I've got the money what do I get?
July 20, 2009 6:53 PM   Subscribe

How long do you think a ~$8000 car will last?

So I have about ~8000 to spend on a car including tax and title. How long do you think a car like that will last will it out live the length of my 24-36 month loan on it . If you had that amount of money were looking for a reliable vehicle, Automatic(I don't know how to drive stick), with ABS. Additionally how much milage is too much as a general rule ? How old is too old for a car? Also Should I go out of state if the prices in my state are high?
posted by Rubbstone to Travel & Transportation (25 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The life of a car depends on how well you keep up on maintenance.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 6:57 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

It's easy to buy a 5-6 year old Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla for that price. I have a 10 year old Corolla with 140,000 miles on it that runs great and has had maybe $1,000 of non-maintenance work done in 10 years. If you drive 10,000 miles per year and buy a car with 80,000 miles, you would very likely get 5-6 completely trouble-free years out of one of those cars. You might even get 7-9 years.

Not everyone wants a Corolla or Civic, so pay Consumer Reports the $3 for a month of access and look at their used car reliability ratings if you're going to buy something else. (You can get similar reliability data online for free. I just like CR.)
posted by cnc at 7:04 PM on July 20, 2009

I wouldn't buy a new car in that price range, I'll say that much. When I recently purchased a car, I decided to buy a new one and stepped up my budget to $15-20k via aggressive saving, and got a Honda. Kias are just not reliable enough—I think of them as disposable cars.

That said, if you aren't dead set on a new car, you should be able to get a good car in the sub-$10k range. Try to find a car with a well-kept service history, no history of accidents, and mileage in the range of 40-60k miles. I wouldn't buy a used car with more than 60k miles in this price range. If the deal was much better, say $4k, I might consider an 80k mile car. Unless you're buying one of the "reliability leader" type of cars, they're not going to last you beyond about 120k miles without substial maintenance, and it doesn't make sense to buy a 100k car for $9k then $2k for all of the random crap that will need changing (timing belt etc.).

That said, basically any car that's not a total lemon will last three years if it's newer than, say, 1999 and lower than 100k miles.
posted by sonic meat machine at 7:05 PM on July 20, 2009

I think it could last you 5 - 7+ years depending on your tolerance for breakdowns / repairs
I bought a six year old honda civic in 1997 for $7000 and it lasted to 2008. If I had put 1000$ into it it still would have been as drivable as when I bought it.

The car had 65000 miles on it when I got it, which seemed about right.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 7:09 PM on July 20, 2009

Depends on the car, an $8000 ferrari may already be inoperable, while an $8000 focus is just starting its life.

I paid <>
My girlfriend got a car for $200, yes $200. It has lasted her 3 years with probably about $1500 in repairs.

I'd avoid cars with over 100k miles and over 10 years old. Get a 2007+ model with minimal mileage and you should be fine for 10 years.
posted by Sonic_Molson at 7:10 PM on July 20, 2009

Should have previewed...

*I paid < $5000 CAD but had some major repairs probably due to bad luck and my car has lasted me almost 4 years now*
posted by Sonic_Molson at 7:13 PM on July 20, 2009

I have a '91 Volvo 240 that my Dad managed to get for $150 at an auction. I've had it for about six years now, and it has over 300,000 miles, still going strong. I've heard plenty of similar stories from fellow Volvo owners.

If you just want something that will last, get a nice Honda or Volvo. You won't need to spend $8000, either.
posted by HopperFan at 7:14 PM on July 20, 2009

I bought a Camry for half that when it was eight years old. It's now 13, and had had one expensive service in its life (changing all the fluids plus the CV boots), and runs sweet as.

My previous car was a Corolla with 20 years and 300,000 km on it. I'd aquired it with 6 years and 150,000 kms. It went off the road due to rust, and then a council worker dropped a tree (yes, a tree) on it, which rather finished it off.

I would echo the sentiments of Mr Famous re: taking a loan.
posted by rodgerd at 7:14 PM on July 20, 2009

Best answer: I get an average of 140K miles before a car is worthless and something major goes wrong with it. The only exception was my Cherokee, which I spent about $3000 on when it had only 100K on it, but it ended up being worth about 3500 when I sold it, so it was a wash.

The last time I was in the market for a used car and needed to get the most car for the money, (as opposed to being able to buy something fun) I made up a spreadsheet with the formula for the cost of the car per remaining mile, which was simply $/(140-actual mileage [in thousands]). I ended up buying a very-low-mileage Saturn. It was the most boring car ever, but it ended up being one of the cheapest cars I've ever owned over the long run. I was able to pay off the loan in 18 months and I drove it for years, and got something when I sold it, too.

Watch out for very reliable cars with very high mileage - you might be able to get them to 200K, or they might run 6 months. It's such a crapshoot.

