Backstory: A trip to the Quicky Lube place led to the discovery of an oil leak in my 1996 pickup truck engine. First place I took it too said the leak was too extensive and wouldn’t work on it at all. They suggested some repairs that would cost about $1500. The second place I took it to said “No problem – we can fix it for about $2K. I then took it to my trusted mechanic and he said that it would cost approx $2K to fix it all up. Without repairs, the vehicle has about a year left, he says. He also offered to buy it for $2K. I’m already at my stop-loss point with this vehicle. A few years ago, I paid $2K for it, and I’ve already put at least that much back into in for miscellaneous repairs. I figure this is the time to look for a break-even point.
SO: Long story short, I’ve decided to buy another vehicle. This has actually been the plan for about a year now, so I’ve been preparing. My driving history is clear, I’ve been pre-approved for a loan from the credit union, and I’ve managed to pay off two semi-large debts this year. A quick run of the numbers and I know what I can afford. My max is $20K but would like to see how much under that I can go and still be happy.
So I’d like to ask for suggestions. I’m looking for value and safety more over aesthetics or features (don’t need back up cameras and baby proofing stuff and rear-seat DVDs). I’m not especially focused on getting a brand new car, but shooting for not more than 6 years old. Looking for a good bargain with some longevity. A co-worker sells used cars on the side, so he’s giving me all sorts of good pointers. He says stay away from Ford (due to maintenance issues) and he prefers Mazda, as confirmed in this thread. Another friend swears she will drive a Toyota until the day she dies because they’re tough to kill, but admits that’s all she’s ever driven. Something that I can keep for a good long time as long as I am regular on the maintenance and upkeep. I’m not rough on cars – I’m a pretty cautious driver. I’ve always heard good things about Honda, and their resale value is usually pretty high. I’m even considering buying from a rental fleet, because I know they get serviced on a regular basis. Anything seriously sporty is right out – I’m thinking Camry or Civic, not a Camaro or Challenger. Also, no SUVs. Just a simple basic sedan.
So what do y’all think? I’d like to hear about brand loyalties, stories of your best vehicle, lemons to stay away from, all that. Years ago, I know Hyundai used to be a joke, but they’ve really stepped up their production over the years. I’ve never known anybody who actually liked Mustangs who were over 30 years old. I’d like to take my time with this decision, but I would really like to drive away sometime before July.