So I live in the US, and I'm about to start looking at pre-owned cars for my first car that's officially in my name. I've had two cars prior: a 1990 Toyota Celica was my first car, and a 1997 Honda CR-V is what I currently drive. My mom and I are sharing the Honda CR-V right now, but I just got my first full-time job so I need to start thinking about getting one for myself. (Technically the CR-V is/was "my" car before my mom's broke down, but it's in her name and she can't afford to be the one to purchase another car due to financial issues.)
I'm looking for a car that's safe, reliable, and gas efficient (would love a hybrid but can't afford one - basically if I'm going to have a car payment/higher insurance I'd like to save on gas and repairs). I really like my Honda, but I've had a lot of issues with the car including replacing the entire engine the year after I got it, and one of my mom's coworkers had the same problem with a different model of car, so I'm a bit wary.
Anyone have any experience with pre-owned cars or advice for a first-time car buyer, good or bad? I do plan to take my mechanic, who is also a friend, to the dealership with me so I don't get ripped off like when we got my CR-V. TIA :)
I don't know if it exactly fits what you are looking for, but for me, the car is a Chevy Sonic. It's small, doesn't have much space in the trunk, but it's a great little car. It's also pretty gas efficient. I wish you luck- and do you name your cars? That's where the fun really lies... ;)
I drive a 1992 toyota carolla and so far it's been pretty good. We've had it for 2 years and had to replace a couple of things but for a 20 year old car with close to 250,000 miles (that we only paid $500 for) we haven't had to do too much to it. Overall it's reliable and gets great gas mileage (about 30 mpg). So I recommend a toyota car, of any model really. It would obviously be better to get one newer than mine, but it would last you a while, get good gas mileage (most likely,look up mpg for whatever make and model you're looking at), and older ones (early 2000's and before) are pretty cheap.
Oh, I do name my cars! I totally forgot, if anyone wants to throw out some car names that's great too! My first car was black and his name was Cory Decimus... Cory short for Corbin which means raven, and Decimus was after the fact that he was a tank and decimated everything I ever hit with him (mostly things like fire hydrants and cones). The CR-V's name is Nikita Bonita Splendifora the Honda, Nikita because my mom thinks if you try to say CR-V like it's a word without vowels it sounds Russian, the rest just rhymed ;)
Originally Posted by merrybells
@averelladavina - Thanks, I love Toyota! It's one of my top choices, I think, for a used car because they last forever. I'd love a Prius or Yaris, but used Priuses are hard to come by.
My only advice would have been to take your mechanic, haha! I just bought my first car last summer--it's a 1998 Chrysler Cirrus. It was only $2,000 and had around 100,000 miles on it, and for what I was able to pay, it seemed like a pretty good deal. We test drove it and we both really loved it--my dad loved it so much that he said he was going to buy it if I didn't. I got it home, and then the weekend after, the check engine light came on. In the little over a year that I've had it, I've put in just as much (if not more!) money into fixing it than I did into buying it. I have had to get the brakes fixed twice, the engine fixed once, and the engine needs to be fixed again, because apparently the part they replaced to keep the spark plugs from misfiring was faulty, and there wasn't a warranty on the part they put into my car. :/ Now the oil light is coming on every time I hit the brakes (even when I check the oil and it's exactly where it's supposed to be!). And occasionally the steering locks up when I'm in reverse; there's just so many problems! Honestly, it's just a lemon. I don't know if other Chryslers are like this, but I'm tempted to never buy a Chrysler again. :/ Before that, I'd used my parents' cars--both were Chevy Luminas--and I'd always had a fairly good experience with them. One of them had a lot of problems with the coolant leaking, even after it was fixed, but it was an old car and I'd used it for years before that seemed to happen, and the second Lumina I had was great.
I've always heard Honda Civics have great track records and I've always wanted one, but I just couldn't afford it when I bought Liddy. :/ If it didn't have so many problems, I would LOVE her, too--I love the way she handles, and drives, she just feels so sturdy and put together compared to my sister's car. It's not too big; it's not too little--the gas mileage feels much better than the two Chevys I'd driven previously. I was excited about starting my future with that car; with driving it for years. But ugh. Don't buy a Cirrus. hahaha.
