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 >
Category: New Or Used?
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 >
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.
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.
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.
I could definitely use some insight. Here’s my basic situation. Read More >
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 >
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 >
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 >
Welcome to New Or Used Without Borders, where the international team of TTAC answers your intercontinental car shopping questions.
My wife & I are about to have our first child in December. We visit Brazil (SJC, SP) typically twice per year to see my wife’s relatives. Usually each trip lasts about a month (I’m only there the last week or two). My wife has talked to me about possibly buying a car in Brazil because of our frequent travel there and our need to get around with an infant/toddler. During past visits, I drove or we took the bus together. Now that she’ll be taking an infant with her, she wants to be able to drive herself when I’m not there. We are also worried about safety using public transportation — A single mother & a baby/infant who may speak English at an inopportune time may appear to be an easy target for criminals. In any case, our current transportation options won’t work because they are not automatic & not as safe in an accident as we’d like.
Our current options are:
1974 (IIRC) VW Beetle with a 4 speed, 1.5L, 40′ish hp. — Not in any way safe enough for the baby.
2004? 2005? VW Polo, 5-speed, 1.8L. Not sure on HP but I’d guess it’s 90′ish ? 100? — 5 speed.
We are trying to decide if we want to buy new, or have my father-in-law help us look for something used. I’ve asked my wife about renting, but it’s not safe to leave an unsecured car outside overnight (and my in laws don’t have a gate secured spot in their house for a third car). I don’t think my brother-in-law would be opposed to an upgrade of his Beetle, so that is what we’ll most likely do.
Here are our requirements in order of need … (Listed in the response.)
Marcelo answers from Brazil: Read More >
Hi, I read the piston slap section alot and figured could use a second opinion on my car situation. I currently dont need to drive as I take a train to work, but can not own a car, so i currently have 2. A 96 Explorer eddie bauer with all options and 145k on it, and a 97 TJ sport with 76k that only does summer duty and gets to live in a garage the rest of the year since the Explorer is more than adequate in NY snow. The explorer has been having issues for the last 10k miles, tranny is starting to shift hard and even though the body looks great the frame is looking more rust then metal. I think its on its way out, but i have owned it for 6 years and have grown way to attached to easily let it go. Read More >
I realize opinions are like…elbows. But right now I am looking for a hit to the ribs.
I am moving to Northern California, and intend to live up in the hills around Skyline Blvd. / Highway 280.
I am debt free on a 2006 Mitsubishi Montero Limited. It is such a fantastic sleeper of an SUV; as rugged as I need for weekend camping, rock climbing and/or surfing excursions, and also cleans up well for mid-week business meetings (I work from home, so only need to drive to the office or customer site a couple days per week).
The Monty is in great condition, with 75K miles on the odometer, and still worth approx. $15-20K. It is safe for my wife, infant, and possibly future brood. The Monty is a gorgeous ”carbon grey metallic” color, without the cheesy spoiler option. It’s a stellar SUV in the classic sense.
That stated, I have the itch to sell the Monty and use that cash to buy a slightly ”lesser” vehicle (in terms of value), as well as an enduro-type motorcycle; perhaps a used BMW F 800 GS. Read More >
TTAC Commentator bigev007 writes:
Sajeev and Steve,
Been going back and forth on my buying decision for about 8 months now and I’m hoping to glean from the wisdom of yourself and the collective.
New job last December, 100km from home. Mostly highway (very hilly) only one stop light where I have to wait (but it is about 2 minutes at the bottom of a long hill so it is great on my rotors.) Currently driving a 2000 Impala, averaging 26-28mpg so I am spending about $520 a month on fuel. Read More >
Hi Steve and Sajeev,I’m in high school and I need a car. Before anyone makes assumptions, I actually have a need for owning a vehicle. There is no public transportation where I live, my school doesn’t have buses, and it’d be a long walk especially during the lengthy winter (which sort of rules out riding a bike too). My budget is about $1000 to 2000. Read More >
TTAC commentator Philosphil writes:
I’m looking to replace my 03 Jetta wagon soon and have test-driven many vehicles. I have periodic back issues and so want a vehicle that has easy ingress and egress (so that ideally I neither have to climb up nor drop down when entering or exiting the vehicle). I’m about 6’, but have a relatively long upper body. I’m also looking for something in the $17,000-$20,000 range (Cdn, or about about $15,000-$18,000 US). Of the cars I’ve tested so far, the ones that seem best suited to my needs are the boxes (to my wife’s dismay–they tend to have the largest opening between the driver’s seat and the top of the door sill). I would also like to keep this car (and actually like it as well) for 8-10 years. Read More >