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To New Car or To Not New Car

DashDDashD Dread Pirate ChefSeattle, WARegistered User regular
So, I currently drive a 1996 Subaru Legacy Outback. He has nearly 200,000 miles and I do love him dearly. However, it is getting to the point where I'm not sure it is worth it to continue to pay for repairs and replacement parts instead of just getting a new car.

I had to replace the alternator last year and just bought new tires. I know he leaks oil and was told by my mechanic that I need a new front left cv axel and new rear breaks. In addition, the transmission is a little wonky and I know it needs some work.

Two questions for you all:
1) Do I say F-it and just buy a new (or at least less-old) car?
2) How the hell do I go about figuring out what car to buy?!?!?

"Brilliant! Oh wait, if we were meant to fly, we would have been born with little bags of nuts."
"Pinky, you are a little bag of nuts."
Satans!
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Posts

  • djmitchelladjmitchella Registered User regular
    Let's say you want to buy a new Outback. This page on Subaru's site will let you work out payments. (that's canada, the US page is broken for some reason, but just multiply the numbers by 80% or so).

    Buying the cheapest model, on a four year term, is $766 per month. (or leasing it's $500-ish on a 3 year term).

    So let's say it'll cost you $2000 to do these repairs -- that's how much you'd be spending on a new car in the next four months, and after that you're financially worse off (but have a newer car).

    You get the idea, hopefully. Newer cars are definitely going to be better than the old one, but financially, a new car is pretty danged expensive, so you'd need to be spending a _lot_ on repairs to come out worse off.

    Not sure what the used car market is like where you are, but you could probably type numbers into a financing calculator somewhere and do the math for used cars.

  • FiendishrabbitFiendishrabbit Registered User regular
    DashD wrote: »
    So, I currently drive a 1996 Subaru Legacy Outback. He has nearly 200,000 miles and I do love him dearly. However, it is getting to the point where I'm not sure it is worth it to continue to pay for repairs and replacement parts instead of just getting a new car.

    I had to replace the alternator last year and just bought new tires. I know he leaks oil and was told by my mechanic that I need a new front left cv axel and new rear breaks. In addition, the transmission is a little wonky and I know it needs some work.

    Two questions for you all:
    1) Do I say F-it and just buy a new (or at least less-old) car?
    2) How the hell do I go about figuring out what car to buy?!?!?

    1. Yes. Unless you're a homefixer a 20+ year old Subaru is not an ideal drive.
    2. This is more complicated.

    A.Start with Assessing your needs:
    What do you use it for? How much cargo? How many passengers? How much do you drive in a year? Do you use it to commute every day or is it primarily a family or errand car? Normal surface area and weather? Gravel? Asphalt? Snow? Sand?
    What is your minimum level of needed features?
    Parking space?

    B. Figure out your budget.
    Note that buying might not always be the best choice. Leasing is sometimes an attractive option. In major cities a carpool might even be a good idea (in most of Europe or a select few US cities with a large population of liberals for whom car ownership is not a semi-religious issue)

    C. Find different cars which fit your needs and your budget.
    Now weigh their pros and cons against each other. Use the internet and find a reliable site that weighs many different cars from many different brands. Sources with an obvious brand loyalty are traps.
    Pick a selection of cars that fit your needs and budget.

    D. Is there a mechanics shop within range that can reliably and cheaply repair/service your car?

    "The western world sips from a poisonous cocktail: Polarisation, populism, protectionism and post-truth"
    -Antje Jackelén, Archbishop of the Church of Sweden
    Quida5ehrenschuss
  • Skull2185Skull2185 Mr. Steal yo' heart Registered User regular
    Definitely yes to #1.

    I just had to have my transmission replaced, and even with it being a used transmission, it ran me ~$3000. I chose to go through with it because my car is a 2004 Mercury Sable with 89,000 miles on it. I was gambling that everything else was in tip top shape, and it'd be cheaper than buying a new (used) car. Then a vacuum hose promptly exploded like an overcooked hotdog... fixed it myself though, so it was cheap. AAAAAND now the car is back in the shop because I found out the tranny was leaking ATF when I was replacing the hose. That wont cost me any thing though.

    Anyway, in your case, the mileage is up there and your car is older. Might be better in the long run to take what you can get on a trade-in value (you can check your car's value at kbb.com) for a new or newer used car.

    Most dealerships have online browsing now, so you can get started looking at what they have in their lots that are within your budget.

