New England and go to school in Western PA in the snow belt, so I understand rough winters! I recently bought a used Nissan, which I love (my family has always had Nissans and Hondas) but it's a newer car so I can't really speak for their older models. I would look for lower mileage over a newer car, and be conscious of where it's coming from (if you buy from a dealer, avoid cars that used to be rentals or had a lot of owners). Definitely get it checked out by your mechanic, and if you're not very car savvy, bring along a friend or relative who is. Good luck purchasing, buying a car is so exciting!
re: Buying a used car
By pondflyPremium member
On Sun Sep 05, 2010 10:01 PM
One other thing I forgot to mention- Carfax. If you are buying through a dealer and they are reputable, they will have it done for you.
If not, or buying through a private party, spend the $30.
re: Buying a used car
By Reidfidleirmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Tue Sep 07, 2010 10:44 AM
Check out kbb.com
It'll give you the actual value for the car based on miles, and accessories. And you can read user reviews too, from actual owners of the car you're interested in.
And if it's not too much, just go ahead and spend the $26 for a consumerreports.com web-only subscription. OR you can go to your local library and to the reference desk where they'll have the Consumer REports yearbook and you can look at it there for free. (but you can't take it home).

I live in New England too. I've owned a 1990 and 1985 POntiac 6000 LE. Good cars, but they are american and will have problems down the road. Got them both cheap and low miles. Pontiacs (the older ones anyway) are known for rusting fast, which is not good with all the salt and sand during the winter.

Now I have an older Lexus, but she hasn't been through a New England winter yet. (drove it from Arizona in April).
Toyota and HOnda would be good bets for older cars.

And contrary to popular belief, it is not significantly more expensive anymore to replace foreign car parts. A lot of the foreign makes are made here in the USA now, and besides that, you can also get after market parts that don't have the make name on them, but are just as good.
Lexus is an "expensive" car (beefed up toyota camry) but I have found that it is no more expensive to maintain than my old Pontiacs. And I've never had major problems with it yet. It has 183000 miles on it, and it's a 1998. Only thing I've had to do is replace the back struts (age related), and a couple power steering hoses (those dry and crack in Arizona heat).

Just my two cents.
Have fun looking!
Oh and craigslist can be your friend! Cars.com and autotrader.com are ok too. I've found better success with craigslist though.
re: Buying a used car
By Theresamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Sep 07, 2010 10:56 AM
Pontiacs (the older ones anyway) are known for rusting fast, which is not good with all the salt and sand during the winter.


Not well taken care of ones.

Jim has a 2002 Trans Am that doesn't have a spot of rust on it, and just sold a 2000 Sunfire that didn't either.

American cars that are well taken care of will go a long time - anybody that's ever been to the Woodward Dream Cruise in Detroit can attest to that.
re: Buying a used car
By QCdancer
On Tue Sep 07, 2010 11:16 AM
Thanks for all of the advice! This is seriously helpful for a car newbie like myself.

Reidfidleir - I currently drive a 1999 lexus and I have to agree that they are great cars that last. In the past five years of driving that car I have only had to replace the break pads. My parents also have a BMW and benz and honestly those cars are in the shop nonstop - I think these cars are considered luxury cars because they're for people who have the luxury of having a second or third car to drive while the fancy one is in the shop! I wish I could afford to continue to drive a lexus!

I have been scanning craigslist multiple times a day looking for that perfect car. I think, after the advice on this thread and from my friends, that I'll try to find a nice, not too old honda civic or maybe a toyota. Thanks again guys!
re: Buying a used car
By Heartmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Sep 07, 2010 03:19 PM
Edited by Heart (21721) on 2010-09-07 15:20:12
Edited by Heart (21721) on 2010-09-07 15:20:23
I'd go with a Honda if I were you. I live in New England, too, and I've had five cars, three of which have been Honda (two Accords, one Civic). The Civic was by far the best car I have ever had, that beast could withstand ANYTHING, and I do mean literally ANYTHING. Like, I crashed into a tree and it was fine. Like, someone rear-ended me on the highway in a blizzard and the car was totaled, and I got a VW Passat with the insurance money, and when that turned out to be a piece after a few months, I pulled that Civic out from under a pile of snow, changed one of the tires, and it was good to go.

