To buy or not to buy

My wife and I need a second car and we’re thinking of buying an 08 Hyundai Elantra. We’re seeing it tomorrow. We’ve owned Suburus and Toyotas but funds are tight right know. Supposedly one owner, 41,560 miles at a price of $9800. At a dealer for 59,000 miles there’s one for 12,000. I’ve search the web and found folks who have loved or hated Hyundai. Of course if we like it, we’ll take it to our mechanic, but any comments? I’ve always trusted this list. Thanks. Joe

Whether you buy from a dealer or directly from the owner of the car, if you buy a car that does not come with maintenance records, you are being extremely foolish. Yes, an inspection by your mechanic is very important, but unless he actually tears the engine down or opens up the transmission (neither is likely), he would not be able to detect all of the indicators of lax maintenance.

IMHO, buying a used car that does not come with maintenance invoices to prove its maintenance history is tantamount to searching for a prospective wife at a “house of ill repute”. In both cases, you might come away with an unsullied sample, but your chances would not be very good.

What kind of driving will you be doing in this second car? If this is to be an around town car with your main vehicle for highway travel, and will not be driven very many miles a year, maybe you should consider an older car if funds are tight.
If you do need a newer car, then check Consumer Reports and other publications and of course, have the car checked by a competent mechanic.

Save a little more and buy what you trust. So normally, I would not recommend a Hyundai over a Toyota at this time unless It was an exceptional deal. So, do the “gazintas”. If the savings is dramatic, go for it. By all means though, like stereo speakers, never buy only because it’s a great deal…drive it extensively and make sure it’s something you can live with a long,long time.

A three-year-old Sonata with less than 50K miles sounds like an OK car to me. My neighbors have owned several Hyundais, and are currently driving a 2008 Sonata, which they love.

As with any used car, maintenance, or the lack thereof, by the former owner or owners is key.

If the owners of this car can prove the required maintenance was done, no problem. If they can’t, it’s a gamble. Not a huge gamble, but a gamble. Having your mechanic inspect the car will help to allay any fears.

Good luck.

If an 08 is 12k, start looking for a left over 2011 model still on the lot and offer them $14k for it(a no frills 2012 Elantra starts at $16.5k) and see if they bite.

bscar makes a good point. If a dealer wants $12,000 for a 2008 model with 59,000 miles (used cars are at an all-time high) then it does make sense to pay a little more, get a car with new tires, new battery, a warranty, etc. At 59,000, a 2008 Elantra may be due for a timing belt, tires, a battery, etc.
This goes back to an early post I made: How will you use the car? Will it be used around town and your other car be the road car? How many miles will you drive the car a year?
If your use will be moderate, then an older car may make more sense. The gasoline mileage won’t be that important. A used “geezer” car–a Mercury Grand Marquis, a Buick LeSabre, etc.–may be a better purchase, particularly as you stated that funds are limited. You may be able to skip the collision coverage on an older car.
I say this, because when I was growing up, money was tight in our family. This was back in 1954. My mother decided to go back to work, so we needed a second car. My dad first thought of a Chevrolet or Ford as being an economical car to run at that time. However, the Chevrolets or Fords we could afford were shot, and the ones that were good were out of our price range. He finally bought a 1947 DeSoto coupe for $325. It used a little more gasoline than the Ford or Chevrolet, but it never required anything outside of normal maintenance. In super cold weather, it was one of the few cars in our neighborhood that would start. It served our family well–in fact we liked it better than the 1952 Dodge that we had at the time. At any rate, could a well-maintained older car that you could purchase for $6000-7000 serve your needs?