I can't stop looking at cars to potentially buy

So I have a bad addiction…probably a lot of you can relate. I can’t stop looking at cars for sale!!

Disclaimer: this’ll be pretty in-depth, if you read it kudos to you…

So I currently own a 2015 Chevrolet Volt with all the bells and whistles. It’s a fantastic car that I’ve owned for 2.5 years and counting.

I drive about 1200-1500 miles a month (occasionally for work) in Los Angeles. It’s the perfect ‘commuter’ car: comfy, economical, doesn’t feel like a Prius. My reasons for getting rid of it is:

  1. Value on them seem decent, and I’m hoping I can get around 12-14k (leaving me about 4-6k as a downpayment for another vehicle—My sweet spot for a car payment is about $300-350/mo
  2. Long term–I feel like I’m chained to the dealer if anything ever goes wrong with this thing
  3. Anxiety driving further, road trips etc… Car doesn’t have a spare; I’ve experienced a flat tire on this thing 4x in ownership and don’t wanna drive it pass 100 miles (like to Vegas)
  4. Bored? My personal record was 2,000 consecutive miles on pure electricity–5,000 on one tank of gas. Geez does that sound incredibly lame…but I loved tracking this stuff

I’m just having a hard time shutting my brain off and looking at other cars. I’ve always wanted a relatively reliable, practical daily car that’s not gonna cost an arm and leg like a BMW (however, if I do through Carmax I’d get that sweet warranty to offset it)

My ideal car would get 30+ MPGs on HWY, HP/TQ enough to have some fun with (I had a manual Acura ILX–same specs as a Civic Si; want something with a little more umph), relatively reliable (don’t wanna get stranded regualrly, if ever), practical DD to haul 4 people on a road trip decently with luggage–(our other car is an ND Miata (my girlfriend’s)


Well—it uses regular gas, has adaptive cruise control, Apple CarPlay, goes about 25% further on electricity and my nerdy self wants to see how far I can push that, regular gas, it’s more fuel efficient too, I reallllly like it in blue.

VW GTI-- fits all the needs, just uncertain if I want to hop back in a manual (I really don’t mind) IDK about reliability
VW Golf R–Can I/should I afford it? How much better is it than the GTI?
Subaru WRX–Too boy toy-ish? (I used to have an Evo X)
Subaru BRZ/86—we have the Miata, but I’ve always liked these
BMW 1/2 series–1 series may be too old as far as tech for me; 2 series just worried about long term reliability + depreciation
Mini Cooper Clubman–I rented a Countryman, it wasn’t half bad. Liked the quirkiness, just uneasy with reliability


I spent a lot of time on the road lately, and I challenged myself to try and identify car makes and models. It was not easy. I am an owner of a newer car, bud asks how do you like it, I am like it goes when I hit the gas and stops when I hit the brakes, Shirley you have different aspirations, but going and stopping is a big thing though the 2017 Acadia limited is a land yacht not a sports car for sure. Luckily the wife loves it and the 2017 rav4 is fine for me. You might throw mazda on the list.

The VW’s would check all the boxes as long as you can find a good german specialist. My brother’s had a 2009 GTI manual transmission since brand new and his local VW shop has maintained the car since day one and has had minimal problems. It’s his 5dr family car that’s also a good stress relief on the long hill climb home (basically you forget there’s a hill at all with the power). Won’t buy a car that this shop doesn’t service. Keep in mind he has more like a 6mi round trip commute.It works as a local family car better than for road trips. You can get the DSG gearbox in these but my brother’s a rabid manual transmission fan, not to mention the plaid seats were required.

The WRX was too boy racer for a friend of mine even though he loved it, went to a new Lexus ES F-Sport about a year ago and had to replace it with an exact double at the end of 2019 due to being rear ended and the car totalled. Not nearly as fun as the WRX but in a similar shade of blue. Commutes at least 120mi round trip into San Francisco so needed something more comfortable.

And don’t call me Shirley!

