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This car shopping thing is tough...


Ghost of Nibbs McPimpin

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All these different websites, all these different prices that you find out when you look up the "True Market Value" on Edmonds.com are actually way overinflated. "Internet deals," car buying guides, concerns about mechanical durability vs. handling...blah blah blah.

So now, like Christina Aguilera, I turn to you.

If I get a small loan and make a down payment, I MIGHT be able to swing about 5K. I saw some interesting cars like an Infiniti Q45 that I think I could negotiate down to about 5K. There are some compact and mid-size SUVs that come in around that amount.

THen there are the tempting but risky 1-2K cars. Is it worth it? Anyone have a lot of experience with lower-end (price) used cars? It's just a lot to try to soak in without more personalized advice. Any volunteers? :)

I just started looking at the insurance quotes nonsense. Jeebus.

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well if this car is going to be your only means of transportation i would stay with 5k cars. even within that group i'd shoot for reliable vs sexy.

Funny thing is, the Infiniti is a mid-luxury brand but is pretty reliable mechanically. Repairing it is a bit more expensive but it also, apparently, needs less fixing even years later.

I don't care too much about sexy, but if I throw down 5 Gs, I want some kind of balance. I'm not rollin' in a 'reliable' mini-van. ;)

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Funny thing is, the Infiniti is a mid-luxury brand but is pretty reliable mechanically. Repairing it is a bit more expensive but it also, apparently, needs less fixing even years later.

I don't care too much about sexy, but if I throw down 5 Gs, I want some kind of balance. I'm not rollin' in a 'reliable' mini-van. ;)

I've been rollin' in the reliable minivan for two years now. I get to upgrade to a Jeep Wrangler in May, though. :)

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Ghost stay away from the infinity. You're paying extra for a bunch of gadgets that are destined to fail... and infinity's from what I hear have a shakey track record to begin with.

The smart money would be to buy a used camry, accord, civic, or tercel.

If it were me I would be a little weary of spending less than $3 g's on a car. Most people start ragging them out when the blue-book falls like that. But there are some good deals out there.

I sold a Mazda 626 about 5 years ago for $2k. It was a great car, and I still see the person I sold it to driving it around. But I'm really meticulous about keeping things in perfect condition... that's why I don't buy used cars anymore. I buy them new and drive them until the wheels fall off... which if you take care of a vehicle is almost forever.

Some things to watch out for on used cars, especially the above mentioned brands:

-Clutch in need of repair? most Japanese clutches are good for 100k miles only.

-CV Joints in need of replacement? again, for most Japanese FWD cars you are lucky if you get 100k miles out of a set of CV joints. This repair can be costly, up to $1000.

-For automatic transmissions, ensure you get service records that the fluid has been changed at the suggested intervals. It is amazing how many people ignore their transmissions... then they blow up at 120k miles. If you keep the fluid changed they last forever.

-Condition of tires. Buying 4 new tires can easily run $600, so if the tires need replacing be sure to negotiate the price.

As long as the oil is changed, an engine will go forever, so don't worry so much about that. Things like brakes, tuneups, and general maintenance are very cheap to replace and / or overhaul if you do the work yourself. So don't let anything like that scare you off either.

The things that will go wrong with used cars are things like power windows, AC, gadgets, cruise control, etc. Also paint chips, etc. etc. But most of these things can be ignored. What you want to watch out for are the things I listed above.

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After a bad experience with my beat up jeep (I poured a ton of money into it), I went the reliable route. I looked at Used Camrys, hondas, nissans, etc.

I settled on a 1995 Nissan Altima that only had 42K on it for 3 grand. I've had it for two years now, and I have no complaints.

I got it on ebay. It's certainly worth a look. The only thing I would add is make sure you get out to see the car. I was lucky enough that this car was only 10 miles from my house. I went, test drove it, brokered a side deal with the guy & drove the car home.

Again, just make sure you test drive it. Some guy in Texas bought my jeep (on ebay), even though I was barely able to drive it to the shipping company.......

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Buy a truck! something like a ford ranger or chevy sonoma. They're reliable, economical (4 cylinder), plentyful and cheap!

