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Posted by richard schumacher on March 24, 2007, 3:09 pm

Anyone in that position saves thousands of dollars of dollars by buying
a clean used car instead of a new one.  There are lots of two-years-old
Civics, Corollas, etc.  The total cost of ownership for one of those is
on the order of $0,000 less than that of a new Prius.

Posted by on March 24, 2007, 4:20 pm

"richard schumacher" ..

If you have time to find one that doesn't have a zillions miles on it.
These are cars that people hang onto, until they've worn them out.  Once in
a blue moon, you can find one with relatively low mileage, but not often.

Even if you do, there's always the "I wonder how well they took care of this
car?" factor.


Posted by Michael Pardee on March 24, 2007, 7:17 pm

I understand the concern, but I think I've found a pretty solid way of
choosing a used car. I've only bought three new cars in my entire life, so
much of this came from experience:

1) Do your homework. Visit auto forums covering the car you are interested
in. People are usually pretty honest about cars to stay away from and about
common trouble points. For example, I found pretty much all Subarus have
head gasket problems, with the popular 2.5L engine being especially
susceptible. Most Taurus automatics die around 150K miles. Not for me,
2) Look for cars with at least 80K miles on the odometer. My best cars had
100K - 170K on the odometer when I bought them. At 50K miles it is hard to
tell how a car has been treated; at 100K it is hard to hide. A car in good
shape after 100K+ should give at least another 100K good service. My
daughter's Honda (bought at 163K miles) has over 230K now and is still
3) Check the radiator for traces of rust and the oil filler (with a
flashlight) for signs of deposits. Walk away if you see either. I've paid
enough on those problems to cover you and me both :-(
4) If the car needs regular timing belt replacement (the Prius doesn't),
expect to do that immediately unless the seller has a specific receipt with
the date and mileage. Budget about $00 US.
5) Body rust -  you are on your own on that. We don't have it here in
6) Expect to spend more for repair than on a new car. Doing it yourself is
even better. In 70K miles and 6 years my daughter's Honda has cost about
$500 in repairs and lost about that amount in depreciation. It stranded her
once when the igniter died. Compare that with car payments, depreciation and
license and insurance costs for a new car and it looks mighty attractive to
a student with a DIYer or two in the family.

I bought my own 2002 Prius with 103K miles on the odometer after less than
half an hour lookover and test drive. For the Prius that includes a peek at
the underside for signs of road hazard impact and a review of the
maintenance records. I'll be shocked if it doesn't go more than 200K miles.


Posted by on March 24, 2007, 9:39 pm

"Michael Pardee" ...

Can't I just call you and have you choose one for me?  You sound like you
have some great luck, on top of smarts...

I'm lacking in both when it comes to used cars.  I've bought 3 of those
(granted, none were Toyotas), but have had disastrous results.



Posted by richard schumacher on March 25, 2007, 2:43 pm

Buy something from a car rental company.  They've been maintained and
sell for cheap.

A new car is a luxury.  It is foolish to borrow money to buy luxuries.

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