Can new cars make sense?

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I'm not quite ready for a new car. But I've been thinking about what to get and have done a good bit of online shopping around.

The question I keep coming back to is whether it is still wise to buy a good used vehicle as opposed to a new vehicle. I know it used to be the conventional wisdom that it was ALWAYS better to buy a good used since they depreciate so much when you "drive 'em off the lot". I understand that. But I am wondering if that really applies to real life like it used to.

I don't swap off cars often. I tend to drive 'em a long time. The newest is a little less than 220,000 miles and I tend to go 1/4 million or so. So I have a little time and I don't see why this one won't make it that far. It is getting a little tired, though.

Anyway, when I look at new vehicles, I am usually shocked at the sticker prices. Dang, that's what we used to pay for a house. But I really don't need all the bells and whistles and gadgets, I really don't. I don't need the fancy sound systems. I don't need the doors to all open for me at the push of a button. I just mostly need basic and comfortable (comfort is important as I approach decrepitude) transportation which generally means a lower end model is just fine.

Thing of it is, when I look at "good used", I'm also shocked by how little of a price difference there is between that and a brand new one except it now has 50 or 60 or 70 or 80 thousand miles on it, arguably, the best miles because they're under warranty and the thing was brand new and probably needed very little.

If I look at an 80 thousand mile car that's only 2/3 of the price of a new one and I expect to get about a quarter million miles out of it, I'm not so sure the new car isn't actually the better deal since maintenance and repair costs will likely be higher on the back end.

Also, there are some of the new car dealers that offer zero % financing, and it's hard to argue with that. You won't get that on an 80k mile car unless you pay cash, and I don't know if I'm gonna have an extra $15k or $20k in cash sitting around to buy something and even if I did, still might rather have the 0%.

So I'm wondering, does buying new sometimes make sense? I know, it didn't used to. But we also don't have new cars for sale for $3,995 anymore, either. Things change. I'm just questioning whether this is one of those things.

Interested in your thoughts if you'd care to share.
 

Sentry18

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There are a lot of factors involved in this question, some of them very subjective. We bought a certified used car last time around and paid cash. It had under 15,000 miles and was pristine. We saved quite a bit over the cost of the same model brand new, but still got the benefit of a good warranty and other perks (like free oil changes, roadside assistance, On-star, etc.). Based on that deal buying new would not have been a good idea for us at the time. But if they would have had the right incentives and pricing in place on a new model, that's the way we would have gone.

I don't think leasing is ever the right decision and buying used with no warranty is just outside of my comfort zone. We don't finance things so I can't comment on the 0% interesting thing, but my skepticism tells me if they are offering 0% interest they are making their money somewhere else.
 

zoomzoom

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Well, here's my opinion.

Years ago (let's say until the mid 1990's), many cars weren't really made to last. Nowadays, it's common for many to make it 15 years and 150K+ miles.

Some vehicles hold their value more than others. Around here, Subaru's, Honda's and 1/2 ton trucks really hold their value. A 3-year-old of one of these is still going to demand about 2/3 of the price of new.

For our household:
I buy trucks new but not frequently. My last truck, I had for 11 years and only lost $10K in depreciation. Walked into the dealer for a new Chevy Silverado and between my old truck and negotiations, I was out the door for under $25K on a $49K truck.

For cars and SUV's, we normally buy clean used vehicles. Age doesn't really matter to us. Condition, maintenance, # of owners and mileage is what's important to us. 3 of our cars are more than 13 years old. 2 are 7 years old and the truck is new (6 vehicles total). Even those old cars are in excellent running and esthetic condition. Just need to find and buy the right one.
 

backlash

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At the price of a new truck I am going to drive my current truck till the wheels fall off.
I can do a lot of repairs for what a couple month payments would be on a new one.
My suggestion is get pre approved for a low interest loan from your credit union and shop for a privately owned car.
You can always make an inspection part of the deal.
As Sentry said they are making money some where even on a zero loan.
 

The Lazy L

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If you borrow the money to purchase a vehicle. What is the interest paid on the loan and the total deprecation lost over the life of the vehicle?

