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Heroes Community > Tavern of the Rising Sun > Thread: Car buying advice
Thread: Car buying advice This thread is 3 pages long: 1 2 3 · NEXT»
phoenixreborn
phoenixreborn


Promising
Legendary Hero
Unicorn
posted September 09, 2010 01:17 AM
Edited by phoenixreborn at 01:54, 09 Sep 2010.

Car buying advice

Hello HC,

I know very very little about cars and less about negotiating at a dealership.

I'm in America where some people like to buy American cars to support the economy.  I've always heard that Japanese cars are more reliable.  Looking around I've seen some Korean cars that are cheap.

I've driven Toyotas and a Ford and a Dodge and they all felt roughly the same so I don't have a strong brand preference, I'm just gauging from reviews, but input from experienced drivers would be nice.  I know that I want a small car because fitting into tight spaces is an advantage in the city but I'm worried about the poorer safety in a small car.

Also what salesman tricks should I look for at the dealership.  I've read horror stories about extra fees and people selling broken cars as new or only slightly used.

Meh.  I'm sure you guys will find subtopics I haven't thought of.  Thanks for any advice.
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baklava
baklava


Honorable
Legendary Hero
Mostly harmless
posted September 09, 2010 05:14 AM

Dude. You're in America.
The land of opportunity. Freedom. Individualism.

Why settle for a car when you can get a sleigh and pay Mexicans to pull you around in it.
____________
"Let me tell you what the blues
is. When you ain't got no
money,
you got the blues."
Howlin Wolf

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blizzardboy
blizzardboy


Honorable
Undefeatable Hero
Iceskating uphill
posted September 09, 2010 05:23 AM

The technical name is the Ford Grease Lightning, not "sleigh pulled by Mexicans".
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JollyJoker
JollyJoker


Honorable
Undefeatable Hero
posted September 09, 2010 07:51 AM

My first advice is, go to cars.com or a comparable site - you can get a very good impression there about price levels.

It is important to check prices for a new car (you have to take care to find the right specifications for the model you want) and compare them with those for used.

If the prices for used (2-3 years old) issignificantly lower than new, buy used. If not, buy new.

WHICH car to go for? For a small, fuel-efficient car it should be a Korean or Japanese car. European was alright in theory, in practise, with European cars a lot depends on the specific model and the prices in the US.

Korean cars are clearly on the march worldwide. In Europe Kia advertises a 7 year warranty which is massive. If you want a small car, a compact is superior, so with Kia I'd check out Soul and Rio(5).I suppose, those cars will be unbeatable.
For Japanese cars, Daihatsu Sirion and Materia are interesting as well.
Renault has a good model range, but I don't know howw they range in prices in the US and how they are available. Models are Twingo, Clio and Megane, those give a good impression about current small, subcompact and compact.
Sadly I can't advise to buy a German car - too expensive. An Audi A3, currently the smallest, starts at 27000+ $, and while you get a fine car for the money, you shouldn't even bother with them, until you earn a fortune.

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Binabik
Binabik


Responsible
Legendary Hero
posted September 09, 2010 10:47 AM

I've thought about writing a used car buying guide thread. If I wasn't so tired I could write several pages about this. I used to wheel and deal in cars. At one point I was going through a car about one every 3 weeks. I've been involved in the purchase and/or sale of probably 400-500 cars (although only owned about 80 of those myself). That was years ago (late 1970s to early 1990s). I still know the "game" but I haven't really kept up with newer cars and don't know prices any more.

Do you plan on buying new? (my experience is only with used cars, mostly older ones)

If you buy used you can get a LOT more for your money. So you should consider buying used for that reason. However you need to study used cars more to get the best deal with the best chance of getting a good car.


Anyway, I'm assuming that you are buying new.

Yea, Japanese cars are probably the most reliable. But some are way overpriced IMO (like Honda). Toyotas are good cars. Mazdas are also good but cheaper than Toyota. I like Nissan the best as far as personal taste, but they are more expensive than Mazda.

