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Question About Buying Used Car
Old 01-07-2009, 08:36 AM   #1
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Question About Buying Used Car

Morning, All -

I thought I'd ask you to help me decide on this...

I'm helping my brother buy a used car (for under $5000). Yesterday, we saw a 1984 Ford LTD Brougham on sale for $2995. The car is immaculate and only has 35,000 miles. Evidently it was owned by an older couple (the seller said he got it at an estate-like sale from down South). Everything works on it, it has no rust and looks practically brand new. I test drove it and it drives straight on the road, has a quiet sounding engine and appears to be very smooth on the road.

My goal is to help my brother with a car that'll give him [relatively] no trouble for a while. And, I really like this one. The only "bad" thing I can see about it is that it is a rear wheel drive and we live in New York - and my brother really has no experience in driving a RWD car.

And, of course, given the car's age - Edmunds.com says it's only "worth" about $500.

Given the car's age - what is your opinion on purchasing this car? I REALLY like the low mileage, but I am afraid of the age of the car. I REALLY like the cleanliness and that the car is fully loaded (A/C, cruise, electric windows/locks, etc), but am worried about the reliability. It looks (and seems to act) like a new vehicle, and with that low mileage - it almost is (or, that's the way I think). Of course, I'd have a mechanic check it out...

My brother NEEDS another car (his is beyond repair). I'm just worried that I am looking at this thing as a good solely because of the low mileage (you should see some of the cr*ap available for sale here in NY for under $5000!).

With no reservations at all, please give me your honest opinion on this car. Would you pursue purchasing this car?

Don't hold back - I really need some other people's inputs.

Thanks for your time.

Marilyn
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Old 01-07-2009, 09:11 AM   #2
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Just a couple of thoughts.
No experience necessary to operate a RWD vehicle...Easy transition, but if you are in snow country then a FWD with some form of traction control would be nice.
The 84's are old tech and not necessarily good tech, Like you said, I'd worry about stuff breaking. Age is as important as miles when you talk about a 25 year old car. I'd guess that it sucks gas with the best of them.
Safety is another issue. I wouldn't want a car these days without airbags and other good stuff.
The Edmunds value may or may not be accurate. The older they get the more values tend to fluctuate wildly.
I think if you look elsewhere you should be able to find something decent for $5000. I know you could out here in flyover country.
You didn't mention what kind and how much driving this vehicle would see. That might make a difference.
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Old 01-07-2009, 09:20 AM   #3
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Years matter -- and this car has 25 of them. That's a long time for rubber and plastic throughout the car to degrade. I bet it's a sweet ride, but I think it will probably be pretty high-maintenance.

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Old 01-07-2009, 09:25 AM   #4
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Your brother could be getting less than 10 MPG in the city. When gas prices spike again, that won't be pleasant.

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Old 01-07-2009, 09:32 AM   #5
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I'd agree with others to pass. I was looking for a decent car for my SIL and found that for about $3K you can get a car less than 10 years old. Some classes of vehicles depreciate especially fast - American minivans and rental cars (Taurus) for instance. I'd research it a bit on Cars.com and similar sites and see where you can get the biggest bang for your buck.
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Old 01-07-2009, 09:35 AM   #6
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Frank had an old LTD like that at one time, and drove it in winter weather when he was living in Connecticut. He used to drive it along twisty mountain roads to his retreat in the mountains of western Pennsylvania on weekends. He had no problems as long as he loaded the trunk with concrete blocks, and used the proper tires. Actually, for him the biggest problem with winter driving was when the heater went out. And then once, the doors froze shut but I suppose that could happen with any car.

I am sure the gas mileage was mediocre, and he had to do minor repairs now and then. It saved his life when he hit a deer, though. That's the advantage to driving a steel monster like that, I suppose. I wouldn't have one, but he liked it.

It looked HIDEOUS, due to the paint wearing through. I did not start dating him because of his car!
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Old 01-07-2009, 09:50 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Want2retire View Post

It looked HIDEOUS, due to the paint wearing through. I did not start dating him because of his car!
Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't that the title of an old Mel Tillis song??
She wwwwwouldn't dddate me ccccause of my ppaint job
So I wwwent to see Earl Scccccc, Earl Scheib, and for $59.95 my love lllife came alive....
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Old 01-07-2009, 09:50 AM   #8
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Hey, look at it this way. He can use antique plates and the ins. is a lot cheaper.
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Old 01-07-2009, 11:16 AM   #9
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Stay away, it's a maintenance trap. I'd rather have a ten year newer car with 3 times the miles, as long as there are good maintenance records.
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Old 01-07-2009, 12:58 PM   #10
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There are some older cars that are worth the extra maintenance, it depends on the buyer and how reliable the car is. I used to like older cars, but after moving from AZ to a cold climate my desire to crawl under a car on a cold garage floor has waned.
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Old 01-07-2009, 01:44 PM   #11
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There are some older cars that are worth the extra maintenance, it depends on the buyer and how reliable the car is. I used to like older cars, but after moving from AZ to a cold climate my desire to crawl under a car on a cold garage floor has waned.
I have seen plenty of 25 year old Jaguars, Mercedes, and BMWs that run great.......
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Old 01-07-2009, 06:45 PM   #12
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Parts availability could exacerbate the other maintenance headaches already mentioned here. I think mfg is only required to make parts for 10 years. Then you have to go w/aftermarketeers or scrap yards for parts. I'd say "pass" unless he has a fascination with this particular car.

An aside: My fantasy is to find a used, relatively new car - which has been "totaled" by a hail storm or by being scraped on both sides in an otherwise minor accident. Still perfect mechanically, but a POS to the average person. Cheap to buy, will last a long time, less likely to be stolen, easier to insure (why add collision?). In short the "perfect" car! YMMV
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Old 01-07-2009, 08:13 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Koolau View Post
An aside: My fantasy is to find a used, relatively new car - which has been "totaled" by a hail storm or by being scraped on both sides in an otherwise minor accident. Still perfect mechanically, but a POS to the average person. Cheap to buy, will last a long time, less likely to be stolen, easier to insure (why add collision?). In short the "perfect" car! YMMV
We're still driving this one, although it's celebrating its 12th birthday in a few months and has nearly 100K and our kid has been using it to practice her clutch technique...

Any advice for a bent frame?
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Old 01-08-2009, 08:40 AM   #14
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Thanks, everyone, for your inputs.

Most of you said (paraphrased): "Don't do it!"

Which was matching my thoughts (except for trying to get that low mileage out of my head). I just needed a little help to get past it (a kick in the pants? ).

So, we didn't get it. We ended up with a 2003 Kia Spectra for just under $5K out the door (included tax, tags, title and license) with only ~51,500 miles on it. That'll do for me (and my brother) ...

Again, thanks for your comments. They truly did help me in this search.

Have a good day.

Marilyn
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Old 01-08-2009, 09:08 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Mickey View Post
Thanks, everyone, for your inputs.

Most of you said (paraphrased): "Don't do it!"

Which was matching my thoughts (except for trying to get that low mileage out of my head). I just needed a little help to get past it (a kick in the pants? ).

So, we didn't get it. We ended up with a 2003 Kia Spectra for just under $5K out the door (included tax, tags, title and license) with only ~51,500 miles on it. That'll do for me (and my brother) ...

Again, thanks for your comments. They truly did help me in this search.

Have a good day.

Marilyn
Excellent choice, and a 100,000 warranty to boot........
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