Need a New Car

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setzer777
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Need a New Car

Postby setzer777 » Mon Aug 08, 2011 5:35 pm UTC

Driving a 2000 Chevy Malibu at the moment, but its health is definitely going downhill. Now is an ideal time for me to replace it. I don't know a ton about cars, so I'm looking for any suggestions.

Oddly enough, I had a dream recently where I was car shopping and fell in love with a classic Ford Thunderbird. I don't think I actually want a classic car (don't want the extra maintenance costs and issues), but I am kinda interested in something with a retro style.
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Re: Need a New Car

Postby JBJ » Mon Aug 08, 2011 5:38 pm UTC

What are you looking for? Utility, recreation, comfort, economy? Price range?
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Re: Need a New Car

Postby gorcee » Mon Aug 08, 2011 5:45 pm UTC

Also, when you say new, do you mean new to you, or new new like fresh off the showroom floor?

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Re: Need a New Car

Postby setzer777 » Mon Aug 08, 2011 5:52 pm UTC

I'd love to find something fun with a little flash, though I don't know what I can get in my price range. I have to admit I'm a little ignorant when comes to knowing what I can afford. I would be comfortable making a down payment of four or five thousand (maybe more if it's really advantageous vs payments) and I could manage a monthly payment of $400 or less (no idea what kind of of timeframe I should be shooting for in terms of paying it off).

I have absolutely no problem buying something mostly-new in order to save money.
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Re: Need a New Car

Postby Endless Mike » Mon Aug 08, 2011 6:28 pm UTC

Your first order of business is to stop thinking in terms of monthly payments. Salespeople will be glad to give you a payment that works with your budget, since all they have to do is extend the length of the loan. Ideally, you shouldn't try for more than three years, but it's up to your own comfort level. Given your budget, this puts you with around $13000 to be financed. (Maybe a little more depending on what kind of interest rate you can get.) Also, unless there's a really good financing deal available on a car you want, try to have financing set up before you start looking. It puts you in a good negotiating position to be able to tell a salesman you'll be paying in full, since it removes their ability to play the monthly-payment-game, so you're only negotiating the price of the car you're buying, and the trade-in on the one you're selling (if applicable).

At any rate, if I was in your shoes (and I probably will be in about a year, once I have my credit cards paid off), I'd be looking into a certified pre-owned VW GTI.

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Re: Need a New Car

Postby KestrelLowing » Mon Aug 08, 2011 6:32 pm UTC

setzer777 wrote:I'd love to find something fun with a little flash, though I don't know what I can get in my price range. I have to admit I'm a little ignorant when comes to knowing what I can afford. I would be comfortable making a down payment of four or five thousand (maybe more if it's really advantageous vs payments) and I could manage a monthly payment of $400 or less (no idea what kind of of timeframe I should be shooting for in terms of paying it off).

I have absolutely no problem buying something mostly-new in order to save money.


I would definitely go for almost new then. Get one of the cars that's been leased for a year or two. At that point, everything's still quite new, and all you'd be paying for is the 'new car smell' which you can get in a bottle now :mrgreen: If you get one that has really been leased by a person from chrysler or ford or wherever, they're usually very well taken care of as a term of the lease.

Just for a reference, a year ago I got my car for ~$10,000. It was two years old and the base model (Dodge Caliber - this means no power locks, windows, cruise control, etc.). You can find good cars for that price. (My parents paid for half, so I didn't have to worry about payments) If you want a bit more luxury (and I really suggest getting cruise control), you'll have to go higher.

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Re: Need a New Car

Postby JBJ » Mon Aug 08, 2011 6:52 pm UTC

I'd pay it off as soon as possible to avoid paying interest. A $20,000 loan at 8% for 5 years will have a monthly payment of $405, but over the life of the loan, you'll be paying $4,300 in interest payments. At 4 years, the same loan will have monthly payments of $488, but total interest paid drops $1,000.

I'd really strongly recommend going for a 36-48 month loan, rather than a 60 or *shudder* 72 month, which a lot of dealerships will try to push on you. So, with a $400 per month budget, on a 4 year loan, that gives you about $20,000-$22,000 for a price range. (16-17K financed + 4-5K for the down payment).

