Advice on Getting a Car

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by irmongoose, Apr 8, 2006.

  1. irmongoose macrumors 68030

    irmongoose

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2001
    Location:
    Sometimes Tokyo, sometimes California
    #1
    Hi all,

    I just heard from the university I applied to in Orange County, CA that I was accepted, and as it is the LA area it's pretty clear that I will need a car. I don't know jack about cars, my family has somehow survived without them for 30 years here in Japan.

    What I would like some advice on is:

    1) Does anyone know any reliable second-hand car dealers in the LA area?
    2) What is a good car that will serve my purposes? I would like a car
    with large trunk space to carry equipment​
    that doesn't eat up gas like a monster​
    that preferably doesn't look hideous​
    3) How much do you think an average month's use will cost me on gas?

    Thanks.



    irmongoose
     
  2. Takumi macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2005
    Location:
    Gunma, Japan
    #2
    Takumi recomends the 'Toyota Trueno AE86 Corolla GT Apex' (of with which you're no doubt familia)
    [​IMG]

    This car forfills your 3 requirements:

    lift back for large storage space (especially with rear seats removed

    Has a 1.6L twin cam fuel injected motor laying down 86-90kW from the factory, (this can be easily improved upon.) As such though it doesn't use a great deal of petrol when driven sencebly

    Looks oldskool and tuff (and is RWD not like most modern econo boxes)


    Takumi
     
  3. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2002
    Location:
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    #3
    I'd recommend a hatchback. They're great when you need to haul stuff. If you fold down the backseats, you have way more room than you would ever get in a sedan/saloon), and if you don't have anything to carry other than several friends, it can do that too! ;)

    I have a Hyundai Getz, but you could get a Hyundai Accent when you're there for very cheap. It will be even cheaper when used. But if you do get a Hyundai, get a somewhat recent model (maybe 2002 and newer) because their quality nowadays is fantastic, while it used to be rather suss a long time ago.

    Maybe it's a better idea to go to dealerships and take note of which models you're looking for, and then we can give you more specific recommendations. There are too many used cars out there, and this conversation would never end.


    And remember not to slow down at the turns.....

    Is that an actual photo from Japan? That is messed up. I see many large SUVs......looks more like America. If that's America, that photo is even more messed up.
     
  4. Takumi macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2005
    Location:
    Gunma, Japan
    #4
    [​IMG] this is what Jap licience plates look like.

    The photo was off google, but I take your point, (notes the lady in the back ground)

    Takumi

    P.S:
    I've got a Celica GT4 ST185 at the moment, (somewhat of a toyota nut, have had a hilux 2 KE55's (1 2door, 1 4door) and a 1977 RA28 mustang back celica (current project)) they are ever so reliable (notes the KE55 adventure video here that car is still running)
     
  5. irmongoose thread starter macrumors 68030

    irmongoose

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2001
    Location:
    Sometimes Tokyo, sometimes California
    #5
    = HIDEOUS! :mad: :p

    It seems you love that car... you're posting about it all over the forums! :D :eek:



    Abstract: Will a hatchback allow for huge equipment, i.e. film cameras, tripods, boxes, etc?
    I will be using the car to shoot on location outside the local area. I guess it depends on the car, but to keep these things secure and not have them fall and break, I was thinking whether the equipment will be better off in a trunk.

    Thanks.



    irmongoose
     
  6. Takumi macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2005
    Location:
    Gunma, Japan
    #6
    I'm just posing it every time someone asks advise on gtting a car.

    on a more serious note: you're from the land where cars are a dime a dozen (or at least have family still there,) it might even be cheaper to export/import a car to the USA as a personal import, although Left hand drive may be an issue though. In any case you could buy a "Lancia delta HF intergrale" and take it over as these are all LHD. these can be aquired at the USS Auto auctions for less than $2000AUD (~1500USD, 200,000JPY)
    with the seats folded down you can fit any number of bulky items in one.

    If you're looking larger still you'd most likley want a station wagon or van

    Takumi
     
  7. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #7
    @Takumi: Yes, I saw the girl in the Kimono/Yukata (that's what they're called, no?), but I saw the non-Japanese license and got confused. :confused:

    A hatchback will allow you to carry lots and lots of things. If you don't have lots of things, you don't need to fold the seat down and just use the trunk/boot that's there. There's still a bit of space back there. I'm sure I could carry a tripod, boxes, and my dSLR in the back if I want. If you want to carry a box without folding down the seats, you could just put the box in the back or front seat. ;)

    Oh, and in many hatchbacks, you can fold down only the left seat in the back row (if you think about the Japanese orientation of the seats and steering wheel), or you could fold down the middle + right seat simultaneously, which would give you even more space. The 3rd option is being able to fold down the left seat, and then fold down the middle + right seat at the same time and free up the entire back of your car.

    I simply believe that in terms of practicality, a hatchback is usually the best option if you have things to carry. Most people don't need an SUV.......they need anything with a hatchback. An SUV just so happens to have a hatchback door.
     
