Yet another "please help us buy a car" question with extra weirdness: buy now with generous parents' money (if so, what?) or wait until we can afford a hybrid?
posted by wintersweet to travel & transportation (26 answers total)
We have a 16-year-old Subaru Impreza; it hasn't been well maintained (only partly our fault), and I'm no longer comfortable with driving it down to Santa Cruz or out to Yosemite. I've loved driving this car, but the seats are falling apart, it has oil issues, it has interior electronics and lights issues, the trunk doesn't unlock from the inside latch anymore, it has damage from two sideswipe incidents while it was parked, etc. It died spectacularly on our last trip to SoCal, and I suspect (more) major repairs are coming up.
One set of parents has generously offered money for a replacement car, since we're still struggling to find full-time teaching jobs. They've offered us up to $20,000 (!) toward a late-model used car, preferably at a dealership (since they feel that's the best value and safest). If we're not ready to buy now, they could give us $1,000 or $2,000 toward repairing the Subaru.
For years, we've been thinking we'd get those jobs any time now, and would be able to just borrow money from them and buy a hybrid, but we have no idea when we'll get those jobs. It could be this fall or years from now.
I get the impression that used hybrids are a terrible idea. (Neither of us know anything about cars or buying cars, for the record.) And because we live in the high-rent San Francisco Bay Area without being fully employed, throwing in a few thousand dollars of our own is not really an option.
I'm leaning toward going ahead and buying a non-hybrid, because it'd still be an improvement over the Subaru (it gets about 22 mpg on an average tank), but I don't know what to look at or where to go. I'm vaguely thinking a Honda Fit, but I'm not sure what else to consider.
I do most of the driving, but both potential drivers are somewhat tall, big people. My driving is a mix of in-town and highway (often 50+ miles), and we'd like to occasionally take longer trips, including hilly or mountainous/curvy routes. We have a rainy season here (no ice or snow, but I don't want a car you can't take on ice or snow at all).
Our main priorities, assuming we can fit into the car, are safety and fuel efficiency. I would like some flexibility with cargo space, because I expect to be buying furniture over the next few years. (The old Imprezas had horrible trunks!)
And I confess, I really want a USB interface in the stereo! I hear only 2011 Honda Fits have those, which makes me sad. I had a cheap USB stereo added to my Subaru, and I love it. (I do have an iPod Touch, so if there's a way to use those in late-model car stereos without driving yourself crazy, please tell me what to look for.)
I've seen some really thoughtful advice on other car threads here, and while our situation is similar to others', it's different enough that I figured I'd throw myself on your mercy and ask for your thoughts.
So what do you you think we should do? Get the Subaru fixed and hold out for a hybrid? Go ahead and buy a used late-model car with parental money? If so, what kind and where? The more details the better--my parents always bought new, cash; his parents have only owned a handful of cars, so your assistance is really welcome.
(I did check out Don't Get Taken Every Time, based on previous threads!)