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Old 03-24-2013, 05:19 PM   #61
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Oh my bad, the olds was $1k and I forgot to add the Buick, which is my awesome hooptie -it cost $2500 a few years ago. We look for unfashionable old lady cars, US made and cheap for parts. DH is the most awesome shade tree mechanic in the world. I <3 him for being willing to maintain the POS fleet! (That's what my mom calls our cars).
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Old 03-24-2013, 05:54 PM   #62
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A lot depends on the type of car you are buying. An economy class won't get much buying used. In many cases, with rebates/incentives a new one is cheaper than a used one. Smaller starting price so the depreciation is smaller and they carry a premium because of demand. But on a BMW, Benz, Lexus class you can save a lot with a low mileage 3-4 yr old unit. I wouldn't buy a Caddy but they lose close to 60% over 3 yrs, that's close to 40k for a 60k+ escalade.
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Old 03-24-2013, 05:55 PM   #63
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Originally Posted by travelover View Post
I always buy new and keep the cars for 15 years. I done that with the last 10 cars.
If you have done it sequentially that's 150 years worth of cars - Not bad! if you started driving your first new car at 16 that makes you 166 now. What's the secret?
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Old 03-24-2013, 06:25 PM   #64
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Originally Posted by ERhoosier View Post
Agree most stats suggest overall car reliability has improved significantly over past 10yrs for all makes. The defect rates of "best"models from 10-15yrs ago could be below ave in today's market. And the absolute ave defect rates between best & worst models seems to have narrowed over the years too.

I agree that anecdotal experience is not as good as large survey stats, but respectfully disagree that CR's data collection methods are the "best". CR surveys have significant issues. Surveys are sent only annually (recall bias) and include only CR subscribers (sampling bias).
New Car Reliability | Best & Worst Reliability - Consumer Reports
Those who don't agree with CR's opinions tend to cancel their subscriptions. And others who have criticized CR methods have been (ahem) 'contacted' by CR's aggressive legal dept.
Statistical problems of Consumer Reports auto ratings
And some top reliability rated cars in CR survey have had serious widespread problems, like infamous engine sludge legal settlement covering some 3+million Toyotas (inc Camry) TOYOTA DEAL: HERE COMES THE SLUDGE JUDGE | The Center for Autosafety
Personally I have more respect for the other large auto survey, JD Power, which subscribes to survey industry code of ethics (inc methodology & respondent rights standards).
2013 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study Results | J.D. Power
Not quite sure what to think about the newest large auto survey, TrueDelta.

In any case, I would research the specific car I'm considering. Overall brand reliability is nice for advertising, but truth is every maker has had at least a few less than stellar products over the years. And there are some great cars from some mediocre brands.

BTW...Ford shoppers- Ford's X-Plan is NOT "employee discount" (A-Plan) but rather less generous "supplier discount". I have been X-Plan eligible for years & found many dealers beat X-Plan pricing anyway on all but the most popular models. (See edmonds.com for True Market Value, or what folks have actually paid recently for specific cars). Ford's A-Plan is much better if you qualify, and dealers usu won't meet that deal for non-employees.
Agreed. Unless CR expands their survey to include every registered vehicle owner in the US, their surveys will reflect the biases of their subscribers, Their readership is a particular demographic. And much of it intersects with this forum. It's like the frequent Toyota Prius threads on here. That car has been around about 10 years, and other than me occasionally seeing one on the interstate, I wouldn't know what one looked like in person. But apparently within certain demographic groups they're common place.
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Old 03-24-2013, 06:48 PM   #65
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A lot depends on the type of car you are buying. An economy class won't get much buying used. In many cases, with rebates/incentives a new one is cheaper than a used one. Smaller starting price so the depreciation is smaller and they carry a premium because of demand. But on a BMW, Benz, Lexus class you can save a lot with a low mileage 3-4 yr old unit. I wouldn't buy a Caddy but they lose close to 60% over 3 yrs, that's close to 40k for a 60k+ escalade.
Agreed.
A $2-3k tranny or engine repair is a much bigger % of total cost for an econocar, and absolute $$$ depreciation is much bigger for most $40-60+K luxury cars. And most lux buyers treat their cars very well.
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Old 03-24-2013, 06:51 PM   #66
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'A lot depends on the type of car you are buying. An economy class won't get much buying used. In many cases, with rebates/incentives a new one is cheaper than a used one.'