Oh naming cars is one of my favorite things! My 1st car was a 1992 Dodge Spirit - literally burgundy inside and out, every single inch of it! I named it Ron Burgundy (from Anchorman) and then it was shortened to just Ron. It's hilarious, everyone calls him Ron! I actually still have that car, nearly 11 years later!
When I needed a new car I was in a similar situation as you. I didn't want to spend a couple thousand just to turn around and put a couple more into it when something went wrong. I was nervous about buying used, couldn't afford brand new, didn't have hardly anything for a down payment, etc. I ended up leasing - it was right after the market slump and Toyota was having a HUGE deal on 0% APR and 0$ down. I had always loved Toyota so it was like it was meant to be! I got a RAV4 - I wanted an SUV without it being a giant gas hog. I LOVE IT! Toyota also has a great pre-owned certified selection - they usually replace everything from tired and brakes to wipers and filters so it's essentially brand new - only with miles on it. Their pre-owned are often leases which were turned in after 3 years, had low mileage requirements, and required maintenance, so they are safe bets! Oh, and my RAV's name is Sadie, which is short for Sexy Sadie (the Beatles song) because she's silver & it just popped into my head! :)
My best friend has a Yaris and she loves it! Her's is pretty new, a 2010, and she got a great deal on it, she still had to get a loan though. And I second Ash, don't get a Dodge or a Chrysler (same company makes both)! They don't last!
@Ashley - Oh my gosh, I know EXACTLY how that feels. My CR-V, though I love her dearly, has cost me way more than the $3500 I bought her for. I bought her with a bad engine (third cylinder head had cracked) and the whole thing had to be replaced, then transmission trouble from putting a straight-up Japanese engine in the car, I've had to replace the alternator AND distributor, brake pads, the exhaust piping, and all four tires. Not to mention the upkeep on the car, since she guzzles oil like a beast and isn't THAT great on gas, and the battery will need replacing soon. Honestly, it's so much trouble. That's why I'm taking Billy, my mechanic... I'm not buying another lemon this time! Also, funny story RE: Civics, before I bought the CR-V my mom told me I could absolutely not buy a Civic because apparently they get stolen the most out of every other car make and model? So she insisted that I couldn't buy one because if I did it would for sure get stolen. She's so funny sometimes :D
@Lainy - OMG, I literally laughed out loud when I saw you named your car Ron Burgundy... I LOVE Anchorman! I'm definitely in the exact same situation as you were, not a lot of money to put down (and can't afford a high monthly payment on a loan) and no trade, because my mom will need the CR-V for herself. Toyota does seem to be the way to go, I'm worried I can't afford a certified pre-owned but a lease car might be a good option. Thanks!
@averelladavina - Chrysler and Dodge will be officially stricken from the list! I also worry about Ford (my mom's car was a Ford and nothing but trouble) and Chevy (ditto my grandpa's car), so it looks like Toyota and Honda are the favorites. I'm a little nervous about going from an SUV to a smaller car because of crash safety... I've never been in a serious accident but I'd like to survive it if that ever happens! The Yaris' are adorable though and everybody that owns one seems happy with them. I just can't resist how small and zippy they look!
Just one thing. If you are going to get a used car, most dealers should have a carfaxs. Just ask them to check the carfaxs history on a car you are interested in, and it will tell you things like service history (oil changes,break checks ects) and if it has ever been in an accident. If the dealership doesn't offer this for free, run away.
P.s Toyota is a great car, I've had 2 used corollas, another good car to look into is a Volkswagen
Another vote for Toyota here! I have a 2004 Corolla named Svetlana. I can't say enough times how great this car is. It's roomy enough to fit 4 people and their luggage comfortably for a road trip. It's great on gas as well. I've only had two problems: Once the battery died (which is normal, as they typically will need to be changed after 5 years) and over the summer there was an issue with the muffler, again very normal for a car that's nearly 10 years old. I'm hoping to keep this one for several more years as she still drives great, and I'd buy another one in a heartbeat.
As for tips, I'd also second taking your friend with you. I bought my car pre-owned from the dealership, and it was evident that they all though my female roommate and I were an easy mark.
@Lainy - My cat's name is Sadie!