The agony of buying a car….(it wasn’t so bad…)

I’ve had a number of cars over the past  40 years. Some good, some not so much.   The Datsun 1200 was the worst. 50,000—huge leak in the pan gasket.   I had an American Motors Sportabout Wagon with a standard transmission, which I loved. It was getting to be time, at 125.000 miles.  A friend wanted to buy it, and he put another  50,000 on that clutch, so we got our use out of it.

I also had a Chevy Chevette (a junky car), and a Dodge neon (which also lasted about 50,000).  I did have  a Toyota Corolla that I bought for $1000 that I had for 2 years, that was a very good value until it needed a new generator.

After the Dodge Neon, my roommate sold me his  Honda Civic, because he wanted the same car with a standard transmission and a V-tech engine.  People sometimes asked us why we had the same car.  Well, it wasn’t exactly the same.  He made me a good deal on that Civic, and I loved it, but after about 150,000, stuff started happening.   Muffler, of course.   I need new breaks and rotors, then the ball joints  just disintegrated.  Then,  the transmission started to go, and I’ve get stuck in reverse or park.   Right before I went on vacation, I stopped at a stop sign, and when I gave it gas, a horrible noise. Turned out the pipe to the catalytic converter just rusted to dust.  But KN fixed it, and it passed the emissions test!  Then suddenly, the ‘check engine’ light went on.    KN thought it might be a dried out gasket on the gas cap.  & the car started leaking oil.

I had started looking at used car prices in the paper  last fall.  I wanted another Honda Civic, but  people hang onto them….forever….. So, GEICO  has a program where you can search  if you know the make and model, and I also looked on

Now, I really could not afford a new car, but KN felt that a new car was a better value than a used car.  I said, “You’re telling me that a new Ford Escort is better than a used Honda Civic.”  “Yes, that is what I am saying.”  “You are wrong, I am sure of it,”  I responded.  “You are living in the 20th century.  Cars are better engineered now,”  he said.

I finally narrowed it down to either a Toyota Yaris, a Nissan Versa, or a used Honda Civic.  I  really didn’t think a Versa  would be good, and I thought it would be too small.  But it was in my price range.  I  found several new Yaris’, also in my price range, but then I found a couple of used Honda Fit cars.  KN said “The Honda Fit is the new  Civic.  Honda  doesn’t even sell Civics in Japan or Europe anymore.  they only sell them in America.”  U was also interested in Subaru or Mazda, but people hang on to them forever, too.

Frankly, if I could have afforded a  new Civic, or even one that was  four years old,  that would have been my first choice.  However, a  Fiat dealer has a used Honda Fit, a 2012, with only 15,000 miles on it.  I always wonder why  people get a car like this and dump it after only  15,000 miles, but the Carfax report came up clean.  maybe she decided the insurance was too expensive (a lot of people int he city are  just using I-Go cars), or got a company car, or  public transit is convenient.

KN was disgusted with me, and didn’t want to give me any more input, but when I said  I was going to test drive the Yaris, he told me I’d be happier with the Fit, so I never went to test drive the Yaris.  The Fit was  about a mile from where I worked, so I test drove that car on a Saturday.
With  the taxes, it would have been $15,000.  Just over my budget, so I walked, still planning to test drive the Yaris, but the salesman called early Monday morning & told me thay’d sell it to me, all taxes and transfer charges, for $14,000.  I guess it had sat on the lot too long. present value of future cash flow.

The only thing I don’t like about the car is the  window configuration, and blind sports, but I’ll get used to them.  It rides really well.  Very good gas mileage (but even the 14 year old Civic was still getting great gas mileage.

So that wasn’t so bad…but now, from all the research I did online, I now get, on every social media site, ad placements for  Hondas and Toyotas.  I guess I have to erase my cookies.  & I’m getting emails from all the dealers who had cars I was interested in.

I decided to write about this because I know other people   also don’t know where to start looking for a car.  Try narrowing down your choices, and then go on  Don’t be intimidated.  have a budget.  Most important, know what goes wrong with a car.   Lots of people are interested in the new Ford cars.  I am sure they have a lot of zip…but will the engine still be ok at 50,000 miles?  The  Civic was solid right to the end.  What went on the car was NOT the engine, but all the  other stuff that happens to an old car in a cold climate.  But that’s why people never get rid of them.

In the end, you have to trust yourself to make a choice.


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One Response to “The agony of buying a car….(it wasn’t so bad…)”

  1. zupher Says:

    Nice …thanks for sharing ..
    Now I know my Toyota can be used for another 5 years or more.
    It is nearing the 100K mileage and I’m really scared of all the parts to start coming apart. …

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