1 Like

When my budget allowed for only buying used cars, I would shop on Sunday when the dealers were closed. I would spot a couple of cars that interested me. I would check back a couple of weeks later on another Sunday afternoon. If the car was still there, I figured that there was something wrong with it and scratch it off my list. If the car was gone, I figured it was a good one because someone wanted it. That car buying method saved me a lot of money.
I had a colleague that worried in the gasoline shortage in the late 1970s that fuel would be rationed as it was during WWIi. He sold a really fine 1976 Oldsmobile 98 and bought some little import that was sold under the Plymouth label. We never had a gasoline shortage in our area. I was driving a Ford Maverick at the time that was over the hill. One of my colleagues died suddenly and had purchased a new Mercury Grand Marquis three weeks earlier. He had no immediate family and his brother was trying to sell the car at a ridiculously low price. I should have purchased that Mercury, but my colleague had me concerned about a possible gasoline shortage. I missed out on a great buy.
If your present car is doing the job, think about other things to do with your money. Buy mutual funds. When your present car needs to be replaced, you will have funds for its replacement.

I’ve always just bought cars I liked, regardless of the current trends for high mpg, electric motors, gadgets, and so on. I guess that’s why I keep them so long. I buy a car I like and see no reason to get rid of it. In the old days of course when a model 61 came out and dated a model 60, it was a different story. Everyone wanted the new body style.

@bing. Not quite everyone wanted the new body style. I much preferred the looks of the 1957 Ford over the 1858, the 1959 Ford over the 1960 Ford, the 1957 Buick and Oldsmobile over the 1958 models of these cars.


Agree, 58 was not a good year in my opinion and the only 59 I liked was the Chevy, but 61 was a good one. Really didn’t like any of the 60’s though. I took my driver’s training in a 64 Ford and never liked the body style but from the inside, driving it, was great fun. My former fighter pilot instructor though didn’t like me using my left foot for braking (breaking) and suggested I wait until the end of the course and I could do what I wanted. I don’t remember if his brake was on the left or right though.

I can’t stop looking at cars for sale on Craigslist either. Mostly just to look at the junk people are selling, and to laugh at the prices people are asking for their beat-to-hell old trucks, etc. Of course if something comes on the market that I really want, such as a 94-95 Caravan with the 3.0L engine and 3-speed transmission, I won’t hesitate to buy it (assuming it is in decent condition, and the asking price is reasonable).

My current and target car payment is $0.00. Being afraid of driving a 2015 car 100 miles is ridiculous! 4 flat tires in 2 1/2 years is more than I have had in 30 years. Do you have an angry ex girlfriend?

A few…but prior to my '15 Volt I had ZERO flat tires in the 9 years of driving prior. I guess having a PHEV attracts nails?

Thanks for sharing! I like your car buying method.

My current car is certainly doing the job. I’m pretty vested into saving, investing, retirement, etc…
Could just be the current boredom of not being able to enjoy travel and other things due to the pandemic hindering it all…

Plaid seat, manual–GTI sounds perfect. It really does check all the boxes and I’m sure reliability/maintenance isn’t gonna kill me and turn me off to it. I may have to test drive one and see if the magic is there for me and I can justify it.

ES F-Sport sounds good. Kind of like an upgrade of a Sporty Camry.

I’d move away from electric. Why? Because the main reason to get an electric car is to save money on gasoline. Any savings you realize on gas are going to evaporate because you keep trading cars.

To your arguments:

Are you saying you have a loan on the car and still owe $8,000 on it? Do you have a good income and a healthy savings account? Because if not, it’s a really terrible idea to get rid of a car you’re still making payments on. It’s a guaranteed way to trap you in a debt cycle basically forever.

What you feel like and reality are not always the same thing. A Volt has a normal gasoline engine. Any mechanic can work on the normal gasoline engine. Any mechanic can change the brake pads, etc etc. And the electric motor is unlikely to need service.