  8. Les Kern macrumors 68040

    Les Kern

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    Alabama
    #8
  9. blackfox macrumors 65816

    blackfox

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    Feb 18, 2003
    Location:
    PDX
    #9
    Don't know what your budget is - so there is quite a bit of potential variation.

    A Honda or Toyota hatchback or stationwagon will probably do the trick, although you won't win any awards in the sexy dept.

    I also recommend an older Volvo 240 Stationwagon - they are built like tanks and have fairly good gas mileage. Also pretty ugly, although I have always liked their utilitarian design.

    A subaru wagon may also work well for you.

    As for how much you might spend on gas - impossible to say exactly. Still a rough average would be $3 (cost of a gallon of gas in CA) for 20 miles (averaging fuel consumption to 20mpg).
     
  10. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

    pseudobrit

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    Jobs' Spare Liver Jar
    #10
    And the first time it needs a spark plug or cap & rotor or even an oil filter you're be airfreighting it from Italy, 'cause no one but no one carries Lancia parts over here.

    My advice: Buy a three ton SUV with 4x4. You'll fit right in.

    Or buy anything else. A used Ford Focus hatchback would fit nicely and is more affordable than buying Japanese, so you won't care so much when it gets totalled by some inattentive valley girl yapping on her cell.
     
  11. irmongoose thread starter macrumors 68030

    irmongoose

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2001
    Location:
    Sometimes Tokyo, sometimes California
    #11
    Thanks for the help so far people.

    Takumi: How do these auctions work? Do you actually go there and bid like in a normal auction? (Sorry, I probably sound like I don't know a thing... actually, I don't.)

    Abstract: Thanks for the heads-up on the hatchback. I hadn't known about those... I checked up online and they do in fact look quite roomy. I'll definitely be looking into those.

    Les Kern: Sorry, I probably didn't make it clear that I will be attending a film school, and will be transporting equipment for location shooting. A Smart Car won't cut it, I think. They do seem to have awesome mileage, though... a shame.

    blackfox: Do you think I will be able to get those cars second-hand for about $2000? The gas rate doesn't seem to be nearly as high as here in Japan... what a relief! :D Thanks.

    pseudobrit: An SUV? Are you serious, or pulling my leg?




    irmongoose
     
  12. Takumi macrumors regular

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    Dec 15, 2005
    Location:
    Gunma, Japan
    #12
    With upwards of 100,000 cars sold at auction every week, the traditional methods are too slow. Bidding takes place on computers with auctions lasting little more htan 10 seconds in most cases.

    I bought my car through www.grahamberry2.co.jp however being a native, you no doubt be able to contact freinds/family so that you wouldn't have to go to the expence of enlisting a 3rd party.

    Takumi
     
  13. blackfox macrumors 65816

    blackfox

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    PDX
    #13
    Well, in that price range there is a little skill and luck involved in finding a decent, dependable car that you won't have to sink further money inti in terms of repair. Coming over to the US from Japan and shopping in a big city like greater LA do put you at somewhat of a disadvantage.

    I would recommend befriending someone at school/locally and have them recommend a reputable mechanic. Have any potential purchase checked out with them. It is by no means a guarantee, but when buying a used car in that price range, a reputable mechanic is a great thing to have.

    Also, there are a relative mountain of other auto-related costs - insurance and some relatively complicated registration, titling and emissions testing you will have to go through and pay for. California's system is more complicated than most, so I'll let a Californian explain it to you. These will set you back some. Depending, you might want to buy a car in Oregon, but I am not sure if that would work out as worth your time or any cheaper in the long run.

    As for car models, I stick by my Original suggestions, though in that price range, you are looking at 15 year-old cars (or more). Do your research.

    Yes, gas is pretty cheap here in the US, but CA is the most expensive state for gas (among other things), and it may continue to rise.

    Good Luck. Perhaps a local MR member may help you out once you arrive in LA.
     
  14. ITASOR macrumors 601

    ITASOR

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    Location:
    Oneida, NY
    #14
    In the US, look at the Kias...they seem pretty cheap. If you want to spend more, the VW Golf gets good gas mileage.
     
  15. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #15
    You want a car for $2000?? At that price, just get something that's reliable, like an old Honda Civic or something. Don't worry about getting a hatchback. I'm sure any car can carry some still photography equipment and several boxes.
     
  16. irmongoose thread starter macrumors 68030

    irmongoose

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2001
    Location:
    Sometimes Tokyo, sometimes California
    #16
    Thanks people!

    Hmm, so it seems I should be looking to spend a little higher? If I want something cheap I will need to be prepared to have it break down?

    I guess I can only really tell once I get there and start looking into it first-hand.

    I'll definitely be getting some advice from the university once I get there as well.

    Abstract: You're right, a car is a car... it will have space for luggage.