For Korean cars I think I'd stay away from Kia and stick with Hyundai. For European cars I would only consider BMW and Volvo but they are both expensive. (most of the ones JJ listed aren't sold in the states) Also keep in mind that the same car can sell under different names in different countries.

For American cars, they change so freaking much it's hard to keep up with them. Again it's personal taste but I like GM and I've probably owned at least 20 of them. As I said they keep changing so you'll have to research. One thing I'll say though is to stay away from American "starter" cars or "entry level" cars. What I mean is the cheap cars that are marketed to the younger people who are buying their first car.


General advice:

If you have the time, spend a long time doing research.

One of the most important rules is to never be in a hurry to buy.

Use Consumer Report and study it thoroughly. Understand what it means, as it's not always what it appears. Many of their judgments are opinion, so try to isolate your own priorities instead of looking at their overall rating. Note that what may appear to be a large difference in frequency of repair may only be a difference of a few percentage points. A few percentage points are important, but it's certainly not the only factor when choosing a car.

To get the best deal, never "want" a car. Be prepared to walk away from a car if the deal isn't right. If you want a car, or worse, fall in love with it, that puts you in a bad bargaining position. Always be prepared to walk away up until the very last minute before you actually take possession of the car.

Of course that's strictly from the financial point of view. In reality you should buy the car you want....the point is, don't let wanting a car blind you. Wanting a car and liking it has value, but keep your head on straight when it comes to actually buying. Your emotions and desires should never be part of the actual purchase.

You asked about salesmen tricks. Well, they will know when you want a car, maybe before you do. And they know how to play your emotions. Don't volunteer information. Don't be too friendly, they aren't your friends even if they try to make you think so. Watch what you say, and listen to what they say. Unless they are noobs they will be professional and know how to control their tongue, but they can still slip and you should be paying attention if they do. Listen and don't talk more than necessary.

Drive the cars you think you might be interested in. Not the "around the block" drive like the salesman will probably try to get you to do, but a REAL test drive. The standard test drive that the salesman takes you on is on nice smooth roads with no bumps, etc. (notice that the roads near dealers are always fresh pavement)

If you start getting serious about a car then spend a lot of time in it. When you buy you will be spending thousands of hours in the car. So make sure it's comfortable and fits your body size and shape before you buy. People shift position after they've been in the car for a while, so sit in your real settled position, not the initial position when you first get in. Reliability is important, but so are aesthetics and functionality. Your seating position, location and access to controls, radio, windows, etc are all important. Looks are important too. No matter how practical you are, looks still count.

Speaking of looks.....how long do you expect to own it? The real question is, are you concerned about resale price? Just because YOU like a purple car with bright green bumpers doesn't mean other people will, and therefore the resale value will be nil. If you keep it long term then buy for yourself. If you keep it short term then you might consider resale value (which includes lots of things beyond appearance). Keep in mind that some brands of cars have higher depreciation rates than others. You'll have to research that if it's important to you.

Don't let the salesmen tag team you. Tag teaming is when you start with one salesman and then another comes to take his place. The trick is that different customers respond to different sales tactics differently. So when the first salesman "goes to lunch" or "gets a phone call" (or whatever) it means that the second salesman is going try a different tactic. Related to this is the "closer". He's the expert at closing the deal with a reluctant buyer. So when you are close to buying but can't quite take the step, the job of the closer is to get you to take that step. WALK AWAY!

Sleep on it. If you like the car today, wait a couple weeks and see if you still like it then. Your mood will change and so will the car you like. (did you know that people buy different color cars depending on the "mood" of the economy? Dark drab colors during bad economic cycles, and brighter colors during good economies) So if you test drive on a bright sunny day you will get a different feeling than you would on a cold rainy day.

Play the dealers against each other. Let them know that you are looking at other dealers, especially their direct competitors (selling the same brands). But donít lie and tell them another dealer made a lower offer than they really did, because they already know what the other dealer will sell for.

If they ever mention "invoice" or "dealer cost", bull****. Both of those are total bull****. They can sell below invoice or dealer cost and still make a profit, so completely ignore anything they say about their costs. They get all kinds of kickbacks and stuff from the manufacturers. The pricing is very complicated and changes constantly.