As far as "brand new" cars, that range will get you a well-appointed compact car or an entry level mid-sized, or maybe 1 trim level up in mid-sized. You're not going to find anything sporty or flashy in that range for a showroom brand new.

As for used, well, that really depends. You can get a lot of good car for less money going used, but your options are limited by what's available in your area. Check out carmax.com or cars.com to search some used listings in your area.
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Re: Need a New Car

Postby ShootTheChicken » Mon Aug 08, 2011 6:53 pm UTC

Fiat 500. I'm in love with them, so should you be.
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Re: Need a New Car

Postby setzer777 » Mon Aug 08, 2011 7:01 pm UTC

ShootTheChicken wrote:Fiat 500. I'm in love with them, so should you be.


Issue there is that I will need some decent backseat/storage space.
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Re: Need a New Car

Postby brume » Mon Aug 08, 2011 7:10 pm UTC

I really like my Yaris, and it's now available in a 4 door hatchback. Which makes it a 5 door?

Image

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Re: Need a New Car

Postby gorcee » Mon Aug 08, 2011 7:15 pm UTC

You can use a loan calculator online to see what fits in your budget. You shouldn't only be thinking about monthly payments, but at the same time, you must consider them in regards to what you can afford. Paying extra interest over the life of the loan isn't necessarily a bad thing if you're willing to undertake that debt. It's all about what the money is worth to *you*. Some people spend $10,000 on a camera lens.

I'd also consider the following factors: cost of insurance, cost of maintenance/upkeep, cost of fuel, and environmental impact (if you care about that).

(To put it out there, the most environmentally friendly thing to do right now is to buy a used car that gets 30+ MPG on the highway and was built domestically.)

What are your driving habits? How many miles per week do you drive? How many long-distance trips do you take per year? Do you have a smartphone/TomTom, or would you like in-car nav, etc. Do you want manual or standard?

For a bit of fun, flash, and utility, a Mazda3 is really hard to beat. You can buy one fully loaded brand new for about $25k. It's a great car, and I would have bought one if I didn't find a ridiculous deal on my (used) Maxima.

The Ford Fiesta is an amazing little car, and the Fusion and new Focus are both very well-made cars.

Hondas are always reliable, but they're so boring that I'd rather go read the Basel II Accords than drive an Accord.

GM has produced nothing but garbage lately, stay away.

Subaru Outbacks are friggin' tanks. They're good looking cars, if a bit frumpy. But very utilitarian. The Impreza is also a good choice.

These are all cars you can find used and under 3 years old for a good price (usually sub-$20k).

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Re: Need a New Car

Postby setzer777 » Mon Aug 08, 2011 7:34 pm UTC

JBJ wrote:As for used, well, that really depends. You can get a lot of good car for less money going used, but your options are limited by what's available in your area. Check out carmax.com or cars.com to search some used listings in your area.


I live in Austin, and there seem to be a ton of used car options nearby. I guess that adds another layer to the trade-off, making it price vs. model vs. number of miles on it.
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Re: Need a New Car

Postby Endless Mike » Mon Aug 08, 2011 7:40 pm UTC

gorcee wrote:GM has produced nothing but garbage lately, stay away.

The CTS would like a word with you (not that it's anywhere in the OP's budget).

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Re: Need a New Car

Postby setzer777 » Mon Aug 08, 2011 7:51 pm UTC

By the way, even though I don't like to admit it, my car knowledge leaves much to be desired. I have vague ideas about what I want*, but my specific knowledge is limited. So feel free to tell me stuff that seems obvious, because it might not be obvious to me.

*For example, I know for sure that I want the acceleration to be at least as good as the Malibu I drive now, but I don't know if that means I need a V6/V8, or if it's possible to get comparable performance from a V4.
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Re: Need a New Car

Postby Endless Mike » Mon Aug 08, 2011 7:53 pm UTC

The Mazda3 suggestion is actually a really good one, especially if you get the wagon. It's unfortunate that they're so horrendously ugly now.

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Re: Need a New Car

Postby gorcee » Mon Aug 08, 2011 8:05 pm UTC

Endless Mike wrote:The Mazda3 suggestion is actually a really good one, especially if you get the wagon. It's unfortunate that they're so horrendously ugly now.


I'd recommend an 08 Mazda3. Either sedan or hatch versions, depending on your taste. M.Y. 2008 was the last year of that body style. Now, they look like angry aliens.

