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Advice on buying a used car
Old 02-11-2007, 10:28 AM   #1
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Advice on buying a used car

Does anybody have some insights or advice dealing with buying a used car. I am planning on buying a car sometime this summer and paying cash. Planning to spend around 6k. I would like some sort of fuel efficient sedan. I come from a family that buys new cars and drives them till they die so they aren't very knowledgeable about this subject. Thanks
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Re: Advice on buying a used car
Old 02-11-2007, 10:40 AM   #2
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Re: Advice on buying a used car

Here are sites I found useful:

http://www.carbuyingtips.com/used.htm

http://www.smartcarguide.com/process/Page1.htm
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Re: Advice on buying a used car
Old 02-11-2007, 10:58 AM   #3
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Re: Advice on buying a used car

We've used Carfax.com to check VIN #'s. I think it's around $25 to check unlimited #'s. It will give you any crash history that was reported, also how many times the car was bought/sold, the maintenance records. One such record steered us right away from even considering a car that had repeated warranty work on its electrical system. This report would be helpful, for example, if you saw in the report that the car was sold in say New Orleans, then appeared on the market somewhere else after Katrina.
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Re: Advice on buying a used car
Old 02-11-2007, 11:43 AM   #4
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Re: Advice on buying a used car

I think the Edmunds website has a list of used cars that have a reputation for being reliable. Carfax is a must to check out a cars history.
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Re: Advice on buying a used car
Old 02-11-2007, 12:25 PM   #5
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Re: Advice on buying a used car

Consumer reports has some good data, but I wouldnt use it as my only source.

For under 6k, they recommend:

chevy prism 98-00
ford escort 99, 01-02, mustang(v6) 98, ranger 2wd 98-99
honda civic 98
hyundai accent 03
mazda b-series(2wd) 98-00, protege 98-00
mercury tracer 99
nissan altima(4cyl) 98, frontier (4cyl) 98, sentra 99
saturn sl 99, 01, sw 98
subaru legacy 98
toyota corolla 98-00, echo 00

Once you cross over 6k, the notable additions are ford crown vics 98-99, f-150 98-99, honda accord (4cyl) 98-99, mazda 626 00, nissan maxima 98-99, toyota avalon 98, camry 99 and rav4 98-99

We've got a pair of the rav4's in the family. Nice comfortable four seater that can carry one heck of a lot of stuff. Not a sedan, but built on the corolla platform and shares most of the reliability/economy features of that car.

Otherwise, get a nice one-owner corolla, civic sedan, camry or accord in your price range, check the maintenance and repairs, carfax it, have it checked by a mechanic and you'll probably do okay.
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Re: Advice on buying a used car
Old 02-11-2007, 03:46 PM   #6
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Re: Advice on buying a used car

I use Consumer Reports' charts as a guide, but I look more for trends rather than a clear cut signal to buy or avoid a certain model. By that I mean that if I see a certain model of car has a history over several model years of paint problems I will take that into consideration. If I still decide I like that model I will make sure my checklist includes "check the paint" on it. Also, in the search process I will dig around on car forums by searching for that particular problem in that model, just to see what other owners say.

Carfax is good, but not perfect. I'm pretty familiar, in general, with most used car scams (grew up in the car business, repaired cars, sold cars, was an auto theft detective for 5 years) so when I look at a Carfax report I tend to look for things between the lines. Carfax also has a lot of holes in its data collection system.

The two most important things to do are to have as much knowledge about the car you want to buy and how much it is worth, and to try to remove all emotion from the purchase. People who are going to rip you off will use your lack of information to their advantage, and they will also play on your emotions to trigger a buying decision.
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Re: Advice on buying a used car
Old 02-12-2007, 12:26 AM   #7
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Re: Advice on buying a used car

6k will get you a nice 98-ish maxima with 70k miles or so.. best bang for your buck, imho....most are very well equipped, the motors are bulletproof...rated best motor of the yr (motor trend maybe?) for 10 yrs i believe...timing CHAIN vs belts, and lots of diy info at maxima.org if you are so inclined

stay away from the 99's for coil pack problems, or at least be ready to throw down 300 for a coil when it goes....

