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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Right now we have a 2006 Nissan truck. It gets about 20mpg. Our monthly payment is $404.00. I have been considering trying to sell it (Blue Book value puts it at $21,000 and we owe $19,000 -thanks to paying extra) and buying a cheaper car that gets better gas mileage. Something that we could pay cash for, so around $2-3,000.

My thoughts are better gas mileage will save some (although not a huge amount) money. No monthly payment would definitely save a lot of money ($404/mo). Our cost of insurance would probably drop a little.

My concerns are how will I know if I'm buying a lemon? How reliable is this cheap car going to be? I put a lot of miles on a car (have driven 13,000 on my truck in 10 months). Also, I'd have to wait several months until I had enough cash to pay it in full, but that would still wipe out the majority of our savings. On the other hand, having an extra $404 a month will rebuild our savings quickly.

My main goal is to be able to buy a house, soon. We have credit issues, although I was told by a mortgage guy that if I didn't have that car payment in my name he would have been able to do something for us.

Advice?
 

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Discussion Starter #2
I wanted to add...

Just spoke with my sister about this. She doesn't feel it would be a good idea to downgrade that low because the old cheaper car will likely break down. She thinks I should try to go for something more mid-range ($6-10,000).
 

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DH bought a 1982 Caprice last year for $1500 CDN and it still runs perfectly. His thinking for buying that particular model is that there are hundreds of old cabs that are the same model, and look at how many mile they put on a car. Plus, if it breaks down, chances are that a junkyard will have the parts needed to fix it. Even if you sell it for half what you paid for it a year later, you'd still be way ahead of the game versus the truck payments you now have.
 

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I agree with your sister. You can get a program car from a dealer for that price range. A program car is only a couple years old and still has warrenty left on it. What they are is lease cars that have had their leases dropped. We have bought two cars that way, had reasonable car payments and still driving the cars. For example in 2001 we bought a Ford Taurus for $9,600. It had 23,000 miles on it. Our car payment was $197 a month. We are still driving the car and paid it off several yrs ago. It now has 75,000 miles on it and it runs great
 

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If you're looking to buy a vehicle off a private seller (as opposed to a dealer), may I suggest checking their service book? If they can prove they have had all the scheduled servicing, chances are they took decent care of the car.
 

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we spent 3k on a car 5 years ago and it is still going strong. It is a 1992 and I would do it over again in a heart beat. I hate debt that much.
 

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It really depends on what you buy. I have confidence that you could get an older Honda or Toyota for $3000 and it would be reliable.

I refuse to ever buy a new car, and I definitely am trying to avoid ever making payments on an item that so quickly loses value, so at this point in my life I would certainly aim for a $3000 car, and be willing to pay $5000 max.
 

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I would suggest you look for a Honda Civic or Accord - based on experience, Honda's are incredibly reliable & they hold their value much longer than most.

I would downgrade, but not as far down as the $1000-$3000 range, I'd set my sights a bit higher & hope for a higher quality car.

JMHO

good luck with whatever you decide! :D
 

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Have you tried putting the word out to your family and friends that you are thinking of switching vehicles? We bought one of our cars from a friend that had taken great care of his car. He wanted a new car and we got a very nice used car with service records from a reliable source.

I second the comment about breakdowns. You may not want to downgrade too far, or you risk spending more money in repairs than you'd save over payments. In fact, that was why we bought the friend's car. I was able to show DH that the repairs on our old vehicle were averaging a small car payment.
 

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Check for low mileage. There are lots of older/cheaper cars out there that have extremely low miles.

You might stay away from things like the dodge neon. Everyone I know has had bad problems at about 100,000 miles. Like needing a new engine. ($800 to replace)

Another thing you could do is to check car facts. There is a cost to this, but you'd be able to find out if it's been in an accident, if it was salvaged (salvaged title), etc.

We've had very good luck buying older used cars lately. We'll never, ever buy another new car again.
 

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I just want to add that if you want to downgrade that's your choice, you will save money in the long run.

I purchased a 1989 Pontiac Grand Am for $900 and it lasted me over 5 years! Since i only paid $900 it was worth it to me to just junk the car (I got $125 for it at the junk yard) instead of trying to fix the transmission. We now have a nother car paid for, I NEVER want another car payment again. If I cant buy it used and outright, then I will pass.
 

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My previous car was from a dealer. It was a leased car that was returned early or only after 2 yrs vs the 3 yrs. It had been serviced only at the dealer - they had the records to prove it. Low km's and very low price even for a 2 y/o car - which made me wonder why it was so cheap for so young. After driving the crap out of it on a test drive, I deemed it brand new. I even drove the new current year model to compare - you couldnt tell the diff. The dealer offered a 2,500KM or 3 month warranty with it - no questions asked and it went along with the remainder of the regular manufacturers warranty.

Go with what feels comfortable for you - driving wise and price wise.

Downgrading is a good way to save money but if you have a compact car and drive long distances at a fully loaded capacity, it may be more cost efficent to keep your truck at the higher price. Why overwork/beat your lil car when your truck suits your needs as is and is efficent as well as reliable?

Hrm....I hope that made sense?
 

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DH and I love Japanese brands like Hondas, Toyotas and Nissans. I agree with your sister not to get a really cheap car with a lot of miles in it since you yourself drive a lot of miles each year. I want a dependable vehicle that's why I like 'em with very low mileage when I buy them. Although we don't buy brand new now but prefer certified pre-owned with low mileage because of the warranty and no hassle years of driving we enjoy plus the fact that we don't cut corners in maintaining our vehicles. We save on other stuff but not when it comes to our vehicle maintenance since we enjoy the benefit of smooth, hassle-free trips each time. We got DD a Toyota Corolla '98 as starter vehicle, it runs great with good gas mileage. She has to work for her gas money and insurance as that was our agreement when we bought her the car. She doesn't have to worry about car notes but she must be responsible to make it run.

Most states have provided their constituents with safeguards in cases they buy a lemon and I understand your apprehension but you can foresee a lemon by checking on the VIN number and get the history of the vehicle you're interested in. Ask the previous owner of maintenance records as it will give you an idea on how they took care of the vehicle. I think there's a website where you pay a minimal fee to check on a VIN number, or if you know someone who paid for a year, ask them to check for you since there's no limit to the number you can check per year.
 

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our best car deal was a 1979 Nova that a elderly man was giving up, he bought it when he was 65 and put about 4,000 mi. /year on it!! We paid $500 (it had 68,000 mi) drove it for 30,000 miles not a single problem! and then sold it for $600 to a friend because we were moving, could have got more from a car buff.. might keep your ears open around the older folks at church, ect.

Personally I love my 93 Transport that we are selling it has 189,000 mi on it but falling apart inside, the engine is excellent, so we are looking for another pontiac w/ 3.8L engine.
 

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We bought a used toyota echo for $7000 and its been 3 years and it is doing very well! 40 MPG!

Melina
 
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