Is It Time To Buy a New Car?

April 4, 2013 at 9:00 PM 10 comments

Over the past fourteen years my husband and I have owned five vehicles, which included the following:

  • 1994 Oldsmobile Regency Elite
  • 1998 Jeep Wrangler
  • 1999 Toyota Camry
  • 1999 Ford Explorer Sport
  • 2000 Honda Civic

We purchased the Explorer Sport and Civic new off the lot. The Oldsmobile, Camry and Wrangler were all purchased used from either friends or family.

We paid cash for all of the cars except the Honda Civic. I financed that car through the dealer and paid off the loan within one year. I sold it five years later because my medical problems made it difficult to climb in and out of and painful to drive.

Believe it or not I replaced that reliable, gas efficient vehicle for a 1994 Oldsmobile. It was not the most financially sound decision I’ve ever made, but I needed a larger vehicle that was more comfortable to drive. Rather than purchasing another new car I sunk $900 into the old clunker. In retrospect it was a horrible decision. I spent thousands of dollars in an attempt to keep it running and ultimately ended up donating it to charity.

On the very day my Oldsmobile was towed out of the driveway I purchased a Toyota Camry from my grandmother. The timing couldn’t have been any better. The new to me car was literally owned by a little old lady who only drove it to the grocery store.

I currently use the Toyota as my primary vehicle. It is the only car we own with a functioning back seat. The jeep doesn’t have a back seat at all and the front seats in the Ford Explorer are always breaking so I don’t trust putting my son in the seats behind us.

The Jeep is a gas guzzler so I’d really like my husband to start using the Toyota as his commuter car. It’ll definitely save us money on gas, plus it has four doors, which will make it easier for him to share the driving when he goes out to eat with his employees and coworkers.

I’m a little nervous about purchasing a new vehicle. For the past fourteen years all of our cars, (except the ones we bought new), have been purchased from friends and family. This will be the first vehicle we’ve bought in a very long time from someone we don’t know.

I’m also struggling with the preowned versus new scenario. I’m a little nervous about buying a car from someone who may not have taken good care of the car or performed regular oil changes. I had very bad experiences with the used car my dad bought me when I turned sixteen.

As you can see from the dates our cars were built we tend to hold onto our vehicles for as long as possible, (the exception was the Civic which was just to uncomfortable for me to continue driving), so I definitely want to purchase a car with a good reliability rating that will stand the test of time.

We aren’t in need of a new car immediately, but it would certainly help to have a slightly larger vehicle that can transport clothes, toys and other items between our house in Maryland and the one in North Carolina. Also, as our son gets older I’d like to be able to take his playmate and her father on field trips or take my parents to the beach with us. That really isn’t possible in our current car.

So, is it time for us to buy a new car? If so should we look for preowned vehicles or buy new?

Entry filed under: spending money. Tags: .

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10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Becky  |  April 5, 2013 at 9:50 AM

    We just bought a brand new 2013 BMW 328i Convertible last night. We’re leasing it for 3 years, 30k miles. The only debt we have is our mortgage and this car payment. Because of my husband’s recent promotion, we save $3,500/month. This car payment will affect that monthly savings by $500. We decided to keep both of our SUVs because they are paid for and cost us little to nothing each month. This decision was made after many weeks of research and conversation. We don’t splurge on much, so we decided this was a good choice for us. Good luck!

    Reply
    • 2. One Frugal Girl  |  April 13, 2013 at 9:27 AM

      I believe everyone needs some type of splurge in their lives. Mine is spent on cleaning services and a massage every once in awhile. There is no reason to save money if you don’t spend it every once in awhile on something you want or love.

      Reply
  • 3. Another Reader  |  April 5, 2013 at 10:49 PM

    Since you like the Camry but need more space, would the Venza work for you? It sits like a car, is a little higher off the ground, and has a ton of cargo space. This model has not been as popular as the taller Highlander SUV, and at least out in California the new ones can be bought at a discount. Given the price of used cars these days, a well negotiated price on a new car could actually be better.