Options. The options or variations of the same car can make a huge difference in the price. Think REAL hard before you upgrade to the higher priced model or buy extra options. Ask yourself if you will REALLY use it.

New models are out. So 2010 models will be discounted and will continue to drop in price through the end of the year, depending on how much excess inventory they have. If you do your research (Consumer Report, online info, dealers themselves, etc) you should be able to get a feel for how much excess inventory they have. Supply and demand - excess inventory is good for you

Different cars are better in different places. Some cars are better at handling the harsh winters of the northern US and Canada, while other cars are better in California and southern states. I don't know if there is any place to research this or not. 20 years ago I could have given some advice on specific cars, but not any more.

Just keep in mind that cold winter starts and rough roads make a huge difference. Rough roads are like taking a car and picking it up with a big machine then shaking the crap out of it for 10,000 hours and seeing how many parts come off. One reason I mention this is because reliability statistics don't take this into account. Some cars are more popular in some places than others. Cars that are more popular in California where cars last MUCH longer, will appear to statistically have a higher reliability than cars that are more popular in the harsher climates.

As I said I'm very tired, so I'll quit.....and I was just getting started. If you are buying a used car I can give a lot more info because that's where my experience is.

I repeat. Don't be in a hurry to buy, unless you really really really have to.

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wog_edn
wog_edn

Promising

The Nothingness
posted September 09, 2010 11:07 AM

1969 Ford Mustang fastback. go for it!
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Binabik
Binabik


Responsible
Legendary Hero
posted September 09, 2010 11:12 AM

I had a 68 (I think it was a 68) with a 289. Cool car, but I only had it for about a week or so.

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del_diablo
del_diablo


Legendary Hero
Manifest
posted September 09, 2010 11:45 AM

I am starting to see where the "Smooth car salesman" stereotype got its origins.
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JollyJoker
JollyJoker


Honorable
Undefeatable Hero
posted September 09, 2010 12:39 PM

The car I can safely recommend is a Mazda 3 (Grand) Touring, since I'm driving that car since November 2006, for about 40.000 miles - it still feels pretty "new", sonsidering how the car was, when I got it, and there has been no problem with it whatsoever until now.
2006, however, was a year of model revision which took place in the middle of the year, and since there have been a couple of changes not just optical I'd advise to make sure to get the latter model, should you go for a 2006 used one.

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friendofgunnar
friendofgunnar


Honorable
Legendary Hero
able to speed up time
posted September 09, 2010 04:07 PM

don't

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blizzardboy
blizzardboy


Honorable
Undefeatable Hero
Iceskating uphill
posted September 09, 2010 04:36 PM
Edited by blizzardboy at 16:42, 09 Sep 2010.

I drive a custom-made solid lead Humvee myself but it's a matter of taste vs need.

On another note, what I drove in college was a 2002 Pontiac Sunfire. It's a nice, small, affordable, efficient, and surprisingly sleek-looking car that does a great job of getting you from A to B. It's an older car, but if you're just looking to get something basic, I'd personally recommend it. It's a V-4 2-door:


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gnollking
gnollking


Supreme Hero
Supreme Hero
posted September 09, 2010 05:08 PM

Quote:
1969 Ford Mustang fastback. go for it!

Hell yeah
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phoenixreborn
phoenixreborn


Promising
Legendary Hero
Unicorn
posted September 10, 2010 12:51 AM

Quote:
If you buy used you can get a LOT more for your money. So you should consider buying used for that reason. However you need to study used cars more to get the best deal with the best chance of getting a good car.


Different cars are better in different places. Some cars are better at handling the harsh winters of the northern US and Canada, while other cars are better in California and southern states. I don't know if there is any place to research this or not. 20 years ago I could have given some advice on specific cars, but not any more.



Thanks JJ and Binabik for good answers.

About the Mazda M3 it ticks some of my boxes but maybe has more power than I need for local commuting.  One positive thing was that it comes with good tires from the start, I'm worried about winter in my area, it will be first winter as a driver.  I'm hoping to get a car for sub $20,000.

