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Discussion Starter #1
Hi. I know some of you ISTPs really know your cars, and some of you must know Toyotas, so I am looking for practical advice about my car situation, because I really need it.

My ISTP (who lives in another state, not close) cannot stand cars and the trouble they have brought him, and does not have one right now, and is not real knowledgeable on cars anyway. He is more Craftsman than Mechanic. That's why I am asking here!

One problem is I can't decide is if I should keep two cars.

The other problem is if I trade them in, what kind of Toyota is best?

The two cars are a 1994 Corolla and a 2001 Buick Century. Yes, two, and the insurance for two cars is a problem. It seems an unwise use of my limited resources.

My son is turning 16 soon, and I could have him inherit the Corolla (he does not know I am considering this), or, I could leave his future car needs in his father's hands, who can afford to handle it. (I had been thinking of offering to provide our son the car if he would pay the difference for adding my son to insurance, but I really hate to do any business at all with the ex, who is tricky, dishonest, manipulative. Still don't know how I am going to handle insurance jump if my son gets a license, though. My ex also may have incentive to get my son a car because he has to drive across two states to see him every other weekend as he is responsible for transportation to see him. (However I don't discuss anything with him because its always a mess. Its more peaceful and sane to live parallel lives that almost never meet. I am usually quite sorry when i do make a move to have a conversation. )

The Corolla has 110K miles and could do lots more, I assume. Its had replacement engine parts. I keep up as needed (some expensive replacement engine parts, so I have incentive to get my money's worth!). It has dents, its not pretty, but it handles great and a tank of gas goes far. But the air conditioning is broke! I drive it primarily for my many, many constant small trips around town, a major part of my life.

The Buick I took over from my mother, I have title now, and has 55K miles. I use it for my rare long trips, the few times I drive more than two teens, and any day I need air-conditioning. I really hate a hot car.

I am thinking a solution would be to trade in the two cars for a used Corolla or Camry with less miles. Becaue my main goal with cars is one that needs little repair - and for that I like Toyota, and I am used to them. But perhaps Honda would be a good option. I don't know that car though.

I do not have much extra cash to add to the trade-in though, and do not want to borrow anything. This year, about $1000. Next year I could add a lot more probably, so maybe better to wait?

Oh, the extra car on my insurance is about $1000 a year, so I ought to say, if I was to only have one car, I should say I could add $2000 to the trade-in this year, perhaps $3-4000 next year at this time if that's not enough and I ought to wait.

I would prefer a Camry for the space, but would go with Corolla if that would be the only way to get what I want - low milage, good car.

As to the kind of Toyota, my '94 Corolla, while cramped, handles great. My friend had a '03 Corolla, which fit our teens much better than mine, the interior was great, and the trunk, roomy. But we traded cars one day, and we both noticed - my car handles much nicer. I think I would miss that.

Well, I would appreciate hearing any advice if anyone has any. Car insurance is due next month and I feel that keeping this going for another two years (when my son graduates) is not a good idea, that keeping two cars on the road is too much. I want something that is going to last a long time, too.

So any thoughts I would appreciate!
 

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The two Japanese brands to really look at are Honda and Toyota since they share roughly the same reputation and advantages. We had a Nissan for business and it lasted what seemed like forever, it would still be going if we didn't live in such a humid environment. The Honda and Toyota were recommended by my mechanic as well, he said he rarely sees either in his shop (and he showed me his 2 lots which confirmed that).

When you trade in cars, don't go to CarMax, instead go to a reputable dealer with a healthy used inventory. The downside to the Corolla is some places won't take a car older than 10 years old, and if they do, they'll likely give you pocket change compared to what you put into it to keep it running. The value depends on condition of the car, things like a broken AC will drive the price down quite a bit since dealers still need to turn a profit and will find it hard to sell a car without AC these days. That said, the Corolla unfortunately like won't get you much, but of course you could always run into someone looking for that specific model or for the parts from it.

You'll get a high level of quality from cars like the Honda Accord as well as the Camry. Try to get a vehicle that was part of a lease or was otherwise was scrutinized maintenance-wise by the dealer since some trade ins were either abused or neglected by their owners and are just barely in a condition to sell even though they look perfect on the surface. Going with someone who knows cars well and what to look for will help.