This is what we noticed while shopping for a larger car two years ago to haul my wifes wheelchair + walker + luggage + daughter, etc (corolla wasn't cutting it anymore). Lower interest rates on new made buying used not much of a deal.
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Old 03-24-2013, 07:31 PM   #67
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Interesting discussions on new vs used and this discussion will go on forever. For the most part, I was always a buy new type of guy. I spent my earlier years in the used market and it seems like I was forever fixing something. Now that we are in are our later years, we certainly rely on dependable transportation and the last five vehicles have been leased. Three years and out to another new car. What we try to do is to get into another new vehicle with the same payment and no out of pocket costs. This may not be the most economical way to own a vehicle but it's the best for us. I mentioned in another post that we just got our new Toyota Prius V. Love it so far. After three years if we still like it we will probably get another Prius as long as we can do it with no out of pocket cost and roughly the same payment. Granted, this will cost more in the long run but peace of mind is well worth the it.
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Old 03-24-2013, 08:11 PM   #68
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My previous [new] car was a '99 Acura. Shortly before our DD (oldest of 2 kids) got her license, I bought a new car for me, even though the Acura was only at about 120k miles. But I wanted both of our kids to have a shared car for HS and I knew that with the 15-17k/yr in miles I drive, that if I kept driving it, it might not make it. Here we are almost 5 years later, each kid enjoyed it for the last 2 years of HS, and now that they're conveniently at the same state U, they continue sharing it. Yeah, it's around 165k miles, but we just put a new transmission in last year because it's otherwise still in great shape. We're keeping our fingers crossed that it can survive another 3 years while our son's in college and will likely only had on 15-20k miles. So we surely feel like, going on 13 years and hoping for 16, we got our money's worth out of this car that we bought new. Had we bought it used, we'd have had to replace it a few years ago - and that's assuming we could've found something that was taken care of at the same level we care for ours and not just someone else's headache.
Similar situation here. Big advocate of buying used but well-known strong performers. Purchased a '99 Acura TL in early 2005 with 90K miles for $10K cash (retailed for $14K+ back then, but I made my offer and they took it). Still running strong after 8+ years with 150K miles. I'm hoping it will last another two years. Maybe even longer. Other than a re-build transmission, like you, it has truly been a great car. If I keep it for another two years, and if I include minor repairs and regular maintenance in the equation, I estimate it'd have cost me less than $1500 per year, and I could probably sell it for $2k if needed to. Not a bad deal at all.
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Old 03-25-2013, 07:27 AM   #69
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I have bought 2-3 year old used cars with one exception since we have been married, and based on the costs we have saved money vs. buying new. We do buy used from a "fixed price" dealer (the price they show, plus taxes and registration, is what you pay) who is very generous in terms of letting you bring your own mechanic to inspect the car and providing a loaner car for free when you bring the car in for service. The cars have suffered more from teenagers than anything else. Its been nice not having car payments for 7+ years, but with the "newest" one now 10 years old we've begun the replacement cycle.
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Old 03-25-2013, 08:40 AM   #70
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No kidding. Sarah, do you feel the same way about food? After all, it winds up in the same place....
So funny, that's what I say to DH when he anguishes over what to order in a restaurant.

We all decide what has value to us.
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Old 03-25-2013, 09:46 AM   #71
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Interesting thread and it has me thinking about my plan to buy used (7-8 years old, around $8-10k out of pocket) versus buy new ($20-25k typical purchase price).

I did some quick back of envelope calcs, and it looks like a Honda Civic would cost around $400 less per year on average if you buy used per my plan versus buy new (factoring in depreciation, insurance, property taxes, etc). That assumes holding till the car is 15 years old. For a Honda Pilot you would save $1000 per year buying used per my plan. So the buy new vs. used debate turns on what car you are buying. I would probably go for new on the Honda Civic since $400 per year isn't much to pay for piece of mind. $1000 per year would probably entice me to look at buying used if I were looking for a Pilot, for example.

I didn't factor in different maintenance costs, since the vehicles I'm usually looking at are typically on the "doesn't need a lot of maintenance" lists. And other than the timing belt/chain (if applicable), routine maintenance costs don't vary a ton over the long term (the decade or two I would hope to keep a car). Of course mechanical failure can strike as the car deteriorates, but at some point you put band aids on and hope it keeps running, or sell it to Sarah and her shady tree mechanic for $1000, and start the cycle over.
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Old 03-25-2013, 10:00 AM   #72
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I have bought used cars from individuals and so far have been happy with my purchases.

I bought from people who:
- kept a clean home/garage
- had receipts of work done on the car
- were straightforward and competent in their communications with me

The last time I bought, I also ran a carfax report.

Last step - I took the car to MY mechanic for a thorough check-up. Don't skimp on this part.
That's more or less my list of features. Focus on the owner of the car as much as the car. An organized person with attention to detail is more likely to have maintained (and be focused on maintaining) the car than a scatter brain who is headed 10 different ways all the time.

My ideal seller would be someone who owned the car for 7-8 years and had bought it new, has maintained it per the mfr specs and has receipts and a maintenance log to document that fact. Low mileage a plus, and new tires and other major services recently completed a big plus.

There seem to be more "pricing anomalies" in the used car market that a savvy patient buyer can work to their advantage as compared to the new car market, where pricing is mostly on a fungible commodity goods basis. You do have some non-insignificant informational asymmetries with used car buying, but it doesn't cost a ton to gain a lot of information (maintenance records, independent mechanic's inspection, etc).

Anecdotally I have heard many tales of a really sweet used car purchase that was made at a very favorable price where the buyer did their due diligence. I haven't heard many tales of used car buyers completing due diligence and getting royally screwed on a purchase.

