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Newly Purchased Vehicle Questions

Hello everyone,

My husband and I were in a pickle and needed to buy another vehicle ASAP (very different work schedules that would leave one of us stranded for hours each day). We narrowed it down to two choices: a base model 2008 Chevy Aveo with 57k miles and a 2004 Suzuki Aerio Sx (fully loaded without AWD) with 25k miles. Both cars were trade ins and had absolutely no rust (very important as we live in Maine) and looked and felt solid. Unfortunately, neither car came with any maintenance records and we could not have them checked out since our only time to shop is on weekends and our garage is closed.

We test drove both and my husband decided on the Aerio (the Aveo just felt kinda weird - I drive a Yaris and the Aveo had worse gas mileage, less “get up and go” with a larger engine. Not too impressed). We ended up getting the Aerio for about $550 less than blue book. It does come with a 1k/30 day warranty and the dealership has a great reputation for not screwing people over (they also have an on-site garage). We are taking the car this week to our garage to have them look it over and see if anything needs to be repaired.

So my question is should we need to do anything special for a car that is 10 years old with only 25k miles? From the carfax and what the dealership told us the car was either traded in or repossessed in 2007 with 19k miles and an older couple bought it at an auction. They traded it in around October of last year. That’s only around 1.5k miles a year for the past 4 years. Also, in your opinion, did we make the right call (not that it matters at this point haha)?

Sorry for the novel length post =)

See what your garage recommends. If you have no maintenance history the 1st thing to do is research to determine if the motor has a timing belt or timing chain, you can do this on a web site - gates.com.

If it has a timing chain skip to next paragraph. If it has a timing belt, at 10 years it needs to be changed ASAP regardless of the low 25K miles. If the motor is an interference motor, a belt breaking will cause catastrophic damage to the motor and you basically are left with either a trashed car or a $3,000 bill to replace the motor.

Once you determine what to do about the timing belt, next step is to have all the fluids changed. Coolant, brake, transmission, differential, power steering, oil, everything. Do not use a quick lube place for the fluid changes, have a good independent shop do it. You realize that Suzuki is getting out of the US, so you might not have a Suzuki dealer to go to at all. Get the brakes checked for pad wear. Then drive it for awhile and see what pops up. Good Luck.

A possible problem with this car was that the oil wasn’t changed at least once a year.
It’s possible to look in through the oil fill hole to see how clean the top of the engine is.
I would also assume other fluids haven’t been changed.
Get all the things done that are called for in the Maintenance Schedule, based on mileage AND time.
I would get the coolant, transmission fluid/oil & filter (if applicable) and brake fluid changed.
Avoid flushes and use only trans fluid & coolant specified by the maker, not “universal” stuff.

Post longer, we love a story. I always say to immediately change the oil in a used car, especially if there is no record of one being done. Think about anti-freeze next. At least have it checked to assure that it’s good to -40F. But you already did that.

Thanks for the input. I had a dodge neon pop a timing belt only 30k miles after being changed and I have avoided cars with them ever since - both my Yaris and the Suzuki have chains :slight_smile:

As for the fluids and maintenance, all of that is being done early next week. We already figured on doing that much at least since we did not have any information on when it was last done.

We have a good garage that we use and have never used the dealership for any maintenance or repairs after a warranty expires so hopefully Suzuki pulling out of the US will not impact us too much.

I will definitely ask our garage to take a look at the top of the engine. Thank you for the advice.

I would want to know the condition of the car before going ahead. It may be inconvenient to have it checked out before buying it, but the cost of not getting it checked out could prove to be very expensive.

If needed take a cab or the bus one day. It sure will be better to take a taxi or have a friend take you around as needed vs, risk a much larger and expensive problem.

Hoping that there is not a problem that a mechanic checking it out would find.

