Post # 1
I’ve been very thankful from your counsel in the past, so I’m hoping those who have gone through the process of acquiring a new car can help.
I have had a Daewoo for 3 1/2 years. Its on its last leg. I need a new car.
I have $2500 to put down plus $1000 – $1500 trade in on my current car, and to keep my payments at $200 or less a month, I will be financing $10k. Beyond these details, however, I’m not sure whether or not I should go with a used car, a certified used car, or a new car.
I have found a few used Mazda 3’s and Nissan Altimas (from dealerships) in my budget, have found one certified used Nissan Altima in my budget, and one used Toyota Corolla. A new Nissan Versa starts at $11,883 so that is also in my budget.
Which direction should I choose? I fear that buying a used car that isn’t certified will give me problems since there is no warranty. Likewise, I’m not sure how worthwile a certified used car will be (since they are more expensive). And although a new car is great, I’m definitely not as in love with the Versa as I am with the Altima, Mazda 3, and Corolla (I test drove all 4 yesterday.) I wouldn’t mind it, but I don’t drool over it.
Any advice? Thanks Bees!
Post # 3
I don’t have a lot of advice, but I would suggest going with a used car, even if it is only a year or so old because with a brand new car you loose a huge amount of value as soon as you drive it off the lot.
Post # 4
I would buy a nicer late-model used car versus a brand new no-features versa.
Of the 3, I would buy the used corolla. Pay the $50-$100 to take it to a respectable mechanic (look on yelp, google reviews, angie’s list for feedback) but generally speaking, the Corolla is the most low-maintenance of the models you listed.
Any car, new or used, has the potential to have issues– I have a new, under warranty car that has spent 3 weeks at the dealership this summer. Yeah, the repairs are paid for, but the inconvenience isn’t.
I would also consider other cars you can find in that price range:
Scion xD, Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit, certified used Hyundai Accent or Elantra (10 yr warranty!)
Don’t forget you’ll have to pay sales tax, title, and license fees, so if your total $$ amount in is $12,500 factor in 10% to cover those fees (unless you live in a state with no sales tax).
Post # 5
My mazda has almost 200,000 miles and runs like new. No major work needed yet. Everyone I know who has a mazda LOVES it. I have a mazda 3. Definitely recommended!!! Also amazing gas mileage!
Post # 6
I’d go with the Corolla. It’s been the most reliable car I’ve ever had, and maintenance/gas on it is pretty cheap. It’s not really flashy, but I just need a car to get from point A to point B so it’s been perfect.
Post # 7
My FILs have a Nissan Versa and they love it. Personally, I think its REALLY small, but it is good on gas mileage so its a toss up in regard to that.
I’d go with the Altima. I’ve never owned a Nissan, but everyone I talk to acts like they’re the best cars ever and drive forever.
Post # 8
I have a certified used Corolla, and I love it. I definitely agree with PPs to go with certified used–you will likely get a better warranty than if it’s brand new anyway!
Post # 9
@Meglin: I would definietly go certified pre-owned. I wouldn’t go Nissan. I had one and it wasn’t the greatest. Definitely check out Honda’s if you can. I have an Accord and it’s super reliable and a car you can easily get 200,000 miles out of. Toyota’s are also very reliable from what I’ved heard.
Post # 10
I’ve driven all 4 of those cars. The Versa is a solid car and you wouldn’t need to worry as much at first because it would be under warranty and wouldn’t need any repairs. That being said, I would still take a used Altima, Mazda3, or Corolla over it. I had pretty much the same impression – it’s not very thrilling to drive. I’m not experienced with certified used cars, but with any used car I think it’s beneficial to take it to a good mechanic before purchasing. Many mechanics will charge a small fee to do a pre-purchase inspection and they will tell you any current or potential issues with the car.
Watch out for early-2000’s Altimas. My FI drove a 2003 Altima that was on its way to becoming a lemon (burning oil, broken motor mounts, weird electrical issues). His 2010 Altima was much better. I drive a 2012 Mazda3 and absolutely love it. The only issue with the Mazda3’s is the oil changes will be more expensive because they use full synthetic oil. Corollas are always solid cars and have great longevity, but I personally never liked the way they drove. I have many friends with over 100,000 miles on their Corollas and no issues whatsoever.
Post # 11
I have a Corolla and I love it. It’s not the most glamorous car, but its insanely dependable and will last forever. It’s still valued at more than I originally paid for it (nearly 4 years ago). It wasn’t certified and I haven’t had any trouble with it, just regular maintenance (new battery, tires, etc.). My husband got a Mazda 3 two years ago and it’s been nothing but trouble for us. Not sure if they’re all like this, but we wouldn’t buy another. Found out from a repairman that Mazda 3s are made entirely of Ford parts.
Post # 12
@Meglin: Unless its a collector, I stay away from used cars, you’re just buying other people’s problems…when it comes to buying, here’s my method:
Pre-Qualify for your Financing – that way you know exactly where you are on budget.
Be honest about your trade in, but have your Blue Book Number and don’t go a penny lower than what its worth.
Know what model you’re looking for, exactly and contact several local dealers via e-mail….use the lower bids to leverage the others and get the best price you can without ever having to leave your desk! Make sure to ask what fees they charge as well, since I’ve been able to get more money off the car to make up for the higher fees.
When you’re ready to pull the trigger, set up an appointment, tell them to have all the paperwork ready and after a quick test drive, barring any major problems, you should be good to go.
Remember to have a copy of your current auto ID card, your driver’s license, and copies of the emails where you agree on price.
Post # 13
Wow, thank you everyone! I’m really leaning toward certified pre-owned, but really want to read more about personal experiences.
Post # 14
I love my 2013 Altiima, but I drove an 06 Corolla for 6 years before and never had a single issue. My family has always owned Toyotas and have been very happy with them. From the research I did before buying my Altima, Nissan is right up there with Toyota in customer satisfaction and reliability.
Post # 15
I have a manual Mazda 2 which is amazing on petrol and beautiful to drive. The 3 would have more get up and go, so you could get an auto. And also lots of room. If I was to upgrade I would probably go with the Mazda 3.
Post # 16
i went the barely used route on a corolla. my car had just over 3,000 miles on it when i bought it. now i realize that though it was “used”, the price really wasn’t that much lower than a brand new one. enough to make me decide on the used but i dont think the new cars were more than an extra grand or two. if i could do it all over i’m not sure if i would change my choice. but nonetheless my car hasn’t had any big problems (knock on wood!!). it does take synthetic oil, i’ve had the tires replaced after having it for only 3 yrs (that seemed soon to me, idk if it is or not though), and i just changed out the battery (not 100% sure the dealership didn’t like to me about that one being necessary though)
overall i like my car. i have just under 50k miles on it now. my camry lasted over 100k so i’m praying this one beats it! i’d love to take it to 150 ….but if it starts having constant problems like my camry did after a while, it’ll get traded in too!