“Steve, what car should I buy?”
“Well, if I give you the real answer, you’ll roll your eyes and buy what you want anyway.”
“No really. I’m open to new ideas.”
“Okay then! Buy a 2012 Malibu. Buy a Buick Park Avenue. Buy a Dodge Raider or buy a Suzuki Equator.”
“Ummm… are you sure about that?”
“Hell no! Now go buy me a soda and buy yourself a Camry!”
Thanks for sending along your email address, and for you all that you do to demystify the process of buying and owning cars. I find myself in a unique situation, and I would like your thoughts.
My wife is considering taking a job that is 135 miles away from our home. She will commute up once and return 3 days later. We have 3 young kids, and they attend a school that is about 15 miles from home and a similar distance from my office. Should she take the job, I will be in charge of picking them up 3 days a week, in addition to dropping them every day already.
A reader writes:
I have a 2007 Pontiac G6 coupe which, up until last fall, had been a pretty decent car.
20 internet connections
20 videos of The Lion King.
Oh, and 60+ vehicles on one street.
I recently delved deep into one of the more challenging ideas of the modern age: car sharing in suburbia. It’s an idea that many non-enthusiasts and city dwellers love. But is it a good idea for suburbanites and the rest of us?
I really enjoy your articles. Thank you.
I have a question about fleet cars. I was driving to a meeting in one of the fleet cars my employer has. Nothing special, a late model Ford Fusion . And I was thinking is this a better deal to buy when they get rid of it than another used car? Then I realized that people who use a car that doesn’t belong to them trash it. So I thought, “No way!”
Then I realized that the same people who don’t take care of it, aren’t the same people who maintain it. So are fleet cars a better deal then non fleet on the market? After giving them a good cleaning does it not matter one way or the other all other things being the same?
Auto enthusiasts often dream of taking an exotic car through some of the nicest stretches of winding roads the world can offer.
Hairpin turns… beautiful smooth roads…. nice scenery… and all the power and finesse one can summon in a car made for the perfection of that very moment.
Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini, the list of great cars serving this unique purpose of vehicular bliss is as long as the opportunity is unique. Even the most frugal of gearheads want to experience this thrill sometime between now and their eventual nirvana.
But then again, I may be completely wrong on all of this. Actions speak louder than words in the enthusiast community, and what I find inside a lot of gearhead garages looks a bit like…
People buy with their eyes in this business. Always have and always will.
I don’t care if you are a pseudo-sophisticated Yuppie wanna-be who thinks that Subaru is a value brand, (It’s not. They cater to the Costco crowd.) Or an impoverished mother of five who is taking her $6000 tax check and blowing it on the Cadillac of minivans.
Image completely rules this business. New or used. As much as I would love to sell old sturdy wagons and functional minivans that will last for another seven years, my customers want the modern-day crossover. The SUV that hypothetically gets great mileage if you read the window sticker upside down. A compact with an impossible to find leather interior, and of course, the upscale ride with the nice big wheels.
The first test of whether a car sells in this business comes down to a simple question.
Yummy Food + Fire Hydrant Red = A Dog’s New Best Friend
We own a pet supply delivery business and use two vehicles. A 1995 Toyota Tacoma with 360,000 miles, and a 2004 Chrysler Pacifica with less than 20,000 miles.
Guess which one has given us more problems?
1999 Buick Century: Where Automotive Novocaine Meets Ambiguous Androgyny.
I just graduated from college this past December and found a wonderful job at my old alma mater.
The good news? I can walk to everywhere I need to go. My work, two nearby parks, the supermarket, and to most of my friend’s apartments and townhouses. I’m living an ideal life at this point.
Which brings me to the big question. Do I even need a car?
6:30 P.M. and three more cars just pulled up to my place… on a Monday…
Have I just bought a McDonald’s franchise? Not quite. This is the start of what we call “tax season” in the used car business.
A time when tens of millions of Americans who live paycheck to paycheck get a nice four figure lump sum from Uncle Sam and his favorite sub-prime debt dealers.
A reader sent me these parameters for picking his next vehicle
I’m at a crossroads. I’m looking for a cheap – laughably cheap – like less-than-$3,000 cheap – car for my next daily driver. It’s got to be economical (near 30 mpg hwy) and fun to drive, with decent aftermarket support (so I can throw a couple mods at it – I’m a gearhead). Oh, and since I’m 6’1″ and have a 1-year old daughter, it needs a back seat.
We can skip the DSM/Mitsubishi reliability warning.
There are some things that I am too damn old and open-minded to understand.
Like hating a car brand. Especially in those common cases where folks haven’t been exposed to any level of vehicle derived hardships.
Toyotas are boring. BMW’s are Yuppie-mobiles. Mercedes-Benzes are for snobs. On an on, through the lexicon of cliche and generalizations comes the silliest of stereotypes. As much as I hate to see it, hear it, and read it, I’m resigned to the fact that there is always going to be some version of this nuttiness in our world.
But what if there was an easier means to defeat it? In fact, as many of you know, there already is. A force of human good that can outdo any scam artist or snake oil salesman.
The enthusiast forum.
In the world of auto journalism, there are a laundry list of used car buyer’s guides that end up molderizing on shelves and stagnating on servers.
These self anointed guides will offer the typical consumer nothing of value except puffed up prose designed solely, and soullessly, to make you feel better about your own car buying biases.
Let me take that back. Did I say nothing of value? My mistake. I meant negative value. As in you’re probably going to get royally screwed if you ever take their advice. Here’s why…
I live in a small, genteel, Southern colonial home that comes with all the local goodies.
An over-sized ceiling fan in every room. A little front porch that offers a palatial view of the rolling prairies of Deliverance country.
Throw in a mint julep, homemade lemonade, and the belting baritone of Paul Robeson, and the world becomes my oyster.
Except not right now. It’s too damn cold outside. Which got me to thinking…
My wife and I finally bought a brand new Honda Accord. She loves it, and I now have one less worry in my life.
With that one less worry though comes two more things, in the form of two similarly sized cars. At least one of which I no longer need.