And nthing Consumer Reports.
posted by zinfandel at 7:19 PM on July 20, 2009

This all depends on what car you get and how well you keep it up.
What you spend on a car has zero relation on how long it'll last. I've seen people demolish $65,000 cars over the duration of their lease. I've also seen people drive $1000 cars for years upon years.

What kind of car are you looking at, by the way? All of your questions depend very much on the year, make, and model of vehicle.
"Too old" is different from brand to brand. For instance, any Honda that still runs is young enough to buy.

For $8000, I'm imagining a clean 2003 Honda Civic with about 75,000 miles.

Loan? If you're taking out a loan for the $8000, you don't "have" $8000 to spend. I would not buy a car in that price range on credit. You can get a $2500 car that will last for 36 months easy. Do that.
That's good advice. You'd be amazed at what kind of car you can get for super cheap. You could spend $1800 on an early/mid 90s Civic that will last you for years, as long as you've got some cash for stuff like brakes, axles, timing belt, and maintenance (all totaling much less than the 8 grand -plus interest- that you'd have paid for something newer). There's a lot of liberation in NOT having a car payment.
posted by Jon-o at 7:20 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

I have a '91 Volvo 240 that my Dad managed to get for $150 at an auction.

We have a '94 Volvo 240 station wagon that we bought used in 99 with 120k miles. The odometer broke at 230k miles, and we do regular maintenance - and the occasional major repair from time to time - but it still works great. We'll keep it forever.

I know you're not in Austin but this link (click "Pre-Owned Volvos") should give you an idea of the going rates for for used Volvos.
posted by txvtchick at 7:43 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Just for reference. I bought a 96' Ford Escort with 164k (kilometers, not miles) in 2004 for 3000$ (canadian). I still drive it (270k). I take care of it. I changed the transmission two years ago, but it was well worth it! If you can find a reliable car (I'd rather go with a toyota these days, or perhaps a well-maintained subaru) you could spend less than $8000 and be happy.
posted by ddaavviidd at 7:49 PM on July 20, 2009

A lot of good advice here already. One extra tip: Nissans are underrated. Their motors are built to last, and they can be had for thousands less than the comparable Toyota or Honda. (A 5-year-old Maxima is about the same price as a 5-year-old Civic.) All three make great, reliable cars, but on a budget I recommend Nissan.
posted by knave at 8:07 PM on July 20, 2009

In 2002 I bought a 1991 Pontiac sunbird that had a sticky starter for $1100. I put about $300 into it to get it going and ran it for a couple years with no problems. I don't have it now only because I moved to a place where I don't need a car. I think it had nearly 200,000 miles on it when I got rid of it.

My parents ran their 15 year old dodge caravan into the ground at about 300,000 miles. It's about he vehicle's durability (check consumer reports) and the maintenance (buy from a private seller and get a carfax report). Don't get a car payment! (Bonus: your insurance will be cheaper since you don't have to carry full collision like you do on a car you're making payments on.)
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 8:11 PM on July 20, 2009

Best answer: I got a 1998 Saab six years ago for $9,000. I've since put 115,000 miles on it and maybe $4k in repairs. It definitely lasted out the first 36 months with no major work needed, however. Big factors for me in the purchase:

1) Prior ownership. This one was a prior business lease, so I wasn't worried about it being abused by a reckless driver or whatever.

2) Mileage. The car had about 45,000 miles on it. There weren't many mechanical problems until that magical 100,000 mile mark.

3) Not a turbo. Saab makes a turbo model. I'm afraid to buy a used car from the sort of person that would buy a turbo model. My ideal previous owner would be a little old lady. I'm pretty sure she wouldn't buy a turbo. So extrapolate this to whatever car you're considering ... do you really think that $8,000 Acura has been treated well?

Something I didn't consider and should have: Maintenance costs and mechanic availability. Getting a competent mechanic to work on my car that won't charge me $100 an hour is very difficult in this area. And it's very hard to get parts without buying them from the dealer or manufacturer, which means repairs are far more expensive than they should be. For this reason alone, if I had to do it again I'd look very favorably at Hondas and Toyotas.
posted by Happydaz at 8:47 PM on July 20, 2009

Another vote for rethinking that loan. You can spend a lot less and still get a reliable driver. You can get a Toyota, Honda, or Subaru for a couple thousand bucks, budget another thousand for repairs, and as long as you keep up with maintenance that thing will last for years to come. I spent ~$1500 on my last Subaru, it had over 200,000 miles, and ran fine for about two years until I sold it to someone else. Over that time I probably spent another $1000 on minor repairs and maintenance.

