Car questions (car salespersons imput would be of great help)greenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread
Took Volvina (my aging Volvo wagon) to the "vet" and the news is grim. Like most aging Volvos, her wiring system is overrun with gremlins. Car repair guy has offered to take her for $400 for a parts car, and considering it would cost us more than that (by a few) to rewire her sufficiently (and the fact that we are physically situated in such a way as to make selling her ourselves a long and drawn-out hassle that may never bear fruit and she won't run reliabley enough to make a decent trade in with her - it makes a bad impression on the trade-in guy if he can't start it!), we're going to take him up on it and put the money aside for a downpayment on the next victim...er, car. Here's where I need y'all's imput, especially you used car guys and gals.
I am torn, and so here are my choices as they now stand with the pros and cons that I currently know about:
1) Mid-70's to 80's Mercedez-Benz diesel - PROS: Good, elegant, sturdy cars, cheap enough (about two - four grand here) to allow room in the budget for "upgrading" important systems and such. Cheapo insurance. Very safe, diesel very reliable (plus does not burst into flames during a wreck - a small probability, I know, but it's my phobia and I have to live with it), simpler mechanicals, stuff I can work on. European engineering good.
CONS: Old car means limited lifespan on frame/body and things like transmission, elec (see reason for ditching Volvina), fewer modern safety doo-dads, less "get up and go", most likely have to come up with entire purchase price up front (don't have it and won't anytime soon) unless we can find a decent deal at a car lot, harder to find parts and more expensive to repair at "specialty" shops, and the generalist shops around here suck at foreign repairs.
2) VW "New" Beetle Diesel (not a new "new" Beetle, but an old "new" Beetle - which is only a couple of years) - PROS: Very safe, reliable reputation, sturdy (they did a Baha with very few modifications), cute, full of new safety stuff, still on warranty, much longer projected lifespan than aging car, and so on. German engineering good.
CONS: Much higher insurance, long pay-off time, much higher debt than we've ever taken on (about 10-14G), no clue as to long term problems and reliability as relates to that particluar model, much more complicated (and expensive) parts and repairs - not likely I'll be able to learn how to work on a newer car.
3)"New" (couple years old) diesel cheapy of some other make and model (Kia, Neon, Toyota, so on) - PROS: Warranty, safety stuff, longer lifespan than older car, bigger selection, price about 6 - 8G. etc.
CONS: Expensive parts, repairs, complicated insides, insurance, same as VW plus no clue what is good, what ain't, and not terribly interested in massive cramming to become an overnight "car chick" to find out - but, we need commuter car NOW or very near future - one hour drive each way and the Dakota (farm truck) sucks gas like it's starving when it runs, American engineering bad (with some - but which ones? - not so bad), other makers hit or miss.
So, here's where you all chime in and give me advice that helps me answer the following questions:
Which weighs more - the pile of money spent fixing and replacing (sooner rather than later) the older car, given the lower insurance, financing, etc. or the pile of money spent financing the newer vehicle that will (ideally) last many more years and has a warranty, but which I must pay bigger insurance premiums on for a longer period of time?
Which would be more expensive to own, keeping in mind that basics such as brake pads, oil changes, simple repairs can be done at home, provided I'm not help hostage by the level of technology involved (ie - fixing my own brakes is a no-no with anti-locks, so I hear)?
What are y'all's top picks for newer cheapies that I could get for 10G and under a few years old that seem likely to haul me around for a decent chunk of trouble-free years. I really don't want something that's going to drop dead like clockwork at 100,000 miles, although I realize that when it's diesel that is rarely a problem. I also want safety, gas efficiency, comfort, and low-cost repairs, in that order of priority.
Thanks in advance for your help.
-- Soni (email@example.com), November 16, 2001
I'm not a car salesmen but i know that if i could turn back time i would gladly be willing to put in a few hundred dollars a year in repairing and older car than several thousand a year in payments for a new car.
My advise would be to either fix the old car or save some cash and buy a cheap used car outright so you won't be stuck with payments.I wish i had listened to people who gave me this advise.
-- george (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 16, 2001.
