I’m looking for a used Accord or Camry for under 10K. I’m concerned I’m finding cars that are a bit too high mileage(or maybe too old) for that price, and that they’re likely to need somewhat costly repairs right after purchase.I’m purchasing from a dealer so I’m not sure how realistic it’s to expect them to have detailed maintenance records. Some sample vehicles I’ve found, these all are automatics.
'02 Accord SE ~58K miles $9,999
'02 Accord EX-L ~72K miles $8,000
'03 Accord LX ~73K miles $8999
'02 Camry LE ~55K miles $8995
'04 Camry SE ~79K miles $8995
'04 Camry LE ~85K miles $8995
Do you folks believe these are reasonable prices (of course, they’re all negotiable), and most importantly, at this price point, mileage, and age, overall, do these cars seem like wise choices (with the obvious caveat that they’d be checked by a mechanic before purchase)? My fear is that I’m financing a large chunk of the car and I don’t want to have a car payment on top of costly repairs right away. Should I spend a little more and get a lower mileage/newer car?
Thanks so much for your advice,
Since you are buying a used car you can’t expect a long warranty and you will have some repairs. Therefore you need to budget more for repairs and maintenance than you would for a new car. I’d suggest a $200 a month budget for M&R. If this changes the amount you can pay for a car, then you’ll have to make the adjustment. In addition don’t spend all your money on a down payment. Hold back some money for a repair that might hit quickly. The worst scenario is the auto transmission goes bad after the dealer warranty expires.
All the cars you mentioned above would need all new fluids; trans, coolant, brake, etc. upon purchase which is about $400 right there. They might also be due for a tune up meaning new spark plugs. Be sure to ask if the motor has a timing belt. They would all be due for a timing belt, water pump, job which is $500 to $800 depending on the motor and where you live.
All Of Your Fears Are Reasonable. You Are Looking To Purchase A 55K To 85K Miles, Six To Nine Year Old Used Car Of Uncertain History For Nine To Ten Thousand Dollars.
When making a purchase like this there is a risk even when the car is thoroughly checked by a mechanic.
Spend more if it means saving for a while. Buy a car that has fewer miles, is younger, and has a bit of factory warranty on it.
I just looked at some fine 2009 (16 months old) cars with 10 to 11 thousand miles that have 3 years / 36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper and 4 year / 100,000 mile drivetrain factory warranties for just over $14,000. However, they are safe, ecomonical, practical, quiet, comfortable, larger American GM vehicles that I am getting ready to cash out on.
You are right. If you’re making payments then you don’t need the extra expense or even the worry. What are you driving now ? Why finance ? Can’t you save money until you can pay cash ?
Should you get burned on one of those Asian cars, you’ll remember my advice.
UncleTurbo and CSA,
Thank you for your quick replies. Uncle, you make some good points. That’s exactly what I’m afraid of. It implies about $350/month in car expenses. I can easily lease a car for that much and not have much to worry about for the next 3 years.
CSA, I share those same feelings. To explain my situation a little more, my wife and I already have a new 2010 Toyota Rav4 that’s our main car. The one car arrangement was fine while I was in grad school, but now I drive 20 miles each way to work. We have 2 small children so I can’t always take the car and being driven to work is a nightmare as getting out of the house with 2 little kids is nearly impossible early in the morning. This will be even more difficult as the upstate NY winter kicks in. In short, I need a car to get back and forth to work, and the occasional longer trip (~ 100 miles each way every couple of weeks). I need nothing fancy but I do need to be able to fit 2 car seats + baby gear in the car on occasions. I contemplated going the much older and much higher mileage route, but talked myself out of that due to safety concerns, and the certainty of repair costs, which I don’t have the time or out-of-pocket cash for. Essentially, I keep increasing my budget but the issue of looming repairs doesn’t seem to be going away. So that tells me that perhaps the Accord and the Camry ,at any stage it seems, are out of my price range. Do I refocus my efforts on a smaller car, say a 2-3 yr old Ford Focus/Chevy Cobalt/Nissan Versa hatchback? $12K is my absolute ceiling, but at that point I would want some reasonable peace of mind, which I know is not always reasonable to expect at that price point.