A Honda will take you on a road trip, off-roading, driving through the mountains in the winter, it's guaranteed to be good on gas, and maintenance is cheap and pretty simple, compared to most other vehicles. Seriously, get a Honda, take care of it, and it will last you forever.

Agree times a million. HONDA CIVIC! Mine is a freaking TANK. It runs like a top, has a powerful engine, great gas mileage, and can withstand anything. Has a few dents, but I hit a four-point buck with it and all I got was a dent on the hood. A friend accidentally backed into it and all it got was a slight indent on the license plate.

I bought mine in January (I live in NJ, so we have similar weather, and plenty of snow this year) and had no problems whatsoever. If you buy a Civic you know it's gonna last FOREVER. They get made fun of a lot, yeah, but they're the perfect starter car. :) Mine was an '05 with 58k on it.

If you don't get a Civic, get a Toyota Corolla or Camry. That's what I had been looking for in the first place actually. Toyotas last FOREVER and those are great cars. My family owns 3 Priuses. One of them is from 2002 and is still going! Two have over 100k on them.

Honda or Toyota - good choices ;)
re: Buying a used car
By Reidfidleirmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Tue Sep 07, 2010 06:38 PM
Edited by Reidfidleir (74759) on 2010-09-07 18:39:42
Edited by Reidfidleir (74759) on 2010-09-07 18:43:30
^Theresa is right, you do need to take care of your car to keep it looking and running nicely.

I mentioned the rust, because Pontiacs are KNOWN for rusting faster than other makes in general. Look it up in Consumer Reports under Body, and Hardware.
oh, and by older I meant 80-90's pontiacs mostly. Even my parent's 2000 Bonneville started before they moved to AZ after having it only 4 years (fortunately the process stopped magically once they moved to the dry climate).


OH, and so if you're driving a Lexus already, WHY ON EARTH ARE YOU GETTING RID OF IT?!!?!? hahaha sorry just had to ask, they're like the best cars. I don't mean to get too personal, but what can't you afford? Are you making payments?
re: Buying a used car
By pondflyPremium member
On Tue Sep 07, 2010 08:46 PM
Edited by pondfly (218838) on 2010-09-07 20:47:06
I've had domestic cars all my life and every one was great. I currently have a Chevy Avalanche which has a little rust starting on the seams of the inside door folds, to which I'll sand and airbrush back to normal. This has 90k on it and I've had little to no problems.
My other car is a Dodge Magnum with 78k and no problems at all other than the crappy original brake rotors which I replaced.

All my other cars l had went well over 125,000 and none of them had rust or major mechanical problems.
When I settle my work comp case I'm actually going to buy my first imported SUV which will be a new Audi Q7 diesel. I want some nice german engineering and luxury.

I can say with proper care and preventative maintenance you can have cars last a long time. It takes some effort, but it pays you back over so many different ways.
re: Buying a used car
By rosalinde
On Sun Sep 19, 2010 08:34 AM
Edited by rosalinde (213002) on 2010-09-19 08:38:16
My Japanese stepdad used to work for Mitsubishi and he recommended getting a Japanese car because Japanese people don't know how to drive (his words, not mine), so the cars have to be solid enough to stand the abuse! So, yeah, Honda or Toyota are great choices. I second getting a Civic or Corolla, but be sure to get a Corolla in good condition: certainly over here they are sometimes used for racing, and because they are so sturdy, they won't really show it -- but the engine will have taken a beating. But other than that, these cars will last you forever! Get some good tires and you'll be ready for winter.
re: Buying a used car
By kandykanePremium member
On Sun Sep 19, 2010 10:07 AM
I mentioned the rust, because Pontiacs are KNOWN for rusting faster than other makes in general. Look it up in Consumer Reports under Body, and Hardware. oh, and by older I meant 80-90's pontiacs mostly.


Huh... I've owned four Pontiacs and never had a problem with rust. Climate, maybe? One of my favorite cars I've ever owned was a Ponitac Grand Prix.

kk~

ReplySendWatch

Powered by XP Experience Server.
Copyright ©1999-2019 XP.COM, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
XL
LG
MD
SM
XS
XL
LG
MD
SM
XS