  • L Ron HowardL Ron Howard Registered User regular
    I say it depends. This is kinda random, and not formatted. Sorry about that.

    Are you experiencing regular non-wearable repairs? Things like tires, brakes, clutch, light bulbs and fluids is what I mean. At this age, things like control arms might need to be replaced, but you'll only need to replace them once for the remainder of the car's life most likely. How common are these things becoming? Have you had to do things like the engine and tranny? More than once? What exactly are you talking about?

    What are you really looking to replace it with? Are you looking for a daily driver and general utility? What exactly are you talking about there too? Another Outback, or a WRX? Maybe a Ferrari?

    If you put the money you'd be paying in a car payment into a savings account, how much would you have in a few years? Would you rather keep your car and have the cash, or have a new car and be potentially more strained?

    It's generally better to not have a car payment than to have one, so assuming your car doesn't explode, you should keep it IMO.

    I have a 1997 Honda Civic with 230k miles on it, and it's been fine. While I hate it because it's slow, and quite, and not loud or fun in any way, it's also cheap, decently reliable, and easily replaceable. I've been saving the money from a newer car for a few years myself and will keep doing so. If someone SUV taps it because they're a terrible driver and can't park, it's no sweat off my back, as opposed to if I had a nice new car.

    If you do decide to get another car, get a used one that's a couple of years old. Let someone else take the depreciation hit.

    Steam
    NNID - bejamus
  • SmurphSmurph Registered User regular
    Paid off old used cars are great. I drove an 03 Dodge Stratus for 8 years. But I wound up in the same position that you're in, where I had a car worth maybe $2k that was needing a few hundred dollars of repairs every year. I think at one point I spent like $700 on a timing belt & water pump and told myself I would drive the car for 1 more year and then get a new one. That ended up being what I did.

    My dad told me once that you want to quit on the car before the car quits on you. Getting stuck with a dead car you're not willing or able to get fixed and having to shop for a new one with no car of your own, on top of getting yourself to work and stuff, is a big life disruption that you can avoid.

    AngelHedgie
  • zepherinzepherin Registered User regular
    edited April 13
    So the first thing to do is decide what your needs are, then we'll talk about brands then financing.


    Type of car
    How big of a car you want, what features you desire, do you need a car, a truck, suv, crossover. If you need a car how big do you need?
    If your a big person I would recommend against a subcompact.

    After you determine that you establish a budget. For a new car, you can get a decent car for about 20k new. For a larger car with more features or a base level suv you'll be in the 30k range. For a 2 year old car that is certified and still has warranty left you'll be saving about 3k-5k.

    Brands
    Then you break it down to brand, and take in reviews based on personal preference. Now personal preference has a lot to do with it, but car non luxury brands that are considered the most reliable. Honda, Toyota, Hyundai, Chevy, and Buick. Chevy is a relatively new entry, but they've had a strong showing in the last 5 years. Kia used to be dog shit bad, and they have really made improvements in reliability.
    Brands known for breaking down. Cadillac, Jeep, Fiat, Land Rover, Chrysler, Dodge.

    Which is a shame because Dodge and Jeep make good looking vehicles, and the ride is always nice.
    But keep that in mind when buying a used car.

    Financing
    New car financing is worlds better than used car financing. At my credit union the difference is about 2%

    Get your finance first before you step foot in a dealership. In fact know what car you want as well, that way it is all pre approved, you know the budget you have everything hammered out. If you have a credit union, that is the best financing other than some of the military options. Banks are ok, so is online.

    Dealership financing is the most expensive. Don't do it unless you really have to.

    Negotiating
    Know the value the car you want. Know the invoice price, the MSRP and all the rebate programs.
    Edmunds is a fantastic resource for car negotiations and pricing, Kbb is pretty good as well.

    If you don't want to negotiate, Costco car buying service, is pretty great so is USAA. True car is a bit more expensive but it will give you peace of mind and the only thing you'll have to worry about is your trade in price. And it's easy to negotiate if you are only focusing on 1 thing. Also a 20 year old Subaru isn't worth very much anyways, maybe 300-400 bucks trade in. You might be able to sell it on the street for 700-800 bones if it runs good.

    zepherin on
    a5ehren
  • a5ehrena5ehren AtlantaRegistered User regular
    If you're the kind of person who keeps a car for 20+ years and 200k+ miles, I would probably buy new instead of used. Makes sure you get exactly what you want, and you know the full service history. Over that timeframe the amortized extra cost of buying new is minimal.