@Fluffie, no offense, but I don’t like either of those cars. I would have bought a slightly larger vehicle, with a few more miles, for the same amount of money.
I don’t believe those very small vehicles are a great deal, financially.
Even though they’re economical, you don’t get much comfort or fun.
Is your parking space very tiny?
Do you live in the city?
Do you park on the street?
Are you going to be able to get the car serviced in the long run?
Suzuki is gone from the US market.
They apparently went out with a whimper.

Check out this link.

JosephEMeehan - We have already purchased the vehicle. Because of my husband’s work hours, he cannot take the bus and I have to have my vehicle for work. Also, because of the distance we live from his work, it would be around $60/day for him to take a cab. We both work the hours that our garage is open and taking the vehicle in would require both of us to take a day off. Unfortunately, we both took over a week off at Christmas and would not be able to do that for quite a while.

db4690 - No offense taken, but I disagree (At least about the Suzuki - the Aveo was very uncomfortable and felt like a crappy little shoe box). The Aerio is very comfortable to ride in and very fun. My husband and I are still young (mid 20’s) and we do a lot of out doors stuff (camping, kayaking, hiking, etc.). We wanted a smaller nice looking vehicle with a hatchback, 4 doors (for a roof rack), and decent on gas because of the equipment we carry, how far we travel on our adventures, and because we have a dog. We ruled out most larger vehicles because of no hatchback or bad gas mileage and simply because my husband wanted something fun to drive. The car we were really after was a Mazda 3 hatch but there were literally none in the area for sale in our price range. We chose to not finance this vehicle which left us with very few options ($8k). I don’t know if you’ve been to Maine, but it’s pretty rural and choices are limited haha. We both have good jobs and a hefty savings account for any problems that may pop up.

@Fluffie, while we’re not on the same page about car preferences, I agree that you made the right decision to buy the car outright. I buy my cars the same way, because I don’t like the idea of driving a car everyday that is not yet mine.
I have not been in Maine.
So I take it there’s not a lot of car dealers?

Bravo to you @Fluffie for paying cash for the car.
When I got out of college I pledged to myself to stay out of debt once I paid off my student loans.
I’ve saved $$$ by not sinking it into interest on the 5 cars I’ve bought with cash over the years.

I definitely agree with not financing a vehicle! Last year, right after I graduated from university, I made the mistake of financing my car instead of milking my old one for all it was worth. Long story short - I’m going to have roughly 180k miles on it before I pay it off!

We are fortunate enough to live near one of the larger cities in Maine, but there are only about 15 used car sales lots in the area and most of them only have 5-10 vehicles. We were able to look at every single dealership within a 30 minute drive from our house in about 5 hours of searching. Rust is also a very bad problem here so that disqualified quite a few vehicles =(. These were literally the only two vehicles we could find that met our needs.

Trust me circuitsmith, my Yaris is the first and last car we are ever financing. We are very fortunate to not have too much debt (mostly student loans - gag) so it wouldn’t have killed us, but we want to get what we have paid off entirely in the next 5 years and adding a new car payment would not have helped!

I don’t agree that you made the right call. You should have used the 8k as a healthy down payment on a new compact car. It has been my belief for a long time that a new car costs little more overall than used if you factor in repairs that you can’t or won’t do for yourself. Your aversion to debt is keeping you from living a better life that includes a new car with a warranty. That was a complete bungle to buy a Suzuki. Where will you get parts for that thing in 5 years? Suzuki leaving the US was in the news for some time now.

I speak from experience with an Opel that we bought several years before they left the US. During our Opel’s final years after they left the US, new parts could not be found; only used. It was an adventure to take a long trip with that car, the only one that we had at the time. We strongly hoped for no trouble with the car in rural areas especially.

