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Should I Buy a Car Even Though I Don’t Need It Yet?

I currently drive a 1994 Ninety-Eight Oldsmobile Regency. My husband and I bought the car for $900 in March of ’06. Unfortunately, since March the car has required a number of repairs adding up to over $2,800. That’s certainly more than my husband and I wanted to spend on an old clunker of a car with nearly 120,000 miles. But the car is roomy and comfy and a dream to drive. It feels like your riding on a cushy sofa, which is great for long trips between our home and North Carolina.

On Thursday my grandmother called. She informed me that she was giving up driving and planning on selling her car. (A 1999 Toyota Camry with only 50,000 miles). My parents bought the car in 1999 and sold it to my grandmother in June of 2003. Since that time my grandmother has put less than 10,000 miles on it.

Now my current car, the Oldsmobile, is still running. The check engine light came on a few weeks ago, but the mechanic said it was just a problem with the sensor, not an actual problem with the engine. At the same time though, I realize that a 1994 Oldsmobile with 120,000 miles will not live forever.

Obviously, if my car does fail, I will need to purchase a ‘new’ car. Knowing that I will eventually need to buy a car, does it make more sense to go ahead and buy the car from my grandmother now, even though I don’t need it yet? When my car does die, will I be able to find a car in such good shape with such low mileage? Will I trust buying a used car from someone I don’t know? How much time do I want to spend searching for a ‘new’ used vehicle?

On the other hand, does it make sense to buy a third car right now when we don’t really need one. I’ll need to purchase tags for the third vehicle and have it insured. I don’t have collision or comprehensive insurance on my current car, since it’s barely worth more than my $1,000 deductible. If you were in my position what would you do? Would you buy the car and pay the extra insurance and other costs now? Or would you keep your money in the bank and wait until the old clunker dies?

3 Things About Money

Tuesday 6th of February 2007

I'm with DM -- it sounds like a great deal. Go for it.

DM

Sunday 4th of February 2007

At that price, I wouldn't pass up the Camry. Assuming that it's in good shape (and it sounds like it is), it's a great deal. If you can inexpensively get the senser fixed and get rid of the check engine light as a result.... I'd sell it on Craigslist to get rid of the insurance cost and to put a few dollars in your pocket. I sold a really crappy 1995 minivan for $800 last fall. I would have been happy to take $300 for it. Inexpensive transportation is hard to come by, so anything that runs has some value.

One Frugal Girl

Sunday 4th of February 2007

Good point DM, I should've included that info in my post. I would pay $6300 for the car. That's the current Kelley Blue Book value for a '99 Toyota Camry CE with 50,000 miles on it. I took a peek at Carmax and found the same make and model with 14,000 more miles for $11,097! Similarly, cars on craigslist.org with 20 - 30,000 more miles were around the $7500 mark. I don't think I could find a Toyota elsewhere with such low mileage for such a low price, which is why I'm considering purchasing it, even though we don't really need it just yet.

DM

Sunday 4th of February 2007

Before answering your question, I'd need to know how much you'll have to pay for the Toyota.

If you're getting some sort of "family discount" for the car, I'd encourage you to buy it. A Camry is a great car that should last 200,000 miles if well cared for. Despite its smaller size, you'll appreciate the mileage savings.