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Buying a car?

kathoskathos Registered User regular
edited September 2007 in Help / Advice Forum
So finally after a few years of university I've come to the realisation I need a car. I'm not really picky about what I want, but if at all possible; the Jeep Cherokee (the boxy one, not the Grand [only telling you my preferred car in case there's something wrong with it]).

But I'm afraid of screwing up when I buy one. So I'm askin': is there anything I should know other than: "does the car work?"

(a few guides on the internet helped, but not so much)

Also; can I use the Carfax
vehicle check on Canadian cars? Does it even help?

Thanks!

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kathos on

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    betterthbetterth Registered User new member
    edited September 2007
    Checking the carfax is definitely a huge plus, but don't trust it to be the be and and end all of information.

    It's best to check it when it's cold, as warming up usually covers up any underlying issues. (Offer to visit where the vehicle is kept).

    When you're testing it, before you drive, turn it on, and listen to it. Smell the exhaust, if you don't know what exhaust should smell like, smell a friends car that you know runs top notch and passes all its tests. Look at the engine, if its unusually clean, they may clean it to hide oil leaking. Check the oil, see if its really dirty or low. (Check the sticker to see when it was last changed). Asked the frequency of oil changes, as every 3000 keeps a car running forever, and every 10,000 means the cars probably almost going to have issues.

    Before you drive, if its automatic, shift between drive, neutral, reverse, neutral, drive etc a couple of times while holding the brake of course. It should smoothly shift between all gears and not hang up. Let it roll for a sec in drive and reverse to ensure that its actually engaged the gear. Slipping, or taking too long to shift is definitely indicitive of an issue.

    When the cars cold, rev the engine a few times, and get it to redline at least once, and check for smoke. Many engines will burn oil when revved highly, but seem fine when driving nicely.

    On your test drive, make sure to drive the car a little harder. Test the heat and the A/C. Test the radio, and each speaker. Try every door, compartment and cubby. Check the trunk.

    When driving, definitely brake hard at least once. Does the car smoothly decelerate to a stop, or does it vibrate a lot? Vibration/shaking could indicate worn pads, or worse, issues with the rotors.

    Check the tires, bring a quarter and penny. Put the quarter into the treads with the head of the president facing the tread. If the tread touches the top of the head, you've got about 4/10 of the life left. If it touches the head of the penny (Lincoln), you're at the federally mandated level of replacement (2/10 of life left), and the tires require changing.

    When you test, you also need to test highway speeds (60mph - 70mph) for no shorter than five minutes, and should test highway acceleration for passing as well. Alignment/balance issues can present while moving at highway speeds, as can engine issues. (I once bought a used car that seemed totally tip top, really just stellar, but dumped oil like a sieve when at anything over 65mph. It was a Corolla with 115k mi on it.)

    If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

    betterth on
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    peterjfordpeterjford Registered User new member
    edited September 2007
    The Jeep Cherokee is a great vehicle. I own 2 right now. The socalxj group on yahoo and www.naxja.org are great places to get info on them.

    The 4.0 inline 6cyl engine is good for at least 250,000 miles if it has been maintained.
    Stay away from the 2.8 V-6 engine.
    If it has been (ab)used off-road, check around the steering box for cracking in the frame.
    They can also rust under the rear seats.

    I almost forgot, all Jeeps eventually leak oil. The fix is usually pretty easy if you have opposable thumbs and some basic tools. The 4 places to look are the rear main (where the engine meets the transmission), the oil filter adapter, the valve cover gasket, and the oil pressure sending unit.

    Different years have different strengths and weaknesses depending on what you want to do with it (i.e. daily driver, easy trails, hard-core rock crawling).

    If you have any questions feel free to email me:
    peterjford (at) gmail(dot)com, or jeep (at) peterjford (dot) com

    peterjford on
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    SeptusSeptus Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    Is leasing a good idea? I've heard from my parents that it seems better than it used to be(I don't know why) but I'm wondering if it's only competetive to buying, if you'd be buying a car every 5 years, versus keeping one for closer to 10.

    Septus on
    PSN: Kurahoshi1
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    peterjfordpeterjford Registered User new member
    edited September 2007
    I would never consider leasing a car myself. But that is mostly because I like to modify everything I own. If you are going to use it as a transportation appliance than leasing could be a good option.

    peterjford on
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    KMFurDMKMFurDM Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited September 2007
    Septus wrote: »
    Is leasing a good idea? I've heard from my parents that it seems better than it used to be(I don't know why) but I'm wondering if it's only competetive to buying, if you'd be buying a car every 5 years, versus keeping one for closer to 10.

    Leasing is only worth it if somebody else is paying for it. ie...company car.

    What it basically amounts to is renting something that only depreciates and consumes with zero to show for it at the end. I will never lease a car. 6 months back I paid off my '02 VW GTi that I bought new, took a little less than 5 years at $361.27 a month for a car that was 21 grand new. Now I own it. Worth around 9 grand, but it's my 9 grand.

    The smartest thing to do is to BUY a used car with a certified warranty. Let the original owner deal with the depreciation unless you really, really want something new.