    But beyond that we can't help you much unless you know what you need/want :P

    DemonStaceynonoffensiveHeirSo It GoesElvenshaechrishallett83jkylefultonQuid
  • nonoffensivenonoffensive Registered User regular
    edited April 13
    In terms of brands, I believe Toyota followed by Honda are currently the leader in terms of long term maintenance costs. I know the locks on older Hondas have been known as easy targets for car theft, not sure about the newer models. I went with a Toyota and left my 09 Matrix out on the street for 5 years in northwest weather, never failed to start once or had a mechanical problem. I only took it in for regular service and free recall work.

    One thing to keep in mind is that Subaru has all-wheel drive on all their cars, so there can be some complications when it comes to replacing a single tire, and more things can go wrong with an all wheel drive system. If you aren't driving through mud, snow or ice a lot, it can save you gas and money to go with a relatively lighter and simpler front wheel drive car from Toyota or Honda. Subarus are a solid choice and I had a used 91 Loyale for 4 years that only needed the timing belts replaced before it got rear ended, earning it an early exit before the inevitable onset of rust took it out.

    I think buying new makes a lot of sense if you plan on keeping a car a long time. Materials and construction quality are only going up every year. Not only do you know that it's been serviced properly (assuming you follow the manufacturer recommendations) but it comes with a fairly decent warranty that can save you from surprises. Try and choose a car that isn't on its maiden year model revision. My Matrix was a new model refresh which led to a lot of recall notices. Nothing major, but sometimes they find some bugs that they'll fix the following year. Wikipedia is actually a really good resource for this and they'll usually tell you the last year the model was updated.

    nonoffensive on
  • a5ehrena5ehren AtlantaRegistered User regular
    Honda is in the process of updating their whole lineup with new engines and transmissions, so it is harder to predict their long-term reliability at the moment.

    If I had to buy a car today that would give me 90+% odds of running for 20 years, I'd probably get a V6 Toyota (Camry/Sienna/Highlander).

    McFodderzepherin
  • chrishallett83chrishallett83 Hi! Registered User regular
    Yep. If I wanted a car that would just work for two decades, I'd buy a Toyota Camry.

    schussAngelHedgie
  • FiendishrabbitFiendishrabbit Registered User regular
    It also depends on where you live.
    Toyota has a good reputation in every climate (these days), but the Honda at least used to be a real rustbucket (galvanized, but not using pre-galvanized steel and only dipping them so the galvanic layer was rather thin). In Sweden you don't see 20 year old Hondas on the road (or at least I don't see them) because the combination of snow, roadsalt and gravel roads (not uncommon once you get off the main road network since it's a huge country with low population) have eaten up their undercarriages.

    "The western world sips from a poisonous cocktail: Polarisation, populism, protectionism and post-truth"
    -Antje Jackelén, Archbishop of the Church of Sweden
  • Iceman.USAFIceman.USAF Major East CoastRegistered User regular
    Ahem...first gen Toyota Tacoma's would beg to differ.

    Anywho, without really knowing what you need your car to do it's tough to make a recommendation. It certainly sounds like you could use a "new" or gently used car, but as someone said, do the math. Don't forget to include your own sanity in there. Even if the math works, but you're in and out of the shop every other month, you may opt for a replacement.

    Generically I can get behind almost anything by Toyota or Honda, particularly for their sedans.



  • DashDDashD Dread Pirate Chef Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    Thank you all for the help and advice. It has given me a few jumping off points in trying to figure this out.

    very much thank!

    "Brilliant! Oh wait, if we were meant to fly, we would have been born with little bags of nuts."
    "Pinky, you are a little bag of nuts."
    Satans!
    paxminibadges.png
  • Iceman.USAFIceman.USAF Major East CoastRegistered User regular
    You can't just leave us hanging, we need closure, dangit!



  • DashDDashD Dread Pirate Chef Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    You can't just leave us hanging, we need closure, dangit!
    Sorry!

    I think I'm going to repair what currently needs to be fixed (axel, brakes, and transmission checkup) and spend the next year or so researching what car to buy and saving up for it.

    "Brilliant! Oh wait, if we were meant to fly, we would have been born with little bags of nuts."
    "Pinky, you are a little bag of nuts."
    Satans!
    paxminibadges.png
    chrishallett83Brody
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