Soni, You asked for my opinion so I will give it to you based onmy 18 years in the Used Car Business. Stay away from the Europeon Models. Don't be so paranoid about gas models very few accidents involve exploding gas tanks.
My personal favoriates are Toyota and Nissan, 4 cyl. gas engine.
-- Mark in N.C. Fla. (email@example.com), November 16, 2001.
You can get used vehicles that still have the remainder of the so many year/100,000 mile warranties. Just make sure the private party transfers them to you when you buy. Some people can put 100K on a car in a year, many don't.
We have had good luck with used Hondas from private parties--when you get them used from a dealer there is so little difference in price that you may as well buy new. If someone has all the maintenance records from the dealer (or the best local car repair you trust) up to date you should be okay, even if it is close to or over 100K.
If you are looking for a good commute car a Honda CRX is great--we were getting close to 50 mpg. Only bad thing is that apparently insurance companies consider anything without a back seat to be a sports car, and the insurance was somewhat higher, which I think is unfair, because no one would consider a Honda anything to be a sports car, and that would seem to penalize people who are trying to do the right thing by buying fuel efficient cars.
Some of the other imports (kia, hyundai) are offering longer warranties now, and they didn't before, so you may want to try one of those. Or, your area may be offering promotional discounts on the hybrid cars (for us they're not an answer because we have some tall people in the family).
For trucks Toyotas have always been good in the gas mileage department and the dependability department. They quite often go over 100K no problem.
As far as low-cost repairs, well anything 4-wheel drive is going to cost a lot more, as well as power windows, etc., which is why a good warranty is so important.
As for insurance, if you pay for the new/used car outright, it is your choice whether to carry anything beyond liability--you might want to carry everything the first 3-4 years, then drop the extra stuff later. How much of the risk are you willing to assume is the question here.
Hope this helps.
-- GT (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 16, 2001.
Another forum I frequent has a guy in the car business. He says this 0% interest is killing the used car market. Many used car buyers are going for the new because of the interest. There is a glut of used cars on the market and it will probably get worse. Dealers should be ready to deal next month because they want to get rid of inventory before end of year tax time. It is definitely a buyer's market, so look for someone who is desperate to deal!
-- Deb (email@example.com), November 16, 2001.
If your not going to do your own repair work then you need to make sure there are qualified machanics to do whatever work needs to be done on whatever car you have. a 80MB might be nice, but if there are no MB for 100 miles, I think i would skip on it. A for a new bug being Very safe, reliable reputation, sturdy, I am not sure I would agree on all counts, safe, Want to take a guess who is going to win, MY Full size truck or your VW on a head on or side impact? Reliable? They havent been out long enough to get any long duration figures. You can use the old beatle as an example. Granted VW is a good company. Sturdy?
What to get in your 10K range? Have you looked at a Hyundai? They are becomming quite a nice value, low iniital cost 100K warranty? How long is 100K miles for you? For the average person its about 7 years. I have a dealer friend that raves on KIA, but not sure there longevity since they are newer manufacture in the states
-- Gary (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 16, 2001.
What happened to the wiring systemto make them want to replace it.I am not real familiar with Volvo's but have never heard of the whole wiring system going bad,other than a fire(how bout a second opinion).A good friend of mine who is a mechanic buys cars from people through his shop where he works,fixes the problem(usually blown motors-major stuff) and resells for a nice profit,but I know there are some out there telling people this in hopes that they'll sell it to them and it may have not been a real big problem.
-- Dave.??? (email@example.com), November 16, 2001.
That repair estimate probably includes a complete new wiring harness and installation... how about just fixing whatever the problem is? There are not that many wires in a car, especially older cars. Lots of repair manuals have complete wiring diagrams.
-- Jake (Jake@home.com), November 16, 2001.
is a bicycle an option???
-- betty (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 17, 2001.
We got a 1993 Hyundai for the price of a title exchange-- smashed windshield, some rust, the rest in decent shape. A couple of new tires $20 each and some smart thinking on my husband's part to rig a new clutch cable from suitable cable on hand and the car is great. He drives 85 miles a day in it and it cost less than $30 a week in gas. The insurance is cheap, we know the local junkyard has three cars of the same model on hand, and the husband's not afraid to learn something new when he needs to. That car will probable last another five years, if we play our cards right, and the most we'll probably put into it in the end will be about $200 (not including ins.) between tires and maintenance at this rate.