@Fluffie–I agree with your decision not to make car payments. A used car is always a gamble, but the interest you would have to pay to finance a new car will pay for a lot of repairs. If you keep up the maintenance and drive the car with reasonable common sense, your chances are really good that you will come out ahead. I enrolled in graduate school in the Fall of 1969 and was driving a 1965 Rambler with quite a few miles on the odometer. I emerged from graduate school in 1971 with the same car with even more miles on the odometer. There was no Rambler dealer in the university town where I attended graduate school. However, there were independent shops that did service and repair the car. After I graduated, the money I saved during my first year allowed me to make a down payment on a house. A couple of years later, when I was ready to replace the Rambler, the dealer where I bought the next car had a used car that I wanted priced at $2495. When I suggested that I would trade in the Rambler, the price dropped to $2200. I frowned and the appraiser looked out the window at the Rambler, whispered something to the salesman and I was told I could purchase the replacement straight out for $2000. However, if I traded the Rambler, the price would be $2200. I bought the car and then sold the Rambler privately for $250.
I’ve owned cars for 51 years and have never financed a car. I purchased used cars setting a little money back for repairs. I have argued the price down because the car needed tires. I’ll shop for the tires. I have come out ahead financially by not making payments. Remember this–your college degree was an investment in skills and knowledge for your job. In your case, it was worth the student loans. A car is not an investment. Your knowledge and skills will increase. The car will only depreciate.

Good news: The 2.4L engine in your Suzuki does not have a timing belt.

Don’t consider financing your Yaris a mistake. Instead, it will help you build a good credit rating. If you and your husband want to buy a house, this will be an important step.

Yeah been there. I try to keep an extra car around since it kinda hard to take a cab 50 miles to work. I agree with the others that you need to pretty much freshen all the fluids up and bring everything up to date such as the air filter. I’d just consider nothing was done to it and start over so you know where you stand. Personally though, I would be looking at cars a little more substantial than those though that are more plentiful and a better bargain. Most cars get 30+ mpg and after that, your marginal savings per year really don’t amount to much.

" If you and your husband want to buy a house, this will be an important step".
@jtsanders–Good point. Forty-one years ago I was ready to build a house. I owned the land outright in a popular area and wanted to use the land as a down payment to have the house built. The value of the land was at least 20% of the value of the house we proposed to build. My wife and I both had tenure line positions at a university. The loan officer asked me where I had credit and where I had financed my car. I responded that I had never borrowed money and I bought my car for cash. He then asked me what kind of car I drove. I told him that I drove a 1965 Rambler. He then said, “Why do people in your positions drive and old car like that?” I was really hot and replied, “So I don’t have to borrow money from people like you”.
The loan officer then proceeded to tell me that I couldn’t get a loan because I had never established credit. I then pointed out to him that if we defaulted, the bank would make money on the house–essentially the loan would be risk free to them. I then said that I didn’t want the money. I would save until I was able to have the foundation laid. After that, I would save until I could have the house framed and enclosed. I said that I was capable of doing wiring, plumbing and drywall and I would complete the house one stick at a time without borrowing a dime. The loan officer then went to see a senior official at the bank. In less than a week, our application for the loan was approved.

I worked in a dealership until a few months ago, and I can tell you 100% it is harder to get a cust with no credit approved then a customer with bad credit. Literaly you could have been bankrupt and we could get you approved in some cars. However with no credit unles you had like half down it was next to impossible to get down. e it was xt t

The Suzuki Aerio is what the SX4 is based on, and is a pretty good little car. The only problem could be parts may get hard to find, because of the cars age, and low production numbers.

@Wha who? - I do see your point, but even going for a cheap small car we would spend around $15,000 and probably have a 5 year loan. We paid $6800 for this vehicle. I really do not see this car needing $8,200 worth of repairs in the next 5 years unless something major failed multiple times. That is the only way that it would financially make sense to buy a brand new car. Our other vehicle wasn’t even bought new - it’s a 2009.

We are actually saving for a house and the reason we financed the Yaris was to establish my husband’s credit (I have excellent credit and he has none). In March we should qualify for a mortgage so we do not want to take on any more debt than is necessary.

I really appreciate everyone’s input. Hopefully this car turns out to be a worthwhile investment =)