Many if not most new cars come without a spare tire. If you’re worried about road trips in this car, you’ll be equally worried about road trips in the new car. This argument especially makes no sense in that of the cars you listed, the WRX, the BRZ/86, the BMWs, and the Mini, as well as the gen 2 Volt do not come with spare tires.

You are overlooking the Mazda line of cars and SUV’s. The Mazda6 is a large comfortable car with a bit of the Mazda zoom, and the CX-5 is a remarkably “sporty” vehicle compared to other SUV’s.

@shadowfax. I would think a long time before buying an electric car, even though I like the idea. I need a minivan and thought about the Chrysler Pacifica hybrid. I decided to buy another Toyota Sienna with its old technology. I decided I could buy a lot of gasoline for the difference in price.
I bought a used Black and Decker battery powered mower about four years ago. After the first season, I had to replace the batteries. I spent $65 for the pair of new batteries. These batteries lasted two seasons. I spent another $65 for a pair of batteries. I mowed for 10 minutes and the mower quit. The controller board had failed. I found that the controller board is no longer available. I thought about bypassing the controller with an on/off switch between the battery and the motor. However, there would have been no overload protection, nor no safety control. I finally donated the mower to Goodwill industries. I decided I could buy a lot of gasoline for the $65 I would spend every two years for batteries. These were sealed lead acid batteries. I assume the lithium ion batteries on the new mowers are better.

@Triedaq I agree on purely economic grounds. The good electric cars are jaw-droppingly expensive, and the cheap electric cars are. . .Well. Cheap. And even on the good ones, the more shenanigans Musk pulls, the less sad I am that I couldn’t quite swing a Tesla on my last car purchase. The last one where he remotely disabled options that customers were told they were getting because “well the first owner paid for them, but the second owner did not” was the final straw for me as far as supporting Tesla as a company. Hopefully Lucid builds a good competitor and doesn’t pull the shady moves Tesla is becoming known for.

The new Leaf is showing a lot more promise as they finally got into the triple digits for range, and the price isn’t too far out of line from what you’d pay for a normal gas car. But $40,000 will still buy a lot of car and pull you out of the compact hatchback market, so it’s still in some ways a sacrifice. And unlike with the Teslas, if you buy a $40,000 Leaf you don’t get supercar levels of acceleration to play with.

Now, if your thinking leads you to places other than pure economics and also to the ecological then electric cars make more sense, because the sooner they become more popular, the sooner their prices come down so that other people can buy them. And unlike a gas car, electric cars can run on clean, renewable power sources. And even if they aren’t currently plugged into such sources, when the power company builds a new wind/solar farm, the car gets cleaner. That’s something that can’t be said for gas burners. And as an aside, I assume OP is not thinking ecologically, because replacing your car every 2-3 years is not ecologically sound.

On the mower, interestingly (well, probably not interesting to anyone but me) I just traded a perfectly good Honda mower for a Stihl battery-powered one. We’ve removed so much grass in favor of landscaping and native plant beds that dealing with gas just didn’t make sense anymore. I can now mow the lawn in 30 minutes flat. I’m enjoying the new mower for the most part. It’s a lot more quiet than any gas mower, and cuts well. There are a few annoyances, the biggest one involving the drive motor staying engaged after you release the bar. It doesn’t move the mower, but you can’t pull the mower backwards until you push it slightly forward. Irritating, but that’s not unusual on 2nd gen battery mowers, and it removes the annoyances of stabilizing fuel, changing oil, etc.

There are a lot of us that really do like the latest models of battery powered mowers .

@shadowfax. I am in favor of the reduced pollution from battery and hybrid cars. I need a minivan, but was a little concerned with the Pacifica which was a new model from Chrysler three years ago when I bought the Sienna.
@VOLVO-V70. When I do replace my gasoline mower, I will try a battery powered mower again. I liked the quiet operation of the one I had. I prefer a push mower for its simplicity and the size of my yard doesn’t warrant a self propelled mower.

You could always downgrade to a rotary mower