So, I need advice on buying my first car...

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by MonksMac, Jan 15, 2011.

  1. MonksMac macrumors 6502a


    Dec 5, 2005
    Hey, anyone have some sage advice about buying a car?

    So, here's the scoop...
    I'm 18, Senior in High School-currently in Driver's Ed (should be getting my permit in a week or so, and license pretty soon after that as long as I pass the exam! :p), and live in Texas.

    I'm in pretty dire need of a car to get around, and pretty frustrated that finding a decent car is so hard. I've got a pretty limited budget right now; roughly $600 saved up from working. I might be able to get my parents to kick in a couple hundred though...

    Any suggestions on what to buy?

    So far, I've managed to find a few cars in my price range- including a 1979 Toyota Celica. Any advice on the Celica?
    Help! :eek:
  2. Steve Jobs. macrumors regular

    Feb 6, 2010
  3. imaketouchtheme macrumors 65816

    Dec 5, 2007
    You definitely do not want to purchase a car that old. What would be best is to try and get a decent car loan from a credit union or somewhere like that and get a car in the $2,500-$3,000 range. Getting an old beater for less than a $1,000 is just going to cost you so much more money in the long run.
  4. Tyler23 macrumors 603


    Dec 2, 2010
    Atlanta, GA
    I definitely would say get an auto loan from your bank. Set yourself a price range somewhere between $1500-$4000 or so.

    I've had two cars now (20 years old). Both cars cost around $6500 and I pay about $145.00 a month. Not too bad actually.

    You'll definitely end up paying a lot more in the long run, though, for a car bought that cheap. Also, you don't want to buy one that old.

    Auto loan is the way to go.
  5. MonksMac thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Dec 5, 2005
    The only thing about getting a loan... I have no credit history. I doubt any bank will loan me a cent. Secondly- I don't think it's a very smart move to get into so much debt at this age. I want to own it outright! :)

    I only work 8-10 hours a week at minimum wage ($7.25), because I have school, and time consuming school activities (Academic Decathlon, anyone?).

    I don't need to buy a car right away- I figure that I've got a few months (June, July?) and then buy before I head away to college.

    I suppose the Celica is a bit old, but I feel like it suits my personality. I've always loved quirky and unique cars- I'm quite a Jalop! ;)
  6. NickZac macrumors 68000


    Dec 11, 2010
    Older (as in late 80s-early 90s) Accords, Camrys, and Corollas are pretty tough, as are Volvos from the same era. It isn't uncommon to hear about people having 300k, 400k, and even more than 400k miles on them. If you're getting an older car, get it in stick if at all possible and get as few as power options as possible, except steering, AC, brakes, etc (you know, the basics).
  7. Tyler23 macrumors 603


    Dec 2, 2010
    Atlanta, GA
    For your situation, MonksMac (now that we know a bit more about it), NickZac's got some pretty solid advice there.

    I would definitely try for an early 90s Honda (Accord especially), Corolla, and definitely liking his mention of the Volvos from that era, another wise choice.

    Also agree about getting one with a manual gearbox.
  8. Dalton63841, Jan 15, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2011

    Dalton63841 macrumors 65816


    Nov 27, 2010
    My suggestion is to find yourself an older car, something easy to find parts for(Ford or GM). Make the car a project. Learn how to work on it.

    My first car was a '74 Ford Mustang. Believe it or not I paid $100 for it. It had sat behind my uncles cabin IN the woods for 7 years. They pulled it out with a tractor! It took me 4 months and ~$700 to rebuild the car from the ground up. (Parts for that car are dirt cheap and even cheaper if you shop around) To this day that car is still being driven around...When I got rid of it it had 364,000 miles on it.

    Now I'm not saying to get something needing THAT much work, but if you get something that is driveable, but needs work, enjoy the project. The pride of knowing you made that car work right is great.

    And hey, just so you know, if that Celica runs, I don't care if it is a '79, you can do ALOT to those cars.
  9. MonksMac, Jan 15, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2011

    MonksMac thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Dec 5, 2005
    Yeah, I suppose I should have gave a bit more information... :rolleyes:

    I've always loved the '86-93 Accords and I'm a huge Volvo fan. Most Accords of that vintage seem to go for about $2-2500 in this area. BTW- I'm in the DFW area.

