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An annoying decision- Cars
Old 01-18-2007, 10:30 AM   #1
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An annoying decision- Cars

I am a young guy who has been riding my bike to work for the first few years of being a lawyer. My wife and I have a 1992 Ford Explorer that I always planned on driving till it stopped running- its just I thought that was a few years later.

I have a mechanic I trust implicitly (old family friend)- he says it will run about $3500 to fix the car. (when it wouldnt start I opened it up to see if i could fix it, i couldnt, but I noticed that for some reason my radiator was empty... the rest is history) If you KBB my car it comes out to about $1500 in perfect condition. The car had been perfect for camping, driving over the mountains to see our faimly (quite regularly) and for about 6 months out of the year there is always snow/ice on the ground or its coming.

Im not sure its worth it to fix the car. Im worried about fixing it and something else breaks on it. I want my wife to have a reliable car when she drives the 35 miles into the "big city." At the same time the car has been perfect for our needs for a few years.

I DO NOT want a new car. I hate the idea of making payments on a vehicle, but at this point I dont have enough to pay cash for a car. What is your take one way or the other on buying another car vs. fixing this car?

Secondly, if you think I should get a new-to-me car, I was hoping for a AWD wagon/small SUV that would be around 10K. Is that realistic? I havent been in the market for cars for quite some time and just dont know enough. Is there another place you can point me to? I can only find the big sites that advertise in google. Not sure what forums to even go to for that question.

Thanks in advance!
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Re: An annoying decision- Cars
Old 01-18-2007, 10:36 AM   #2
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Re: An annoying decision- Cars

Are you sure you need an SUV? Get a small, reliable, used car that gets good gas mileage.
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Re: An annoying decision- Cars
Old 01-18-2007, 10:37 AM   #3
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Re: An annoying decision- Cars

No, $3500 to replace the engine of a sub-$1500 car is not worth it.
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Re: An annoying decision- Cars
Old 01-18-2007, 10:41 AM   #4
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Re: An annoying decision- Cars

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deetso
I am a young guy who has been riding my bike to work for the first few years of being a lawyer. My wife and I have a 1992 Ford Explorer that I always planned on driving till it stopped running- its just I thought that was a few years later.

I have a mechanic I trust implicitly (old family friend)- he says it will run about $3500 to fix the car. (when it wouldnt start I opened it up to see if i could fix it, i couldnt, but I noticed that for some reason my radiator was empty... the rest is history) If you KBB my car it comes out to about $1500 in perfect condition. The car had been perfect for camping, driving over the mountains to see our faimly (quite regularly) and for about 6 months out of the year there is always snow/ice on the ground or its coming.

Im not sure its worth it to fix the car. Im worried about fixing it and something else breaks on it. I want my wife to have a reliable car when she drives the 35 miles into the "big city." At the same time the car has been perfect for our needs for a few years.

I DO NOT want a new car. I hate the idea of making payments on a vehicle, but at this point I dont have enough to pay cash for a car. What is your take one way or the other on buying another car vs. fixing this car?

Secondly, if you think I should get a new-to-me car, I was hoping for a AWD wagon/small SUV that would be around 10K. Is that realistic? I havent been in the market for cars for quite some time and just dont know enough. Is there another place you can point me to? I can only find the big sites that advertise in google. Not sure what forums to even go to for that question.

Thanks in advance!
I can help a little. You're at that stage where it's 6 of one and a half dozen of the other. BTW, KBB is NOT a good place to get values, it's a regional thing. You didn't mention miles, but I am guessing over 100,000

If you family friend says it would take $3500, that would be the cost to GET the $1500 number. Bottom line, if it's not running, and needs a lot of work, noone would be that interested in buying it..............

If you fix it, you STILL HAVE a bunch of 15 year old wearing out parts that could also go. Sounds like you have had good luck, but I would find a newer ride.

You can get a decent AWD or small SUV for $10K. One of our local Ford dealers sold a bunch of 2006 Escapes (FWD) for $13995 with 15-20K miles on them...........they went fast............

Subaru is an option, the Forester and Outback are AWD, and you might have to get a 4-year old one to be around 10k, but solid cars.............
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Re: An annoying decision- Cars
Old 01-18-2007, 10:41 AM   #5
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Re: An annoying decision- Cars

You could get a pretty decent car for $3500, maybe even a wagon?

You can get $500-$1000 for the dead SUV and then it wouldn't be much more to buy a simple, reliable used car. I commute 30 miles (one way) in a $3500 car every day. It is a 1996 Saturn.

