The Choice: 2000 Impala VS 1999 Corolla

Help me make my decision!

Do I keep my 1999 Corolla (175,000 miles) or take my mom’s 2000 Impala (29,000 miles). Can’t keep both due to space restrictions - live in San Francisco.

Tale of the Tape

1999 Corolla VE 175,000 miles

Bluebook about $2,700. Runs fine. #4 sparkplug bit the bullet so just dropped $400 on new plugs/wires/air filter/valve cover gasket. Tires good. Highway 32 mpg. Missing right mirror and trunk always covered in dust (bad gasket?). When changing oil I’m told the oil coming out is “pristine”. May need a new rear axle some day the mechanic says(leak). Other than a starter motor everything needing repair has been normal maintenance stuff.

2000 Chevy Impala 29,000 miles

Bluebook about $4,000. Owned by a little old lady who didn’t drive much the last 4 years (my mom!..who will let me have it for $2,000). Drove it from Iowa to California last week. Tires (which are apparently original) did ok but back ones needed air every 250 miles or 3 days. A new set of tires obviously needed by new owner along with probably everything else rubber in the car. Car was loaded with weight and blasted across the west in fine form at about 28 mpg. Body/interior look great. Keyless entry fobs almost worthless (Dealer said receiving module the problem).

Pros: Has CD/cruise control/electric windows the Corolla doesn’t have. Low mileage with known history.

Cons: Big wheelbase I don’t like. More difficult to park in the city. Fear of big American cars (My mechanic says “Trouble with American cars is…they always need repair”. Money to shell out for car and new rubber.

Take the Impala for $2,000, put a set of tires on it, and sell it for $4,000. Then use the money you made to do whatever the Corolla needs.

Or sell both cars and buy a newer Corolla.

What can leak out of a Corolla’s rear axle? There’s nothing there but wheel bearing grease and brake fluid, and neither of those would require a new rear axle.

You have to realize the Corolla isn’t going to run forever for no money. It’s starting to get old.

Friend this isn’t even a hard choice. Take the Impala! 29,000 miles is almost brand new and despite what people tell you about American cars they are in general as reliable as most other makes. Impalas inparticular are generally very good cars. Why do you think you always see them as taxi cabs and police cars?

If you keep one car, the Impala. Low miles and basically a sound car. Living in SF you will feel the pinch putting gas in the Impala, prices in SF are pretty much the highest in USA on average. So, for MPG the Corolla has the distinct advantage.

Selling both cars in favor of a new, or newer, car is something to consider. You don’t sound like an Impala kind of person. With the hills, fuel costs, and tight parking spaces of SF the Impala just might not be the best car for you.

Your first sentence is becoming my default scenario. Figure I can buy a newer used Corolla when this one finally dies.

I don’t know what can leak out of an axle. The mechanic made a reference to some leak on one side a year ago and I think one other time. Pretty sure he mentioned it was the axle and it would cost nearly $1,000 to fix.

Oh man good argument. How can I turn away from a 29K car? Squirm squirm.

Make sure this Impala is not a DexCool nightmare. And with maintiance required because of time neglected,or just figure it in.

I have no hope of a garage. Neighborhood permit parking is vicious. I had a neighborhood permit but gave it up because spaces were scarce. Except for Sunday I park at meters until 9AM and drive to work but soon work parking will go up to $100/month or so. Shared cars/programs/cabs not for me.

Its long past 1984, where’s my #@%*& flying car!

I’m a huge Corolla fan but under the circumstances,but I agree with Uncle Turbo and I’d have to go with the Impala. I do like the idea of selling both and opting for another compact. Good luck…

Yikes. Can you point me to a good website on how to deal with this?

Take the Impala and the BART. How often do you need to move it if you live inside the SF city limits?

They charge you to park at your own workplace?
If you absolutely have to have a car, I’m with the take the Impala and sell it for more money. SF is probably hybrid heaven, so you might be able to find a used Prius for a decent price. A 2001 Prius is actually shorter than your Corolla, but has a longer wheelbase. 97"/174" Corolla, 100.4"/169.6" Prius, 93.3"/163.2" for an 01 Echo.

Every 72 hours. The most annoying thing is finding a spot when you want it…or park 1/4 mile away. If I had employees like author Danille Steele I’d have them get permits so I could use them for…oops, that’s already been tried…

Used to take the bus/shuttle and then a scooter. Too old etc for that now. First car was at age 40. Gave in and am now addict. Must. Have. Mobility. Commute is actually intracity. Hopefully will change soon to walking distance…yeah, will probably have to get neighborhood permit again and rejoin the parking wars begun they have.

Not only do they charge to park at my workplace…its about 1/4 mile from my work! I’ll give only the briefest of references to it being crackwhore country, heroin highway and alcohol alley (last two are opposite sides of the street when I walk to work from the parking lot, first is corner of parking lot).

I seem to have wandered off subject.

You see more and more of those shorter cars around (forget the name, much smaller than mini-coopers) purpose-built for the city. I used to have a Chevy metro (aka pregnant rollerskate). I liked the guy who imported an Meter Maid “Interceptor” for the commute/parking. Would have gotten away with it too if he hadn’t boasted too loudly/hadn’t been for you damn kids.

Considering your situation, you need a car smaller than the Impala. The Impala would be a great deal if you could live with a car that size, but I don’t think you really want to. And under the circumstances, I don’t blame you. The Impala, great deal though it may be, is too big for you. If you try to live with this car you’ll end up hating it.

I’m going back to square one. Buy the Impala, flip it for a profit, then sell your Corolla and take the combined money and buy a newer Corolla, or a Honda Fit, or a Nissan Versa, or a Mazda3, or something small enough to fit your lifestyle.

Just don’t buy a Smart Car. Please.

Maybe you’re a candidate for a Toyota Prius, Honda Civic hybrid, or a new Honda Insight. These cars excel in city driving environments.

Personally, I’d stick with a tried-and-true Corolla. It’s a tough car to beat.

“…or park 1/4 mile away.”

I enjoy a little walk. A 1/4 mile away isn’t all that far. Unless you have joint problems or another infirmity.

But what about the fact that he’s parking in an unsafe area?

You mean the Smart ForTwo? Yeah those are good city cars, but they get worse mileage than they should, 33/41/36(combined).
You’d be better off getting a Mini; 100x better looking and 9x10^99 more fun to drive. I test drove a base model Clubman version and enjoyed it immensely. I dare not drive the convertible S or JCW version, I’d probably buy one on the spot.

I’d pass on both and find a lower-mileage Corolla. Or better yet, you live in San Francisco. They have mass transit, right? I’ve heard Bay Area traffic is the stuff of nightmares. You might be better off taking the train and using ZipCar or something for occasional car use.

Sell the Corolla, take the money and buy new tires for the Impala and what ever filters or other minor maint it needs. The ONLY real issue this car has is the lower intake manifold seals leak and need to be replaced. I’ve had that car (2000 Impala) for 10 years now. Nearly bullet-proof vehicle. I drive mine daily and it has 124K on it. I WILL see 200K out of it. Very few problems to date, other than that seal. Averages 25 local, 32 hiway. Drives best w/ Goodyear Eagle GA’s, spend the extra on the better tires. The car handles sooo much better. Very comfortable, and safe! car.