Lemon Aid
February 24, 2006 6:32 AM   Subscribe

We're in Toronto and looking to buy a car.

We have a budget of under 10K CDN to get us started. I'd like to spend as little as possible and have no problem with image. I would prefer something a little more practical than stylish. The used dealers we have spoken to tend to be quite pricey. The problem is I only know that Honda's are reliable. I know nothing about US/CDN built cars.
posted by Frasermoo to Travel & Transportation around Toronto, ON (18 answers total)
Best answer: There are books out called 'Lemon-Aid' guides. They discuss the pros and cons and expected selling prices of almost every used car available. They're probably to be found at a library, but are only about $25 at any largish bookstore, as well.

Get yourself a copy, it'll make a world of difference.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:37 AM on February 24, 2006

Hondas and Toyotas are usually at the top of the reliability tree. They are also, as a result, the top of the resale tree in terms of initial cost. But operating costs are usually lower.

I second the advice of Lemon-Aid but would also add that before you purchase a used car take it to your mechanic for inspection or at least talk to a mechanic who knows the history of a model. They can usually pinpoint possible and probable problems.
posted by juiceCake at 6:41 AM on February 24, 2006

Response by poster: cool thanks. I'll get a copy of that book today.
posted by Frasermoo at 6:46 AM on February 24, 2006

How much do you need the car? Have you thought if maybe Autoshare would be a viable alternative to owning? Obviously that doesn't work well for you if it's a daily need.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 7:36 AM on February 24, 2006

Volkswagens generally are very reliable too, provided they haven't been sitting in a field for a year as was the Golf that my buddy bought :)
posted by antifuse at 7:55 AM on February 24, 2006

We're in our 3rd year of a 4 yr lease on a Mazda Protege5, and we've had no problems, it's been an awesome car. Very reasonable. They're called Mazda 3's now.

Also, a related previous AskMe.
posted by chococat at 8:40 AM on February 24, 2006

Best answer: At that price range, skip the dealers and buy privately. Grab Lemon-Aid as everyone recommends, and then buy the latest Auto Trader for the sort of cars you're after (they split it into domestic and import here in Ottawa, I don't know if Toronto's editions are split even further), and go through circling possibilities.

Auto Trader also has a website but I find it really hard to browse the website looking for cars compared to flipping through the printed version.
posted by mendel at 8:50 AM on February 24, 2006

If going through a dealer, do the reverse math if you are going to finance. I was told by a dealer in Mississauga that my financing for my used Dodge Stratus ($11k purchase price) was all done. I didn't read the contract, and as it turns out, it was financed at 22%. No luck with the dealer when I approached them and said that they told me the rate was competitive. They then told me it was my problem for not doing the math.

So... no real hint here, other than IF you go through a dealer and decide to finance, do the reverse math to ensure that you're not being fleeced.
posted by burhan at 9:14 AM on February 24, 2006

One tactic for getting a good used car is to call around dealers of a brand with excellent reliability (basically, Toyota) and ask if they have any trade-ins which they are about to send to the wholesaler. Toyota dealers are not allowed to warranty cars past a certain age and so won't generally advertise them or get them certified. However, the cars are often very good cars and you can pick them up at ridiculous prices. You will buy the car as-is but the money you will save will pay for a new transmission if necessary. I did this with a '96 4Runner two years ago... I bought if for $10,000 with the book price around $15,000, and figured on spending $2000 to fix minor issues. As it turned out, all it needed was a new wiper blade. $100 later for the smog test I was on the road. It's been a fantastic vehicle.

The dealers are happy to do this because they get fuck all for the cars at wholesale and both of you end up getting a great deal.
posted by unSane at 9:33 AM on February 24, 2006

Incidentally, having owned a lot of cars over the years I would not consider any other brand than Toyota. I would suggest a Corolla... 'all the car you'll ever need'. Amazing reliability.
posted by unSane at 9:39 AM on February 24, 2006

You're in Toronto, and you need a car? For $10K, you've got years worth of Metropass and taxis, and the occasional rental from Budget or wherever if you need hauling capacity that your friends can't provide.

Seriously, our streets are choked with so much traffic and smog and pollution as it is, why add more?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:56 AM on February 24, 2006

Nice to see the Toyota boys out in force. And no doubt, Toyota's a fine brand.

Just wanted to chime in that I'm on my third Honda Accord, and I've never had to replace anything beyond windshields, tires, and brake pads.

They're great little cars.
posted by SlyBevel at 10:48 AM on February 24, 2006

$10K (Canadian) won't get you anything brand new. Autotrader will give you a good sense of what you can get for what money. (I gave this advice in the thread chococat links)
posted by Popular Ethics at 12:53 PM on February 24, 2006

Your bank might be a good source of reasonably-priced finance. It can be slow, though; I'm the poster of the previous question, and our bank (Highly Slow Bank Company?) took about this time to come through with the money. FWIW, we're buying a 2003 Civic this weekend.

I would generally agree with dirtynumbangelboy, though; in town, you don't need a car. But if you need to get to the 905s, you'll need wheels (and snowshoes, tent, rifle, canoe, pemmican, dogsled, traplines ...)
posted by scruss at 1:23 PM on February 24, 2006

$10K CAD will absolutely get you something brand new--as a down payment.

But seriously. TTC. The fewer riders the TTC has, the less revenue coming in.. so routes get lightened, which results in fewer people taking it, which leads us to this horrible death spiral we're in now, where they're raising fares again, by 10%, for the second time in two or three years. This is leaving aside the questions of congestion, pollution, the ever increasing record numbers of smog days in the summer.

Please. I understand that having a car makes things a lot more convenient for you, but please take a moment to think about your three million neighbours.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 3:31 PM on February 24, 2006

I'm not sure about your local options, but in my experience, firstly - Toyota and Peugeot are good, reliable brands (though I don't know if they have Peugeots in North America).
Second, at least here in the UK, a lot of branded dealerships do used cars - I got my current one, a pre-owned Toyota Corolla, through my local Toyota dealer, and not only has it been very economical and reliable (especially on repairs - I think all it's needed has been new tyres!), but I also got a really sweet deal on MOTs (an annual government-mandated inspection) inasmuch as if that dealership does the testing, all I pay for are parts - no test fee, no labour.

I'm not saying you'll get the same kind of deal, but you can do a lot worse than find out what a branded dealership offers - especially since they've got a solid link to supplies of parts if you do need a repair, plus staff who know the vehicles inside and out.
posted by Incharitable Dog at 12:25 PM on February 25, 2006

There are no Peugeots in Canada. European cars tend to rust out.

Oh, and dirtynumbangelboy, frasermoo's (currently) out beyond the reach of the TTC, in a place where the last commuter train of the morning leaves at about 7:30 with no weekend service ...
posted by scruss at 3:35 PM on February 25, 2006

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