I'm in the market for a new (to me) car

I was hoping to wait a couple more years, but on Thursday, I took my car in for what I thought would be routine repairs, and found out it would cost more to make those repairs than the car is worth. I also need new tires, and those aren’t even manufactured any more and would have to be special-ordered from a parts warehouse.

So, I cashed in a CD early and when the money is available to me on Thursday, I’m going to start car shopping. I’m very thankful that I have this money, believe me, but I am not looking forward to doing this again.

The engine works fine and the car is driveable, but I want to get a new/used one before I HAVE to, like my sister did a few months ago when her car gave up the ghost on the I-5 in San Diego, where she lives.

I’m a Nissan Sentra kind of person, and hope to find one from the late teens. I understand that newer used cars are getting snapped up like crazy right now.

The car market is nuts right now. I hear you when you say you want a late model used car, but I’d suggest you at least check out what a brand new car would cost in comparison. Used car prices have gone up so much that a new one may be only a little more.
Just as an example, I bought a 1 year old former rental car from Hertz about 18 months ago, before all this started. Hertz is now selling the equivalent car, with 20K MORE miles on the odometer, for $6,000 more than what I paid.

I’d normally go for used over new, but Tilt-A-Whirl is right—the market is crazy right now.

The Sentra isn’t a bad car, but Nissan isn’t at the top of its game any more. When people ask me for a compact car recommendation, I suggest they look at the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, or Kia Soul.

Are you sure you can’t get tires? If you check Discount or Tire Rack, they typically have 10-20 alternative brands/models of tire for most cars.

My general advice to anyone shopping for a used car is:

Never go alone. Take someone who is knowledgeable about cars and strong enough to steer you away from a mistake.

Remember that you spend most of your time inside the car, not looking at the outside.

Try to work out the total cost of ownership. The sticker price is only the start so look at running costs and the one most people ignore - depreciation

I’ve been shopping for a used car for over a year.

But I’ve put it off, because I’ve barely used a car since March of '21. Don’t have to commute, and my bike is working for almost all errands. So my old car is sitting in front of the house, as part of the decor (it’s tiny and bright red, so it’s doing its job).

I’ve watched used car prices creep up (I’ve been watching the $6-12k range, which hasn’t been as crazy as the “I want an almost new car” range).

The one exception has been Facebook Marketplace (and to a lesser degree, Craigslist… with " include nearby areas" clicked). How much of a gambler are you?

I’ve been reading every article on Jalopnik.com … especially their Car Buying stuff.
They have Tom McParland who’s a professional, his job is to help people buy used cars. He writes great columns, like “Here Are Some Tips To Navigate What Might Be The Worst Car Market In History”…

And answers the What Should I Buy? emails.

And they have Mercedes Streeter, who writes “Found For Sale”; she scours the want ads and does slide shows of great cars she’s found (that are currently available!).

Read the comments on the articles… very knowledgeable readers.


Very true for a recent car. But what I care about is what a car company was doing ten to twenty years ago. Friends just bought an old Nissan Leaf, and love it. They’ll want to upgrade the battery eventually (the early ones have Strictly Local range), so they figured that into their budget.

But you can’t beat Toyota and Honda for longevity. You could buy a Corolla with 100k miles and expect another 100k. I’ve passed 150k on my '01 Honda Insight* with no major repairs.

*Found it right down the street on Craigslist. Took it to local mechanic and got it checked out before I bought it.

I’m on my second preowned Mazda 3 wagon. I totally love them, by far the most reliable cars I’ve ever had. The first was a 2004 and my current is 2013.

Get a second opinion on what the car needs and keep it going, now is not the time to be car shopping.

I’ve had 2 Mazdas and I concur, except for the years Mazda was in cahoots with Ford. I had a 2000 Mazda 626 that had a totally crappy Ford transmission in it.

My wife bought a Hyundai a few years ago and I’ve been impressed. You should consider them too.

That bit sounds weird to me; yours isn’t some sort of exotic supercar is it? Don’t you just need tires of the right size which is the same size as other cars from other manufacturers? I mean, occasionally at the tire store they don’t have the tire I want in stock but that just means it has to come from a warehouse and I get the impression that there are deliveries to the tire stores each day or even more than once a day.

That said, I’m still driving a 2010 Honda Fit, which I like a lot. Sadly, it’s no longer sold as a new car but you should be able to find late-model used examples.

I’ll add that the used car market is the Wild West right now, and that it may be worth your time to look online at new vehicles to get an idea of prices. I will also agree that Hyundai/Kia are worth a hard look, the new Elantra is about the same as the Sentra and is a fantastic car.

Also, while the OEM tires may not be available, I’m sure any decent tire shop would be able to fit proper tires to your existing car without much trouble if you decide to hold off on a new vehicle.


My Early Insight does one thing well: gas mileage. Part of that is that it uses Low Rolling Resistance Tires… in a weird size.

But my car guy said “Look, you basically have a choice of two tires in the whole world, and I would not recommend one of them. So go on tirerack.com, they’ll have your tire in your skinny/small/tall size. So order four, have them shipped right here, and we’ll put 'em on”.

Easy peasy. I hope it will be for you, OP.

Tomorrow may well be “C” Day. I did visit the dealership I was hoping to use, but they didn’t have what I’m looking for. Another dealership, a couple miles in another direction, apparently does, so I’m going to pay them a visit, and if the mechanic says it’s in good repair, it will be mine.

Mission accomplished! I found exactly what I wanted at a dealership on the other side of town, and now it’s mine!

Interestingly, the drive home (in rush hour traffic, no less) was less stressful than the drive there.

Excellent! Congratulations.

My new-to-me car had been on the lot since the end of December (!), and had I not bought it, they were planning to sell it tomorrow to another dealership for $1,000 more than I paid for it. The salesman did say that they prefer to sell cars the way he did today, however (and he liked that commission, too LOL).

He also told me that the lack of qualified truck drivers is contributing to the “shortage” of new cars.

Well, what IS IT?

Is “exactly what I wanted” still a Nissan Sentra? (With a retractable hard top and a wet bar?) What year? Less than 150k miles? Color?

Did they say which dealer? You could make a cool grand … if it’s true and I doubt it is.

My previous car was a white Nissan Sentra. Okay, technical “Fresh Powder”, but to me it looks white.

My new-to-me car is also a white Nissan Sentra. No sunroof or wetbar, unfortunately. Low mileage, and I finally figured out how to get a local NPR station on the radio, which is important because it doesn’t have a CD player.

Life is good.

I have driven a Sentra before and it’s a good reliable car from the Nissan stable. But it seems to faithfully transmit all road vibration into the cabin with little damping. That was a 2016 model; I hope things are better with later models.