-- Dawn Olson (email@example.com), November 17, 2001.
I've never had other than an "American-made" (LOL) car, but since 1994, when I bought my first used (1983) Mercury Grand Marquis for $1,000, I've never wanted to buy anything else.
IMO, these cars are great! They are cheap to buy (from private owner only), elegant looking, not too bad on gas (20 mpg.), and seem to last forever for me (I currently have three, my 1984 cost $500 at an auction, my 1987 cost $1,500 from private owner, and my 1988 cost $1,200 from private owner), and they are big enough that I can use them as a truck if I have to.
I always expect to get over 200,000 miles on them without anything major going wrong, I only get liability insurance on them so that's cheap, and when I park in town, I just throw the keys on the floor - I know no-one wants to steal an old "boat" like them!
I'll probably never consider anything else, because these cars serve me so well. I decided years ago that I would never pay over $1,500 for a car; it just doesn't make sense as an investment.
-- Bonnie (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 17, 2001.
In addition to general mechanics, we have a few specialists here in Australia, and one of the specialist is "auto electrician". If you can find one of those, it would be worth getting a quote from them. In fact, that is probably what your mechanic would do anyway, and load his profit on top of the auto-electrician's bill. However, you go to the specialist, and they may be able to fix an isolated problem, rather than assume a whole-blood replacement of the entire wiring loom. I'd definitely shy clear of any advice by someone who you know would rather buy the car than fix it for you. Elderly Volvos may have the reputation of being a trifle "agricultural" as far as driving manners go, but they also have the reputation of lasting forever - there are plenty of 1974 models still on the road.
-- Don Armstrong (from Australia) (email@example.com), November 17, 2001.
One word - Honda
I got over 200,000 miles on my first one, and have 155,000 on the one I drive now. Costs have been for oil, brakes, tires, timing belts - nothing out of the ordinary. Bought the first one new, the second used with 63,000 miles on it.
-- bluetick (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 17, 2001.
The problem is the whole wiring harness - the insulation on Volvos has a reputation for disintegrating in American climates after about 10 years. The entire charging/ignition system, plus some of the brake lights and backing lights are on a "maybe they'll work and maybe they won't" kick every time I start the car (assuming I get that lucky - which is not something you wanna bet anything you'd hate to lose on). The last drive home was on generator only, the lights kept dimming everytime I hit the brakes and when I absently flicked on the brights, the whole electrical system went cablooie and I could neither shut them off, nor would the lights put out even medium lighting, let alone bright, and took the smoothness (what there is of it) out of the engine running - at least until I pulled over and put it into park, which jarred everything back into place, apparently. Excepth the charging system. Dead battery the next day, certainly not the first time on that. I've been repairing this car at about 200 dollars a month for last handful of months, it won't hold alignment, tranny on last legs, etc. Time to cut bait and fish elsewhere.
About the diesel thing, I know the stats and probablities, but a phobia is a phobia and a diesel car is cheaper than therepy and more fun than (another) nervous breakdown due to stress. Especially when I am planning on trying the whole biodiesel thing at some point to see if it's feasible. The New Beetle Turbo Diesel is reportedly getting 44.5 mpg real world (a few mpg lower than sticker est., but not by much). A fan site reported minor electrical problems were common, but not the kind that never go away, just new line growing pains. VW fixes them under warrantly and apparently none of the owners seem to mind the inconvenience. Kia Sephia is out of the question - a website I checked in on explained in great detail about a current lawsuit due to the fact that they have an endemic and apparently irrepairable brake problem which wears the brakes out about every three months, causing mucho repair bills (Kia is apparently not paying, even though the cars are still under warranty) and even loss of stopping power accidents. Yikes!
Still considering the old Benzes. They sure are nice to look at. Any ideas on American made diesel commuters that are in my price and priority range?
-- Soni (email@example.com), November 17, 2001.