Thanks for the advice.
You can buy a fairly new Ford Taurus for $12k. It should be large enough for 2 car seats, the trunk is large enough for baby gear, and because it’s a fleet vehicle(they make tons of them to give out to rental agencies), you’ll get a HUGE discount buying used, while the car has tons of good life left in it. A 2007 Taurus or Impala decently optioned model should run you about $12k
I would avoid those Accords like the plague - those are in the years where Honda was having very high transmission failure rates, and you don’t want that hassle.
The Camrys you listed are likely better deals, but I think you can do better yet. A used domestic can be had for less with the same age/mileage or about the same price but a bit newer. OTOH, I’ve seen 2008+ Fords selling at what I consider ludicrous prices for used cars. When I was looking, I saw MANY 2008 Fusions with asking prices higher than I paid for a brand new 2010 Mazda6.
If you’re going smaller, like you mention, there is no need to go 2-3 years old to get some of those cars down to $12k. If you can find a Cobalt on a lot, you can get them new for less than that, but IMO, they’re miserable cars. Hertz is dumping 2009 Focuses for $10k now, though I believe you can do better than that, especially with the new model coming out…
The Accord transmissions are probably ok if they come with a 4 cylinder engine, the problems were more with the V6.
Your purchase of the 2010 Rav4 made sense. These cars hold their value well. You are looking for a second car. The opposite strategy applies. A less popular car depreciates more quickly. The first owner took the hit on depreciation, so you might as well reap the benefits. Check Consumer Reports so you don’t buy a real dog. The earlier suggestion recommending you look at a Ford Taurus or Chevrolet Impala from a rental fleet makes sense.
When I was in 8th grade back in 1954 my mother went back to work and my parents needed a second car. The first idea was a Willys Jeep station wagon, but one of these that was any good was priced out of their range and one that was in their price range was pretty much over the hill. The same was true with the Fords and Chevrolets. A good Ford or Chevrolet fetched a premium price, while the affordable ones were shot. My Dad finally found a 1947 DeSoto coupe that he purchased for $325. The DeSoto wasn’t a very popular car, but the price was right and the car turned out to be one of the best cars he ever owned.
I own two Toyota products–a 2003 4Runner and a 2011 Sienna. I purchased them new and they have held their value well. However, when I looked at used Toyotas, the price was too high for the estimated service life left. My previous minivan was a 2006 Chevrolet Uplander. It had 15,000 miles when I purchased it in 2006 and I saved a bundle on depreciation. I sold it to our son who was in need of a better vehicle but has limited income as a new teacher, or I would still be driving it.
I picked up a 2010 Cobalt in February. I was looking for at used sedan (i.e. Pontiac G6, Malibu, etc), but the Cobalt was 12.2k after 5500 in rebates. It was cheaper to buy a new car than a 2 or 3 year old certified. Currently there is a 3k rebate and 1k in loan assistance if you finance through GM on 2010 Cobalts.
So far I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the Cobalt. Plenty of pickup for a 4 cyl auto, ~30 mpg, quiet, and a good ride. My only complaint is the seats aren’t the greatest. For commuting to work and running errands, it’s a good choice. Other than a leaky headlight, no warranty issues to date.
Thanks so much for all your input. It’s greatly appreciated. So I did a quick search for Tauruses and Impalas as many people suggested. Tauruses don’t seem very popular around my area but Ford Fusions are. I found 3 very interesting (I thought) Fusions:
'07 Fusion SE V6 21K miles for $11999
’07 Fusion SE V4 23K miles for $11500
’07 Fusion SE V4 32K miles for $11999
All have clean CarFax reports. The first vehicle even has a detailed Carfax service record history indicating frequent maintenance. Am I missing something about the Fusion here? Price almost seems to good to be true for such low mileage, well equipped vehicles. Is it just because it’s a Ford?