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Re: An annoying decision- Cars
Old 01-18-2007, 10:46 AM   #6
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Re: An annoying decision- Cars

I would not spend the money to resuscitate a 15 YO beast. Let it go and buy something else. Given the state of the suto industry, I would think you;d have a lot of choice in the $10k range. Start looking at 4 or 5 YO cars. If you are hell bent on an SUV , I think you;d be spoiled for choice. Otherwise you should be able to find a Subaru, Taurus wagon, or Chrysler minivan in your price range without too much difficulty.
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Re: An annoying decision- Cars
Old 01-18-2007, 10:50 AM   #7
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Re: An annoying decision- Cars

Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl
Are you sure you need an SUV? Get a small, reliable, used car that gets good gas mileage.
I am by no means set on an SUV. I am pretty sure we need a AWD car- just because of where we live and where we go. I just thought there would be more AWD cars available if I opened up the discussion to SUVs.
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Re: An annoying decision- Cars
Old 01-18-2007, 10:50 AM   #8
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Re: An annoying decision- Cars

The local paper (online or dead tree) is still a good place for used car ads, as is eBay motors and Auto Trader magazine (both online and in retail store racks). I'd go through these to get a feel on what you can buy with your money.

If you're looking for a reliable car on a budget I'd stick with American-made 4-door sedans. The more grandmotherly the better $/reliability ratio due to lower desirability. They aren't the best built, but they depreciate rapidly so you can buy a newer model for less than a similarly equipped model that's more popular.

Used Toyotas and Hondas hold their value too well for buying cheap used. Sports cars, pickups and SUVs also retain their value and are therefore more expensive used buys. You used to be able to find good deals on used Subarus, but I'm not sure that's the case nowadays.

My best values have been opportunity buys from family members. There are no guarantees on used cars, but with a car from a family member you better know the real history of the vehicle.

I haven't shopped for used cars in the past year or so...if I were to shop soon I'd check into the Katrina factor and figure out how to avoid refurbished cars that were swamped in a hurricane.

For my last couple of non-family cars I bought, I got CarFax reports for to check their title history before buying. For the peace of mind you get it's relatively cheap.
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Re: An annoying decision- Cars
Old 01-18-2007, 10:52 AM   #9
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Re: An annoying decision- Cars

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deetso
I am by no means set on an SUV. I am pretty sure we need a AWD car- just because of where we live and where we go. I just thought there would be more AWD cars available if I opened up the discussion to SUVs.
I'm not sure what kind of driving you do, but front wheel drive does a lot better in slippery conditions than rear wheel drive, largely due to having the engine weight over the traction wheels. Throw in anti-lock brakes and you have a decent all-weather car. But if you're driving up and down dirt mountain roads or the like, then maybe you do need AWD.
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Re: An annoying decision- Cars
Old 01-18-2007, 10:54 AM   #10
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Re: An annoying decision- Cars

Quote:
Originally Posted by mclesters
You could get a pretty decent car for $3500, maybe even a wagon?

You can get $500-$1000 for the dead SUV and then it wouldn't be much more to buy a simple, reliable used car. I commute 30 miles (one way) in a $3500 car every day. It is a 1996 Saturn.

Sarah
I'll have an older Audi AWD wagon for sale in a couple months..........
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Re: An annoying decision- Cars
Old 01-18-2007, 10:55 AM   #11
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Re: An annoying decision- Cars

Buy a scion. 12,800 brand new 40mpg.
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Re: An annoying decision- Cars
Old 01-18-2007, 10:58 AM   #12
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Re: An annoying decision- Cars

Quote:
Originally Posted by BigMoneyJim
If you're looking for a reliable car on a budget I'd stick with American-made 4-door sedans. The more grandmotherly the better $/reliability ratio due to lower desirability. They aren't the best built, but they depreciate rapidly so you can buy a newer model for less than a similarly equipped model that's more popular.
Pssssst...Taurus.

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Re: An annoying decision- Cars
Old 01-18-2007, 11:05 AM   #13
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Re: An annoying decision- Cars

Quote:
Originally Posted by newguy888
Buy a scion. 12,800 brand new 40mpg.
Do they have AWD or 4WD
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Re: An annoying decision- Cars
Old 01-18-2007, 11:07 AM   #14
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Re: An annoying decision- Cars

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deetso
I am by no means set on an SUV. I am pretty sure we need a AWD car- just because of where we live and where we go. I just thought there would be more AWD cars available if I opened up the discussion to SUVs.
If we are talking about occasional use (<10k miles/year), I would probably look for a used Merkin-badge SUV. The lower fuel economy won't make that much of a difference and the price will be right.
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Re: An annoying decision- Cars
Old 01-18-2007, 11:10 AM   #15
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Re: An annoying decision- Cars