    KMFurDM on
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    Original RufusOriginal Rufus Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    I feel the need to point out that in my experience, Jeeps have terrible, terrible gas mileage, and as a college student, you may want to consider a more fuel efficient vehicle.

    Plus, I think the insurance for an SUV is typically more than for a modest, less gas-hungry sedan. Just some things to consider.

    Original Rufus on
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    BlochWaveBlochWave Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    To give you another opinion on the leasing issue, my dad always leased cars and it has been reccomended to me whenever the ol 98 Civic gives its last sputter(the day approaches, the 20 mile drive to school every day for 4 years didn't help)

    If you're leasing it, you won't need to make a down payment and your monthly payment will be less than if you were trying to buy it.

    Problem is, the payments will never end >_> It IS wasting money, in a fundamental sense, to ever put money into something that you don't own, incluing renting homes and leasing apartments. But like those, it's sometimes advantageous or necessary(I'm sure many more than me live in an apartment)

    If your income was like mine in college, it'll take maybe 5(or more!) years to pay off a car, by then the car has depreciated in value severely, your warrantry might be close to expiring, and it's just about time for things to start needing replacing and going bad(even if you take good care of it and nothing outright breaks, the routine maintenance as the car ages can get costly)

    If you lease, you get a brand new vehicle to drive, a set mileage you can't exceed though which is often plenty, even for my dad's huge commute to work every day(and a steep penalty but you can buy more miles beforehand for fairly cheap if you think you need them)After a couple of years..BAM, new vehicle. No change in payments, no inordinate paperwork, basically a free upgrade. Now, I don't know if this is common, you really should check, but my dad was leasing a car he really liked, and he asked about buying.

    They took all the payments he had made onto the car for the lease then as a down payment I think, and now he's paying(more per month)but owns it. I'm sure there was some(possibly considerable) penalty to switch from lease to buying or it'd be just too preferable to anything else and everyone would do it, but that's for YOU to research. At the least, someone thought it was worth it, so maybe it should be kept in mind, and maybe someone here knows more. My assumption would be they only apply a percentage of what you've paid thus far to owning the car, so you lose some money, but you were gonna lose it anyways if you were already leasing

    BlochWave on
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    SeptusSeptus Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    The reason I think about leasing is that unlike a home, it will only depreciate, and it's not adding to your equity. I certainly wouldn't think of leasing a new car(and I don't know if the market for leasing used is a lot smaller). It seems fairly reasonable that leasing a 2 year old car, and replacing that every 5 years would be comparable to buying a 2 year old car every 5 years. There is likely going to be car replacement schedule breakpoint, beyond which leasing would be a very bad idea, but I don't know if leasing would only be good for such a short turn around as, say 3 years.

    Septus on
    PSN: Kurahoshi1
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    bentbent Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    Do you really want a Jeep for your first car? They're not exactly economical, or easy to park, etc.

    bent on
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    BlochWaveBlochWave Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    http://www.leaseguide.com/lease03.htm

    I recall my dad's logic being similar. In both cases it's straightforward what you're paying for and what you're not, so make your own decision. Not that you even asked but it was brought up

    My mom used carfax for a used car she bought, and a year later she's washing it and paint comes off the top>_>

    Obviously a previous owner had damaged it and tried to cover it up himself(with decent success)so it never got into the car's "official" history. Since everyone knows about carmax and similar services, I find it unlikely that a dealer would blatantly lie to you about the car's history, but it's always good to check since hey, they might.

    New or used again depends on you(don't read this if you already made up your mind). Even with regular oil changes and basic preventive maintenance, every car will need things replaced, often after breaking at inopportune unexpected moments.

    My 98 Civic had been pretty good but the front axle(or CV joints, whatever you call them)on the right started coming apart and we had to replace that. My dad's handy with cars and did it himself, the part cost 150ish(I think)the other side started going just the other week(half a year later)and without my dad around to fix it, and not being able to do indepth maintenance in the apartment parking lot I had to go get it fixed for 300

    In May the car outright died on me on the way home because the ignition system got screwed up, so we had to replace the distributor, cap, and spark plugs, and the fouled ignition had messed up the exhaust so we had to replace the manifold. The ignition wasn't too bad(but it was sans labor courtesy of my dad)but the manifold was like 500 bucks itself and I bet the labor WOULD'VE been bad, and while down there the oil pan was leaking we saw and yadda yadda all of a sudden that cheap monthly payment is being supplemented by another 500 here and there.

    Still, cars depreciate in value pretty quick, so you could get like an 04 or 05 for MUCH cheaper than the new model and it'd probably be just as good. As long as you change your oil and treat the engine right, they'll stay PRISTINE, and anything else that breaks will pale in cost comparison to damaging the engine itself

    BlochWave on
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    peterjfordpeterjford Registered User new member
    edited September 2007
    bent wrote: »
    Do you really want a Jeep for your first car? They're not exactly economical, or easy to park, etc.

    The Cherokee isn't very economical (I have a Jetta as a daily driver) but it is very easy to park. It is actually 6 inches short than my Jetta and much more maneuverable. Plus the visibility is a lot better.

    peterjford on
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