If you can find one with the 2.3L engine and a stick, all the power to you. That car is fun.

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Re: Need a New Car

Postby ShootTheChicken » Mon Aug 08, 2011 8:12 pm UTC

VW Golf?
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Re: Need a New Car

Postby brume » Mon Aug 08, 2011 8:34 pm UTC

setzer777 wrote:*For example, I know for sure that I want the acceleration to be at least as good as the Malibu I drive now, but I don't know if that means I need a V6/V8, or if it's possible to get comparable performance from a V4.


I'm in Austin too. We could drag race and see if my Yaris meets your need for speed!

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Re: Need a New Car

Postby Endless Mike » Mon Aug 08, 2011 8:55 pm UTC

setzer777 wrote:*For example, I know for sure that I want the acceleration to be at least as good as the Malibu I drive now, but I don't know if that means I need a V6/V8, or if it's possible to get comparable performance from a V4.

It's actually I4 (for inline four cylinder), except for a few cars that are long out of production.

As far as acceleration, your car (when new) did this:
0-60 MPH 8.5 seconds
1/4 Mile (E.T.) 16.5 seconds @ 83.0 mph
which is pretty typical passenger car numbers.

Of the suggestions so far in here, the 08 and prior Mazda3 does 0-60 in 7.4s (I can't find anything about 09+, but it's probably slightly faster due to a slightly larger engine), the current (09+) GTI does it in 6.2s, the Golf does it in 7.6s, and the Yaris does it in 9.7s.

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Re: Need a New Car

Postby Kirby » Mon Aug 08, 2011 9:36 pm UTC

If you do decide to buy a new car, before you sit down to negotiate with the salesman:
1. Get a quote for a loan from your bank. This will put you in a good position to negotiate any offers from the dealer. Bonus points if you call up your bank to ask if they can beat the dealer's offer, mid-negotiation.
2. Look up what the dealer pays for all of those car add-ons he's going to offer. Again, this puts you in a good position for negotiation. (I've heard edmonds.com is good for this, but I haven't used it myself)
3. Get an appraisal on the car. Don't be afraid to walk away if it gets too expensive. The dealer might even call you back at the end of the month, hoping to get rid of some inventory.

If you can afford it, buy a used car. You'll save on interest.

Lastly, you should always be making a car payment. If not to the bank, then to yourself. That way, when it's time to buy a new car, you can. And compound interest will be working for you, not against you.

As far as specific makes/models and whatnot, I've had good luck with Hyundais. They come with good warranties.

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Re: Need a New Car

Postby distractedSofty » Mon Aug 08, 2011 10:36 pm UTC

You people are being all sensible and stuff, so what this thread needs is the voice of unreason:

Spoiler:
Image


The 2011* gets 31 mpg highway, does 0-60 in 5.1s and can be had secondhand for 16-20k. I'm not sure what you were planning to do with that back seat (maybe you could just get a room for that?), but if it was seating 1.25 people, then this is more than capable. Cargo wise, it has about the same boot capacity as a Mazda3, and the split-fold rear seats are actually useful: I can testify to the fact that you can fit 3 or 4 flat packed ikea bookcases into the car, and still stay married. (albeit with your spouse cross legged behind the driver's seat)

Or, in summary: cheap, fun, practical.**

*It really has to be the 2011/2012: the 2010 was basically a Flintstones car
**For a given value of practical

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Re: Need a New Car

Postby gorcee » Mon Aug 08, 2011 11:04 pm UTC

Sorry, I normally don't shit on other people's cars, but the Mustang is terrible. The worst vehicle I ever drove in my entire life was a 2010 Mustang. And that's saying something, since I used to own an 82 320i that I would occasionally have to jump the solenoid just to start.

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Re: Need a New Car

Postby distractedSofty » Mon Aug 08, 2011 11:47 pm UTC

gorcee wrote:Sorry, I normally don't shit on other people's cars, but the Mustang is terrible. The worst vehicle I ever drove in my entire life was a 2010 Mustang. And that's saying something, since I used to own an 82 320i that I would occasionally have to jump the solenoid just to start.

Did you miss the footnote to my post?

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Re: Need a New Car

Postby Zauderer » Mon Aug 08, 2011 11:52 pm UTC

ShootTheChicken wrote:VW Golf?


