Best used car and where to buy it?

acdesignskyJuly 12, 2006

It's getting to be time to get DH a reliable daily driver. Right now, we share a Honda Oddessey and he has a 73 Benz for nice weather weekends. We'd like for it to be under 11K so we don't have to finance and get at least 28 MPG since DH's new commute will be 60 miles RT. Of course, it needs to be reliable, not too expensive to manintain and repair, sort of sporty, two doors is fine as long as it has space for four, and durable since he'll likely keep it for 5 yrs. He hates Toyotas and we've never bought American but are open to it.

We bought his Benz on Ebay, but are debating if it makes more since to go to a dealer. That raises the question of used vs certified pre-owned. We have the luxury of time but are totally overwhelmed by the choices. Is there a site that rates used cars?

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This is one area where Consumer Reports is excellent. Check your library for old issues. The April issue every year rates new cars, but they also talk about used cars to look for and what to avoid. Or try an online subscription for a short time while you do your research. But definately read the April issue before you shop.

Also look at And Kelley Blue Book (see link). And also check out (and pick up a few jokes on the way).

We're Honda people. I'd look for a new Civic at end of year prices before I'd buy a used car, personally.

How do you like the Oddessey? That's what I'd like after I drive my 2000 Windstar (currently at 99K miles) into the ground, another 50K, probably. Our last Honda Accord went 265K miles in 16 years before we got a new 2004 Accord LX, which cost about $18K plus tax & license, end of model year price.

Here is a link that might be useful: Kelley Blue Book

    Bookmark   July 12, 2006 at 10:12AM
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Thansk for the links and the advice. We're headed to the library today, so I'll check out CR. I adore cartalk, but haven't checked out the site. That should be fun!
I love the Honda and this from a person who fought buying a minivan tooth and nail. I had a friend who bought the first redsigned version several years ago. I said then that the only minivan I would buy would be the Honda. I loved the fact that I could nearly stand upright in it to strap in the then babies. Now I love the storage. We packed 5 girls, a weekend's worth of camping equipment, and still had an empty seat. The space inside is really surprising. Biggest complaint, the gas mileage is awful. I average about 16 mpg in town. We'll keep this car for a long time. I tell our DDs this will be ther car when they can drive in 8 yrs. At which time I will buy something that seats two!

    Bookmark   July 12, 2006 at 10:23AM
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There's also a site called where you have to pay a fee to join the site, but the money it could save you would make it WELL worth it. You enter the VIN number of any vehicle you're interested in, and it'll spit out its history, so far as accidents and owners (along with their length of ownership) are concerned.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2006 at 6:07PM
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Yes, Carfax might also tell you if a car was from a flooded area, and got salvaged. There's a lot of that going on, and it's a real problem.

But again, I see the prices of late-model "certified" cars from dealers, and I think you can get as good a deal on a new car.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2006 at 6:39PM
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Have a 2002 Honda Accord that I bought at dealer 2 yrs. ago and I love it, it was a certified car. It's a 2 door coupe and sporty, if I say so myself, with sunroof and spoiler on back. I'm 68 and love to drive something semi- sporty and not a sedan. (I'll get a sedan when I get old....HA! HA!) I only have 45,ooo miles on it so I'm sure I'll be driving this baby for awhile.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2006 at 12:28AM
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I also have a Honda Accord that's holding up great. It's a 1992 coupe with just 81,000 miles on it. So far all I've had to do to it is replace the battery, brakes, and tires. I look in the newspaper every once in a while to see how much it might be worth, and I still see older Accords like mine fetching over $3000. Hondas are durable, reliable cars that hold their value a long time.

For $11K, you could get a terrific, gently used Honda Civic or Accord.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2006 at 11:50AM
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I spent the a couple of hours last night researching on the sites fairegold mentioned. Thansk for reminding me about carfax bill V. It's definitley worth the fee.
It's pretty obviuos that a Honda is the way to go. They were top ranked in just about every category for new and used cars. DH likes the Element, but they're too expensive. Just a basic Accord with under 75K miles would do the trick.
I'm going to price compare between the certified pre-owned vs dealer used vs private owner.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2006 at 12:09PM
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Go to your local Volvo dealership. I have bought two used Volvos at Volvo dealers and they were both excellent. They will only sell used cars off the lot that they know are good and are familiar with their pedigree (have been serviced at their dealership etc.)

    Bookmark   July 13, 2006 at 12:12PM
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Well you all ready know the greatness of Honda's so I'd stick with that. (Coming from a person whose only owned Honda's since 1989 :). I have an Odyssey as well with 96K on it and to date NO problems. I love the new Odysseys and would like to get one but....I have no payment now and it still runs great so I'll keep it for another 100K. My brother had an accord with 250K miles, Honda's are like the Energizer bunny...they just keep on going going going.
Try, Don't know where you are but they're in most cities.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2006 at 12:13PM
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Well, the Volve mention is a new twist. A quick look online shows me that for under 11K, I can get either a 2002/2003 Honda Accord EX-L or a 2000/2001 S80 Volvo. Both with about 60K miles. The Volvo new sells for 36K while the Honda is 24K. As far as safety, size, and power the Volvo is a better bet. The Honda does have slightly better gas mileage.
So what's more important, the age or the mileage?

