Buying a Used Car (perhaps a New Beetle or PT Cruiser)

Tuesday evening on the way home from work another driver failed to yield and ran into my truck. I spun around then rolled three times before coming to a rest off the roadway.

Fortunately for me, I survived with nothing more than a few minor scrapes and buises.

My truck, a 92 Toyota 2WD, however, did not survive.

Since my truck was so old, I’ll not be receiving much in the way of compensation - the value is only about $3,200 give or take a few hundred. It’s enough for a down payment on something or I could buy some early 90s used car and hope for the best.

I think I’ll get a 2000 or 2001 model of something; but I’m not sure what yet… Just for fun I test drove a 2001 New Beetle yesterday and I actually liked it. I’ve read a handful of consumer reviews online and the opinion is mixed. What say the Dopers?

Will the fun wear off soon? Should I get something a little more practical, like a Corolla or Civic? How about the PT Cruiser?

My standard reply: Look at Consumer Reports list of used cars you should never buy. Ever. Then go shopping.

There is a VW bug up the street for sale for months, if not a year yet, doesn’t seem to have much resale interest. Its one of those newer ones.

Kinda depends where you are too…

After seeing your picture on the “Stunning…” site (woof, btw) I don’t visualize you in a WV Beetle. My sister in law has one, and she loves it, but I don’t know. You look like an SUV guy. Maybe another truck? Or are you tired of trucks?

I’m probably too hung up on image and all the nonsense. Plus I’d feel conspicuous in a Beetle. It might work well for you though

When you have decided the brand and year of cars to buy, do the following things:

  1. Go first thing in the morning to the seller’s place and test drive the car, before the seller has a chance to warm up the car; that way you will get to know what’s not right with the car in the morning.

  2. Look at the floor below the car to see whether any kind of fresh fluid marks are left there: signs of leakage of oil, brake fluid, radiator coolant, etc.

  3. Look carefully at the exhaust end pipe, it should not be oily nor layered with soot.

  4. As you drive, step on the gas suddenly to the floor, if the car does not jump up and away at once, it’s no good.

  5. Drive very fast and step on the brake hard, if the car swerves left or right, the brake system is no good.

  6. Try all the buttons and levers and handles and switches whatever to see whether they all work.

  7. Look at the brake fluid reservoir, is the brake fluid clean and clear? Look at the gas filter, is the gas inside clean and clear?

  8. Get people to occupy the car on just one side, inside and outside; if the car leans lower on that side, the suspension is not right, worn out.

  9. Inspect the tires for uneven wear, signs of poor alignment.

  10. As you drive straight ahead, with your hands lightly holding the steering wheel, does the car move to the right or left? Signs of poor alignment.

  11. Get a car with a good cheap access to parts and service, even surplus or second-hand parts or whole modules.

Hope these tips are useful to you and others.

Say a prayer for me, and God bless you also; even though I am a postgraduate Catholic.

Susma Rio Sep

The Beetle or the Cruiser? Personally, I don’t like either one.

The Beetle’s basically a Golf with a different body. Not a bad car, but not terribly exciting to drive either, and quite overpriced. The PT Cruiser I actually liked when it came out - until I test-drove it. Corners like a van. Other than that, I can’t really fault it. Seats were OK, the engine did well enough, and the looks are nice. If you’re not too interested in how well a car corners (and let’s face it, you drive a truck now :)), I’d say the PT Cruiser is the better of the two. More practical, probably better value-for-money where you are, and perhaps more reliable, although I’d rely on sources like Consumer Reports for answers to that.