This, if you want to buy a car that just doesn't break.

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Re: Need a New Car

Postby setzer777 » Tue Aug 09, 2011 12:29 am UTC

I was thinking about getting something like a 2008 Mustang, but the space really is an issue I think. One thing is that my girlfriend is in a wheelchair, and I have to be able to fit it in the vehicle (it fits in either the backseat or trunk of my Malibu). In more general sense I like to be able to carry a decent amount of groceries, large electronics, small furniture, etc.

If possible I think I would like to get something that feels at least a little sporty, even if that means getting an older model.
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Re: Need a New Car

Postby PAstrychef » Tue Aug 09, 2011 1:01 am UTC

You could look into a PT Cruiser, may even go for the rag top. Bring the girlfriend along for test drives, so that you can check out the wheelchair part. You can also play the disability card (make the salesman uncomfortable, let him lower the cost).
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Re: Need a New Car

Postby distractedSofty » Tue Aug 09, 2011 1:11 am UTC

See, that's why I'm the voice of unreason. I think in that capacity, I'm supposed to say "If it doesn't fit, I'm sure you could just carry her everywhere". :)

Your specific case might rule out the Mustang, but your general concerns are the same as mine were, and I haven't had much of a problem: as I said, I've fit furniture, once I bought a largish barbecue (in it's box, of course), large bundles of flat boxes from uhaul, and various other things. Often it's useful that as a coupe it has very long doors, so the back seat is still quite accessible for cargo (so, you never know, it might fit a wheelchair if you needed to take that and a bunch of shopping at the same time) (the boottrunk is only a couple of cubic feet smaller than your malibu, so the loss of the back seat would probably be the big issue for you).

Be aware with the Mustang though, the 2011/12 has pretty positive reviews, but the same wasn't really true for the 2010 backwards. The powertrain was radically changed for 2011: the V6 for example, went from 210HP to 305HP, 18/26MPG to 19/31, and the suspension was basically completely replaced. Since those cars are about a year old, they might be a bit of a stretch for your budget.

In light of that I'd just jump on the Mazda3 5dr bandwagon.

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Re: Need a New Car

Postby SurgicalSteel » Tue Aug 09, 2011 1:35 am UTC

PAstrychef wrote:You could look into a PT Cruiser, may even go for the rag top. Bring the girlfriend along for test drives, so that you can check out the wheelchair part. You can also play the disability card (make the salesman uncomfortable, let him lower the cost).
I drive a PT Cruiser for about a week once, and it was a terrible, piece of shit car. Had about as much pick up and go as a dead body and handled like a forklift. Not to mention it felt like the door was going to break if I closed it with anything more than the slightest bit of pressure. Not to mention it's a Chrysler, which, from what I've been told, you really just don't want to have to deal with.
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Re: Need a New Car

Postby gorcee » Tue Aug 09, 2011 3:14 am UTC

distractedSofty wrote:
gorcee wrote:Sorry, I normally don't shit on other people's cars, but the Mustang is terrible. The worst vehicle I ever drove in my entire life was a 2010 Mustang. And that's saying something, since I used to own an 82 320i that I would occasionally have to jump the solenoid just to start.

Did you miss the footnote to my post?


I did miss it. I clicked the spoiler, saw the picture and flew into a rage.

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Re: Need a New Car

Postby ShootTheChicken » Tue Aug 09, 2011 4:22 am UTC

PAstrychef wrote:You could look into a PT Cruiser, may even go for the rag top. Bring the girlfriend along for test drives, so that you can check out the wheelchair part. You can also play the disability card (make the salesman uncomfortable, let him lower the cost).


I wouldn't wish a PT Cruiser on my worst enemy. They're the anti-christ.

Seriously. Ze German engineering.
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Re: Need a New Car

Postby Beardhammer » Tue Aug 09, 2011 4:46 am UTC

setzer777 wrote:I'd love to find something fun with a little flash, though I don't know what I can get in my price range. I have to admit I'm a little ignorant when comes to knowing what I can afford. I would be comfortable making a down payment of four or five thousand (maybe more if it's really advantageous vs payments) and I could manage a monthly payment of $400 or less (no idea what kind of of timeframe I should be shooting for in terms of paying it off).