Lots of good info from Binabik.  Clearly you have a lot of first hand knowledge.  I think a Binabik car advice sticky thread would be a great idea.  Maybe another person could do a subsection on European and Russian/Asian buying.

It didn't even occur to me that car ratings might be biased based on location.  Very good point to watch out for.  I have been using websites like carsand kbb.  Another good one for consumer reviews is carsurvey.

In the sub $20,000 area it seems like I get more newer features (like anti-lock brakes and more airbags) if I buy a newer car but I'm willing to be convinced.  Mileage seems to be a big criterion to look out for as well as past vehicle maintenance history when looking used.

Umm, what is the advantage of premium gas?  Some of the cars have engine choices between regular or premium.
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Binabik
Binabik


Responsible
Legendary Hero
posted September 10, 2010 05:01 AM

My sister also bought the Mazda 3 (2008 I think). She really likes it, but it's completely opinion. I wouldn't want one myself, mainly because I think the seating is too tight and uncomfortable.

I would stay away from cars that require premium gas. Premium is a lot more expensive. In general engines that require premium are higher performance engines. Specifically they are higher compression engines that need higher octane fuel to prevent pre-ignition. If a car doesn't require premium then it's a waste of money because it doesn't do anything. The car will still run fine with prem, but why spend the money when it doesn't do anything?.

I thought ABS (anti-lock brakes) and air bags were pretty standard on cars now, but I could be wrong.

That reminds me of another thing to check. You should check the cost of insurance for any cars that you are considering. Probably most cars of a similar type will have similar insurance costs, but it's good to check anyway. Anti-lock brakes and other safety features will lower the cost of insurance. People have been mentioning Mustangs - buy a Mustang and watch your insurance cost skyrocket.

And yes anti-lock brakes are nice in the winter. However I would be very careful about becoming dependent on them - rely on your own driving ability to stop the car. If the ABS ever kicks in (you can feel it) then it means you waited too long to stop and almost got in a wreck. Winter snow is not the only time this can happen. It can also happen in rain, especially after a long dry spell when oil builds up on the road causing it to become slick. Also things like wet leaves can be very slick.

Oh yea, one more thing I forgot to mention. You might look into repair costs for different cars, especially certain foreign cars. Imported parts can get expensive, and the labor may also be higher. In the US this is somewhat less of an issue on the west coast and some other places where people drive a lot more foreign cars than they do in the midwest, south, etc. Just stop by some local garages and ask the mechanics about it (not dealers, but independent shops).

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meroe
meroe


Supreme Hero
Basically Smurfette
posted September 10, 2010 05:13 AM

On a practical note.  When buying your first car, dont go for 'all your eggs in one basket' buy.  Buy something affordable and easy to repair.  First car's fall into that 'pride and glory' category and you might find yourself coughing up a lot in repair bills .... little
nudges, scratches etc.  So an expensive first buy = expensive repair bill.

Just a suggestion

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Mytical
Mytical


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Undefeatable Hero
Chaos seeking Harmony
posted September 10, 2010 05:14 AM

So far I am liking the Chevy Cobolt.  It is not as fancy as some, but for the price it is pretty good.  New it is like 15k or so.  Doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles.
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JollyJoker
JollyJoker


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Undefeatable Hero
posted September 10, 2010 07:31 AM

Something on anti-lock-brakes...

they are not meant to help you STOP the car (that's only the secondary thing); they are meant to enable you you to

steer the car while you make an emergency brake

which is something you have to actually train. If there IS an emergency, people tend to step on the brakes and freeze. With ALS, you can steer the car still, while braking (which is impossible when the tyres lock), and you have to DRIVE on (around the obstacle, for example).

Anyway, European buying, what do you want to know? I mean, Asians, Europeans and Americans have a different definition of what is a "small" car -, US simply don't build "small".

In my opinion, $20.000 is a dangerous sum to spend. Clearly it allows to go for a new car. A Kia Rio5 costs significantly less than that, new, and it's a SMALL car. A Mazda 3 on the other hand, is about 4.5 metres; the practical touring version is no small car anymore, and for $20.000, you won't get a decent new one.