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Re: Advice on buying a used car
Old 02-12-2007, 08:42 AM   #8
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Re: Advice on buying a used car

Quote:
Originally Posted by thefed
6k will get you a nice 98-ish maxima with 70k miles or so.. best bang for your buck, imho....most are very well equipped, the motors are bulletproof...rated best motor of the yr (motor trend maybe?) for 10 yrs i believe...timing CHAIN vs belts, and lots of diy info at maxima.org if you are so inclined

stay away from the 99's for coil pack problems, or at least be ready to throw down 300 for a coil when it goes....
What thefed said.

Performance, reliability, comfort, low maintenance. The only minor down side is the premium gas requirement. I use plus (mid grad) since 3 years ago, and have not notice any difference.
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Re: Advice on buying a used car
Old 02-12-2007, 09:43 AM   #9
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Re: Advice on buying a used car

I like the older maximas a lot. Although I went to a nissan dealer about 18 years ago and ended up coming home with a pathfinder. That was a mistake. It appears they thought the gas pedal was supposed to be a volume control rather than an accelerator. All it did was get louder.

Putting mid or low grades of gas in your car probably wont hurt most modern cars but probably isnt buying you much. Most newer cars have knock sensors that retard ignition timing, reducing the odds of engine damage but also reducing power and fuel economy at the same time. However the lower grade fuel has a bit more energy in it, so you get a little of that loss back. Still not highly recommended.

And on that subject, everyone DOES know that putting 'premium' fuel in a car that doesnt need it may actually reduce power and gas mileage? The only 'premium' to higher octane gas is that its more stable and less likely to prematurely detonate in a high compression engine, reducing the 'knock' when the piston is actuated on the compression/upswing instead of on the power/downswing. Per measure, it has less total 'power' than lower grades of gas due to the stability the additional octane provides.
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Re: Advice on buying a used car
Old 02-12-2007, 09:59 AM   #10
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Re: Advice on buying a used car

Quote:
Originally Posted by rjpatt
Does anybody have some insights or advice dealing with buying a used car. I am planning on buying a car sometime this summer and paying cash. Planning to spend around 6k. I would like some sort of fuel efficient sedan. I come from a family that buys new cars and drives them till they die so they aren't very knowledgeable about this subject. Thanks
One thing I would want to make sure of is it is not an import from Katrina zone flooding! That is a problem right now as they are still trying to get rid of all those vehicles that were on the new & used lots.
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Re: Advice on buying a used car
Old 02-12-2007, 11:23 AM   #11
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Re: Advice on buying a used car

I think you could find a used Accord or Camry in that $6k range, if you get into the 97-99 model years.........

I woudl STAY AWAY from any Ford Escorts or Focuses......... :P

Hyundai might be an option with the 10 year powertrain.......maybe a good used 4cyl Sonata or Elantra..........
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Re: Advice on buying a used car
Old 02-12-2007, 11:32 AM   #12
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Re: Advice on buying a used car

Quote:
I would STAY AWAY from any Ford Escorts or Focuses........
Just curious why you feel this way FD? I was doing a little research on one of the websites provided above and the Ford Focus was and Editor's Pick. Also my dad had a 1992 Ford Escort that was very reliable and required very little maintaince until it gave out with out 180k miles on it a year ago.
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Re: Advice on buying a used car
Old 02-12-2007, 11:37 AM   #13
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Re: Advice on buying a used car

Quote:
Originally Posted by rjpatt
Just curious why you feel this way FD? I was doing a little research on one of the websites provided above and the Ford Focus was and Editor's Pick. Also my dad had a 1992 Ford Escort that was very reliable and required very little maintaince until it gave out with out 180k miles on it a year ago.
I'm glad you dad had good luck with an Escort. Sadly, a lot do not. Besides, 180,000 miles would be a little over "half-life" for a well-maintained Corolla or Civic........

I was in the car business for 7 years, and two of the stores I worked at sold and serviced new and used Fords.........and the service manager ALWAYS got a big bonus for "adding to the Bottom Line".............

The Toyota guys never got a bonus...............
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Re: Advice on buying a used car
Old 02-12-2007, 11:55 AM   #14
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Re: Advice on buying a used car

Seems a coin flip with fords. The overall reliability records arent that great but some models arent bad.

I had a thunderchicken back in the 80's that simply wouldnt die or develop a major problem. But the expedition I owned until last year was a pain in the ass.

The first year I had the expedition, it had about a dozen trips to the dealer to fix a huge array of minor failures and have its transfer case replaced. In contrast, my honda pilot is now about a year old and its been to the dealer once for an oil change. In fact, it occurred to me just before I took it in for the oil change that I hadnt even raised the hood since I bought it. And worse, that I wasnt even completely sure of the engine displacement but I guessed correctly that it was a 3.5l.

