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Used Car Calculus

We need to buy a new car (we will be losing a company car, plus we have a 15.75 year old in the house).

Considering the economy here…if I have $15K to spend, should I spend $15K on a car? or should I spend $3K and bank the $12K for repairs or replacement in x# of years? Spend $10K and bank $5K? What’s the best ratio of car price vs. $$ in the bank? My only requirements are that the car have ABS and airbags and get >20 MPG

If you are buying a $15,000 used car (not an old luxury car), I would budget $1200 per year for maintenance, repairs and tires. Some years will be higher, some lower. I personally don’t keep any money in the bank for that; just pay as I incure expenses. However, the choice is yours, whether to buy a less expensive car and keep $$$ in the bank.

For $15,000 there should be a good selection of low mileage used cars available. I would shop for a 3-4 year old, low mileage mid size or compact car in above average condition.

Good Luck!

The most expensive thing with any vehicle is depreciation. I personally would see if you can get a (lower mileage) 5year old vehicle and then bank the rest for repairs.

JMHO, but I always prefer an inexpensive (not meaning cheap and/or abused) vehicle.
If you have 15k to spend then you should be able to find a pretty decent used car for 5-6 grand and bank the rest.

I’m not trying to be morbid or callous here but the purchase of a Buick from an older person or their estate after they’re deceased can be a whale of a deal.
Many Buicks are owned by elderly people who, on average, drive them carefully and maintain them.

These cars are reliable, have the safety features you want, and they will get far better than 20 MPG. A good friend of mine had a Park Avenue (3.8 engine) and it got around 28 MPG; and that’s with a high mileage engine and slightly slipping transmission.
He traded that off on a new Impala several years ago and it has also been a rock solid car He stated that on the highway that car will always get 30 MPG and even hits 32 on occassion.

Please don’t consider this comment as crude; it’s made from a pure business standpoint as to getting the most bang for your buck.

Ok4450, Good Ideas, And I Might Add To Check With Your Insurance Agent.

Different cars have differing premiums (if you plan on having collision insurance).
Those Buicks are inexpensive to insure (insurance companies rate them with approval). Check it out. They are not exactly “chic” or “dude” magnets, but we’re talking new driver, here. The Impalas and Bonnevilles should be good, too. Get any of these with the 3.8 engine. I have “been there, done that” with the teen-age driver. My son is now 21. Daughter is 13.5 and I will “be there, do that” again, soon.

I like the 10 and 5 choice. Congratulations on making a wise decision to consider a sensible economic decision.

Regarding the teenager, I would let her/him buy his/her own car. Nothing you buy will be taken care of as well as a car your teenager has to pay for.

My answer about what to spend and what to bank for repairs or replacement depends on the car you buy. If you pick something with a reputation for reliability, you should be able to depend on it reliably for at least 200,000 miles. It also depends on how much driving you do.

The best balance between reliability and cost can probably be found in a 2002 Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla.

I got lazy and less economical maybe in my old age but as I put 8 to 10k on a car per year got new with $700 to $1000 for an extended 7 yr 70k warranty and did pretty well paying for five and keeping it for 10 with brakes tires and oil changes and filters the only incurred expenses. The other thing that swayed me to new was a lower interest rate on the loan.