Buy a new vehicle now? Wait? Or, keep the old ones?

We’re debating whether to take advantage of the insane sales Toyota is offering to counter its butchered reputation.

I currently drive a 2000 Toyota Tundra V8. As I use it to tow my horse trailer (as well as haul hay, bags of feed, construction materials, etc.), the V8 with tow package is a requirement. I love my truck, I do. For 10 years old, it’s doing great. Oh, it has little things, like the fuel light no longer works (the gauge does), the door lock on the passenger side sticks, it’s constantly filthy inside from dragging in dirt, and the clock reads impossible times. The body is scratched from bales of hay scraping against it and the dings of shopping carts and the like. It has been paid for several years now.

Hubby drives a 2005 Volvo S40. It’s cute, it’s nimble, it’s sporty–but it’s also small. GREAT gas mileage, though…of course, anything is compared to a full size truck with a V8 has great MPG. However, we now are a family of four, and it’s a tight squeeze to fit 6’4" hubby, an infant car seat, child booster seat, and my 5’7" self in this car for any drive. It will be paid for by the end of this year.

We are seriously considering getting a new(er) car/truck. As the boys grow (1.0 is nearly 4, 2.0 is nearly 3 months), the little Volvo is going to feel all the smaller. The Tundra can fit one car seat, placed in the center of the back seat, but not both. So, if we go anywhere, it has to be in the Volvo. The thought–not plan, but thought–had been to buy a new truck once the Volvo was paid for. Now, we’re not sure; the modern economy has us reconsidering ANY loans.

Toyota is offering tremendous sales locally: we can get 2010 models for 0% financing for up to 60 months, and they are offering 2 years of free service to any current Toyota owners (as we are) who buy a new vehicle during this time. The only way hubby and I would consider buying a car on a loan is with 0% financing, so this is very tempting. We could get either the newer V8 Tundras that have bigger back seats than my 2000 model (and thus would fit all four of us), or the family-friendly Camry (trading in the Volvo), or an SUV with enough tow capacity for my trailer.

So, we could jump forward what we might’ve been doing in the fall (when the Volvo is paid for) a few months. Or…we could not buy a car at all, and just keep our 10 and 5 year old vehicles and try to make room in the S40.

Of course, there’s the issue of us buying the brand whose reputation has been butchered with very frightening stories in the news recently. Not sure how much of that should figure in.

Whether now or later is the best time to buy a new car is an issue which I will not offer an opinion on-- I think that’s a deeply personal and sometimes emotional choice.

But then there’s the other question-- should you buy a brand whose reputation has been butchered recently?

In my opinion, you should feel free to do so. Be prepared for people to second-guess your decision, but at the end of the day, I believe Toyota to be a decent company which makes (mostly) good cars, and made some recent poor decisions.

Not being in the market for a new car, nor being an owner of a Toyota, I’ve not kept up with which ones have had documented issues with sticking accelerators. I’d stay away from any in that category for 6 months or so, so that the company has a little more time to be sure the fix is effective.

But I’m pretty sure that there are models of Toyota which haven’t had documented problems, and I’d feel fine buying one of them.

The frightening stories lead to fewer Toyotas being purchased, which lead to bargain prices on cars/trucks.

I’d be wary of any too good to be true prices, especially with super short time frames–and really, I’ll be surprised if Toyota doesn’t keep having slow sales and attractive prices for most of 2010.

But there’s no particular reason in my mind to avoid Toyota–it isn’t so much that they make worse/less safe cars than other manufacturers, it’s just that their latest blunder is a biggy and not yet faded from public memory.

I’d take advantage of the great deals they are offering. The Toyota problems were just on the Corolla model. It sounds like you could use more room. Maybe head down and test drive a few.

I had a 97’ Corolla that I was intent on selling and buying a new FJ Cruiser this June.
However Toyota had some rebates going that I just couldn’t pass up. $750 incentive rebate + $500 auto show rebate. These were taken off after dealing them down to the Edmund’s quoted invoice price. So basically I got it for $1250 under invoice.
The 0% offer is pretty nice also and only comes around 1-2 times a year. It’s only on certain models though.

I’d buy something (used, but that’s just me) like a station wagon or minivan that gets better gas mieage than the Tundra to use as a family vehicle. keep the Volvo for the second car and the truck solely for hauling. I would bet that neither the Tundra nor the Volvo will have a really great trade-in, but having a truck can really come in handy.

StG

Keeping an old vehicle is fine…until your repair costs start mounting up. We had an old Nissan Stanza, which was 14 years old and 120K miles. We had just put $600 in front end work into it, but the engine was still fine…and the body was good. Then, one fine day, the tranny gave out. Verdict was: rebuilt tranny >$3000.00, or install a used tranny from a junkyard-slightly less.
We opted to junk the car-God knows what would have failed next.