Well, yes - it definitely can get to the stage of diminishing returns on an older car - where the cost of repairs (particularly including what it costs you in time, inconvenience and maybe danger) is more than that of getting a newer car. Note - newer - not new. Two reasons - one is that a vehicle loses about 25-40% of its sticker price in the first two years - half of that in the first two minutes. Another is - NEVER buy the first year model of anything - that's the year when they find out which of their grand ideas didn't work quite right. Warranty or not, design faults last forever, and warranties don't. I've been bitten by this (on a new model Volkswagen of the time, as it happens); and so have many others. Don't insist on making your own mistakes - let us make them for you - labour-saving. Similarly, don't buy early in the second year of a model - that's when they've made major changes, and the process hasn't bedded down yet. In fact, nothing less than 18 months into a model, and preferably about 30 months.
Is there any chance you can get a younger-model Volvo? Would mean you could retain the older one for spares, while still not spending much on the replacement vehicle. In fact, if your old car has reliable engine and transmission you might be able to pick up a somewhat-newer gasoline-engined Volvo with a clapped-out engine and/or transmission at minimal cost, and do a heart-lung replacement.
P.S. What you described about electrical problems - I had exactly those symptoms too (on that Volkswagen, as it happened, after a long dry spell water had got into the vehicle) - problem was the voltage regulator - part not too much bigger than a cigarette packet - spent heaps trying to find and fix the problem - eventually a specialist auto-electrician (yes!) found the problem and replaced the part for about $25 (a while ago, I'll admit, but the point is he charged about 10% of what I'd already paid - sometimes if you've got a special problem a specialist is your best answer. We do these silly things so you don't have to (with credit to Jerry Pournelle)).
-- Don Armstrong (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 17, 2001.
Buy one of the Subaru wagons from 1985 - 1994. I am referring to the boxier models like the GL, DL or Loyales. I had 1985 wagon and now have a 1993 Loyale wagon. My Loyale is a 4WD with high ground clearance, a 1.8L four cylinder and manual transmisssion. Believe it or not but you can actually fit a sheet of 4x8 plywood/sheetrock in the back. You can load it to the top and it will still pull. No speed demon but lots of pull. I use it to transport my 20 foot dory and trailer and it has no problem dragging the boat up the slipway at the end of each trip on the bay. If you live in the country, have to endure snow or mud and like to pull/carry a lot of stuff then an older Subaru wagon is for you. Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention that their engines run forever - has a lot to do with use of horizontally opposed pistons as opposed to the "inline" or "V" configurations found on most vehicles. (Look no further than Porsche to see another car maker using "flat" engines"
-- Sean (email@example.com), November 19, 2001.
Ask and ye shall recieve (this happens to me so much I almost expect it anymore) - our library magazine recycle bin (prime hunting ground for fun stuff) turned up a latest edition of COnsumer Reports buyers guide, complete with used car reliablity info. I love it when that happens.
-- Soni (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 19, 2001.
Hi, Just throwing in a couple of cents worth. From my experience with American and Foreign cars, here's my rundown: For diesels, get a mercedes, even though you are spending some money. Most other cars are not built around the special needs of the diesel as the Merc's are. In the big picture, get something to tide you over until the used hybrid diesel cars come out. Then, you will get both the mileage and the diesel safety. As far as auto reliability, I can't say much bad about the Japanese quality, except that the longevity of the entire vehicle is predetermined. In other words, you might get 200,000 miles and more, but when you do, everything is going to be worn out at the same time. Whereas with an older American car (pre- Japanese engineering), you can repair something here and there almost forever. If you can find a good used Subaru, they will take abuse forever, but not stay pretty very long. Fords burst into flame, stay away from any with even a hint of an electrical problem. (look up the recalls in Consumer Reports). If you follow your own priority list, your choices point toward a Toyota minivan in the near term, but I would lean to a pickup for safety (your best source of safety is your own ability to see things, and a solid frame in rear-end collisions). Get a diesel for fuel efficiency and engine longevity, for comfort, get a big truck.... Dan's opinion today.
-- Dan (email@example.com), November 20, 2001.
Would you be interested in a mechanic's opinion?
Buy a car that you like, first of all. If it takes a stinky diesel engine to make you happy, so be it.