Since you said you could wait and add more money next year, that might be a good idea. Not only will more funds help quite a bit, prices on used models should decrease as well. If luxury isn't overly important, you can get into some nice base models from Nissan (Altima) or Honda/Toyota in a rather affordable manner.

Whether or not to get a new car is a personal decision. Do the research and compare what you drive now to what you want to trade it in for and see if it helps you in any way (insurance rates depend on model and are feature dependent). If you can trade in either car and live with what's left, the base models of pretty much any manufacturer will become quite cheap, enough to relatively easily afford a car for your teen. But as I said, it's a very personal decision.
 

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I'm not much of a car person myself, but i went through this recently and you should know this about buying used:

1. If you buy a used car expect to pay for some work to be done on it. Many cars have a very predictable mileage where a specific problem is bound to come up and they sell the car right before then. i.e. audi. a4s need about 1.5k in work right before 90k. The timing belt has to be replaced before it snaps. if you don't get the work done and it actually breaks, it ruins the uper half of the engine and the cost can go up to 4k.

in other words, buying an audi at 89k miles is probably a bad idea.

Research any car you buy used and see what kinds of problems it's prone to having and when.


2. Buy privately owned. If you buy privately owned you'll see exactly what you're buying. Dealers are very, very good at making a junky car look great. At least with an indevidual you'll have a good idea what you're getting into.

3. Carfax.com ...seriously. This saved me from buying a car with 190k miles on it that a dealer said had 80k. Buy the carfax and make sure miles match, check for accidents. Don't buy a car that's been in a crash.

4. No matter who you buy it from, Insist on taking it to a mechanic. You can call a mechanic and schedual a time to have them look over the car. Tripple A has a great little program with their mechanics (.you don't have to be an AAA member) where they'll check over a car you intend to buy and tell you everything you need to know.


Buying a carfax and paying 100 bucks for a mechanic to look over a car can save you thousands of dollars. Don't cheap out on these.
 

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I would trade in both and try to get as new of a car as possible, since your goal seems to be low maintenance, high reliability.

If I was low on money but had a kid who could use a car soon, I would still get rid of it. Living beyond your means is bad news.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thank you so much for advice! And if anyone else has mroe to add, I would welcome that too.

@GoneDumb, so you are recommending a good reputable dealer with a big inventroy, aslo Nissan as well as the other two., and perhaps a car thats been leased. And waiting till next year if I can. it is almost $1000 in insurance to wait, if I keep driving both. It won't be a new car - I con't wan to make payments.

@FearsomeCritter, So, you are saying make sure i have money in the bank for upcoming repairs. Good thing to remember. Privately owned is somethign to consider fo the reasons you said. I do know a mechanic nearby I trust to check out a car. I'll remember AAA, and I am a member (very important when you drive old cars). And I had not heard of CarFax but I will do that.

@Benja, I appreciate the advice about the teen car! Yes, I need to be practical. And his father is in a position to and has incentive to provide that. So even though I have had that thought for a long time now, and would love to provide him with what I was never provided with, it might be best to give it up and take the cash towards a trade-in. And you are so right, living beyond my means is really bad, and I should think about that seriously.
 

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Trade the buick in for a Camry. Camrys drive great, and their reliability is ridiculous. They're life-time cars. Buicks aren't nearly as reliable long term, but it'll still be worth something on a trade. The corolla, though bulletproof, wouldn't bring in as much on a trade.

Keep the Corolla, sell it to your son for $1 and tell him he'll need to pay the insurance himself by getting a part-time job. You're giving him the freedom of a vehicle, and handling the monthly cost will teach him responsibility. 4 or 5 5 hour shifts a month at McDonalds/a retail outlet would cover the cost of monthly insurance payments and gas. Plus, corollas have ridiculous gas mileage, good for a part-timer.

Personally, I drive Ford because their reliability has skyrocketed since 2000. I love my Fusion, but my first car was a corolla that was almost as old as me at the time. That thing went through hell and kept going.
 