So it amounts to how "big" a car you want and how much money you want to spend for it for driving it. By the way, Europe is in the process of eliminating the "regular" 91 octane gas. In Germany it's only 95, 98 and, yes, 100 (nigh on) octane, with regular 91 never being significantly cheaper than 95 (98+ is the stuff you need for cars without a cat).

Bottom line is, you can have a new small car or a used bigger one, but I agree with Bin, you'll get a lot more out of your money when buying used. In the States, if I'm not wrong, insurance is a problem, since it's not mandatory, so if you have a new car, an insurance makes sense that covers your a$$ both ways, in case some uninsured jerk crashes your car. Second problem is, if you don't have the money in cash, you have to take a loan.
So you have to check whether you can and want to live with what you have to pay.

If winter is a problem, a 4x4 may be an option - a Suzuki SX4 AWD, for example.

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Binabik
Binabik


Responsible
Legendary Hero
posted September 10, 2010 08:58 AM

Quote:
By the way, Europe is in the process of eliminating the "regular" 91 octane gas. In Germany it's only 95, 98 and, yes, 100 (nigh on) octane, with regular 91 never being significantly cheaper than 95 (98+ is the stuff you need for cars without a cat).


Just to save some confusion, Europe uses a different method of calculating octane than the US and Canada. A 91 octane in Europe is approximately the same as an 87 octane in the US. 87 is the standard regular unleaded gas here. In some areas it may be different, like higher altitudes might have lower octane, and ethanol blends will have higher (ethanol itself is much higher octane than gas so a blend raises the overall rating). The US and Canada uses (R+M)/2 which means it averages two methods.

@JJ, insurance is mandatory in the US. At least it is in every state I've lived in. But just like anything else, just because it's required doesn't mean everyone has it.

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JollyJoker
JollyJoker


Honorable
Undefeatable Hero
posted September 10, 2010 09:19 AM
Edited by JollyJoker at 09:25, 10 Sep 2010.

Ah, ok.
In any case, I understood, that if someone else crashes your car i the US, it's far more likely there that the crash-driver in the US won't have the necessary insurance to pay for your car (and if he has no money, prsonally, you are stuck), so that you are well-advised to not only ensure yourself against crashing other people's atuff (not necessarily only cars), but your own car as well which is, where it gets expensive, especially with a new car.

Ah, drat, I somewhat miss the good old days, when "bumper" came from "bump". Paris would be a paradise in a way - you were advised NEVER to let your car in gear when parking within the inner city of Paris, because, since parking space was really rare, cars would park VIRTUALLY bumper to bumper and you'd have to "bump" your way into and out of them parking spaces.
That is really true, no joke.
Of ourse cars were looking like it.

And everyone used to tinker with their car on weekends, which is basically impossible nowadays, with everything regulated by fancy electronics.
I miss that somewhat.

Although - it desn't seem to have changed. This is exemplary:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6niaVB-TYXA

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Binabik
Binabik


Responsible
Legendary Hero
posted September 10, 2010 09:50 AM

The required insurance is liability only and the required amount is pretty low which might not be enough to cover a serious wreck. For a new car you would probably have insurance on your own car in addition to liability insurance. The insurance on your own car covers you if you are at fault. For more expensive cars most people would have "comprehensive" coverage which covers all kinds of miscellaneous stuff like vandalism, a tree falling on your car etc.

There is also "uninsured" and "underinsured" coverage which most people have now. It's fairly cheap and covers you if the other person (the one who caused the accident) doesn't have insurance or doesn't have enough to cover you. I think in some states one or both of those are required.

Some states have talked about going to "no fault" insurance but I don't know if any have actually implemented it. No fault means just what it sounds like. Everyone would have insurance and it would pay for the damage to their own car regardless of who cause the accident. I have no idea how this would work for medical coverage which is a major component of auto insurance. I assume your own insurance would be the liability insurance for injury to any passengers, pedestrians, etc (the same as it is now).

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