You might want to check out the Dollar and Thrifty used cars. in '04 I bought a '02 Pontiac GP from the local Dollar lot for just over $10K with OnStar. It had 33K miles. A month later DS #2 rolled his car coming home from work. Went to Dollar and he picked up a Malibu for $9500 with 22K miles on it. Both were out of their rental fleets and have been trouble free. In our part of the country they do have the occaisional PU and SUV on their lots from time to time. In essence you get a well maintained car with milage still within factory warranty with a large portion of the depreciation paid for by others.
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Re: An annoying decision- Cars
Old 01-18-2007, 11:12 AM   #16
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Re: An annoying decision- Cars

Quote:
Originally Posted by USK Coastie
You might want to check out the Dollar and Thrifty used cars. in '04 I bought a '02 Pontiac GP from the local Dollar lot for just over $10K with OnStar. It had 33K miles. A month later DS #2 rolled his car coming home from work. Went to Dollar and he picked up a Malibu for $9500 with 22K miles on it. Both were out of their rental fleets and have been trouble free. In our part of the country they do have the occaisional PU and SUV on their lots from time to time. In essence you get a well maintained car with milage still within factory warranty with a large portion of the depreciation paid for by others.
Glad you had good results....... I know a few who had horrible experience with rentals....... However, if you can find out where they were rentals, it might help. I for one have seen how Chicagoans drive, and WOULD NOT buy a rental from OHare..............
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Re: An annoying decision- Cars
Old 01-18-2007, 11:34 AM   #17
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Re: An annoying decision- Cars

2 year old Buick LeSabres can be had for around $11000 with low miles........
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Re: An annoying decision- Cars
Old 01-18-2007, 11:34 AM   #18
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Re: An annoying decision- Cars

You can get a toyota rav4 in the 6-10k range, between 5 and 9 years old in that price range.

Four wheel drive, 22-25mpg, rock solid reliability, carries 5 people or the seats fold or come out completely for hauling. Nice bit of ground clearance but you can still step right into it. Good crash safety results

We've got two of them in the family, and like them a bunch.

Hondas CRV is also a contender in this range, as is the subaru Forrester, although you'll pay more for the forrester.

I also had GREAT results buying former rental cars (and so did my dad), but what kind of car makes a big difference. Boring mid-size sedans rented to individual business people work out. No sports cars. SUV's near a snowy area might be iffy...some folks might think that "four wheel drive" means they can do donuts in it and bounce it off of curbs.

At a minimum, the things get washed and vacuumed every day, all the maintenance is done on schedule and anything broken gets fixed. Obviously check them a lot more closely for collision damage.
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Re: An annoying decision- Cars
Old 01-18-2007, 11:39 AM   #19
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Re: An annoying decision- Cars

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cute 'n Fuzzy Bunny
You can get a toyota rav4 in the 6-10k range, between 5 and 9 years old in that price range.

Four wheel drive, 22-25mpg, rock solid reliability, carries 5 people or the seats fold or come out completely for hauling. Nice bit of ground clearance but you can still step right into it. Good crash safety results

We've got two of them in the family, and like them a bunch.

Hondas CRV is also a contender in this range, as is the subaru Forrester, although you'll pay more for the forrester.

I also had GREAT results buying former rental cars (and so did my dad), but what kind of car makes a big difference. Boring mid-size sedans rented to individual business people work out. No sports cars. SUV's near a snowy area might be iffy...some folks might think that "four wheel drive" means they can do donuts in it and bounce it off of curbs.

At a minimum, the things get washed and vacuumed every day, all the maintenance is done on schedule and anything broken gets fixed. Obviously check them a lot more closely for collision damage.
Agree......also Honda CR-V......nice cars...........you'll pay more for Subarus........

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Re: An annoying decision- Cars
Old 01-18-2007, 11:44 AM   #20
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Re: An annoying decision- Cars

If the regional value of a running model of your vehicle is $1,500 - then it means you should be able to buy one for that, retail. Spending $3,500 fixing yours to get to the same place is obviously a poor idea, then.

There really aren't any shortcuts in car buying. If you buy new - you purchase "peace of mind" regarding condition and reliability. That costs money. If you buy brand name reliability (Honda, Toyota) that costs money too.

Anything you do short of that, to save money, incurs risk - generally proportional to the savings. The less you pay, the more it is necessary to have the car thoroughly examined. Skip that and you establish a business model that is based simply on having good luck. Good luck with that. :-)

The County fleet I manage has had pretty decent service from used cars, particularly Focus's and Taurus's over the last few years. They usually come out of a rental fleet a year old and still have 10,000 miles and two years left on the warranty. The Taurus model is replaced and discontinued so their value has dropped a lot. That doesn't mean the cars have stopped running though.

Another idea is to buy cheap transportation for everyday use - and to rent a car for those occasional special events.
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