A showdown between two cars - only one will win!

Hello, my old car bit the dust and I need to get a new one. I am a single post-college guy in northern PA with a $6000 budget, and after shopping around, I’ve come to two options. The first is sold by a good friend of the family. It’s a 2001 Subaru Forrester with 130,000 miles. He is the second owner and has treated it fantastic, not unwilling to spend money on it. For example, buying a new part even though the current one is fine. He is offering it for $4500.

The second is a car I found at the dealer. It’s a 2003 hyundai accent GT with 78,000 miles for $5300. The tires are great and I can’t see any rust

I have driven both of these cars and they seem great, although the Subaru feels more stable, the Hyundai of course gets much better gas mileage. I drive ~60 miles total most days to go to work.

I’m absolutely stuck on which car would be the better choice. Of course the Hyundai seems like a cheaper car but most important to me is reliability. Will the older Subaru make it?

Please help me pick one!

That was during the period that many Foresters had head gasket problems, not cheap to fix. Has this repair been done to your friend’s Forester?

Never buy a car from a friend is one way to go. That hyundai may look good on paper and in person but it isn’t worth half of that price to anybody who doesn’t like walking.

not that I know of

Absolutely unhelpful.

If you don’t need the AWD capability of the Forester, go with the Hyundai. The quality of Hyundais has gone up immensely in for the last 10 years or so, but the used prices haven’t reflected that yet so they’re killer deals. As with any car, get it checked out by an independent mechanic before you buy.

Of course these aren’t the ONLY options out there-- there’s probably hundreds of used cars for sale in your area that would meet your needs-- so don’t get too attached to either of these.

Then I’d pass on it.

Talk about apples and oranges. The only thing these two cars have in common is that they’re both cars.

The Forester’s AWD capabilities would be nice to have during the winter, and considering your location that’s something you should consider. Buying from friends, however, is always a risky proposition.

The Accent seems overpriced to me, and it’s almost guaranteed to need a timing belt, which will cost several hundred dollars. Then you’ll need winter tires, which will be several hundred more. It would, however, get better gas mileage than the Forester.

If you could get the Accent for under $4,000 it might be OK, but it’s still going to need a timing belt.

There have to be other cars for sale in your area, either privately or at dealers. Why are you limiting yourself to just these two?

Offer them both $4K and buy the one that caves in first…

Wait, $3500 tops on the Subaru…

And now, an update: These are the two best options available in my price range. I’ve been to ~20 dealerships and been watching private sales, and I’m not looking at Chevys, Fords, or Pontiacs. Also, don’t read too much into the friend selling thing. He’s going to put it on the market anyways, but thought he would give me first dibs. He also works for law enforcement and is a stand-up guy who knows quite a bit about cars.

Also, since the dealer’s initial price on the Accent is 5900 (I said 5300 earlier because that’s what I was planning on offering him and if he doesn’t take it, I’m out), there’s no way he’s going to go down to 4K.

I would not buy either one, especially the Forrester. Shop for an econmy car without the “GT” designation and offer wholsale price only, after seeing that all the maintenance was properly done.

Most people assume their relatives are auto experts; the best you can say is that they are honest.

Subarus require special care throughout their lives if you want them to last long. This one could be just at the start of the money pit stage of its life.

Since You Aren’t Looking At Chevy’s, Fords, Or Pontiacs, I Think Either One Of These Fine Rides Should Be Just The Car For You ! Flip A Coin!

Don’t let the facts that one of the cars has a less that stellar reliability record and the other " . . . seems like a cheaper car . . . " and does not maintain resale value and is overpriced, deter you.

Now, if you were considering choosing from a wider range, I think you could do better and the advice given would improve.

“Best options” by what criteria? The Subaru is risky and the Hyundai is overpriced. If these are seriously the best you can do in this price range, I would strongly suggest you lower your sights and try to find something cheaper and keep the rest of the cash in reserve.

You should also reconsider your stance on the domestics. Even if you agree with the proposition that the imports are more reliable when they roll out of the factory, the domestics are not far behind at all (well, Ford and GM anyways), and since they don’t hold their value as well your used car dollar is going to buy you a much newer and nicer domestic car than import. So a $5000 Chevy is going to be more reliable than a $5000 Honda simply by virtue of being newer and having lower mileage. There are certainly some domestic models to avoid, but this is also true of the imports.

If the head gasket hasn’t failed in 8 years and 130,000 miles, why should we think it will fail now? I’m sure that not all head gaskets failed, but that the incidence was higher than for other vehicles. I would not take it off the list just for this reason. I have a 1998 Buick Regal 3.8L with 125,000 miles on it and I don’t lose any sleep over the dreaded gasket problem I’ve read about on this board. In fact, I don’t know anyone who has had the problem. I don’t doubt it existed, but it’s mighty late for it to show up now.

The Hyundai Accent is not that expensive as a new car, GT version or not. $5,900 for a 7 year old Hyundai seems way too much. I checked the Edmonds.com TMV (true market value) to see what gives. They did not list a GT model, only GL. With a few options and auto trans the trade-in value is less than $2,200, private sale about $3,200 and dealer sale $4,100.

Don’t overpay for new tires on the Accent. The Subaru is going on 9 years old and you can expect more repair costs due to age more mechanical complexity. If you like the Accent offer the dealer $3,500. If he isn’t interested then I’d say keep shopping.

“You should also reconsider your stance on the domestics.”

And on that subject, keppco, you can find a 2003 Chevy Malibu LX with under 90,000 miles for about $5000. MSNAutos rates it as highly reliable. They caution for two occasional problems that can both be fixed for less than $300. An equivalently equipped Camry would be about twice as much. MSNAutos rates it somewhat less reliable, with significant problems in the EVAP system and occasional problems wht the heating and AC.

Maybe the 2003 Malibu is a good deal.

$5,900 for a six-year-old Accent?

That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard all week.

My daughter bought a '05 Accent with less than 30K miles for under $4,000.

I agree. Having owned Subarus before, I would not recommend one as a high mileage used car, unless you have a need for the AWD. You’re paying for a feature, though very reliable, is less efficient for non AWD needs. Second advice is, be a more flexible consumer and never discount other options. The best buy for you may have already passed you by while you were locked in to just those two options in a very limited price range.
Continued luck in your search.