    Hmm... I'll need to think about this.



    irmongoose
     
  17. savar macrumors 68000

    savar

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    Location:
    District of Columbia
    #17
    1) Sorry, no -- not from LA. I can say that buying from a dealer is not nearly as cost-effective as buying from a private party. Sure you can get screwed by a private seller, but 90% of dealers are trying to screw you also. Buy from a private party and hire an unbiased mechanic to evaluate the car -- look for ASE (automotive service diagnostic) in the yellow pages. You should also take it upon yourself to learn something about cars so that you can tell if a car is well-maintained or not. Owning a car is a big responsibility because its a pretty complicated machine...learning how it works and how to take care of it will save you a lot of money in the long run.

    2) Lots of cars fit your description, of course Japanese cars have the best reliabilty if that's something that matters to you. I would strongly recommend either a Honda accord or an Acura Integra. These are reasonably priced cars that are decent-to-good looking (depending on your tastes), they drive really well, and you can drive them up to 200,000 miles and beyond with proper maintenance. Gas mileage is also excellent. You can also find models as recent as 01 for less than 10K. (I own an Integra.) These two models are also the most stolen cars in America, so don't forget to take measures to secure it.

    3) Totally impossible to say without knowing how you will be using it. I live in a DC suburb, commute 2 miles to work, and make the occasional road trip. It costs about 25-30 bucks for me to fill my tank (around 10-11 gallons). So thats about $50-60 a month. In LA, gas is probably more expensive (ours just spiked to $2.75) and you will probably also drive many more miles. Don't be surprised to spend $100 a month depending on your driving habits.
     
  18. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

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    #18
    Doesn't look like you've gotten any information from the Los Angeles area at all.

    Car Max has a dealership in Irvine and another in Ontario. Irvine is slightly closer. Check the website for inventory. They're more-or-less a national business owned by the same people who own Circuit City stores.

    Not that it really helps, but you can check the Los Angeles Times.

    Since I'm going to be moving around the corner, I'll be looking for another car since a 49 states car will never pass the emissions testing for California. I'm interested in who is reliable, too.
     
  19. Peyton macrumors 68000

    Peyton

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    Feb 2, 2006
    #19
    First of all, PRICE is the info we need to get you a good answer. Generally Honda and Toyota are the most reliable. Honda Civics, accords, or Toyota Camry or Corolla would be what you're looking for.

    Accords and Camrys are the big brothers to Civics and Corolla. Decide on trunk space accordingly. Anyway, gas is generally pretty light on those so that would take care of that. but seriously, I'd say $3-5,000 is what you're looking at for a decent car like you're talking about.

    New, you could get a civic for about 13,000 accords go for 16,000

    Corollas and Camrys are similarly priced.

    Of course there are unlimited amounts of cars and variations of every imaginable creature comfort, but I think most on this board will agree those two brands are most reliable.


    BTW, I have a VW Jetta 1.8T and I love it.
     
  20. yg17 macrumors G5

    yg17

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    #20
    Its got a Missouri license plate, so definitely in America. People do some strange **** to their cars here, including Japanese lettering
     
  21. dornoforpyros macrumors 68040

    dornoforpyros

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    Location:
    Calgary, AB
    #21
    not to high-jack this thread, but I'm also in the market for a car, I'm just wondering what's a reasonable amount of time to be paying off a car? I'm looking at financing options and they've got everything from 24 month to 60 months and more.
     
  22. bartelby macrumors Core

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    Jun 16, 2004
    #22

    You like that car don't you.
    :D
     
  23. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

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    #23
    It was the model used in Initial-D, the movie. They weren't particularly good cars, even when new, so the only reason to have one is to drift since it's quite expendable but has rear wheel drive. That hampers its ability to haul because there is less available room, due to the rear axle.
     
  24. iGav macrumors G3

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    Mar 9, 2002
    #24
    Yeah and cost serious £...$...€... to keep in fine fettle. ;)

    I suspect at that price, they won't exactly be in tip-top shape either.
     
  25. Takumi macrumors regular

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    Dec 15, 2005
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    Gunma, Japan
    #25
    My 1989 Celica GT4 ST185 cost 188,000JPY at eh USS auto auctions. It has no mechanical troubles, no rust, leather interior, sunroof, 10 speaker CD player, electric drivers seat and climate control AC just to name a few.

    The market for ~15 year old cars in Japan is very limited becasue as the car gets older it becmes more expencive to register. As such the turn over of vehicles is much faster as people buy new every 3 years or so.

    for example, this 1994 Supra RZ TT. This that's $10,000USD. Not bad for a rather desirable car.

    They've actually got really good storage space. The other reason the car was and still is popular is because of the motor that came in it. The 4A-GE is a carbon copy of the coverted ford BDA 1.6L. Same bore and stroke, same valve angles and size... the motor can be tuned in excess of 250hp. not bad for a 1982 1.6L. Other reasons relate more to the drift scene where they are light weight, well balanced and easy to find body parts for etc...

    Takumi

    P.S:
    not particulary, I'm celica GT4 fan, just having some fun.

    And back on topic, cheap deen't mean unreliable: think the USA equivlant of the 1990 toyot camery wagon or tercel. they run forever and have heaps of storage space.
     

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