If you pay cash to purchase a vehicle. What is the interest lost by not investing the money used for the purchase and the total deprecation lost over the life of the vehicle?

Co-worker has convinced herself (and tried to convince me) that leasing is the better way to go because she has 20 miles to drive to work and needs a reliable car to do so. I pointed at the 12 year old truck I drive that has never let me down and has had only routine repair costs. From her viewpoint leasing is better because she lives by juggling credit cards and could not pay for anything more expensive then a oil change.
 

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Thanks for the thoughts. It does sound like there could be room for either new or used, depending upon the deal to be had.

I was kinda thinking about a Subaru Forester. They're quite comfortable for both me and my wife. So I appreciated the thought from zoomzoom about them really holding their value. They're not the easiest vehicle to find used as most people who have them tend to hang on to them. And when they're for sale used, people tend to know they're in demand and price them accordingly, at least the few that I've seen in these parts (not many).

If I step back a little in the years, I think '13 and before, they had, I think, a 4 speed automatic rather than the new CVT. That might be a good thing, not sure. The CVT's have a lot of talk associated with them as being a major out of warranty failure waiting to happen but I haven't seen talk of them actually dropping like flies like the talk suggests. So that would be one reason to perhaps shop used... or new if going with a CVT... cause I'd know how it was driven. Oh, I know, the manual transmission is probably the most bulletproof of them all but I'm tired of shifting and my wife isn't all that good at it. Drove a VW Jetta TDI with a 5 speed manual in it for years. Got wonderful fuel economy, often over 50mpg. Not good enough to put up with having to fall into it and climb out of it every time. Traded to a minivan that got 22mpg and was comfortable. The Forester would probably get into the upper 20's with a used one, maybe touch 30 or 31 from time to time with a new one.

Lots of thoughts swirling around in the ol' noggin. Sorry if they're kinda scattered. But again, I appreciate the thoughts. Thanks!
 

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I too am in the process of buying a car. My problem is that I don't want a car with a keyless ignition. Anything that is wireless can, and has been, hacked. This is to be the wife's car.

My Grand Cherokee is near 170,000 and I hope to get 250,000 out of it. My current plan is to reman the engine and transmission around that time.
 

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Thanks for the thoughts. It does sound like there could be room for either new or used, depending upon the deal to be had.

I was kinda thinking about a Subaru Forester. They're quite comfortable for both me and my wife. So I appreciated the thought from zoomzoom about them really holding their value. They're not the easiest vehicle to find used as most people who have them tend to hang on to them. And when they're for sale used, people tend to know they're in demand and price them accordingly, at least the few that I've seen in these parts (not many).

If I step back a little in the years, I think '13 and before, they had, I think, a 4 speed automatic rather than the new CVT. That might be a good thing, not sure. The CVT's have a lot of talk associated with them as being a major out of warranty failure waiting to happen but I haven't seen talk of them actually dropping like flies like the talk suggests. So that would be one reason to perhaps shop used... or new if going with a CVT... cause I'd know how it was driven. Oh, I know, the manual transmission is probably the most bulletproof of them all but I'm tired of shifting and my wife isn't all that good at it. Drove a VW Jetta TDI with a 5 speed manual in it for years. Got wonderful fuel economy, often over 50mpg. Not good enough to put up with having to fall into it and climb out of it every time. Traded to a minivan that got 22mpg and was comfortable. The Forester would probably get into the upper 20's with a used one, maybe touch 30 or 31 from time to time with a new one.

Lots of thoughts swirling around in the ol' noggin. Sorry if they're kinda scattered. But again, I appreciate the thoughts. Thanks!
my wife has a forester that we bought used from the Subaru dealer. Great vehicle, comfortable, good mileage, love the AWD. Prefer my full box Ford 1/2 Ton but it fills a different need.
 

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my wife has a forester that we bought used from the Subaru dealer. Great vehicle, comfortable, good mileage, love the AWD. Prefer my full box Ford 1/2 Ton but it fills a different need.
Sounds like we may share similar tastes in vehicles.

