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Buying a car for the first time and need one quickly
Old 06-29-2011, 04:46 PM   #1
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Buying a car for the first time and need one quickly

Hey all,

I have a number of replies, but I rarely start threads. In this case, I got an entry level job offer in another state, it starts at $60k the first year during a training period, then goes to around $110k after that, which is standard for the amount of hours and the type of work. As with many job offers, it requires a quick turn-around on my part, which means I have to move and have a car within 2 weeks. I was not certain where I would end up, it was quite possible I would have been in an area with mass transit, but not in this case.

So, I need to buy a car, fairly quickly, and I am open to suggestions and advice. For the most part I am very frugal but want a dependable car, so that will control my criteria, which narrows down the option a fair amount.

I am looking for something in the $10k-14k, range, preferably a four door so I can use it for moving. Must have at least a year of warranty left. Good gas mileage, 25+ at least. I need to be able to pick it up fairly quickly, within reason. I am open to 0-1% financing, or I will go with a 3% car loan through penfed, since I have $55k in 7% school loans that deserve more immediate attention. I have very good credit, somewhere in the high 700s or low 800s.

I am interested in the whole price of the car, such as dependability ratings, but I am less interested in immediate resale value, more likely than not I will keep the car a very long time.
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Old 06-29-2011, 05:02 PM   #2
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Quote:
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Hey all,

I have a number of replies, but I rarely start threads. In this case, I got an entry level job offer in another state, it starts at $60k the first year during a training period, then goes to around $110k after that, which is standard for the amount of hours and the type of work. As with many job offers, it requires a quick turn-around on my part, which means I have to move and have a car within 2 weeks. I was not certain where I would end up, it was quite possible I would have been in an area with mass transit, but not in this case.

So, I need to buy a car, fairly quickly, and I am open to suggestions and advice. For the most part I am very frugal but want a dependable car, so that will control my criteria, which narrows down the option a fair amount.

I am looking for something in the $10k-14k, range, preferably a four door so I can use it for moving. Must have at least a year of warranty left. Good gas mileage, 25+ at least. I need to be able to pick it up fairly quickly, within reason. I am open to 0-1% financing, or I will go with a 3% car loan through penfed, since I have $55k in 7% school loans that deserve more immediate attention. I have very good credit, somewhere in the high 700s or low 800s.

I am interested in the whole price of the car, such as dependability ratings, but I am less interested in immediate resale value, more likely than not I will keep the car a very long time.
Used cars have become outrageously expensive this year due to 1) The Japanese Tsumanmi and lost new-car production and 2) low new car sales over the last few years making late-model used cars kind of scarce.

Not knowing more, I suspect that a used Japanese car would do the trick - Corrolla, Accord etc.

A car is a very personal thing. What someone (else) is happy with may not work well for you.

Regarding doing it quickly. You can walk onto any car lot and drive home the same day in your new wheels.
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Old 06-29-2011, 05:43 PM   #3
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Go to the library and read Consumer Reports April auto issue. It has a section every year on best used cars in various price ranges. That said, MasterBlaster is correct that prices have gone up this year so what you read in CR may be a little less than current prices. There are lots of websites out there with used car inventories - you can search by proximity to your zip code, etc. Good luck finding something that fits what you need quickly!
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Old 06-29-2011, 05:59 PM   #4
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I own 6 cars currently and each one was purchased using autotrader.com. I look for certified used cars sold by dealers, and negotiate via email until I reach a satisfactory price. I have even negotiated a trade in that way.

I generally am willing to drive up to 8 hours away if the deal is good. I haven't had any problems with this approach.
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Old 06-29-2011, 06:08 PM   #5
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Do you even need a car? You can U-Haul for moving or better yet, borrow someone else's car. Sounds like you're pretty young and, with your demanding job, maybe it's better to move close to work so you can walk/bike to work. If you really need a car, then you can get one instead of deciding something in the next 2 weeks.

If you really do need a car, go for Japanese / Korean 3 yr compact car through craigslist, cars.com, autotrader. Make sure you get carfax and get it checked by a trusted yelp mechanic.
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Old 06-29-2011, 06:30 PM   #6
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Congratulations on the job!