I have absolutely no problem buying something mostly-new in order to save money.


If you buy used, check the blue book value before you go meet with the salesmen. Never tell them how much you've got to spend - they'll basically get you to agree to a deal that will take every penny you've got, plus a little extra, instead of what the car's really worth. Basic haggle know-how, really. I don't have suggestions about specific cars... my opinion on cars is that as long as it drives and doesn't break down, it's a nice car.

Also factor in warranties and fun stuff like that. Might be worth it to get a car that's a little older that comes with an 18-month/18,000 mile warranty (mine came with an 18-month/18,000 mile warranty that covered all major moving parts, including engine, brakes, transmission, etc) than to shell out for something that's almost-new and doesn't come with a warranty.

SurgicalSteel wrote:
PAstrychef wrote:You could look into a PT Cruiser, may even go for the rag top. Bring the girlfriend along for test drives, so that you can check out the wheelchair part. You can also play the disability card (make the salesman uncomfortable, let him lower the cost).
I drive a PT Cruiser for about a week once, and it was a terrible, piece of shit car. Had about as much pick up and go as a dead body and handled like a forklift. Not to mention it felt like the door was going to break if I closed it with anything more than the slightest bit of pressure. Not to mention it's a Chrysler, which, from what I've been told, you really just don't want to have to deal with.


My old man's woman drives a PT Cruiser. It's actually a pretty nice car, but I wouldn't wish a Chrysler on a syphilitic whore. Chrysler vehicles are notoriously expensive to repair. My mom drove a Concorde way back when, and it cost her like $35 more to get the damn oil changed than it did for me to get it done with my piece of shit Toyota. Something about the damn thing requiring Mopar parts, which were ridiculously overpriced. She had to get some major work done on it once, and while I don't know how much it cost, I do know we spent the next five months eating not much more than ramen and macaroni and cheese.

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Re: Need a New Car

Postby Ortus » Tue Aug 09, 2011 5:17 am UTC

Pretty much posting in this because cars. I don't have much to offer on the buying portion of the discussion xD

I drive on mountain roads, so what I wants and what I needs are pretty different beasts. I'm driving a '97 Ford Explorer, with a v8 and a few aftermarket engine parts; it'll hit 60 right quick, and I get in trouble for it a lot when I'm not paying attention pulling on to a highway/fun road. Oh, you mean I'm already going 90 in this 65? Or, even better: I'm going 60 in this 25? But it's a highway spec road on a mountain few people travel! It has AWD, seasonal tires, and chains for the times when it's necessary (often enough in the winter).

I really want an Audi S4, but the cost of the car itself and then the repairs and maintenance is a lot; my buddy bought an older A4 and always regrets it when he has to take it to a shop. My chances of getting one are about equal to that of my chances of joining the U.S. Olympic team for anything skiing, which has Audi as a sponsor.
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Re: Need a New Car

Postby Endless Mike » Tue Aug 09, 2011 1:01 pm UTC

PAstrychef wrote:You could look into a PT Cruiser, may even go for the rag top. Bring the girlfriend along for test drives, so that you can check out the wheelchair part. You can also play the disability card (make the salesman uncomfortable, let him lower the cost).

This is a terrible idea. They're out of production, which isn't a problem as such, however, they were in production for 8 years with no major changes to a platform that was already several years old at introduction (they're based on the Neon, introduced in 1994, although it got a refresh around the same time the PT came out). It's not difficult to find a car that's much more modern in every way for not terribly much money.

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Re: Need a New Car

Postby gorcee » Tue Aug 09, 2011 1:13 pm UTC

Also he wants a car that has a little flash to it, which I read as, "is kind of cool."

Sorry PT Cruiser drivers, the PT Cruiser has been deemed uncool. ;)

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Re: Need a New Car

Postby JudeMorrigan » Tue Aug 09, 2011 3:16 pm UTC

JBJ wrote:I'd pay it off as soon as possible to avoid paying interest. A $20,000 loan at 8% for 5 years will have a monthly payment of $405, but over the life of the loan, you'll be paying $4,300 in interest payments. At 4 years, the same loan will have monthly payments of $488, but total interest paid drops $1,000.

I'd really strongly recommend going for a 36-48 month loan, rather than a 60 or *shudder* 72 month, which a lot of dealerships will try to push on you.