Thanks for the review of the Forester. We've had AWD in our Toyota Sienna for 150,000 miles and that's son my wife's short list of must haves.

When we went fulltime in the RV 12-1/2 years ago, I bought a 7.3 diesel club cab 350 dually. Still have that but it's like driving a semi truck everywhere it goes. Would like to replace that, too, not sure with what yet. Still have the 40'fifth wheel so not in a hurry.
 

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I too am in the process of buying a car. My problem is that I don't want a car with a keyless ignition. Anything that is wireless can, and has been, hacked. This is to be the wife's car.

My Grand Cherokee is near 170,000 and I hope to get 250,000 out of it. My current plan is to reman the engine and transmission around that time.
Keeping the old one going is an option. Procrastination makes this the current default selection! LOL!
 

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Thought of a couple more things.

If you buy used, getting a CarFax is definitely worthwhile. The used cars we decided on (and bought) were based a lot on the CarFax. We only bought 1-owner, dealer maintained vehicles with no accident history.

Whatever you choose, check online vehicle sites for reviews and problems. The one car I bought was rated by Consumer Reports as the best car they ever tested. When we looked for a used SUV for the wife, reviews is what turned us towards a particular vehicle. US News and World Reports rankings listed one particular vehicle in it's top 11 positions for best SUV in our category. The reason for 11 positions was due to different years. Well, that leaned us strongly towards this vehicle.
https://cars.usnews.com/cars-trucks/rankings/used/luxury-midsize-suvs-1
 

ssonb

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You have to be cautious with carfax..They can only show what is reported which stands to reason.....In the shop this week we got the first of what probably will be many of the Texas flood vehicles. A customer brung it by for a pre purchase inspection..........
 

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You have to be cautious with carfax..They can only show what is reported which stands to reason.....In the shop this week we got the first of what probably will be many of the Texas flood vehicles. A customer brung it by for a pre purchase inspection..........
Very curious... I've never had a vehicle that was flooded. What would be some of the telltale signs that you'd see most easily??
 

ssonb

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Even for someone who has worked around vehicles after it has been run thru a detail shop It can de difficult... This vehicle was an 12 Chevy Silverado with just under 80,000 mi. It was in real good shape no signs of body repair or "water level lines " under the dash..But the almost new owner said It was a Texas truck that had been sold at auction....!!!!!! clue right there.....Next was the location on the carfax of the previous owner..Rockdale...just north of Galveston Tx in the Harvey flood zones......It may not have been flooded but there is a worry.
 

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You have to be cautious with carfax..They can only show what is reported which stands to reason.....In the shop this week we got the first of what probably will be many of the Texas flood vehicles. A customer brung it by for a pre purchase inspection..........
Wouldn't the carfax show it was A) a salvage vehicle and B) that it was sold at auction?

Agreed that the carfax needs careful review. I specifically look for omissions. If it shows consistent dealer maintenance, I do see that as a good thing.
 

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Due to a perfect storm, we bought two new trucks in 2001. We kept the Tahoe for 10 years and the Silverado for 13 years. Both had 275-300K when traded in. We will likely run the replacements until there is no run left. Long term ownership is the only thing that makes buying a new vehicle meet any economical sense.

If I could do it all over again, I would have kept the Tahoe for another 500K. I could have rebuilt/refurbished everything mechanical, electrical and the interior for a fraction of what a new one costs.
 

ssonb

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It did show that truck was sold at auction, That in itself can mean many things.........Ya gotta see how some of this stuff happins........A person who just so happens to own a truck and vehicle transport trailer he waits for these "perfect storms" to occur then drives into the area and "privately" buys a half dozen trucks then goes to another state cleans them up and resale's them. The truck by VIN has been reported to have been sold but no one reported if it was under water or not or even how much under water, lotta fudge factor there.
 

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Due to a perfect storm, we bought two new trucks in 2001. We kept the Tahoe for 10 years and Likethe Silverado for 13 years. Both had 275-300K when traded in. We will likely run the replacements until there is no run left. Long term ownership is the only thing that makes buying a new vehicle meet any economical sense.