Here's some information I googled up on used cars: Best Used Car Deals: June 2011 - U.S. News Rankings and Reviews

And if you can't find a good used car at a good price, a new car might not be that much more expensive: Best Car Deals: June 2011 - U.S. News Rankings and Reviews. Clicking through on some of the links, I see Toyota has some good deals on new cars through the end of June and that some of the other makes/models have invoice pricing that is near your $14,000 limit.
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Old 06-29-2011, 07:34 PM   #7
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Hatchbacks are a lot more versatile than sedans for hauling stuff. Not that you should base your choice on a one-time need, but OTOH it could come in handy other times too.
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Old 06-29-2011, 07:37 PM   #8
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You can rent cars by the month from the major car rental chains. That would give you time to figure out what you really want to buy.
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Old 06-29-2011, 08:58 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plex View Post
I was not certain where I would end up, it was quite possible I would have been in an area with mass transit, but not in this case.
So, I need to buy a car, fairly quickly, and I am open to suggestions and advice.
I am looking for something in the $10k-14k, range, preferably a four door so I can use it for moving. Must have at least a year of warranty left. Good gas mileage, 25+ at least. I need to be able to pick it up fairly quickly, within reason.
I am interested in the whole price of the car, such as dependability ratings, but I am less interested in immediate resale value, more likely than not I will keep the car a very long time.
As other posters have noted, you could start your shopping in Consumer Reports for cars in the '09-'10 model years (still under the three-year warranty) and find one you'd like to own.

Then look up Craigslist & AutoTrader in both your current area (to use during the move) and your new area (to buy after you rent a car for the move).

I wouldn't let the sellers know that you're in a hurry... you could diffidently admit that you're looking in both areas for the next month or two but might be persuaded to buy now for the right deal.

If you do your moving in a rental, you might end up paying some sort of destination charge for dropping it off in your new city. But even if you spend $800 on rentals and fees, it's still a small portion of your $10K-$14K budget for a car that you might just drive into the ground for a decade.

If you hold off for three weeks then you could buy at a retail lot. You'd pay more but buying at the end of the month might motivate them to clear one off the lot to help make some sort of quota or other incentive.
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Old 06-29-2011, 09:24 PM   #10
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Congrats on the Job! For around the price (a bit more if you buy new), for moving if it was me I'd definitely get a hatchback. A car (I'm sure there are others) such as the Honda Fit or Nissan Versa hold pretty much with back seats down.

The Honda Fit has something they call "magic seats", in otherwords the back seats fold down flat to allow for good cargo room in the back and the seats also fold up for taller stuff such as a bicycle or plant. My sister has a Honda Fit and she uses it to bring her huge dogs (mastiffs) around. I came very close to getting a used Fit (for about 20K) recently, but decided to fix my old car for the time being.
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Old 06-30-2011, 12:39 AM   #11
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Hmm, took a look, it is looking like I will want the best deal I can get on either a Mazda3, Ford Fiesta, or Honda Fit. Those are the models that seem to fall within the $10-14k range and they are each at least fairly well rated. The Fiesta appears to be a new model, so it is only available through dealers, but my parents would be able to help me get the invoice price since they own a significant amount of Ford stock, and can get a plan code.

I am pretty sure I need a car, there is absolutely no mass transit, the weather regularly over 100 degrees, and the place I work is business casual, so I cannot show up really sweaty from biking. Buildings are relatively far apart, not quite as sprawled out as where I live currently, but it is pretty bad. It is actually extremely similar to where I live now except it is 20 degrees warmer there.

There are not that many used Fits available. Actually, there is only one for sale at a reasonable price anywhere remotely near both locations.

It seems the prices are about -$1k for every one year and 10k miles for the Fit, Mazda3, and Fiesta from the listings. The financing deals on the Mazda3 for 0% over 5 years is interesting, but it ends tomorrow, so I am not sure how useful that will be in making a decision, unless it renews.

Edit: Did more research, the Fiesta's appear to have a low reliability rating, clutch transmission problems occur 4-10x more often than in the other models.

I think I am going to end up with the most bargaining room if I am looking for a Mazda3, there are dozens of them available in both locations.