I'm not sure where you are, but one compelling reason to go out of state is if you live in a cold place. Buying a car that has never had to suffer through a brutal winter is a huge plus. Not only will there be less rust on the body, but much less stress on the engine and other expensive internal parts.
posted by sophist at 10:00 PM on July 20, 2009

Nthing the "research, research, research" thoughts and those of verifying maintenance (if possible). Nothing keeps cars happy like regular maintenance and fresh oil.

Lotsa references out there, to include carsurvey.org. Hard to overstate the value of a pre-purchase check by a mechanic and if applicable, making sure the timing belt is in good order.

My experiences: In 1998, I spent $7,200 on a Mazda that said Ford on it. In 10 years, 185,000 miles, I had one maintenance issue that wasn't scheduled stuff.

Next car: 1997 Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, purchased in 2006 for $2800. Car had 109,000 miles, drove beautifully At about 55,000 miles later, no problems and it drives beautifully. My mechanic says he regularly sees those cars doing well at 250,000, having had no serious problems.

Latest car: Gave cop car to friends (long story), got another one, a 2000, for $2900. Car has 90,000 miles. Should have at least 100,000 miles in it with major problems.

I know a bunch of people who've had gobs of years and trouble-free motoring in inexpensive cars, can't say enough that there's great value in choosing well with the make, model and the particular car.
posted by ambient2 at 10:19 PM on July 20, 2009

It's more about the wear-and-tear on the engine. $8-10K is the most we've ever spent on a car, and we tend to drive them as close to 200K miles as we can. We take VERY good care of our cars. Look for low mileage, good eyeball condition (an indicator that the prior owner took good care of it) and always always always get it checked by an independent mechanic, even if it's from one of those dealers that have "200 POINT PRE-OWNED CHECKLIST GUARANTEES YOUR CAR'S QUALITY!!!!!!" offers.
posted by nax at 3:48 AM on July 21, 2009

I'll second the P71 Crown Vic. I have friends who love them, and I almost bought one when my household needed a second car. Yeah, they're big and not as good on gas as a small Asian car, but there's something about a car that occurs when the experience reaches a certain scale. That is, there's something about a larger, more powerful and substantial car that makes it feel like a "real" car versus a conveyance.
They're overlooked, but for what you spend on gas, you'll make up for in reliability and repair cost.

And I'll see your P71 and raise you a W126 Diesel S Class Benz.
posted by Jon-o at 4:15 AM on July 21, 2009

It depends on the car make. I have had cars that werwe taken great care of that still broke down all the time.

If you get say an older honda or corolla they last a very long time. German brands are good also.

I just havent had any luck with american cars.

Also like others have stated you can get a cheap old japanese or german car for say $3000 and not get a loan.
posted by majortom1981 at 5:22 AM on July 21, 2009

Most cars have an average life of 100,000 miles. Good maintenance can extend that life without requiring major work. Do the math to figure out how long the car will last assuming it had average maintenance. Factors include how many miles are on the car, weekly mileage, and condition. Age is somewhat of a factor but probably not as important as the others. Longevity varies widely among makes and models so do research beforehand.
posted by JJ86 at 5:57 AM on July 21, 2009

P71s and diesel Benzes are pretty indestructible, but I think a Hilux with an R22 might be even more so. Not as comfortable, though.
posted by box at 7:06 AM on July 21, 2009

I bought a 1992 Toyota Camry sometime around 2000 for about $8000. Automatic, V6, no ABS (but I'm sure an 8 year old Camry now would have ABS). I'm still driving it; it's got about 220,000 miles on it. I haven't had to do many repairs beyond normal maintenance. The only thing seriously wrong with it now is that the air conditioning compressor has seized up, but I don't plan to fix that. The engine runs well, the transmission shifts smoothly, and the ride is still good. I don't have much to complain about.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 7:28 AM on July 21, 2009

Response by poster: I was orginally hoping to go with something newer I was thinking, Focus, Mazda 3, An elantra past 04 but those seem to be a little pricey at this point. I was looking at those Diesel benzs for a while specifically in that case is 250000 too much.

PS thank you all for the great answers and advice.

PPS. Is 250k alot of miles for a diesel benz
posted by Rubbstone at 7:47 AM on July 21, 2009

My wife just bought an '04 Volvo S40 for $8k, with about 65k miles. I've heard bad things about Volvos from this decade, (redesigns since they were purchased by Ford), but we like Volvos and (just as important IMO) love and trust our Volvo mechanic. We wanted a V40, but it's tough to find a good cheap one.

I drive a '93 240 with 170k, and greatly preferred driving it to the $6-10k, 4 to 8 year old Hondas, Nissans, and Toyotas that we recently test drove before our purchase. Pre-2000 volvos can be driven effectively forever, as long as you're willing to keep putting a grand or so per year in them.
posted by Kwine at 12:25 PM on July 21, 2009

« Older Recommend me some widgets!   |   Might try a "pay for delete" for a collection... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.