Category: New Or Used?

By on October 12, 2012

Travis writes:

This might seem a little frivolous, but this is a genuine dilemma that I’m currently facing right now. I’ve been looking to replace a 2006 Pontiac GTO that I’ve had for 4 years. It’s been fun, comfortable, and mildly expensive to maintain in the last year with random small but non-typical GM parts-bin stuff falling apart. I got into an accident a few days ago which pushed around the engine enough to declare the car a total loss. Lucky me me for being safe, also lucky me for not having to sell my car while also getting partial refunds on the $2700 that’s been dropped into it in the past 3 months. Read More >

By on October 7, 2012

M. Peerson writes:

Well, I think it is time to replace the Pug. My little 505 has crossed the country, oh I do not know how many times. I mean I just did a round about from Westminster CO (North Denver) to Roundrock TX (North Austin) back to Benton CA (Mammoth lakes) and it is still running fair to decent for a car that I have replaced the speedo on two times. Actual millage is up past 400K closer to 440,000 miles as I clock it with the log book. Read More >

By on October 2, 2012

George writes:

Hello again, Steven,

You may recall our email last March regarding our 1992 Lexus SC300 5-Speed. Thanks for the reply; guess the timing was bad for you with tax time coming up. As you may recall, the car is all original, black with gray interior, looks and runs great, and has slightly less than 25K miles. Here’s the back story: Read More >

By on September 27, 2012

Mark writes:

Long time reader, first time commenter here…

I am in the market for a car for my daughter and I have noticed that the market is quite a bit different since the last time I bought a used car (2 years ago). When we bought a car for our oldest, I was looking for a 5/5/5 car — 5 years old, less than 50,000 miles and under $5k. Two years later I had to change that to 5/5/7 (for under $7,000). Now, I am seeing plenty of 8-10 year old Corolla/Civic/Elantra/etc with way north of 100k on the odo for $8,000 and more (private sale — dealers are even higher). This is in the NYC/Long Island area. $4 gas and crushed Clunkers have sure changed the market. My metric is out the window. Which brings me to…. Read More >

By on September 18, 2012
My wife and I are expecting our 4th child soon. We currently own (outright) a 2012 Odyssey in Touring Limited trim and we lease a 2010 Ford Flex Limited. Both cars are pretty great for carrying around our growing family. But the Flex is coming off lease in March next year and I’m wondering if I should keep it. Read More >
By on August 26, 2012

Anonymous writes:

Last year my Ranger blew up on me and all I had to my name was about $500 and a motorcycle. I’d gone through a string of bad cars and decided to go the new route, trading in the motorcycle (it was impossible to sell, no bites) and getting a 2011 Honda Fit. It’s a great car, and as it’s brand new, has needed no maintenance. I’m now making a loan payment of $230, with an extra $60 in insurance. Read More >

By on August 16, 2012

  Anonymous writes:

I picked up a Forester for a song and a dance ($500) this past summer, and did brakes and an oxygen sensor. We have less than $750, total, into it. It presently has 256K miles (another reason I don’t really want to use it as a daily driver!) Read More >

By on August 11, 2012

 Ian writes:

My wife drives a 2007 Lincoln MKX in need of shrewd replacement. The good lady finds the Mark Ten a chore to use around DC: clumsy, hard to see from, and very thirsty for all the enjoyment she gets from it. It also lacks exactly the features that she prizes: a sunroof, and up-to-date bluetooth – iDrive – voice/nav goodies. After a 16-month test drive of this very kind gift, it’s time to trade it towards something more suitable. Read More >

By on July 30, 2012

The Lord Needs No Restraint


Gentlemen, there’s some automotive/emotional baggage that I need a resolution for.

I’m finally in a position to replace a Celica with something that will possibly see an HPDE, and the occasional autocross. I have $9000 to spend. Although the Celi drove beautifully, it wasn’t a viscerally thrilling car and I’d like to learn the dynamics of a rwd platform.

Read More >

By on July 30, 2012

Back in April, Sajeev and Steve found some time to reply to my letter where I posed the impossible question. As gearheads, we all want something fun, fast, efficient, and cheap (well, most of us want cheap). Much like a traction circle, all these needs are in competition and in order to make good on one you need to sacrifice another. The ultimate gearhead car, unfortunately, does not exist and it never will.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t good, affordable vehicles out there which are fun to drive while ticking most of the boxes. And, this time, I actually followed the advice of someone else and couldn’t be happier.

Read More >

By on July 25, 2012

I currently drive a 2005 MINI Cooper S convertible. I’ve been swapping winter/summer tires for the past few years but I was thinking that this year I might get a beater car for the harsher weather months. The combination of FWD and wear and tear on the fabric roof are my main reasons for these considerations.

I live in NJ, so most of my driving is on the highway but as part of my job as a systems admin in a datacenter, I’m occasionally called into work at times when even the highways haven’t been plowed.

Do you think it’s possible to find a cheap (around $1000), preferably AWD car that would work well for winters in the northeast? Craigslist searches so far have turned up a handful of Subarus, Volvos, and Audis Quattro.

