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Honda or Porsche, Private or Dealer.
May 26, 2005 9:35 PM   Subscribe

I'm about to throw away my hard earned cash into that nest of vipers, used car sales. Help me make the right choice.

I live in LA and it's time to upgrade my convertible: I've got 20-25K to spend and I'm looking at a used Honda S2000 or a Porsche Boxster. Because I'm going to be using it for commuting as well as fun, I kinda want the Porsche with the automatic gearbox, but my sense glands tell me I'm going to have much less hassle with the Honda. I've only ever owned Japanese cars so I'm dubious about the Porsche (and someone told me an oil change is $150 - is that right?).
Also, I'd prefer to buy privately as I don't really see the need to fund a lot and a bunch of salespeople - but will I still have to pay state taxes?
Bonus question: if I buy a used car that's still under warranty, am I entitled to that warranty, or does the sale/ transfer void it?
posted by forallmankind to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total)
 
Warranty transferrability varies a lot from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some will give the second purchaser the remainder of the powertrain warranty, but not any remaining bumper-to-bumper warranty. With Honda, not only does the new-car warranty (3 year 36,000 miles on everything) transfer, but if you buy a certified used car from a dealer, you get the balance of a 7-year 100,000 mile warranty on the powertrain, and a 1-year 12,000 mile warranty on everything else that starts the day the factory warranty runs out or the day you buy the car, whichever is later. Porsche's warranty on certified used cars is the balance of 6 years 100,000 miles if the original warranty is still in effect at the time you buy the car or a total of 2 years and a total vehicle mileage of 100,000 miles if not -- the standard 4 year 50,000 mile warranty is also transferrable at no cost even through a private buyer.

This is all stuff I tracked down via Google in about 10 minutes, I'm surprised you didn't find it.

Frankly I'd really recommend the Honda. Not only will it be easier and cheaper to get it worked on if necessary, your insurance will probably be less expensive as well, and it'll probably use less gas tooling around town too. Of course, the Porsche is, well, a Porsche. If you want to own a Porsche for once in your life I can't say I'd blame you one bit.

Yes, you'll have to pay sales tax. If you don't buy it from a dealer, they'll make you pay the tax when you go to register it for the first time.
posted by kindall at 10:14 PM on May 26, 2005


Porsche are phenomenal cars, but when it comes to buying a roadster, something that is 100% about the fun, go with the s2000. It is a blast. Moreso than used Boxster in that price range.

Keep in mind, it is a high-revving mofo. Seriously high rpms. Almost like a motorcycle. The ride is stiff as hell, too. These might actually be reasons to you not to buy it if you're in the city, but to me they make the car. Personally, I think Honda was crazy to sell it at as high a price as they have, considering the competition from BMW, Mercedes and Porsche, but there you go.

As for changing oil, you can do that any decent garage. You don't need to go to Porsche for that, and you don't need to spend $150 for it. I would discover what the optimal oil for it is, though, and stick with that. Considering both these cars have small engines that get stressed a lot, it might turn out to be synthetic oil. Over the long haul (and considering that these will be used to begin with), they are healthier for the engines.

If that's the case, it will be more expensive, but I suggest you stick with it. Don't mix and match synthetic with regular. Me, I'd say learn to change the oil yourself. It's truly one of the easiest things in the world to do; all it needs is a wrench, a pan and some paper towels. You save money and you get a tiny touch of satisfaction/pride that you 'took care of' your car.
posted by the_savage_mind at 12:44 AM on May 27, 2005


Unfortunately, I have no first-hand knowledge of either car, so I'm no help there. Just wanted to mention that it's (ahem) traditional in many parts of the country to under-report the sales price of a used car purchased from a private party, when registering the car, to save a bit on the sales tax. Not that I'm recommending it, mind you.
posted by bricoleur at 4:24 AM on May 27, 2005


The oil-cooled 911 has an oil capacity of 14 quarts, which explains why someone thinks an oil change on a Boxster will set you back $150. The Boxster fits anywhere from 6-10 quarts. At $6 per quart (it can be had cheaper, but that's a typical price) for Mobil 1, you're looking at $40-$60 for the oil. Add $10 for the filter.