THATS reliability. And i'm an old fart.
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Re: Advice on buying a used car
Old 02-12-2007, 12:00 PM   #15
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Re: Advice on buying a used car

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cute Fuzzy Bunny
Seems a coin flip with fords. The overall reliability records arent that great but some models arent bad.

I had a thunderchicken back in the 80's that simply wouldnt die or develop a major problem. But the expedition I owned until last year was a pain in the ass.

The first year I had the expedition, it had about a dozen trips to the dealer to fix a huge array of minor failures and have its transfer case replaced. In contrast, my honda pilot is now about a year old and its been to the dealer once for an oil change. In fact, it occurred to me just before I took it in for the oil change that I hadnt even raised the hood since I bought it. And worse, that I wasnt even completely sure of the engine displacement but I guessed correctly that it was a 3.5l.

THATS reliability. And i'm an old fart.
Love the Pilots............an MDX for $10,000 less............
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Re: Advice on buying a used car
Old 02-12-2007, 12:06 PM   #16
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Re: Advice on buying a used car

That was EXACTLY my thinking.

Base model out the door for $22,500 plus tax.

I take it back, I did have one minor problem with it. Apparently honda has some trouble with door sealing, resulting in some movement and rubber rubbing noises or little air sounds around the seals every time you go over a bump in the road. However I found a solution on a honda forum involving rolling the window down, putting your knee into the armrest and tugging on the top of the door progressively until the noise stops. Worked like a charm, although I found myself wondering how a company that prides itself on workmanship has been turning out apparently a wide variety of cars (crx, mdx, pilot, crv's) with this same problem.
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Re: Advice on buying a used car
Old 02-12-2007, 12:18 PM   #17
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Re: Advice on buying a used car

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cute Fuzzy Bunny
That was EXACTLY my thinking.

Base model out the door for $22,500 plus tax.

I take it back, I did have one minor problem with it. Apparently honda has some trouble with door sealing, resulting in some movement and rubber rubbing noises or little air sounds around the seals every time you go over a bump in the road. However I found a solution on a honda forum involving rolling the window down, putting your knee into the armrest and tugging on the top of the door progressively until the noise stops. Worked like a charm, although I found myself wondering how a company that prides itself on workmanship has been turning out apparently a wide variety of cars (crx, mdx, pilot, crv's) with this same problem.
I heard the same thing, and I heard that BMW 3 series has the same problem?? Apparently BMW mechanics use some sort of "dry grease" to fix it...........the local Honda dealer would probably suggest new door seals............
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Re: Advice on buying a used car
Old 02-12-2007, 12:22 PM   #18
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Re: Advice on buying a used car

Thats exactly what the honda dealers were doing...putting silicone grease on the doors and then replacing the seals, when the problem is just a slightly malformed door. All the grease did was get on your pants. Even though the problem had been widely reported and people had received acknowledgment from Honda Corporate that they were aware of the problem, the local dealers play dumb, or are dumb about it. And Honda keeps producing cars with the same issue.

Some people had great luck just putting a slip-proof tape (the strips they put on floors to keep people from slipping) on the door opening right where the rubber seals made contact with the bare metal. The "Heimlich maneuver" worked fine for me.

I really like the honda engine control stuff that just turns on a code to tell you what kind of service to give it and when. Thats pretty sweet...no more checking the calendar or setting reminders.
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Re: Advice on buying a used car
Old 02-12-2007, 12:46 PM   #19
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Re: Advice on buying a used car

Well.............I have a buddy that works at a place that sells Hondas and Toyotas, and thinks that Honda's powertrains are more bulletproof, but Toyota has better body integrity............... :P
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Re: Advice on buying a used car
Old 02-12-2007, 06:01 PM   #20
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Re: Advice on buying a used car

Quote:
Originally Posted by FinanceDude
Well.............I have a buddy that works at a place that sells Hondas and Toyotas, and thinks that Honda's powertrains are more bulletproof, but Toyota has better body integrity............... :P
I too think that Toyotas has better body integrity. But I'm not convince that Honda's powertrains are superior in terms of reliability (bulletproof), both (T & H) are excellent. The one thing Honda is better, imo, is that it's more on the cutting edge of technology. Toyota is a lot more conservative, and waits longer until a technology really matures before incorporating it into the vehicles.
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