Also, they're manly. So even if it's a little worn out, it portraits the image of a hard working MAN... chicks dig that.

It's better if you're driving an older, well worn pickup than a older well worn Honda.

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After a bad experience with my beat up jeep (I poured a ton of money into it), I went the reliable route. I looked at Used Camrys, hondas, nissans, etc.

I settled on a 1995 Nissan Altima that only had 42K on it for 3 grand. I've had it for two years now, and I have no complaints.

I got it on ebay. It's certainly worth a look. The only thing I would add is make sure you get out to see the car. I was lucky enough that this car was only 10 miles from my house. I went, test drove it, brokered a side deal with the guy & drove the car home.

Again, just make sure you test drive it. Some guy in Texas bought my jeep (on ebay), even though I was barely able to drive it to the shipping company.......

I have a 95 Nissan Altima. Has 240000 miles. Little to no problems and I've had it since it was new. Just not developed a runability problem. Running lean for some reason. Anyway. You can pick up used Altimas very reasonably and they go forever

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Ghost stay away from the infinity. You're paying extra for a bunch of gadgets that are destined to fail... and infinity's from what I hear have a shakey track record to begin with.

The smart money would be to buy a used camry, accord, civic, or tercel.

If it were me I would be a little weary of spending less than $3 g's on a car. Most people start ragging them out when the blue-book falls like that. But there are some good deals out there.

I sold a Mazda 626 about 5 years ago for $2k. It was a great car, and I still see the person I sold it to driving it around. But I'm really meticulous about keeping things in perfect condition... that's why I don't buy used cars anymore. I buy them new and drive them until the wheels fall off... which if you take care of a vehicle is almost forever.

Some things to watch out for on used cars, especially the above mentioned brands:

-Clutch in need of repair? most Japanese clutches are good for 100k miles only.

-CV Joints in need of replacement? again, for most Japanese FWD cars you are lucky if you get 100k miles out of a set of CV joints. This repair can be costly, up to $1000.

-For automatic transmissions, ensure you get service records that the fluid has been changed at the suggested intervals. It is amazing how many people ignore their transmissions... then they blow up at 120k miles. If you keep the fluid changed they last forever.

-Condition of tires. Buying 4 new tires can easily run $600, so if the tires need replacing be sure to negotiate the price.

As long as the oil is changed, an engine will go forever, so don't worry so much about that. Things like brakes, tuneups, and general maintenance are very cheap to replace and / or overhaul if you do the work yourself. So don't let anything like that scare you off either.

The things that will go wrong with used cars are things like power windows, AC, gadgets, cruise control, etc. Also paint chips, etc. etc. But most of these things can be ignored. What you want to watch out for are the things I listed above.

Transmisions can go even when yoiu do change the oil in them I changed mine at 30 and 65 and at 73 just out of teh warrenty it went caput.

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Thanks for the help guys, I appreciate the personal touch to try to bring together all of this information in my head.

I was gonna say, though, zoony that it looked like from what I could tell on auto.consumerguide.com that the Inifinit Q45 from the mid-90s had superior ratings for long-term mechanical quality and reliability.

But they may very well suck now (and since late 90s) I haven't checked yet. The other models weren't as good either.

I see that Acura Legends still fetch a pretty penny, even at 15+ years old. I guess that would be the Honda-associated penchant for durability and reliability?

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I was gonna say, though, zoony that it looked like from what I could tell on auto.consumerguide.com that the Inifinit Q45 from the mid-90s had superior ratings for long-term mechanical quality and reliability.

But they may very well suck now (and since late 90s) I haven't checked yet. The other models weren't as good either.

I'm going off what I've heard... and a lot of that might well be BS. Sounds like you've done your research though... you should be o.k.

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Transmisions can go even when yoiu do change the oil in them I changed mine at 30 and 65 and at 73 just out of teh warrenty it went caput.

It was a Dodge, huh? :)

Sure it happens, but mostly modern transmissions are bulletproof just like modern engines are, with regular maintenance. Especially Japanese brands.

Dodge and Chrysler, though... you are rolling the dice. They are notorious for transmission failures, and have been since the 1980's

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