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What car to consider buying for my second vehicle? 2 kind of specific questions

I need focus for buying my next vehicle! Please help this auto-newb!

I have a paid-for 2002 Dodge Dakota quad cab V8 with about 160K miles that is definitely showing it’s age which I bought from a family member. That covers my knowledge of the car market, which is to say, non-existent. I am keeping the truck but need a more reliable vehicle for everyday use.

I would like something in a sedan or hatch back, 4 door (I have a young daughter still in a booster seat) that is reliable. Good mileage would be great but is not a deal breaker. I drive about 30 miles a day Monday - Friday for work, and less on most weekends. My big goad is dependability - I’d like it to last at least 5 years without any foreseeable major repairs. I have about $10K saved up.

  1. What would you suggest I look for when shopping around? Toyota, Honda, Ford…? Camry, Accord, POS…? I kind of like what I am seeing in the Honda Accord and CR-V, and maybe Camry or even Impala. Obviously I have very little focus.

  2. Everything I look at on-line in my price range is about 80K-200K miles. At what point should I say no with high mileage?

Ok so by number 2 I take it you’re looking for strictly used. First of all, any car you are seriously considering needs to be taken to a mechanic to look over. He will likely come up with a list of things that are worn and could use a replacement - even though not dire - and might help you negotiate the price down. Lets say he finds worn out ball joints and itd cost parts and labor $300. Well then you can ask them to reduce the price by that amount which is a reasonable request.
Make sure the previous owner has maintenance records. Oil changes, etc.

That being said. You’re in the right ball park with the brands. Toyota, Honda, Mazda. I would not spend 10 grand on anything over 100K miles.

If you can scratch together another 4 or 5 grand you should look at new - especially since you need a really reliable mode of transport for your daughter. My fiance and I have had a toyota yaris sedan since new and it has literally needing nothing but oil changes, and we’re near 100K miles. Great reliable car. I dont think they still make the yaris in a sedan version - just hatchback, but I would look at the corolla.

If you can put the 10 grand as a down payment, or lets say 8, and then finance the rest you’d have a car that, given you maintain it, should last you atleast the next 7 years.

Just my 2 cents. Good luck!

Around here, $10k will get you a 2007 Accord or CRV with 100k miles, which is still plenty young. Either of those will be very reliable. I’ve had good luck with Hondas, so that’s what I’d go for. Try to stay under 100k miles if possible. If you want better mileage, then look at a Civic.

I would not try to go for a new car, since most of your extra $$ will be lost soon due to depreciation. A well maintained 2007 Honda will have another 100k+ left in it if maintained properly and should get you another 7 years or so of trouble free driving.

Thanks for the fast replies and good advice! I am sorry I completely failed to post that I was looking for used. I will of course take any car I am interested in to my trusted mechanic before purchasing. :slight_smile:

I bring up new because of a few thoughts:

Granted it was 2007, but my fiance’s Yaris was about 16 new. For the mother or father who knows nothing about repairing a car, why would I spend 10 grand on a car with 100k+ miles when I can finance roughly 6 and have a brand new car with a warranty?

Everybody’s financial situations are very different, but I just wanted to put that out there as a point to consider.

I’d go with an intermediate 4-door (Accord, Camry, Fusion) with less than 100k. I’d make sure the one I bought was inspected (about $100), and that it had side airbags.

" I have about $10K saved up."

Then buy a $9,000 car and keep $1,000 aside for repairs.

In your price range, condition of the car is more important than the name plate in my opinion. That said, I would advise against purchasing any vehicle with a CVT (continuously variable automatic transmission). You may want to pick up a copy of Consumer Reports auto buying guide or the April 2014 issue and look at the recommendations.

Look for the newest cars that meet your criteria and are in the best condition. Brand is secondary. For instance, a 2009 Chevy Malibu LS with 4-cylinder engine and auto transmission will be about $10,500 from a dealer an $1000 less from a private seller. A comparable Accord LX will be $2000 more. You would have to look at a 2006 or 2007 Accord with about 15,000 more miles to get the price down to the Malibu.

Toyota and Honda are fine cars; I owns 2005 Accord that I bought new. But I never would buy one used because everyone knows the legendary reliability of those brands and it is reflected in the price. Edmunds estimates $7000 on average for maintenance and repairs (60% maintenance) for a 2009 Malibu for the next 5 years. The estimate for a 2009 Accord LX is $6000. But expect maintenance and repair costs to be higher for an older car.

Reliability has gotten much better in the last 10 years, largely because the Asian car companies forced everyone to catch up or get out of business. You can take advantage of this mismatch in perception to buy a well cared for but less desirable sedan. The Malibu is a good example, but there are others. Don’t let brand get in the way unless it’s Mini or Range Rover, and you can’t afford them.

A Mazda 3 or Pontiac Vibe/Toyota Matrix would be good choices to look into.

I think the make/models you mention are all good choices. Me, I’m partial to Corollas and Civics, but that’s just me. Before making a definite choice, look up what Consumer Reports Used Car Guide says about that make/model/year. You can see what other owners are reporting as repairs being needed and on what systems, cooling, drivetrain, etc.

IMO the best values are in cars about 3 years old, with quite a lot of miles on them. Everything else being equal, a newer car is better that an older car with fewer miles. That’s b/c if it has a lot of miles, it was probably driven a lot on the freeway, and that kind of driving easy on everything mechanical from the engine to the brakes. And it means the engine is up to operating temperature often for long stretches, which drives all the water out of the crankcase and exhaust system.

There’s a number of car dealers I pass during walks sometimes, and I’m always most impressed by what I see at the used cars sold by rental car companies. I think those cars look to be pretty good deals. The only problem is they invariably are automatics, and if you want to avoid expensive future problems, avoiding automatics is high on the list. Best of luck.

I also think the rental company sales lots are worth a look. They are generally no-haggling by policy and many will let you keep the car overnight, so you can give it a good test and have plenty of time for your mechanic to check it out. They all have their national inventory online. If your local dealer doesn’t have what you want another nearby outlet may. It’s also great for price comparison. You can see just how much they can ask for a Camry vs an equally good, but less popular, Ford Fusion or Mazda6. Much less a Malibu or Kia Optima (the current model is terrific.)