    Occasionally I'll find a few Volvo 240's on Craigslist for about $1200. I'm thinking that's a pretty smart choice?

    re: manual- I'd love to learn, but no-one I know owns or drives one (and I'm left handed).

    Also, I'm pretty sure that my father will go bananas and not let me buy a car, so that's one more obstacle to deal with...

    @Dalton- I know! That's why that listing caught my eye. I like older cars a bit more than newer cars (obviously I wouldn't complain about a free brand new car though! ;) ) and think it would be a good skill to learn how to work on cars by myself and not rely on a repair shop.
    My ultimate goal (at least in the car world) is that once I have a decent job and make some real money to buy a nice E30 BMW or Porsche 944, maybe a SAAB 900 Turbo...:apple:
  10. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Oct 9, 2006
    while they can and often do make it to that point they still have a lot of little issues that come on them. Parts are just worn out. The suspension is often times worn out, seats are at the end of their life, dials in the car show wear and tear and often times little things are just worn out. Will the car run yeah but still you run into little things that just have to be replaced. My dad as a 12 year old Accord. It shows its age inside the car. As for major things that have been replaced on it you have the clutch but that is a given. The hydrolic part for the clutch also has been replaced. Time belt has been in need of replacing for quite some time and big fear for my dad is it snapping.
    Suspension is worn.

    As for the OP I would try to have at least 2-3k at min for your first car. Going for a cheap one you pay for it in the fact that you just can not trust it and it will die on you when you need it the most.
    As for driving a manual and being left handed not really an issue. The shifting part is easy and if you ever learn you will learn that the motions are pretty much just push straight up and down. It is not hard. The part that new manual drivers struggle with is getting the timing down on the clutch and mastering letting it slip. The shifting the gear lever is the easy part. I say this as someone who primary car has been a manual since i was 16. I have been driving a manual for well over 10 years.

    As for a rookie driver learning to drive on a manual I tend to recommend against that. It is learn how to drive first then learn how to drive a manual. Reason for it is the shifting and controlling the gear thing is one more thing for a very over loaded brain to deal with and if you can remove it then it is a good idea to. Once you got a little time under you belt (few months) then you can move on to a manual.
  11. glocke12 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 7, 2008
    For a first car you should try and save up more, but at 18 that may not be possible. Id shoot for spending anywhere between 3k-5k if you can.

    Also, at the age of 18 Id really advise against getting a loan, but if you have to try and keep it small, 2k or under. Having loans and credit card bills is a huge burden in life to be avoided if possible.

    Also, once a car starts approaching the ten years of age mark, your more than likely to encounter alot more repairs as the at that point the metal parts just get brittle and worn out, and the rubber and plastic parts do also.

    Mileage, and the type of driving plays a role also. Some cars "wear" mileage better than others, but if possible Id try and find something that has no more than 60-80k on it.

    As far as exactly what car to get, after owning two toyotas that both went to close to, or over 200,000 miles before I got rid of them, Id really, really, really recommend a used toyota. They are very reliable, parts are plentiful, and they are not that expensive to work on. Id also recomend against a manual transmission, especially if you are learning how to drive. You'll have enough to worry about as you learn how to negotiate traffic without dealing with a manual tranny...I personally think they are annoying.

    Maybe a used Camry ?

    Above all, take your time, dont rush into anything, and if possible either have someone who knows ALOT about cars with you when looking, or pay to have a mechanic give a car you might like a once over (brakes, fluid lines, timing, compression, etc).
  12. heehee macrumors 68020


    Jul 31, 2006
    Same country as Santa Claus
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_2_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8C148 Safari/6533.18.5)

    You need to factor in insurance. That $600 might not even cover insurance.
  13. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6


    Aug 17, 2007
    Agreed, you need to have more money saved up OP.
  14. Doc750 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 11, 2010
    Buying the car at that price point will be the cheapest part of the equation. It's the maintenance and replacing all the crap wrong with it which will eat at your budget.

