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Please share ADVICE on buying a late model used car

My last two cars have been a 1999 Plymouth Breeze and a 2006 Dodge Stratus, both purchased used. I want to buy a four-door sedan, but something a little nicer (but not too expensive). I’m especially interested in a car that is a) comfortable and b) quiet. I also want it to get at least 30 mpg as my Stratus does. I’d welcome suggestions. Looking for something a year or two old, so please be specific with year, make, model. Thanks!

Try a recent Buick, I think the LeCross is similar size to your Stratus.

Yeah, I kind of favor the GM cars too. Some of them have a long warranty with 100K for engine and trans, are comfortable, and usually get anywhere from 25-30 mpg. Of course things to look for are the service records. I’m not a fan of people using synthethic oil and trying to go 8-10K between oil changes. Also flood damage is a problem now and any body damage. Have it looked at. Don’t necessarily discount new though with interest rates anywhere from zero to 5%, new can be very economical right now.

I Switched Most Of My Family Fleet From Chrysler To GM When Fix It Again Tony Entered the Picture. We now have 3 Impalas In Our Fleet.

Advice ? Quiet, comfortable, large trunk - I’d look at Chevrolet Impalas, a couple years old, with the 3.5L or 3.6L, both of which should give you 30 MPH hwy or better. My wife drives a 3.5L and gets that mileage and she’s happy with it.

Look at low miles GM Certified Pre-Owned vehicles. There are lots out there. They’re like belly-buttons, everybody’s got one. You get the balance of the 36 month/36,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty, plus GM adds 12 months and 12,000 more miles to it and you get the balance ot the 5 year/100,000 mile drivetrain warranty.

Please be advised that factory warranty begins at the original in-service date of the vehicle, not when you buy it, so it pays to pay attention to that and find the newest unit for which you are willing to pay.

I’d look at the LT (1 & 2) models. The LS is pretty stripped.

Drive one and look at some and see if you like it and see what kind of deal you can scare up. Oh, one more thing, don’t buy a car that’s had collision repair. If you don’t know how to tell then have somebody who knows look the car over a good one.

I’m holding out for the 2014 Impalas to come out in the spring. It’s a totally redesigned Impala to replace the last run that went 2006 - 2013. They look nice.

Give us a budget range that you are willing to spend and you’ll get better advice. I can’t be specific about make/model/year without it.


The last car I drove from my institution’s fleet before I retired was a 2010 or 2011 Ford Fusion. My own vehicles are a 2011 Toyota Sienna minivan and a 2003 Toyota 4Runner SUV, so I don’t spend much time behind the wheel of a conventional car. However, I was impressed with the Fusion. I have no idea what engine was under the hood, but it did run quietly and I think it ran about 30 mpg on the highway. I didn’t do a real accurate check, but made a quick calculation in my head based on the number of miles I had traveled and the number of gallons I pumped into the tank. I do remember that the Ford Fusion had a comfortable driving position for me (I have long legs and many cars aren’t comfortable for me). Used Fusions may be available from rental fleets.

the honda accords are nice, too. but whatever you decide you like, HAVE IT CHECKED BY A YOURR MECHANIC!

I’d second the Fusion recommendation. It will be about as roomy as a Stratus, has very good reliability, and is super common and not expensive. Any from recent years will be essentially the same. They just redesigned it for 2013 so the new ones are quite different. It was a popular rental car, so buying one from the rental companies is a fairly painless way of acquiring one. Rentals usually have high miles for their age, but have been maintained consistently. A Mercury Milan is the same car except for trim. To be avoided is the Chrysler Sebring, a truly terrible car. A year or so ago they renamed it the 200 and gave it a nicer interior and a few other upgrades, but it’s unlikely they have made it reliable.

I’m not a fan if most other domestic midsize models as their reliability has also been iffy (per Consumer Reports.) Of the Japanese models, the Camry and Accord are always good, every year forever. Likewise recent Nissan Altimas. Any of those from the last five years will be just fine. If you want something a bit larger, try the Toyota Avalon. It’s a cushy car with all the reliability of the Camry it is based on.

Mazda 6 is also an option. But if the Fusion is too small or harsh of a ride, you might step up to a Taurus or Ford 500. They get close to 30mpg highway, but if it’s comfortable, whats a couple less MPG?

I’d be very careful when it comes to a former rental car. Some of them have been ridden hard and up put wet.
Think about it.
People that drive rentals aren’t going to treat it like their baby.
The rental company knows they won’t keep it forever, so they can slap on cheap brakes, tires, etc.
Some of the rental cars are really banged/scratched up, because of kids, dogs, etc.

One positive thing about buying from Hertz, Enterprise, etc.
The prices are usually totally fair, no haggling required.

Here’s my opinion about Carmax, for what it’s worth.
Their prices tend to be higher.
Some of the cars have high miles for their age.
Returning a car is easier than with other places (a guy I knew just did it, because the car he got turned out to be a dud)

Make sure to do a carfax check on EVERY car you’re considering. Don’t trust the carfax that a buyer/dealer hands you. It might be a few months old.
At least you’ll be aware of what was reported.

Have a second person along for the inspection.
While one person talks to the seller, have the other person check out the car. Look at it from different angles (to look for wavy paint, etc.) Make sure all the power windows, locks, sunroof, radio, AC work. Look up to make sure the headliner’s not falling down in the corners. Look underneath the car to make sure there’s no obvious leaks.

Like DanielLee said, you may want to bring along your own mechanic. Their mechanic will naturally tell you the car’s fine. But your mechanic will be objective.

My advice, if you find a suitable used car that is 2 years old, after you have the complete contract in hand, with the monthly payment fixed, don’t sign it. Go find a brand new vehicle of the same make and model and get it fully priced, it might be cheaper. The interest rates on a new vehicle are sometimes lower, and you can finance it over a longer time period.

So if you finance a new car for 7 years and compare that to a 2 year old car financed for 5 years at a higher interest rate, then when the new car is 2 years old, you will have 5 years left on the loan at a lower rate.

Don’t make the mistake a neighbor of mine just made. She fell in love with a two year old SUV and ended up paying more for it that a brand new one of the same model would have cost her.

keith does raise a good point. The fuel saver cars are in high demand, and even a 3 year old car might only be a couple grand less than a brand new one; depending on the brand name