Well, I think that depends somewhat on what sort of an interest rate you can get. I was able to get 1.9% financing on my current car, so I was perfectly happy going with a 60 month loan. That's cheap enough money that I've felt no particular rush to pay it off early. There are better things I could do with the money that I would spend doing so. Of course, yeah. If I were paying 8%, I would have wanted to pay it off a whole lot more quickly.

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Re: Need a New Car

Postby Endless Mike » Tue Aug 09, 2011 3:37 pm UTC

JudeMorrigan wrote:
JBJ wrote:I'd pay it off as soon as possible to avoid paying interest. A $20,000 loan at 8% for 5 years will have a monthly payment of $405, but over the life of the loan, you'll be paying $4,300 in interest payments. At 4 years, the same loan will have monthly payments of $488, but total interest paid drops $1,000.

I'd really strongly recommend going for a 36-48 month loan, rather than a 60 or *shudder* 72 month, which a lot of dealerships will try to push on you.

Well, I think that depends somewhat on what sort of an interest rate you can get. I was able to get 1.9% financing on my current car, so I was perfectly happy going with a 60 month loan. That's cheap enough money that I've felt no particular rush to pay it off early. There are better things I could do with the money that I would spend doing so. Of course, yeah. If I were paying 8%, I would have wanted to pay it off a whole lot more quickly.

Yeah. 8% was just a random number. I honestly have no idea what auto loan rates are like right now, although checking my credit union's site, they're advertising 2.49% which is a lot better.

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Re: Need a New Car

Postby setzer777 » Tue Aug 09, 2011 3:38 pm UTC

Turns out gf has similar taste in cars as I do, so she's made some awesome suggestions. Favorite has to be the Camaro - damn I wish I could afford it. Beautiful car.

Edit: Well, I could afford one with a longer loan, but probably not at 36 months or less.
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Re: Need a New Car

Postby Cloud Walker » Tue Aug 09, 2011 3:45 pm UTC

gorcee wrote:
Endless Mike wrote:The Mazda3 suggestion is actually a really good one, especially if you get the wagon. It's unfortunate that they're so horrendously ugly now.


I'd recommend an 08 Mazda3. Either sedan or hatch versions, depending on your taste. M.Y. 2008 was the last year of that body style.


Actually, it was 2009. I have an 09 Mazda3 hatch, and I love it. So that's my recommendation: try to find a lightly used one of those.
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Re: Need a New Car

Postby setzer777 » Tue Aug 09, 2011 3:47 pm UTC

I think I'm actually going to rule out hatchbacks. Aesthetically I don't really care for the look.
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Re: Need a New Car

Postby JBJ » Tue Aug 09, 2011 3:47 pm UTC

JudeMorrigan wrote:Well, I think that depends somewhat on what sort of an interest rate you can get. I was able to get 1.9% financing on my current car, so I was perfectly happy going with a 60 month loan. That's cheap enough money that I've felt no particular rush to pay it off early. There are better things I could do with the money that I would spend doing so. Of course, yeah. If I were paying 8%, I would have wanted to pay it off a whole lot more quickly.

The thing with the low-low interest rates is that they are almost always rates offered by the manufacturer. To qualify for the rate, you often have to give up a rebate. That's why you'll often see "$2,000 cash back OR 1.9% financing", and of course the price is marked up an additional $2,000 anyway. If you got 1.9% from a bank or credit union, then congrats! That's the way to go about it. If you do it through the dealership (or manufacturer financing) you're still paying a few thousand either in interest or markup.

And, yes, 8% was just a random number. Don't know the credit scores of the people involved, but 8% is about the middle of the road for an average credit score.

As others have mentioned, the best thing to do is get financing worked out with another lender before you shop. We use our line of credit as a negotiating tool when purchasing cars. We have enough credit at a fairly low interest rate (4.06% for 36 months, 4.28% for 60, our choice), that we can basically finance ourselves. But, the dealer gets origination fees if they setup the loan, so it's in their interest to finance it through their lenders. I only care about the purchase price. They always come back with a piece of paper with 3-4 monthly payment options. I just hand it right back and haggle the sticker price. Once we've settled on a price, then it's up to them to beat the interest rate on my credit line. If they can, great. If not, I get out the checkbook. To date, I've never had to get out the checkbook.
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