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What criteria do you use for getting a "new" car?
Old 07-29-2009, 07:39 AM   #1
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What criteria do you use for getting a "new" car?

I am not doing the clunker program, but I am starting to think about my next car. I was wondering what the folks here did when the time comes to get a different vehicle. Meaning, do you buy new or used? Pay cash or finance? Lease or own?

I'm also trying to work out what a reasonable amount is for me to spend on a new car. I currently save 20-25% of my income and drive a 2001 Jetta. I feel like it's time for me to get something "nice" but not frivolous and very expensive. I've been settling in on a figure of about 18-22k, and finding the best value in that range.

I'm under the impression that a used car with low miles is my best bet. I'm also thinking I should get a car that retains it's value so it is still worth something when it comes time to get rid of it. I'm looking at cars like a 2006 Acura TL, Mercedes C class or BMW 3 series.

Finally, I feel the need to acknowledge that my 2001 Jetta only has 57k miles on it, and runs fine. I put maybe 8k a year on my cars. This trade up is much more want than "need".

Any words of wisdom?
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Old 07-29-2009, 07:47 AM   #2
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I purchase another vehicle when my present one is either rusting bad or is starting to nickel and dime me to death. In other words is starting to average about $500.00 in parts (including maintanance) per year. I usually buy them when they're about 2 years old since depreciation takes a real hit. But my last car I bought couple years ago was a 97 Bonneville SSEi 40th Anniversary for $900.00 no rust. I put another $900.00 (when I bought it) into it in parts and should be good for about 7 years of reliable driving with no major repairs........touch wood.


EDIT: Cash is king.
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Old 07-29-2009, 08:44 AM   #3
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We buy a new car when the old one becomes unreliable, shows signs of needing repairs that cost more than it's worth, or parts availability becomes a problem.

Acknowledging that depreciation is a major cost factor in the first few years we still prefer to buy brand new. What we get for that expense is no maintenance concerns for the first few years because everything is under warranty, and the assurance that scheduled maintenance has been done from day one. And spreading the depreciation over the 14-18 years that we keep a vehicle, it isn't that much to us.

An example is the motorcycle a guy at work has been trying to sell for a year. (He's upside down on the loan.) The first oil change should have been done at 600 miles. It now has 2,700 miles on it and he still hasn't done that. The bike looks terrific, but I see major problems coming up for the unlucky buyer. I don't want to be that buyer.

So I wrote a check for mine, and I know the scheduled maintenance is done right, and on time.

Where I come from, a 2001 Jetta with only 57k miles on it is barely broken in.
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Old 07-29-2009, 08:46 AM   #4
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I prefer to buy new and in cash.

I only had to save up the cash the first time. After that, I have just put aside the money I would have spent on car payments to save up for the next car.

I have a 2000 Solara with 38,500 miles on it, which I plan to trade in on something new in 2010. Like you, my trade-in plans are based more on "want" than on "need".

I like mid-sized Japanese (named) vehicles. My criteria are reliability and gas mileage, even though I don't drive much right now. Also it has to be something that I like and feel comfortable driving, probably with a sunroof and lumbar support in the driver's seat.

Seems like most cars or SUVs that appeal to me run between $23K-$28K, so that is probably what I will spend (plus tax, title, and license, minus the trade-in value of my Solara). I could afford more but it seems like most luxury cars are either based on Toyota/Honda/Nissan (so why spend the extra?), or else not as reliable as these brands.
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Old 07-29-2009, 08:52 AM   #5
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I go the used route. Something that is 1 or 2 years old with 15-25k miles on it. I want something that has a good bit of warranty left on it so I have time to work out any problems on the manufactures clock. And I do pay cash.
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Old 07-29-2009, 09:33 AM   #6
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I prefer new even though the depreciation the first 2 years is a killer.
Cash preferably.
What I look for is also reliability and fuel efficiency. I also like technology and will be shopping for alternate fuels as they become available and make sense (to me).
My next car will definately be new because it will be a pure EV and there aren't many used ones available
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Old 07-29-2009, 09:53 AM   #7
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I also prefer to buy new, and then hold onto the car for 10 years. I'll probably keep my current SUV longer than that, since I've put a good chunk of money into high-cost maintenance over the last couple of years (cooling system, timing belt, etc.). It's 9 years old now, and should easily give me another 4-6 years of low-cost operation. I do get the "itch" for a new car periodically, so it'll be interesting to see if I can muster the willpower to hold out that long.

We paid cash for our last new car purchase, and will likely do that again the next time we buy. That's another reason for me to wait 4 or more years before buying a different car: more time to hoard cash!
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Old 07-29-2009, 10:01 AM   #8
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The criteria:

- someone made an offer on the old one that I can't refuse.
- or is beyond any reasonable repair within my skills.

- The "new" is used, has good body and mechanicals, sleek, but not a "muscle car", can go fast and handle curves well, am willing to do some tweaks to make it so.
- Has electrical/electronics problems that no one seems to be able to fix, and therefore makes the price real cheap.
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Old 07-29-2009, 10:08 AM   #9
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I usually try to buy 2-3yr old used cars,let some one else eat the depreciation and sort out any bugs the car might have,i usually drive a car to the 175,000 then get rid of it before it turns into a money pit.Article is a bit dated but gives some good advice on buying a new or used car. .1used_car_values
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Old 07-29-2009, 10:18 AM   #10
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I buy either "gently used" (1-3 years old) or new, depending on the best deal I can get.

We have a 2004 car I bought new - had a sticker price of $23K but with a bunch of incentives, rebates and discounts, I was able to get the price down to $13K. Couldn't find a decent used one anywhere near that price.