    Reply
    • 4. One Frugal Girl  |  April 13, 2013 at 9:28 AM

      I’ve never heard of the Venza. I’ll need to take a look at it. Thanks for the suggestion.

      Reply
  • 5. mochimac @ save. spend. splurge.  |  April 7, 2013 at 10:01 AM

    What I hate in new cars is the depreciation when you drive it off the lot.

    For me I’d just avoid buying a car if I can, but if I had to buy a car, used Mercedes and BMWs or even Hondas tend to last the gamut at 2 -3 years old.

    That said, I bought a Dodge minivan and that thing lasted 3 years costing only $2000.

    Reply
    • 6. One Frugal Girl  |  April 13, 2013 at 9:29 AM

      The depreciation is what kills me. That’s definitely whats making me lean toward buying used.

      Reply
  • 7. Jen  |  April 7, 2013 at 11:50 PM

    We’ve had very good luck buying certified pre-owned cars that have recently come off lease. My husband got his 2008 Nissan Xterra in early 2011, and I got my 2010 Honda Accord Crosstour in late 2012 – both with under 30k miles at very good prices (60-70% of original sticker). Both still feel new w/ no issues whatsoever. We also tend to hang onto our vehicles (additionally we have a 1999 Suburban that we use for long trips and hauling stuff) and decided that having our first official car loan in over 12 yrs was worth it for me to get into a great vehicle that I will likely keep til my kids are in college! (not to mention NOT paying a large repair bill – power steering – we strongly suspected was coming on my old vehicle) Its already been decided that hubby’s Xterra will probably end up being my 10 yr old’s first car…
    So anyway, I would vote yes, it is time – the plan for your husband to drive the Camry makes a lot of sense, and your family is ready for the increased flexibility of a newer vehicle that better suits your current needs!

    Reply
    • 8. One Frugal Girl  |  April 13, 2013 at 9:31 AM

      If I buy used I would definitely look for certified pre-owned. At least then they come with a small warranty. That seems like a better solution then buying from someone off the street.

      I do think it’s time to buy a car, but you hit the nail on the head. It’s good to have a range of vehicles that can support a lot of different needs.

      Reply
  • 9. Martha  |  April 11, 2013 at 4:38 PM

    Cars go down in value so quickly, I’ve always like the route of buying a certified pre-owned car or a one owner car. However, a stick is you could get a much better interest rate on a new car, which they won’t give you on a used car. Take your time, DO NOT be pressured, ask for Carfax and do some research and math (Pardon my language but take a Kiss my Ass approach to dealers, a lot of them just want to make a deal right away and will be pushy).
    I don’t know where you live but living in Dallas, I know that you can get better prices if you drive out of the city a bit. You can sometimes find a better deal on the internet, Autotrader is good, through by appointment car dealers that only use the internet. They have their cars in warehouses and have very low overheads so they can offer lower prices and will negotiate with you. Sounds shady but they are actually pretty nice and reputable, they do a lot of business with regulars and word of mouth.
    I would buy another Honda or Toyota in a heartbeat! German cars are good cars but if you ever have to repair the car is ridiculous amounts of money to do so. I know this a weird thing but check to see what type of tires it has, my last two cars had very expensive special tires and costs over $250 for each one. I love cars and I love car shopping especially when there isn’t a desperate need for a new one.

    Reply
  • 10. One Frugal Girl  |  April 13, 2013 at 9:33 AM

    I’ve never looked into AutoTrader, but it’s a good suggestion. I know all about shady dealers. Unfortunately I had a very bad experience when I bought my Honda Civic. The dealer promised me all sorts of things then when I went to take the car he reneged saying I didn’t look closely enough to the agreements I signed.

    I too love looking at ‘new to me’ cars, but I’m not such a fan of actually buying them :)

    Reply

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