If you’re comfortable with how the car was maintained, both our kids went this route with their first cars (Accords) 55K and 85K and each were satisfied with the performance till their cars had well over 250K. It’s the stuff like alternators, AC components, power windows, rust etc that did them in, not the motor-transmission. So high mileage but newest year would be my preference to maximize value long term. Fusions have not proven to me they can sustain the long term reliability of a Camry/Accord.
I’d jump on one of those V4’s. They have to be the only V4 Fusions ever made.
Sorry, I couldn’t help myself
Those are very good prices from what I see around here…
But I would caution you about one thing with the Fusion - Ford didn’t think that ABS should be standard until the 2008 models, so check those carefully - they may or may not be equipped with ABS, and if that is important to you, you’ll have to shop very carefully for 2006 or 2007 models. Also, if you want all the airbags, then you need to look for 2007+ models…
I’m still surprised people CHOOSE to drive a Camry. I rented one on vacation, it was one of the most under-powered, non-handling cheap piece of crap. Trim around the seatbelt shoulder harness kept popping off. Getting on the highway was an adventure, you had to floor it and hope you had a good amount of your own lane.
I bet you can find better cars for < 10K
As a Camry owner, I say you don’t drive a Camry - you ride in one. If you like the ride of a Buick, you’ll probably like a Camry. But the handling is miserable in comparison to competing vehicles. I always feel like I’m guessing how much traction I have in the winter, as opposed to other vehicles where I feel like I get enough feedback from the steering to KNOW how much traction I have.
That said, they are (generally) reliable, safe, efficient, and affordable. I don’t believe that they are in any way significantly better than most of their competition - mpg isn’t significantly higher, they aren’t roomier, they aren’t significantly more reliable, and they certainly aren’t cheaper.
As for the cheapness of the interior, criticisms on cheapness have always annoyed me to some extent, because for years I’ve heard about the “cheap plastics” in domestic vehicles compared to the “high quality” ones in imports. I believe those are gross generalizations. The plastic in my old Taurus always seemed of higher quality to me than what I’ve seen in any Honda Pilot built in the past 7-8 years or so… and most vehicles anymore seem to suffer from an overabundance of hard plastic, with very little higher-quality padded surfaces…
Thanks everyone. I really appreciate your input. It’s looking more and more like I’m going to go the leasing route. There are some great deals right now on the '10 Accords. I won’t own the car, but at least I’ll have a relatively worry-free experience over the next 3 years. Thanks for taking the time to reply to my message.
And at the end of three years you’ll have spent all that money for zip, nada, nothing. The money will ne gone and they’ll come take their car back and you’ll be left stranded.
And, should the car have some chronic problem, you’ll be stuck with it. You won’t be able to return it, you won’te be able to trade it, you won’t be able to sell it, and you won;t be able to just live with the problem. You’ll be screwed.
Leasing is, IMHO, a foolhearty way to find a ride.
FYI: I bought my five passenger 1993 Honda Civic VX hatchback in 2001 for $5500 with 72K miles on it. It now has 252K miles and I have done little more than routine maintenance: the clutch and alternator are original - and I tow small sailboats and a utility trailer on a regular basis. I have replaced both axles (torn CV joint boots) and one upper ball joint - that is IT!! I am competent at car repair and do most repairs myself.
My car still gets its’ rated mileage on the highway of 55 MPG, better if I drive carefully and slowly (45 to 50 MPG). It hardly uses any oil - perhaps a quart in 4000 miles, which is not noticeable in terms of blue smoke. I hope to drive this car another 250K - where else can I get a car that gets the gas mileage of a Prius for so little expense?
My point is that, if you buy a good car that was well cared for and take good care of it, it can last for many, many miles.
PS. Oils are so good nowadays that I only change mine every 5K to 6K miles - in order to conserve resources. Clearly this has not hurt my car, given its’ age.
These may be Fusions from a rental fleet. If the cars have been maintained, this shouldn’t be a problem. I think you would be better off going this route with a relatively low mileage car than ether a higher mileage Camry or Accord or going the lease route.