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Buying A Used Car: 2 Stories …

Two Tales of buying a used car ...

As my family was in need of replacing our 2001 Windstar with something a bit more reliable, and also in need of a second vehicle, we determined to spend several thousand dollars this month buying two used cars – one for her (she wanted something reliable, yet fun and sporty – not a MINIVAN) and one for me (preferably a Subaru – I learned to drive on my parents' Subaru – owned one way back in the 90's and have always wanted another!).

Our budget – we allocated between of $5,500 for the purchase of two cars - $4,000 for hers and we hoped to find something old and cheap for me to drive as a second car – we budgeted $1,500 for my “new” car!

Used car purchase #1 – We spent several days touring around used car dealerships, looking for a vehicle that she fit her criteria – and one that she liked, which proved to be the more difficult task of the two! Finally, on search day #4, we just happened to be at a dealership that had seven cars arriving later that afternoon – the salesman told us that he “didn't know what was coming,” and to be back by four o'clock to have the first choice. We arrived on the lot at 4:10 and she immediately spotted “HER” car – a 2005 Suzuki XL-7, which was in perfect shape – we test drove it and she was hooked! The only obvious issue that we found were that the air conditioning needed a recharge, which the dealer had fixed immediately. We made an offer, which was accepted, and drove away in her new car an hour later! The price for her new ride: $4,999 … a little over budget, but not too bad.

Her car runs great – no problems (except a minor key issue – the door key needs to be replaced – the dealer is working on that for us). She is very happy with her “NEW” car!

Used car purchase#2 – I hunted the Internet for 2 weeks, searching primarily on Craigslist for the keyword “subaru” in our home city as well as locations within 300 miles over three states! I was surprised and excited when I came across a posting for a 1988 Subaru “Justy” in Tampa, FL for only $1,000 – I once owned a Justy – back in 1991 – and lost it in a collision with a Ford F-250 (neither car survived, both drivers were fine). I loved that car … and immediately dialed the number listed on the ad. It was still available!! I told my wife and she was predictably skeptical … until the seller emailed me pictures. She agreed it was a “cute” car, and with only 188K on it, might be a good deal – although we would probably have to put some work into it …

We drove the Suzuki to Tampa, test drove the Justy – and it seemed to drive OK, so we bought the car. As a precaution before driving the 304 miles home, I dropped it off at the local Subaru dealership for an inspection and to fix any major issues …

The service technician at the dealership did not have good news … the total estimate of needed repairs was over three thousand dollars! Ouch! After a lengthy discussion, it was determined that the car would be safe to drive home for about half of that – the other repairs could wait until we got the car home.

After two extra days in Tampa – and a long drive home - we now have two “NEW” cars sitting in our driveway. The Suzuki was a little bit over budget … but the Subaru has (so far) cost $2,477 (not counting the cost of the trip to Tampa) … The end result: we both love our new, more expensive than we had planned, cars – but in hindsight, we should definitely have had the Subaru checked by a mechanic FIRST, before buying it …
Published Mar 27 2010, 07:11 AM by moneycoach
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