The second consideration is cost. I really hate to pay more than a thousand dollars for a car, which, unfortunately, leaves most diesel vehicles in good order out of my budget. I tend to buy General Motors vehicles, (but never, never G.M. desiels,) as I am most familiar with them, and Volkswagons, because I like them. I expect 200,000 miles or more out of a fuel injected vehicle. Our Chevy wagon is about at 180K, and runs like a new car. Have you considered an older V.W. diesel? Diesel Rabbits have been on the road since about 1977, although I would certainly recommend a somewhat newer model, such as a Golf or a Jetta.
The last thing I suggest that you shop for is mechanical simplicity. The newer technology tends to keep cars running longer without repair, and will rarely keep you from performing your own maintenance. Want to reline your own brakes? Go ahead. The only system that will need professional attention in the case of failure is the anti-lock hardware itself.
As an aside, the highest-priced mechanic is sometimes the cheapest to use. I will sometimes spend a few hundred dollars of a customer's money repairing a problem at which they have thrown a thousand dollar's worth of inferior parts.
Hope this helps. My apologies for writing under my partner's name.
-- Laura Rae Jensen (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 20, 2001.
Diesel mercedes are great! My wife and I have an 85 300sd. The car has 156,000 miles and sounds tight? These will run for ever. They are cheap to maintain, but major repairs can be expensive. Also insurance is terribly high. We also have a 91 Acura Legend. I have to say this is just as reliable, without the expansive insurance and repairs. If you want a diesel, nothing beats mercedes. Stay away from 350sd/sdl these have probelms with the engine, and trap oxidizers. Acura makes the nicest sleekest cars available for the money though! I love Mercedes Diesels and Acura Legends that's why we have both!
-- Jeff Burkhardt (Legend8529@aol.com), January 01, 2002.
If you can find yourself an inexpensive Mercedez Diesel car I would highly recommend it. I have had 2 Mercedez Benz Diesel Automobiles and have never had any type of major problems. I just sold one in fact a late model station wagon 300TD made in 1980. The engine was still in great shape and very strong. The car had 169,000 miles on it. I am not one who thinks to highly on the Kia or Hyundai cars. Although they now have a long warranty, trust me they are JUNK. If you research in different car magazines about these cars there is nothing good said about either of them. The reputation of these 2 makers isn't very good. If you don't want a European car go for something like Honda, Toyota or Acura. These cars are great cars and will give you alot of satisfaction. In fact they seldom require major work. Toyota I must say is a great company. My Father had a 1990 Toyota truck always serviced at the dealership. Anyways a few years ago the engine needed to be replaced and it only had 57,000 miles on it.... yes only 57 thousand... so when the Toyota company heard of this I must say they took immediate action. They replaced the engine in the truck for free and also the tranny.... The company sent us a letter and said that Toyota expects high things from their products one is long engine life. So for that reason I can say Toyota is great. In fact another family member of mine just traded in his late model Toyota Camry with 197,000 miles on it. The car dated from 1984... it was still driving strong. My advice to you is do research on any vehicle you are thinking about investing in!!! Read up on the pro's and con's of whatever model you are looking at. Drive the car and be sure you are comfortable with the way it handels and performs. Also have the car inspected by a certified mechanic if you decide on any used car!!!! This can save you alot of money later on down the road.... Also many Mercedez cars even the late models come with warranties.. Look into this and ask questions.. Because even if a car is in great shape anything can happen.... Anyways good luck to you and I hope this has helped you somewhat... By the way I am driving a Mercedez 300SD with 269,000 miles on it. The car drives as if it was still a new car. But I also make sure that my cars are serviced every 3,000 miles for oil and I also do the regular up keep.... And I know that you can find a 300SD for very little money and often times with a guarantee or warranty...
-- Lee Von Preussen (email@example.com), March 20, 2002.
If you can give up the diesel, consider a Honda, Subaru or Nissan. Good luck with all here, plus the resale value is great. At 150,000 miles they are just hitting their stride. I don't believe in paying more than $6000 for a car and am definitely against payments. The above get decent gas mileage.
-- Anne (HealthyTouch101@wildmail.com), March 20, 2002.