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I just checked out consumer rests and Camrys have a great history of reliability for any year you choose, back to '02. They also estimate prices:

2009 $15,400 - $19,375
2008 $14,100 - $17,525
2007 $13,200 - $16,350
2006 $10,500 - $13,150
2005 $9,325 - $11,675

This is for a 4 cylinder sedan.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Is hard not to be paralyzed with indecision. Last night I was leaning to making a trade as quick as possible. What I get I am going to stick with though. And I always loved my Camry, that I had when I was teaching, a lovely burgandy LE with a sunroof. Maybe I could find an older basic model, low mileage. Not easily though. And those costs would have me waiting another year. Another year of two insurances. However, I am ready to take on additional work now.

Let me discuss my son a minute since his having my car is a factor here.

Giving my son the car is tempting. But a parttime job is going to be tricky for him... between wrestling season and wrestling camps (which come one after the other), and chunks of school vacation time at his Dads out of state, his work hour availability is spotty. What I thought of for him is garden work for those who live around here, everyone has the same front courtyard garden and a back patio or deck. But he doesn't know how. But I could teach him. I presented this idea to him last year, but I said nothing more and he did nothing. He needs initiative for that, and maybe he needs to "want" for a bit before he is inspired to get after it.

But the other factor is, as he does have plenty of free time since he does almost 100% of his homework in school, I have been gearing up to introduce the suggestion that he begin now to learn pre-calc on his iphone (Khan University, free) starting soon, because this course could take a lot of time since its harder, maybe 3-4x as long as the Geometry he completed last summer in one month's easy daily two ten-minutes lessons. It will get him solid-ahead in math for the fall PSATs -- PSATs are perhaps more important that SATS because if you can place as a semifinalist you are certain to get scholarhsips to almost anywhere. Plus, his goal is a military officer's academy that expects a lot for admission. I am not sure he can meet those expectations, so I feel I should help him have an edge to give him a better chance to realize his dream. And if he doesn't make that honor, he will have more options with more scholarship options.

Oh! I should add he has always taken note of nice cars, and I have always said, well, then you better work hard in shcool so you get a scholarship and don't graduate college with big debt because most grads are dirt poor when they are done. Well, this paticular acadmey offers all juniors an up to 40K car loan for ANY car they want at 1/2 of 1% interest!!! [Thanks, you guys, for your generous tax dollars!] Yes, when we were there in February for a campus visit we learned this was the reason for the parking lot brim full of hot cars -- my son and his friends were quite impressed!

So, I could focus on encouraging him to work hard for that car dream, with my simple easy plan. 15 focused minutes a day on calc starting now, plus ten relaxed minutes 2x a day, 5-6 days a week learning some Latin root words to help him with the verbal part of the PSATs. Just two words a day would do, and I would learn them too, and we could review the week's words on the weekend together.

Looks like I am talking my son out of the Corolla. (Good thing I never told him I considered this)!

I do feel a loss though. It would have made me happy to provide him with it.

The money I can get for that car does matter. Income has been sparse, pretty much by choice. I have been living on faith, enjoying the freedom of frugal spending and more time, and it works fine! However, I am ready to work more hours and make more money.

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Edited to add: I just picked him up from the weekend. I have not told him my car dilemma, and there is other stuff going on we talked about. However, he said: "Hey, Mom, can I have the Corolla? It would look great with a spoiler!"
 

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Thank you so much for advice! And if anyone else has mroe to add, I would welcome that too.

@GoneDumb, so you are recommending a good reputable dealer with a big inventroy, aslo Nissan as well as the other two., and perhaps a car thats been leased. And waiting till next year if I can. it is almost $1000 in insurance to wait, if I keep driving both. It won't be a new car - I con't wan to make payments.
Well not exactly new. Used low mileage Altimas were on sale at the local dealership for between $8-14,000. The problem with some older cars is that you're going to get very little cash at some places when you take it in. It also depends on the exact mechanical and physical condition of the car as well. I also would strongly recommend a US manufacturer, as Dusty has said, Ford has really made a rather surprising amount of progress in terms of quality over the past few years so you should be able to get a solid car from them as well for cheap.

The thing the college is doing for its students is rather admirable, but giving away loans so easily and teaching young adults that taking on loans is a good idea isn't something that is all that good in practice. But if someone earns the car through working their ends off through school, I suppose that could be called "earning" too. Your son is going to be incredibly lucky if he starts off with all those goodies, I had to sacrifice anything vaguely similar to a solid friendships to get what I have atm. Catching up took a little over a decade.
 
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