Used car questions

used

#1

I’m in the market to buy a used car and I have a few questions. My first priority is reliability and my second is price. How old a car is too old to be reasonably reliable? Is the mileage on the car a better indicator of past wear and tear than the age of the car?



I’m looking at an '01 VW Golf with 85K miles for about $6500 (in the Wash, DC area) and am wondering if that is a good deal or if I should spend a little more for a newer car with slightly lower mileage (another option is an '04 with 70K miles.)



Anybody have any experience with these specific models or have recommendations for other similarly sized, dependable, priced hatchbacks?



Thanks!


#2

Go to your local library and study the Consumer Reports Used Car Guide.

Some VWs from these years did well in CR, and some rank very poor.


#3

Go to Edmunds.com and do some research. The site has reviews and ratings on various models and can give you ballpark pricing.

Before you finalize a sale on a car have a presale mechanical inspection done by a mechanic you trust. Don’t spend all your money on the car, hold some $$$ in reserve for some reconditioning and repairs.

If the car has 80K or 90K miles it could be due for a timing belt job so you need to do your homework before you buy.


#4

I consider the following when buying a used car:

  1. Well documented maintenance and repair receipts
  2. Pre-purchase inspection report
  3. Carfax and other internet reports

VWs do not age well. If reliability and value (not price) are your top priorities I’d put Asian cars on the top of the list. Newer Hyundais offer the best value as well as Honda, Nissan, Toyota, Lexus, Infiniti, Acura and Subaru.

Cars are like shoes – what fits me may not fit you. Go out and drive as many makes and models you can.

Twotone


#5

The care a used car received under its previous owner(s) is more important than the age of the car. When my mother went back to work and my parents had to buy a second car on a tight budget, they found that the popular cars at the time, Fords and Chevrolets were either outside their means or were shot. My Dad ultimately bought a 1947 DeSoto coupe for $325. This was in the fall of 1954. The maroon paint was faded, so he put me to work with rubbing compound, polish and wax. However the interior was great and the car ran flawlessly. It was the most reliable car he ever owned.


#6

Thanks for the input. From Edmunds and other research sources, VWs of this model year are fair in terms of reliability. Anecdotally the reviews are mixed- some are lemons, some are great per usual.

Carfax on the specific one I’m looking at is clean, two-owners (one was a military guy, so I figure he’ll be diligent about maintenance- good assumption?) Will take it to my trusted mechanic- will he be able to tell if something is going to break down soon?

Could work, just nervous about pulling the trigger!


#7

“(one was a military guy, so I figure he’ll be diligent about maintenance- good assumption?)” Don’t assume – get service receipts to verify maintenance.

“Will take it to my trusted mechanic- will he be able to tell if something is going to break down soon?” A pre-purchase inspection will tell you if something is broken or needs work, not if something “will break down soon”. Everything breaks eventually.

Twotone


#8

I would also consider a Mazda hatchback if available. Also what about the Vibe or Matrix? If you are looking at the 70-100K mileage range, carefully consider and ask about timing belt replacement. No proof, deduct about $600 immediately off your offer for that.

Take your time in looking…Good luck


#9

“one was a military guy, so I figure he’ll be diligent about maintenance- good assumption?”

Bad assumption. It is likely that he was young when he owned it. Young folks tend to abuse their cars more than older folks. That may not be the case, but you are talking about assumptions. I would assume just the opposite. The price is reasonable if it is a GLS TDI. Otherwise it is overpriced. Is this a dealer or private party sale? What model and what options?