If I could do it all over again, I would have kept the Tahoe for another 500K. I could have rebuilt/refurbished everything mechanical, electrical and the interior for a fraction of what a new one costs.
And that is definitely something that I'm thinking about, too. We have never swapped out vehicles every couple of years. If we do swap something out before it's really tired, there is a reason. Our first Jetta diesel got rear-ended and totaled. Our second had chronic valve train issues that I just didn't want to continue to deal with (poor design).

It would likely be possible for me to run the current vehicle for several more years. I'm not sure what I'd have to do to keep it going but it is paid for. I generally do most of my own work. Oil changes happen at 5k miles, just like it calls for. Brakes and tires when needed. Timing belt / water pump kind of stuff at 100k intervals (just did the second one about 15k miles ago). Little stuff as needed.

Might be there is no right answer. But thanks for the discussion!
 

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I like cars I can do the repairs on. I own three cars from the mid 60's and early 70's. The running gear is in excellent condition because I have rebuilt it and the cars are comfortable and safe.
Two are collector cars and one is modified. They all have more than 300,000 miles on the original frame. They cost very little to maintain and I do all the work myself. I have receipts for all the work from my previous business so everything has records. We don't put many miles on them (less than 1000 miles a year) and they are likely to last long enough to be part of the estate when we die.
 

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Very curious... I've never had a vehicle that was flooded. What would be some of the telltale signs that you'd see most easily??
When the electrical systems start failing.

I understand that some States require title to be stamped "Salvage Only". Crooks buy it cheap, clean it and re-title it in an another State that doesn't not require "Salvage Only" on the title.
 

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We have never bought new except for when we bought a new truck though our business. That is a perk of having a business b/c you can expense all the repairs, maintenance, insurance, registrations, etc. through the business. You can also take advantage of the depreciation and use it as an expense which is something you really can't do personally. We had an exceptionally good year that year b/c we sold off some equipment so we spent that money on a new truck. I gotta admit, it's really nice having a trouble free vehicle right from the get go with a full warranty to back it up.

For personal usage, we have never bought new....just very low mileage. Thus far it has worked in our favor. We pay cash upfront and we drive them until they start falling apart, usually due to the salt on the winter roads causing rust. My last car I drove for 11 years and it still had less than 100,000 miles on it when I sold it. I'm lucky that I'm close to work so I don't put a lot of miles on my car. When I bought my current car it only had 14,000 miles on it but it was 4 years old. It was owned by 1 elderly woman. The dealership I bought it from sold her the vehicle new 4 years prior and it was verified by the Carfax. I totally love my car! I likely saved $12,000 or more and, I'm sure I'll get another 11 years or more out of it......barring any accidents. I also love the fact that it didn't have the big screen in the console like the newer models have. The car was on the lot for at least 90 days and the dealer said they didn't have much interest in it b/c folks want the newer models. Not me!

Hubby bought a new model truck with 11,000 miles on it not long ago. We saved about $10,000 buying this as opposed to new. We checked the Carfax just to make sure it wasn't a hurricane vehicle. It was an up north vehicle. The dealer didn't have much information on it since they bought it at auction. We bought it on the fly as his other truck had major engine problems and we really should've done more research. They said it never had a plow on it......yeah, it did. Hubs found some other minor issues with it after we got home, but he is a handy dude and was able to fix all the issues on his own. Thus far we are happy with the purchase, but any time you buy a used vehicle you gotta be careful.
 
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ssonb

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I never buy a vehicle at auction that is the dumping ground of the automotive dealerships any vehicles that are worth resale they keep the remainder are sold by lot to the auction lots.
 

