I am coming up to a time that many of us must face. My son is about to turn 16 and will need to have his own ride. Currently, we own a 2012 Toyota Highlander that my wife drives, and a 2013 Honda CR-V that I drive. I am currently scheming to dedicate the CR-V to my son and then my daughter as they begin driving, then buy something for me to enjoy driving for a while. My sights are set on a used 2008-2012 BMW 328 that is in the 70,000 mile range. I have always wanted something like this, but would not be able to afford a new one.
So here is my quandary: my wife likes that the CR-V is well rated on safety and that it is not too powerful of a car. But, she and others think the car is too new.
Right up there with I wish they’d make a manual diesel wagon in brown, it’s among the most played-out tropes on the Internet.
There just aren’t any bad cars anymore.
This is generally followed by some recollection of a Saturn of the early ’90s that had a faulty engine, or perhaps some Brezhnev-era Soviet masterpiece. Blah blah blah nostalgia blah blah A Christmas Story blah blah. Enough.
There are plenty of bad cars out there, but the majority of people haven’t driven enough of them to know it. Fortunately (or unfortunately), I have. And I’m here to break the bad news to you: some cars suck. Maybe even the one in your very driveway.
For the last two years, my daily driver has been a used 2006 Audi A6 Avant (bought outright in cash). Living in Minnesota and attending college in a rural part of the state, it’s the ultimate vehicle. It swallows 4 people and gear for a spring break Chicago vacation, gets through the snowstorms, and has heated seats and steering wheel. It even averages 24 mpg!
However, its mileage has reached the point where it’s no longer economically feasible to hold onto (repair-wise) going into the spring of 2017. I’m trying to hold off until used car prices fall, because of lease returns. With a budget of $15,000, I’m hoping to get five-plus years of use out of my next vehicle. My search has gravitated towards larger vehicles that are kinda low-volume players (with a slightly better reliability record) like the Lincoln MKT, Toyota Sequoia, Lexus LS/GX, Volvo S80, etc. Something bigger and a little more cushy. So, what do you recommend?
I’m currently driving a 2011 Ford Fusion with 80,000 miles. It’s good, reliable, and utterly boring. I’ll have it completely paid off in a couple of months. Here’s where I’m going to get myself into trouble.
The responsible thing to do would be to keep the Fusion and enjoy a paid-off car. But …
While driving a rental car recently, I remembered how much I enjoy a manual transmission. There are also a couple of times a year when I could use the extra capacity of a hatch. I’m starting to look at the listings for lightly used Ford Focuses and Mazda3s with manual transmissions, thinking, “Wouldn’t it be fun?”
I’m starting the process of finding a used car for my daughter who turns 16 in September and will (hopefully) get her license afterwards.
She’s 5’3″ and about 90 pounds, so a B- or C-segment car would be right in terms of size. She’s also listened to me go on about how great it is to drive a manual transmission since she was born, and believes this to be a fundamental need of any car purchase. Our budget is upwards of $10,000 with driver safety the other primary criteria. Fuel economy and reliability aren’t negatives. While I should probably zero in on finding a nice Corolla, I’m looking for an out-of-the-box choice with some car-guy (and girl) cred. Golf? Mini? Mazda3?
Let’s give a hearty “Welcome back!” to our friend Rebecca, who previously wrote about her Tacoma on these pages. She just picked up this beautiful Z4 from a dealership hundreds of miles away from her home. This is her story on how she did it.
This journey started in October of 2007 when the lease on my 2005 Z4 3.0 matured, and I had to give the car that I dreamed of, and built on BMW NA’s site for two years, back to the dealership.
Since then I’ve had the recurring dream that I still had that car — it’s just been in storage all this time. I have serious commitment issues with cars, so it dawned on me three years ago that this was the one that got away. Fast forward to April 2016, I’ve saved for this car for a couple of years, and casually checking out the market with the plans to purchase before the end of the year. I happened upon a couple of white ones just outside my price range, and decided it was worth the stretch.
So what was my process?
Not all used cars are created equal.
Used cars have become somewhat commoditized in the last five years, thanks to the rise of pricing tools and third-party advertisers, but there’s still some truth behind the old school notion that every used car is a unicorn.
While most car dealers mean that each car is unique in its mileage, color, trim level, and condition, there’s one hugely important factor that most dealers would prefer you ignore: how they obtained the car.
Each car on the lot has its own story, and knowing those stories might help you figure out if you want a particular car to become part of your life story.
We (me M52, F39, M15, F10) really need to step up our fleet (2006 Honda Pilot 240K mi, 2005 Honda Element 170K mi). We need to replace the Pilot as family car, and probably (for now) keep both Hondas rolling for my use and, soon, my son’s use too.
In the fullness of time I’d like to get us a plugin C-Max, especially given the uneventuality of the TTAC Long-Term Test C-Max. But, the rear legroom is less than our Pilot and our 15-yo boy is not getting any smaller. This would not be a good solution for weekend family expeditions of any length.
For now I’d like to start the fleet upgrade with a used Flex, post 2013 for the design refresh, has to be AWD because we have snow and a very steep, twisty drive home, really want the 6-pass version to keep the kids out of each others’ hair (2nd-row bench seat has proven contentious in the Pilot), really want Ecoboost and Limited/Titanium because why buy used if you can’t get it loaded?
Two weeks ago, I told you the story of my friend “Jenny” and her purchase event at Orlando Kia West. I’m happy to report that the dealer has resolved the issue to her satisfaction.
She received a personal call from the general manager offering a set of floormats, and she’s seeking to refinance the vehicle through her stepfather’s credit union. According to Jenny, the general manager was quite apologetic, but he also said that “90 percent of the numbers in that article were wrong.”
Mr. GM, you still have my e-mail (it’s [email protected], if you lost it), and I’m happy to print a retraction on anything that I got wrong. (In the meantime, we’re still happy to show up on the first page of results when people search for your dealer on Google. –Ed.)
But, in the meantime, let’s talk about what Jenny could have done differently, and what you can do the next time that you’re looking to buy a car to avoid all the hassle and pain she experienced.
The best thing about writing the Ask Bark series since the beginning of the year has been the feedback that you, the Best and Brightest, have given to our questioners. I might have a few good answers, but I’m only one man, and there are literally thousands of people who read each Ask Bark column. Collectively, you have wonderful ideas.
However, individually, you have some real clunkers. Today, we’re going to talk about the often given advice I’ve seen in the comments. Some of it isn’t just wrong, it’s flat-out harmful.