More suggestions are helpful, this is just some slapdash couple hours of research based on what was presented in the thread and a tiny bit of research I did in the past.
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Old 06-30-2011, 12:40 PM   #12
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Hmm, took a look, it is looking like I will want the best deal I can get on either a Mazda3, Ford Fiesta, or Honda Fit. Those are the models that seem to fall within the $10-14k range and they are each at least fairly well rated. The Fiesta appears to be a new model, so it is only available through dealers, but my parents would be able to help me get the invoice price since they own a significant amount of Ford stock, and can get a plan code.
FYI, The Ford Fiesta is the mechanical twin of the Mazda 2. Ford and Mazda make many cars this way.

Quote:
Edit: Did more research, the Fiesta's appear to have a low reliability rating, clutch transmission problems occur 4-10x more often than in the other models.
That is very typical of new models. Everyone loves the styling but the bugs have yet to be worked out in the manufacturing. If reliability is paramount, then stay away from models that are new.

Along those lines the old boring models that aren't too popular tend to have the best price and the best reliability cause all the bugs have (usually) been worked out years ago.

Again though, buying a car is such a personal decision. Just cause' someone else likes a car doesn't mean you will and vice versa.

It goes without saying that small cars like a Fiesta are not so safe. Single Car crash tests don't really tell the real-world safety story so well. Imagine who gets hurt the worst when a Hummer/Suburban/Expedition collides with your little car.
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Old 06-30-2011, 02:04 PM   #13
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It really only matters how hot it is in the morning, when you are walking / biking to work. It should be substantially cooler then. Wear workout clothes and change when you arrive. It could be viable, at least while you get settled.

Also consider if there is some sort of "extended stay" type hotel you can crash at nearby for the first month. If the job doesn't pan out, sucks to have bought a car and signed a lease someplace you don't want to be.
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Old 06-30-2011, 02:37 PM   #14
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My opinion...a mid 200's Toyota Camry, and as long as the mileage is less than or not much over 100,000, don't worry about a warranty. But...definitely have the engine & transmission checked out by a mechanic before you buy. My family's been driviing Toyotas for a good while now, and we've gone well past 200k with some of them with zero major problems. My daughter's '96 Avalon currently is near 270,000 & shows no sign of dying. Wife, myself, 2 daughters and 1 son all drive Toyotas, varying from 1996 to 2010, and all in between. All but one are over 100.000 & 2 are well beyond 200k...still running great! Just my 2cents.
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Old 06-30-2011, 08:16 PM   #15
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I am considering pricing MPG at about $200 for each MPG over a reasonable time of use. I expect to put about 3-5K miles on the car each year I use it. Each year past new I would set a depreciation price of about $500. Every corresponding year past new is expected to have 10K miles/year, each 10k miles past that adds $500 (to the cost), each 10k miles less than that subtracts $500. This is to help me compare the models and determine the "true price."

Job stability wise, it will very likely be for six months in the worst case scenario, I am already taking what is considered a large paycut for my background for the one year training phase.

Uhaul - Doesn't look like an option, it would cost $1,200, not necessary for 4-5 boxes of stuff

Honda - Basically all overpriced, not many listings, only found one remotely reasonable listing, and it is a 2010 Honda Fit for 12500 at 15K miles (32MPG)

Toyota - 2007 Corolla for 9800 at 43K miles (36MPG) and 2004 Matrix for 7900 at 56K miles (32MPG)

Mazda - 2009 Mazda3 for 10300 at 27K miles (29MPG)

Ford- 2010 Focus for 6900 at 43K miles (29MPG), 2008 Focus for 9800 at 24K miles, 2008 Focus at 9500 at 11.5k miles. I gave up on Fiestas.

Those ones I posted come out looking like this:

12500 Fit 500, 125, 800 = 13925 (most expensive)
9800 Corolla 1500, 150, 0 = 11450
7900 Matrix 3500, -800, 800 = 11400
10300 Mazda3 1000, 400, 1400 = 13100
6900 Focus 500, 1650, 1400 = 10450 (least expensive)
9800 Focus 1500, -300, 1400 = 12400
9500 Focus 1500, -950, 1400 = 11850
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