    Also a project car is more fun as your second car. It sucks when you have to go to work everyday and your car is SOL for a couple of weeks at a time.

    Also I don't know about you, but insurance for me at 18, was well over $1k/year, and that was before any of the tickets.
  15. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Oct 9, 2006
    You need to factor in insurance. That $600 might not even cover insurance.[/QUOTE]

    true. When I was that age liability only was something like 100+ a month.
  16. ender land macrumors 6502a

    Oct 26, 2010
    This is a very good point.

    I had a 1995 sable for a few years and when I was 22 insurance was $400-500 a year (mostly liability).

    Cars are hella expensive. So far for my new(er) vehicle - 05 Focus Wagon - the actual purchase cost of the car is about 1/2 of what I pay each month, figuring in repairs/oilchanges/gas/insurance. For an older car on a $600 budget I'd expect it to be a significantly higher percentage.
  17. Leet Apple macrumors 6502a

    Leet Apple

    Nov 10, 2009
    As much as you like old cars they wont last aslong in the long run, continue to save up and buy a car $2000+

    +Women like their cars

    and if you do get the Toyota be sure to customize it a bit
  18. MonksMac thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Dec 5, 2005
    Insurance... BLECH. That's why I wanted an older car, so I'd only need liability.
    During the week (maybe tomorrow, if they're open) I'm going to call the insurance company and ask for a quote. I'm hoping it won't be more than $200 a month (I could afford that!), especially since I'll be on my parents policy (at least for the time being) and we've been with the same company for over 20 years...

    To clarify: I have $600 right now, I get a paycheck every week, and by the time I have my license and am actually going to purchase an automobile I'll have more than $600... So, I'm not asking about buying a car for that little. Unfortunately it just can't be done. :(

    Thank you everybody for your advice!
    And, please keep giving me more suggestions! :D
  19. dukebound85 macrumors P6


    Jul 17, 2005
    5045 feet above sea level
    OP, you could always get a scooter. I know in most states, if the cc's are less than 50, you do not need a license, registration, insurance, etc

    However, this assumes you don't live where it is always snowy. Cars are expensive in terms of gas, and insurance, especially starting out

    But if you are just looking for a way to putz around, I'd look into a scooter as they get like 100mpg and for the reasons I mentioned above. Plus they are cheaper and can still go in the 30's

    As far as a celica, I have a 1990 and love it. 79 would be too old for me. I would have a hard time buying a car over 15 years old and/or over 100k miles personally

    Have you looked at civics or corollas? There tends to be a lot of those around for cheap prices when browsing CL
  20. wvuwhat macrumors 65816


    Sep 26, 2007
    I was just about to suggest a scooter. Barring bad weather and highways, you're good to go and you'll save a TON of money. I think you're right about the insurance as well.

    You're smart not to get into debt, I was able to get a loan in high school for a car, because my parents co-signed and I had a good down payment saved up from mowing lawns. In retrospect, I shoulda gone with a used car and not had a car payment for a new car, as my Senior year and both of my first 2 years of college were all about that.

    You sound like you have a pretty good head on your shoulders and you should be alright with any decision you make.

    If you do decide to go the used car route, I'd go 90's Accord.
  21. Synchromesh macrumors 6502a


    Jul 15, 2009
    That's a very bad suggestion. At 18 he should try to avoid getting into anal slavery to the banks. Otherwise it quickly becomes a nightmare with credit cards, loans, payments, etc.

    I went through several cars by now (I'm 31) and currently own 2. Never had a car loan in my life and don't intend to as long as possible. I always purchased my cars for cash and I think that's the way to go, especially for somebody looking for an older cheaper car like that.

    I would suggest a 90s Accord, Civic, Corolla or even a Volvo 240. All good cars. Of course maintaining them will have to happen because they are 15-20 year old cars by now but insurance is cheap, they're fairly reliable and somewhat safe and most of all they're not fast or flashy which is a good thing for a novice driver. Take it from somebody who started with '87 Buick Skyhawk Wagon and totaled it after about 1 year of use. :)

    Cars to avoid: anything European (expensive, high maintenance cost and a lot of it), Korean (cars in your range will be junky) and generally American. The latter will nickle and dime you to death.

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