Read More >

By on July 18, 2012
I could definitely use some insight.  Here’s my basic situation. Read More >
By on June 15, 2012


Anonymous (no, it’s not Sajeev) writes:

Hi Sajeev and Steve,

I’m toying with the idea of selling my 2009 Honda Fit with an unethical 5-speed manual and trading down to a Panther, a VX10 Camry (in wagon form if I can find a decent one), or a B-body bubble wagon if I had my way. My wife and I have 1 young son and another may be on the way soon. The Fit currently fits (get it? I’m here all night) all of our junk and I love its gas mileage, handling, and low cost of ownership. Its also fully paid for. My wife and I completed advanced degrees in 09, and through a combination of black magic and hard work, we both have good jobs. For the excellent B&B financial advisers, we’re down to $35k of student loans and have a good nest egg stashed away. Free cash flow generally goes to savings and paying down student loans. Our other car is a 2011 Caravan purchased new in part due to its Baruthian driving qualities and crazy prices for used Ody-enna vans. We bought the van sooner than anticipated due to some internal family car shuffling and are very happy with it. We owe $16k on the van, so we’re not under water, and at 2.3% interest, the loan is essentially free money and far less than the 6.8% on the student loans.

Here’s my dilemma: I bought the Fit new because used car prices were obscene and I expected it to hold its value well. It has – I’ve seen similar examples listed at Carmax for damn near what I paid 4 years ago. I’m venturing I could unload it for about $13k private party and eat a $2.5-3k depreciation loss, making it the best performing asset I own. With fuel-efficient used car values still artificially high, I’m leaning towards selling it during a bubble rather than drive it till the wheels fall off.

I grew up driving a 1994 Crown Vic with a landau top that I adored but had to part ways with due to a relative needing a car (I didn’t buy it so it wasn’t my call). Last I heard, it had 240k on the clock and was still going strong. Given my first hand experience with the big cat combined with the obscenely cheap prices these things command on the used car market, I am thinking about buying a loved Grand Marquis in the 3-6k range if I can find the right one, pocketing $7-10k, and handing it over to Aunt Sallie Mae (no Vic’s unless they have landau tops – I hate asking “is that a cop?”).

The MGM and its superior highway ride would be a better long term vehicle as our family expands, but would burn a lot more gas than the Fit – I figure an extra $1000 in gas per year. I always coveted my friend’s VX10 Camry and have seen some good examples go for little money in these parts, including two immaculate and rare wagons. This would be better on gas, but not as luxurious as the MGM. Also, for the same money, the MGM would be 7-10 years newer. If I had my way, a B-Body wagon would be my personal pick, but parts and reliability are iffy. Such a car also may cause some “unpleasantness” at home.

Crazy-ist of crazy ideas would be to sell the van to replace with an MGM, but I’d eat a larger depreciation loss and that may cause issues at home. We also already toyed with getting an MGM when we purchased the van and putting extra money towards student loans, but we determined a van would be the best long-term solution.

I haven’t done the math in a while, but factoring in the extra compound interest if we don’t make a big lump sum payment vs a lump sum payment but a theoretical $80-100/mo drop in extra payments due to increased gas cost nets out to a mild present value win for selling the Fit all else being equal. That’s on a spreadsheet, though, and we’re on track to kill the student loans in the next few years without the lump-sum payment.

Has parenthood caused me to lust for the forbidden Panther fruit, or is this actually a good idea? Read More >

By on May 22, 2012


Mark writes:

Hi Sajeev and Steve,

Sajeev tried to save me once before but I didn’t listen. Maybe this time I will. Last year, I bought a bomb of a project and he did his best to scare me away. He saw the monstrosity in person. That monster being the 1995 Ford Bronco I bought on a whim. We talked on the phone before I purchased the OJ Bronco. Sajeev told me to avoid it like the plague. Yet, I didn’t listen. I got burned. I owned it for less than 6 months (3 of those months being spent in my garage) before selling it to an offroader in Ohio.

But, now I am in a different situation…

I am back in Canada where gas is significantly more expensive (very unlike cheap Houston Texas gas). My girlfriend and I will be in the market soon for a vehicle and we have the following criteria:

1) Fun to drive: must be a manual, preferably RWD or AWD, and a bit chuckable (not in the “chuck it in the garbage” sense of the Bronco).
2) Practicality: I don’t need a gas guzzler. Something efficient. Two doors are doable. Four doors are better. Wagon or hatch is best. However, it must have enough room for my girlfriend and I, plus two black Labrador mixes (see cute doggy brothers picture).
3) Utility: It needs to be able to tow two motorcycles (~400lbs each) and trailer. Also, we need another room for camping gear, even when the dogs are with us.
4) Realistic: We have finite funds (like most people) so we would definitely be going for something used, under $8000. I couldn’t care less what badge is on the front.

Mark Read More >

By on May 15, 2012

Michael writes:

Love the website. Here is my conundrum:

My wife and I have two cars. A 2007 CR-V that I use mostly for a 75 mile round trip commute several days a week to San Francisco and a 2004 Infiniti FX35 with 52,000 miles. While the CR-V has a ton of utility, I am tired of driving it. It has quite a bit of road noise, the sound system sucks and frankly it’s kind of a female car. The plan is to keep the CR-V and let my wife drive it, and use it as our family car while we sell the Infiniti and I get something for that daily commute. The Infiniti was purchased from a friend and is in great condition, but I feel like it is a ticking time bomb and want to sell it now to take advantage of high used car prices. Plus the mpg is horrific, it doesn’t have satellite radio and the tires are still original and will need expensive replacing shortly. Read More >

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