A new used car is on the horizon

Within the next few days I’ll likely have an automobile chosen for purchase. This vehicle has the following conditions:

  • Reliable : Last for at least a few years, and remain decent for resale
  • Cheap : The total budget is $3500 USD
  • Efficient : At least 30 MPG (12 KM/L)
  • Rushed : Need it within a week (the minivan very recently blew up!) :(

It won’t be a life long car (but could be) mainly due to cheap Diesels being difficult to find. Within a couple of years a goal of mine is to have a Biodiesel vehicle, you know, something that is optionally powered by stuff that grows.

Throughout history I’ve done very little car shopping, especially with such defined budget and time constraints. So far I’ve discovered the following problems:

  • Price: Most all of the desired vehicle prices exceed the budget
  • Unsure: Not sure what I want, or why. First instinct is Honda or Toyota (or VW for diesel) but who knows!
  • Distance: The Internet is nice for searching and finding but vehicles far away are difficult to transfer home. Driving from ‘Boston, MA’ to ‘Portland, OR’ sounds fun, or having it shipped, but not really doable.
  • Time: The upcoming week is approaching fast!
  • Reliance: I rely too much on having a car and must further utilize alternate methods of travel. This much is certain.
  • Lines: Somewhere lies a fine line between a noteworthy car with 140 000 miles (~225 000 km) versus a sketchier one with 80 000 (~130 000 km)
  • Information overload: Too many sites offering vehicles, a super hip meta car search tool needs to exist

Only time will tell what’s going to happen… enjoy (and be a part of) the ride! :-)

3 thoughts on “A new used car is on the horizon”

  1. I have been a part of the purchasing of 2 lemons in my lifetime, so here is my advice.
    1. Pay the money to get a CarFax. Get the VIN# and find out where that car has been. Any reputable dealer will give you the CarFax for free.
    2. Buy the car during daylight hours. This will allow you to look closely at all the body lines and to get a look at any paint discoloration.
    3. Take a friend with you to buy the car. And meet the seller in a public place. Like at a grocery store parking lot. Your friend can give you a second opinion, plus give you a little security while you’re cruising around in a stranger’s car.
    4. Check the tires, the radiator fluid (for any oil in the fluid), the battery (for corrosion) and all the other obvious things to check.
    5. Drive on both the freeway and on surface streets.
    6. If your initial feeling says, “This seller is shady,” they probably are. Also, don’t feel like a racist if you don’t purchase a car from a particular race (or two) of people who typically deal with damaged or stolen cars.
    7. Don’t buy a used VW. Consumer Reports consistently has them on their Do Not Buy list. Buy a Honda Civic or a Toyota. They keep their resale value.
    Good luck, Phil.

  2. Thanks guys for the good advice but as I just posted I went the opposite direction and went against all advice. Let’s just say it will be a learning experience… :)

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