If you don't want to do this job yourself (it's easy), the lads at Jiffy Lube (or equivalent) will do it for a labor cost of $20.

The S2000 takes 5 quarts. Your total oil cost difference between the models is $6-$30 per change.

All of this assumes synthetic oil (recommended by Porsche), which IMO you should use in either of these engines.

As far as choosing one or the other, I suggest driving them both. They're both a lot of fun, but they're pretty different cars. And automatic transmissions sap power and negate the entire purpose of sportscars. Don't be a wuss.
posted by Kwantsar at 6:12 AM on May 27, 2005


Jeez, Kindall, your Googling rules.....
posted by Pressed Rat at 6:27 AM on May 27, 2005


I hate to say it but walmart sells Mobil 1 at a good price.
posted by 6550 at 10:15 AM on May 27, 2005


I can't speak for the Honda, but the Boxster is fun as hell. I've driven in a variety of sports cars (sans supercar exotics) and this really tops the list. The top down in a Porsche during a warm summer night is worth the price. I've driven cars German cars that were faster (M5, M3, AMG) but they lacked the intimate appeal of the Porsche, not that I wouldn't take the other more expensive sportscars over the Porsche -- it's a ride unto itself. Expect to pay up the ass for any repair.
posted by geoff. at 11:51 AM on May 27, 2005


If you can get a certified car from the dealer, it may be worth the premium. Otherwise, buy the carfax-for-a-month service and do a background check on every car you look at. Your first question about any non-certified car should be "could I have the VIN number so I can run a carfax?". Hang up the phone if the answer is no.

On preview, what Kwantsar said. Driving an automatic sports car is like browsing the web with WebTV.

If you must have an automatic, look into a "sports sedan." BMW, Mercedes, and Audi all make excellent sedans that have automatic transmissions and are relatively fun to drive. Alternately, get a Corolla and don't be afraid to put the pedal ALL THE WAY DOWN. (it won't go all that fast, but at least the engine sounds fun!)

At the moment, the '95-'00 Mercedes C280 represents an excellent value in the sports-sedan space. Most people seem to overlook them and choose BMW or Audi instead. As a result, the Mercedes can be surprisingly affordable.
posted by b1tr0t at 12:50 AM on May 28, 2005


Are you nuts? (Kidding.) A $20K Boxster will run you $3-5K a year in maintenance. Oil changes are the least of your worries. Unless you are a mechanic, don't do it. Insurance will be outrageous. But you'll get a lot more looks.

Here's an idea. You've got enough plonk for a NEW Subaru WRX STi. I double dare you to drive it (Boxster motor actually) right after you test a Porsche. Japan has taken Europe's milk money on sports cars for a long time, and I am an old British Leyland junkie who has given up dreaming of a Triumph TR6 in mint condition reluctantly. The WRX is an extraordinary car for the money. And it has (Japanese) competition. Subarus are not the best engineered Japanese cars (I'll start a flamewar and say it's Honda for performance) but this is an exceptionally tight little machine that kicks asphalt.
posted by realcountrymusic at 6:52 AM on May 28, 2005


(1) The WRX STi starts at just over $30k. $25k will get you a standard WRX or a basic new RX8.

(2) check with your insurance agent on the porsche. As a late '20s unmarried male with a single speeding ticket and no crashes, a '91 Porsche 911 C4 costs slightly less to insure comprehensively than a '98 BMW M3, and just slightly more than an '02 VW GTI. The spread among the cars is less than a jiffy-lube oil change or two and was certainly not a deciding factor in my purchase.*

The WRX is likely to be insanely expensive to insure because so many young people drive them fast and wreck them. When the WRXes first came out in Washington, you couldn't even test drive them because all the demo units had been wrecked on test drives (!).

(3) the WRX has a four-cylinder *boxer* motor. Subaru has had a close relationship with VW for a long time. Subaru stuck with the 4-cylinder boxer beetle/356 style engine, while Porsche has moved to flat sixes for both the 911 series and the boxster. You get AWD and a front-engine in the WRX which, while fun, is entirely different from the Boxster's RWD mid-engine layout.


*If my Mercedes proves to be as reliable as I expect, I may pick up an older 911 in a few years.
posted by b1tr0t at 1:17 PM on May 28, 2005


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