    Bookmark   July 13, 2006 at 1:40PM
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I just sold my '94 Civic, which still ran great, with nearly 120K miles. DM has a Volvo which she loves. Maintenance for the Accord will likely be less expensive and the Honda has a sportier look IMO.

I don't think your DH will be disappointed either way since both are reliable.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2006 at 6:18PM
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I'd rather have the Honda, of course. And why not a Civic or a lower model of the Accord? The Civic will get a lot better mileage, if that's what you are worried about.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2006 at 6:22PM
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We also love our Hondas ('01 Odyssey and '91 Accord wagon) but our wagon has almost 200K miles so we've been looking for something more reliable. A Honda, of course.

But it's difficult to get a Honda Certified Used Car for under 11K. Honda is only certifying cars from 2001+; I think I remember the salesman saying the mileage cap is 70K (or maybe it was 75K?). You can search for them on their website; within 250 miles of my zipcode there were only 4 Certified cars under 10K. But the search found 17 cars under $12K - only Civics and Accords. Honda's website also lets you view the carfax record for free.

Here is a link that might be useful: search for Honda Certified Used Cars

    Bookmark   July 13, 2006 at 10:49PM
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We've been using these websites to search for used cars although I don't know how reliable they are about having true real-time inventory.

Also try for ratings of used cars.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2006 at 10:55PM
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Chances are, I'll drive the car on trips since the minivan gets such cruddy gas mileage. So it needs to be a medium sized sedan rather than a compact. I don't know if the Civic is big enough. Also, between the kids dirty shoes and his drinking coffee and eating in the car it has to have leather seats. We'd destroy the interior otherwise. Leather immediately takes you to a higher trim.
The Honda is defintely sportier and less expensive to manitain. It's great that they retain such resale value *unless* you're trying to buy one. I rememeber not so long ago when 11K bought you a pretty nice new import sedan. Now it's 30K minimum. I must be getting old.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2006 at 10:58PM
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The Civic is not that much smaller than the Accord.

Leather seats? I have 3 Golden retrivers. You don't need leather seats. Honestly.

If you think that you require the higher trim level, then you're getting the 6 cylinder, and therefore lesser mileage. You need to decide if MPG is indeed your most desireable feature.

Our 4 cyl. Accord LX cost less than $18K new. But we did not need 6 cylinders or leather trim. Especially in a commuter car.

But then, all of us have different priorities.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2006 at 11:34PM
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I'm a Honda zealot also so I'd vote for that. I've had four of them and none have ever had any type of problem and required nothing more than regular maintenance, new tires, etc.

I've heard Volvo maintenance and repairs are very expensive. Not sure if that is true or not but I noticed when I had a Lexus all the maintenance was 2x the price of the same maintenance for essentially the same vehicle - Toyota Highlander. I also heard similar reports from someone I work with about another luxury/high end brand - I think Volvo fits in that category.

I also haven't gotten the impression Volvo reliability is as good as Honda but that's based on my experience with Honda only and anecdotal reports from a few Volvo owners.

I'm not sure what new cars are going for these days but I bought a new 2003 top of the line, everything but naviagation Accord for well under $30K. It's the best value I've ever gotten in a car (we always buy new). In fact, I guess that's the model you are looking at 2003 EX-L - if that's the 6 cylinder model. This is a fabulous car in my opinion.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 1:46PM
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We have a good friend who sells used cars.

He gets them at auctions. He sells us our vehicles for just a little over what he pays for them. We bought a used Taurus for dd (she paid a significant portion) for 6500 that would have been over 10K somewhere else.

You have to be careful with auction vehicles and be able to judge if a car is in good shape or a piece of junk.

We do not buy new vehicles. The depreciation is too painful :-(

    Bookmark   July 18, 2006 at 11:00AM
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Silly me forgot my friend's new husband works for a dealership and can buy cars at the dealer only auctions. Ie sells GM, which I did not want, but can buy any brand used. I'd like to go to an auction just to see what's there. I'd certainly owe them a few dinners out in exchange.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2006 at 11:22AM
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I am on my third Volvo. The first one - a '78 is still on the road and has over 200,000 miles on it. Don't know where the second one is. My third - '97 850 GLT - has been extremely reliable. The trick is to not go to the dealership for oil changes and repairs (repairs at the dealership are more expensive). There are Volvo certified repair shops and they charge much less. I thought of getting a new Volvo, but now that Volvo is part of Ford I am less inclined to do so. Buying a Volvo is like buying Ikea cabinets - built to last.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2006 at 11:35AM
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If you are considering a honda you should also consider a Nissan. I have a 1995 Maxima with 261,000 + miles on it. It is just starting to reach the end of the line but it was virtually maintenance free for over 200,000 miles. We also have a 1992 Volvo wagon with 210,000 miles which has also been a great car although required a little more in the way of maintenance along the way.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2006 at 1:25PM
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I'm another Honda girl here. I have a 1996 Honda Accord with 104,000 miles. It runs like a dream. The only reason I am thinking of replacing it is that it is starting to look a little beat. I bought it from a dealer and had my personal mechanic look it over before I sealed the deal.

I am also looking at Volvos this time. I thi nk the newer models are nice looking. I don't like the older boxy looking ones.

I'll probably end up with another Honda, though. I really want a reliable car that easy on gas.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2006 at 11:15PM
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