Need to make a car decision

I live in Bismarck, ND and have a one year old. I am single mom. I drive a 2006 Pontiac Grand Prix, uses lots of gas, costs 350 a month including insurance, but has traction control and never once has had a problem starting. It has 100,000 miles and I still owe about 5000 on it. My mom is retiring and wants to give me her 1996 Honda Civic. She kept it in good shape. It is paid for. I don’t know what car would be a better choice for me.

Keep the Grand Prix unless you are in a financial mess otherwise. It is newer, safer, etc.

I assume both are 4-doors?

I vote for the Grand Prix. Ten years is a big difference.

I agree with the two posters above. If you can keep up with payments and insurance, keep the Grand Prix.

If you mother is really looking forward to a new car, and wants to help out her grandchild and herself, she could sell it and probably get about $3000-$3500, depending on the local market. She could use half the proceeds to start a college fund/savings account for the grandchild.

Anyways, this is a little outside the advice you may have been seeking, but is my two cents.

I would take a “free” Civic, but not sure I’d sell the Pontiac immediately. The Civic is smaller and not as Kid friendly as far as car seats are concerned. You might drive the Civic for awhile when you aren’t transporting the child to save gas. After 3-4 months if you find the Civic can work as your only car then sell the Grand Prix.

The Civic has a timing belt and you need to know when that belt was changed. If never, then the car wasn’t taken care of and you need to spend $500 to 600 on a timing belt job immediately. In that Civic if the belt breaks the motor damage results in the need for a new motor at about $2000 to 3000. The interval on that car for timing belt job is about every 80-90K miles or every 7 years whichever comes first.

Keep the GP & sell the Civic; apply the money to paying down your car loan.

My mother just sold her 1998 (similar to the 1996) Honda Civic to my brother. My parents bought it new and loved it. My father was amazed at it’s mileage. He used to joke that it got such good mileage that every now and then he’d have to stop and take gas out! My brother has a fleet of cars, but often drives the Civic over the others. They have plenty of room and are tremendously reliable. I’d opt for the Civic. Maybe you could sell the Grand Prix for what you owe and then be free and clear of a payment.

With gas so expensive, I’d go with the Civic. I want a Civic.

Drive the Civic for a little while and see if you like it.

Thank you everyone for your great advice. I think I will wait and see how the civic does with the car seat. I love the idea of selling the civic and having that money to pay off the GP and start a college fund. But the civic did have its timing belt changed recently and has gotten gold stars from out mechanic. It does come down to a budget decision and selling the GP I am pretty sure I am going to lose money. I am going to also research how well a civic can handle a North Dakotan winter.

Civics are awesome in snow but you need 4 real winter tires. I had no trouble with mine in upstate NY.

Another vote for the Uncle Turbo solution. Keep a FREE car especially a Civic. Sell the Pontiac for what ever you can get and get another compact.

The Civic may be free, but it’s more likely to leave a single mom broken down with the kids somewhere along a North Dakota highway in winter. Surely that’s a consideration here?

My experience with Civic is such that I’d have no concerns with reliability in a properly maintained '96 Civic for a single mom even in a ND winter. I also find the Civic does very well in winter driving with 4 good winter tires. My '03 Civic is great in snow and I just do a seasonal change to winter tires and back, I have extra wheels so this is a simple bolt on and off.

The big question is does the Civic work as the “family car” in this situation? If yes, I’d keep the Civic and sell the Pontiac and pay off the loan. The interior space in a Civic is surprisingly roomy, and the trunk space isn’t much smaller than the Pontiac either.

I’ve found Civic repairs to be rare, and reasonably priced. Repairs for the Pontiac aren’t bad either. I’d project repair costs for the '06 Pontiac in the next 5 years to be either the same or more than keeping the '96 Civic going.

My vote is keep the Civic, sell the Pontiac.

Sell the Pontiac and keep the Civic, and maintain it lovingly!

My vvote goes to taking the Civic and selling it to help pay off the Pontiac. Or just keep the money saved back for any unexpected bills(doctor, repair, house, etc.
The Pontiac is bigger and safer than the Civic and the trade off in fuel mileage would be worth it in my opinion.

Two important questions. How old are the kids? How many miles do you drive per week/month?

Some other slightly less important questions, does the Grand Prix have side airbags? How many miles on the Civic? How much of that $350/month is gas and how much is other stuff? Is your mechanic comfortable working on Honda’s, can he get parts and needed information?