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I never buy a vehicle at auction that is the dumping ground of the automotive dealerships any vehicles that are worth resale they keep the remainder are sold by lot to the auction lots.
As a general rule, I agree. But my current car came from an auction, the Manheim Auto Auction in Manheim, PA, to be exact. I have a dealer friend that goes there all the time and I had him looking out for a specific make and model for me. Even with the huge auction there, it took him several months to find me exactly what I wanted at my price. But he did. And it's given me good service. I suppose it really helps that he knows cars very well and knows a lot of the tricks used to make a car look better than it is. One thing that helps is that at that particular auction, if there is a problem with the car that becomes immediately obvious that was not disclosed, you have so many hours (maybe 48?, I forget) to take the car back.
 

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That must be a higher class auction house down here it's "AS IS "
 

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Our local auction house is also Manheim. They have a very high reputation. They're all over the world.
 

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The pickup we bought from a dealer apparently got it at auction according to Carfax. We're not thrilled about it being an auction vehicle but since it was a new year with warranty left on it and it wasn't a hurricane truck we thought it was worth the risk. Plus, we were kinda in a corner......hubs needed a truck and now!

I have a family member who goes to auctions often to buy cars (usually slightly damaged cars from fender benders) and fixes the body and whatever else and resells them. I've bought several vehicles from him through the years. I've never had an issue with them, even with a salvaged title. However, when buying a damaged vehicle, typically you don't have to worry about engine/transmission issues. It's pretty clear why the vehicle was at auction to begin with.
 

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We bought a 1998 Windstar new from the dealer, not even 100,000 miles and the tranny gave out, had it rebuilt because the engine is excellent as is the rest of the vehicle, within the last few months the tranny went bad again at just a bit over 100,000 mile, Ford automatics are not known for doing all that good and I wasn't about to tackle doing any more than I had to getting it roadworthy again. Enter Toyota vehicles, I have a Toyota pickup I bought from a friend, automatic, over 100,000 miles and runs great, another friend just bought a Highlander with well over 200,000 miles and it runs and looks like a new vehicle, so I started doing research on larger Toyota vehicles and asked people how they liked Sequoia and Sienna models and did some on line research and found a 2005 Sienna XLE Limited with only 173,000 miles at a local Toyota dealership, looked it over test drove it and the dealer did a Carfax check that showed it had regular oil changes and checkups, we ended up paying cash and drove it home. I ended up replacing the front rotors and pads and a rubber boot on one side of the rackand pinion steering assembly all for only just over $105, the only other problem with the van is some of the clearcoat on the passenger side is peeling off, not uncommon for a lot of the newer vehicles and I'll be taking care of that when the weather warms up. This van has all the bells and whistles, still learning how to run them all, thankfully, no touch screen, still old tech in that department, thankfully. As to getting the latest new cars or trucks I just don't think I want any, well maybe a GT350R, but that's another story. As it is, we're looking for a good 7.3 diesel engine for our 1989 F-250SC, it's a workhorse that needs to be put back to work.
 

ssonb

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Toyota's are quite good but.....very expensive to repair when you have to buy Toyota parts and some of their systems will only function properly with the factory parts. O2 sensors "fuel ratio" cat converters, evap parts.......
 

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Toyota's are quite good but.....very expensive to repair when you have to buy Toyota parts and some of their systems will only function properly with the factory parts. O2 sensors "fuel ratio" cat converters, evap parts.......
I haven't had much issue with having to have genuine Toyota parts for our Sienna. Guess I've been lucky. It has a little less than 220,000 miles on it. I've had to replace one O2 sensor. But other than that, it's been pretty generic stuff... tires, brakes, spark plugs. I did go with genuine Toyota for the water pump and timing belt stuff but I expect that stuff to last 100,000 miles.

Good parts aren't cheap anymore. The days of the $15 O2 sensor are pretty much past with very few vehicles being the exception anymore.
 

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At the price of a new truck I am going to drive my current truck till the wheels fall off.
I can do a lot of repairs for what a couple month payments would be on a new one.
My suggestion is get pre approved for a low interest loan from your credit union and shop for a privately owned car.
You can always make an inspection part of the deal.
As Sentry said they are making money some where even on a zero loan.
Thats the way we look at it, but sometimes...............still will stick with the old clunkers. You could almost buy a house for what they want for autos now and insurance,tags .
 

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