OTOH, a few years prior to that I found a 3 year old minivan (DW wanted a grandkid hauler) with 9,000 miles on it - still had the plastic covering on the carpet in the rear and still smelled new. I stumbled on it while browsing the used car lot of a nearby dealership on my lunch hour. Took it home that night to let DW see what she thought about it and was surprised (and pleased) to see the vehicle appear as a "loss leader" in the paper the following morning.
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Old 07-29-2009, 10:29 AM   #11
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I have had good results with certified used cars. I bought a certified used Toyota Camry in '95 for cash. It was a '92 with 26K miles on it. I drove it and then my daughter drove it until 2005 when it had 110K miles. I sold it privately for $4500.

I bought a certified used '97 Lexus ES300 in 2002 with 47K miles on it. I paid $20K cash. I'm still driving it. It has 125K miles and runs and looks great.

I will start looking for another certified used Lexus in a year or two.
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Old 07-29-2009, 10:52 AM   #12
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I almost always buy new... and keep for 10 years or 100,000 miles... both preferably...

My CFC car is 15 years old, but only has 95K miles... I was working for a few years where you did not need a car...
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Old 07-29-2009, 11:58 AM   #13
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When the car dies, through total malfunction or an accident, it gets replaced. My 92 Taurus SHO died in an accident after 11 years & 150K+ miles in Nov 04, went out and bought new 05 Focus for just under $10k cash. Our 1985 VW camper went to our older son and we hope it runs forever, it might as it has a more recent Subaru engine in it. Bought DWs 1997 Miata new in 1999 (it was unsold, great deal) still going strong and expect to keep it anther 10 years.
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Old 07-29-2009, 12:25 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jambo101 View Post
I usually try to buy 2-3yr old used cars,let some one else eat the depreciation and sort out any bugs the car might have,i usually drive a car to the 175,000 then get rid of it before it turns into a money pit.Article is a bit dated but gives some good advice on buying a new or used car. .1used_car_values

From that article, not sure I'm following this:

Quote:
On the other hand, buying a used version of the best car in the class is also likely to cost you proportionally more used than when new. Whatís needed are good cars that, for some reason unrelated to quality or reliability, lose their value more swiftly than they should.
I get that some cars depreciate more slowly, but how are they getting "proportionally more used than when new"?
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Old 07-29-2009, 12:33 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RDamien View Post
I get that some cars depreciate more slowly, but how are they getting "proportionally more used than when new"?
I think that what they're saying is that the best car in a given class is often more expensive than a comparable vehicle when comparing used car values. In other words:

Car A New Price: $25,000
Car B New Price: $23,000

After 3 years:

Car A Used Price: $17,000
Car B Used Price: $12,000

I made up the numbers, but I think that's the point they're trying to make. The highest ranked cars (think Camry & Accord for midsize cars) have much higher resale than other models which may have similar reliability. So, per the article, one should try to find a used vehicle that will be reliable, without buying the one that has depreciated the least.
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Old 07-29-2009, 01:35 PM   #16
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We are of the "maintain it well and drive it till it croaks" variety of car owners.

"Croaking" is defined as: Over 200K miles on the original engine and a series of expensive and increasing in frequency repairs.

Our current cars (an '03 Accord and an '06 Odyssey) were purchased new because Honda did a redesign of both vehicles in those years and upgraded the standard safety features as well as cabin leg-and-headroom (we're tall, so it matters a lot). We fully anticipate a good 15 to 20 years of service from both cars and will pay cash for their replacements. Those replacements may be gently used (like, say, a 2001 Jetta with only 57K on it) or new (depending, again, on safety features and comfort).

Our last vehicles were sent to the Old Cars Home with over 200K and 250K miles on the odometers, respectively. One had catastrophically failed smog testing and was purchased from us by the state as a result; the other went to a friend who wanted a beater car for city driving. I would consider massive system failure (an engine rebuild, for example) as a trigger for buying a new vehicle.

When we bought our two cars, we did spring for the heated seats, sunroofs and in-dash CD changers, because those are things that make the cars "nice" for us and make it easy to drive the same ride for 15 years.
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Old 07-29-2009, 01:40 PM   #17
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The traditional strategy was to buy "nearly new" because vehicles were depreciating 20-30% almost as soon as you drove them off the lot so you could get a big discount on the car AND get almost all of the life and perhaps some of the original warranty.

But it seems that this trick is so popular these days that the demand for "nearly new" is growing, and now it's often not THAT much cheaper than new. And if it's not that much cheaper, I'd sooner have the full warranty and not have to wonder where the car has been or why it's for sale so quickly.
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Old 07-29-2009, 03:02 PM   #18
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When we bought our two cars, we did spring for the heated seats, sunroofs and in-dash CD changers, because those are things that make the cars "nice" for us and make it easy to drive the same ride for 15 years.
Yeah this is a good point. I think what I really want is the "nice" to make the next 10 years or so easy to drive.
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Old 07-29-2009, 03:06 PM   #19
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Yeah this is a good point. I think what I really want is the "nice" to make the next 10 years or so easy to drive.
Good thinking. I don't think I could have driven my Solara for the past nine years if it did not have the 8-way adjustable driver's seat with inflatable lumbar support (Ah!!). I don't use the upgraded audio system that much but I do wish it had a sunroof/moonroof.
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Old 07-29-2009, 03:08 PM   #20
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I would re-think this if I had a reliable parking spot. I would buy a newish car (1 or two years old) only if I had a garage, parking on the street would call for something less pretty. Now, without parking, Iíll continue without a car and remind myself to spring for taxis every once in a while.
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