More often those getting screwed bought a lemon but didn't take any steps to prevent themselves from buying a lemon (like going to a reputable used car dealer, inspecting maintenance records, independent mechanic's inspection, etc). Or they bemoan the fact that they have to pay for a major service item (like a timing belt replacement or new tires) right after buying it, when that is a fact that could have been known before purchase. Or they don't complete that recommended service item and throw a piston rod through the engine block 10000 more miles after they bought it, and then say the car was a POS lemon because the timing belt broke after going 150,000 miles without replacement (from the time it was new). Let me introduce you to my SIL...
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Old 03-25-2013, 02:58 PM   #73
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We'll be looking for a new vehicle fairly soon. I've been keeping an eye on the new versus nearly new market. A few years ago "nearly new" would have been a no-brainer, but many makes and models don't depreciate as dramatically in the first 1-2 years as they used to because that buying strategy has become so popular and increased demand. That makes it less of a slam-dunk decision. Still, at any time one needs to look at the market, see where used vehicles are priced relative to new, and factor in that the new vehicles have a full warranty and no questions about how the vehicles may have been used/abused in the past. If the depreciation is almost linear, new might be a better deal. If you can get a 2-year-old vehicle for 30% less than new, then used might be better provided it has been thoroughly checked out.
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Old 03-25-2013, 03:59 PM   #74
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If the model I want keeps its value, I buy new, if not I buy used. No major problems either way.

Just bought a new Jeep Wrangler this year. (Moving to the mountains when I retire.) Wranglers are at the top for holding their price. No problems, but it only has 1800 miles on it. If I don't have problems when I'm in the mountains, I'm not getting maximum enjoyment from it!

Bought a used 2004 Audi TT sports car in 2010 for $18,500. Its original price was about $50,000. It had 34,000 miles on it and was literally owned by a doctor's wife in Austin, Texas. (I didn't want one from snow country - possible salt problems.) I found it on the internet and drove it back to Virginia. I got all the maintenance records from the dealer from the day it was delivered as a new car. It now has 56,000 miles on it and I love driving it. No major problems but maintenance is pricey. And, yes, I ran a carfax report.

Bought a used 1995 Geo Prizm in 1996 with about 12,000 miles on it. Used Prizms were about 2/3 the going price of a similar Carola and they are the same car. My son still drives it with about 180,000 miles on it. No major problems.
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Old 03-25-2013, 04:43 PM   #75
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We buy new when it comes to our "long distance" vehicle. (50+ miles locally, long distance vacations, etc.) and keep it for 8-10 yrs. We buy used for hubby's pickup trucks. (short distances, hauling items, etc.)
And 6 yrs ago we planned on buying a used Jeep Wrangler as our "fun vehicle" but after realizing that the new ones (2007 and up) were a few inches wider, longer and had more bells and whistles than the older ones we ended up buying a new one. In six yrs we've only racked up 33,000 miles (even though we seem to take it everywhere) and I can see us keeping this thing for another 10 yrs. We both like it that much!!
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Old 03-25-2013, 04:58 PM   #76
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We have bought all our cars new except one, from a good friend's mom's estate. We are not at all mechanical and neither of us enjoys haggling, so the odds of us getting a lemon are high. Wish we had the skills some of you do!

I did read recently that used car prices are exceptionally high right now (maybe residual effects of cash for clunkers reducing supply somewhat?) but should come down this fall (as new models come out and generate trade-ins?).
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Old 03-25-2013, 05:23 PM   #77
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I'm buying a Honda Fit this spring, and while I'd like to buy used, they hold their value so well I don't think the price differential compensates for the added risk - especially in an area where plenty of cars were damaged by Sandy.
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Old 03-25-2013, 05:29 PM   #78
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I'm buying a Honda Fit this spring, and while I'd like to buy used, they hold their value so well I don't think the price differential compensates for the added risk - especially in an area where plenty of cars were damaged by Sandy.
I've noticed that Hondas and Toyotas in particular tend to hold value and depreciate more "linearly" than other makes which have steeper depreciation curves in the first couple of years and 20-30K miles.

I've rarely seen a lightly used Honda (in the last few years) which is a considerably better buy than a new one. And when that's the case, I'd rather have the full warranty and no worries about how the last owner treated or maintained the vehicle.
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Old 03-25-2013, 05:43 PM   #79
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Yeah, its especially a problem (if you want to call it that) with the budget models. Maybe the higher end ones show some more depreciation.
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Old 03-26-2013, 07:27 PM   #80
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I wanted to thank everyone for the responses to this thread. I wasn't expecting so much information and am appreciative of those that took the time to post; it has really helped me to make a better decision.

I'm comfortable with my decision to buy new again (was surprised that so many here were in the same boat as I in that regard) but am thinking it's time to look seriously at some foreign brands instead of the old-line GM products that have really only been lasting me to the 100k mileage mark. Some great advice on how to locate good reliable autos (carfax, pre-inspections, etc.) but I'm still tending to buy new given my complete and utter lack of any mechanical aptitude and the excessive stress that unreliable vehicles cause me.
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