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Old vs. New

We are looking at some new and used cars for our 22 yr. old daughter. She is currently in Afghanistan and wants us to buy her a car (with her own money). I just drove a 2005 Volvo S40 T5 AWD (84,061) miles, 2005 SAAB 9-3 Linear (69,876) miles, 2003 Mini Cooper S (89,661) miles, 2003 Audi A4 1.8T Quattro AWD (81,858) miles and finally alot of newer cars 2008 Honda Civic (24,000) miles, and so on. Would it make since for her to get these used cars or are they too expensive to maintain? They drive beautifully and I feel they would handle well in the snow in CT. She is paying cash and will not have a car payment. I loved the Audi and the Volvo. They were great. I just wonder if she would be better off with a newer car. Price would be about the same for all of these.

The mini cooper is too small to be “good in snow.” Audis, SAABs and Volvos are likely to be more expensive to maintain than the Honda.

I’d pick the Honda from you list of used cars. Hyundai Sonatas are a good choice too.


The Volvo, Saab, Mini Cooper, and Audi are all going to be expensive cars to maintain and repair. '05 for the Saab and Volvo mean no more factory warranty and Volvo repairs are just killer expensive. Volvo dealers seem to regularly hand out invoices of over $2,000 for repairs.

Honda Civics are not nearly so expensive to own. Repairs are not frequent but can be pricey. I just had a timing belt job on my '03 Civic for $600 with fresh auxillary belts, manual transmission fluid changed, and new coolant. It hasn’t need any repairs over he 97K miles on it now and should be good for a few more years.

Volvo’s, Audi’s, and Saab’s do drive great, but that all comes with a heavy price at service and repair time.

If you love your daughter, avoid those models, and buy her an AWD Honda CRV. It will go anywhere, and will not bankrupt her with repair and maintenance bills. I’m assuming she want to drive in snow.

Personally I feel she’d be better off buying her own car when she gets back from overseas. And so would you, because you’re going to get the blame if you buy something she doesn’t like :wink:

Of the choices, I’d pick the Civic. It’ll be hands-down the most reliable of the bunch.

If it’s a car she wants, then the Civic, Toyota Corollas or Mazda 3 are all very solid cars that are inexpensive to maintain.

When it comes to a used car reliability would be based more on how it driven and maintained rather than the badge on the rear end.

The best move would be to stay out of this entirely. If she’s serving in Afghanistan then she’s mature enough to make any car decision on her own when she returns. Why risk the purchase of a car in which the seats may be agonizingly uncomfortable to her or any one of a 100 other reasons which may lead to her ownership of a car she doesn’t like.

I think your daughter should choose her own car when she returns from overseas. She should buy what SHE likes, not what you like.

[i] The mini cooper is too small to be "good in snow."[/i] 

The best car in the snow I have ever had was my first car, a Sunbeam IMP.  It weighed in at 1,200 lbs.  I went through all kinds of whether and never a problem with snow.  Good thing because I could not find snow tyres the right size (12 inch).  Even with regular tyres it was great. 

I finally sold that car to a co-worker who totaled it when he fell asleep on the freeway and ran into a parked Impala at 60 mph.  He had a few scratches and a nice bruise.  Car was totaled.

Why does she want you to buy it? You all could go shopping when she returns. You might help her narrow the list somewhat. What does she want from the car, other than good snow performance?

Actually the mini is a pretty good car in the snow…

A visit to the local bookstore to pick up a Consumer Reports Used Car Buyers’ Guide would be a good first step. I think you’ll find that the cars you first listed are all cars to avoid. The Civic is the only good choice in your post.

Don’t forget, however, that there are new very reliable econoboxes (like the Scions) that may be available for not much more than a used Civic. Don’t rule a new car out.

“If you love your daughter, avoid those models, and buy her an AWD Honda CRV. It will go anywhere, and will not bankrupt her with repair and maintenance bills. I’m assuming she want to drive in snow.”

I agree most with “Docnick”. This is a no brainer as if she doesn’t like it and has given you the authority to make the choice, she has a car with the best resale value to trade.

“Give me a Honda or give me…” well, not quite that far !

“If you love your daughter…”

It seems to me that if they love her, they should respect her wishes, even if they are contrary to whatever any one of us say (including the parents). As an adult, she is entitled to drive anything she wants and for any reason. If she wants a practical car, that’s fine. If she wants to splurge with the money she earns on her all expenses paid trip (not vacation), that’s fine, too. If it was my daughter, I’d provide coaching and let her make her own decision. Actually, I have a daughter that wants to buy her first car, and I only provide the advice she asks for. I provide procedural advice without request (check the insurance, etc.), but she will make the decision. If they are adults, we must treat them as such. Then they’ll know we love them and respect them.