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Cheap and low maintenance car that isn't a P.O.S?

Discussion in 'Fine Living, Home, Design & Auto' started by BlacKidLA, Dec 16, 2011.

  1. impolyt_one

    impolyt_one Senior member

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    ^ this
     
  2. Andrewc2232

    Andrewc2232 Senior member

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    I was in a similar position earlier this year. I decided to go ahead and replace my old Infiniti (180k+ miles) before it bit the dust. I wanted to buy a car that was no longer depreciating (preferably one that might have some collector's value one day), and borrow no more than I could pay off by the end of 2012. I've already paid off about $5000 of the $12000 I borrowed in August.

    This will be the second time I've schlepped this car on this site recently, but I feel it is a vehicle of many virtues. Again, quite a bit of bias considering I bought one of these a few months ago.

    http://www.autotrader.com/fyc/vdp.j...e=b&num_records=25&cardist=736&standard=false


    According to almost all sources, and now limited first hand experience, these cars should be very reliable. The AMG drive-train in these cars is phenomenally well-built. The car only weighs around 3400 lbs, has a low, firm suspension, very composed handling, and is RWD with 342 HP and over 370 lbs of torque. Expect a 1/4 mile in the low 13's. Add pretty good fuel economy and a very roomy interior.

    Same caveats as in the other thread though. My insurance is pretty cheap ($75/mo for a 23 year old male, clean driving record), though it may be much higher in different areas. Also, it's an older car so expect inevitable minor issues. There have been a few minor quirks with mine, but the only money I've spent on the car so far was $63 for a motor mount I replaced with my dad's help. I've been extremely impressed by the quality of construction and materials in the car, and I don't get the impression that I will have any major repairs in the near future. Looks and drives like a car half its age. Still, if you're not in a position to handle a major repair should something come up, do not buy a luxury car, especially not a German one.
     
  3. Hayward

    Hayward Senior member

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    For 15K you could buy three 80s vintage Porsche 944s. Keep two in reserve as each car when driven properly will last about three years. When they die strip the usable parts and sell them on eBay. Just leave the chassis on the side of the road. You don't even need insurance.
     
  4. impolyt_one

    impolyt_one Senior member

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    you're mostly right about all of that, except for the part about it becoming a collectible that would appreciate - to become a collectible and gain value from that it'd need to be a) incredibly limited production/supply, b) in top nick, low mileage, basically unused for the next buyer, not you - so enjoy the car while you have it and try not to worry about it. It's very rare that anyone doesn't lose a huge bundle of money on a car, unless you're an artist with a penchant for bringing back dead old cars with some sort of licensed pedigree that can sell under your name.

    You bought a good car though, so like I said, enjoy it while it runs nicely, take care of it, etc. They don't make them like they used to.
     
  5. Andrewc2232

    Andrewc2232 Senior member

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    I said I wanted to buy a car that would appreciate, not that I bought a car that would appreciate. ;)

    Fair points though. Although the 55's are pretty low production (around 3000 CLK55 coupes were sold in the US in '01 and '02, only years for this body style), I doubt that this car will appreciate for many years. On the other hand, I doubt its value will dip too far below 10k assuming I take care of it. You can't really say the same for non AMG cars, which will decrease in value to a couple grand eventually.

    My dad has a moderately sized vintage car collection. The only cars he might make a profit selling are a '59 Edsel he bought for 500 bucks 20 years ago, and a '55 Thunderbird with rare options he just finished restoring. Every other car has more sunk costs than its current value, including his other Thunderbird, a '57.

    But back to the topic, depreciation is a killer hidden cost that I tend to avoid, regardless of what I'm buying. At least for this purchase, I will never owe more than the car is worth. I think that's a terrible situation to be in, especially if the cost of the car was a stretch in the first place.
     
  6. Cary Grant

    Cary Grant Senior member

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    Dunno your definition of "fun" but go test drive the new Fiat 500; you can get into the base model for $15k.

    I've had one since last Spring... (Sport model, around $20k) it's not a race car but it's go-kart fun to drive. You'll be able to squeeze into all kinds of parking spaces in LA that most cars won't... it's roomier inside that a Mini Cooper. There are probably a few used pones around already under $15k.
     
  7. Cary Grant

    Cary Grant Senior member

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  8. CYstyle

    CYstyle Senior member

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    I'd have to agree with GreenFrog on the lease. The problem with this 5 year car assumption is that the only cost is gas. You have to take into account oil changes, smog checks, brakes and rotors, windshield wipers, tire changes, for just regular maintenance, then common but more expensive fixes: spark plugs, suspension, the starter, if your engine dies etc.

    Used cars require a lot of maintenance costs. Plus cars are like a gamble. You can get a car for 15k that will run smoothly and have no problems for 5 years other than just regular maintenance, get the same model/year with same miles and it'll be a complete piece of shit.

    I leased a camry, It's nothing special, but the nice thing is I don't give a shit about my car.I pay $240/month with $0 down. I schedule the maintenance for oil changes when I hit x miles and totally worry free. I also don't freak out about little scratches and then in a few years i'll trade it in for another new car.
     
  9. BlacKidLA

    BlacKidLA Senior member

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    I believe I have found my new car. Found a 2004 CLK500 AMG with only 43k miles. Asking price is 16k.
     
  10. impolyt_one

    impolyt_one Senior member

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    lol. good luck. :crackup:
     
  11. Andrewc2232

    Andrewc2232 Senior member

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    The CLK500s are generally well reviewed. I test drove an '04 CLK500 and an '03 CLK55 before picking up my '01 CLK55. The W209's (03 and later) are solid cars, but are a good bit heavier than the previous generation W208s. You can tell the difference in the handling--a little ponderous compared to the previous generation IMO.

    I also think the W208 coupes are gorgeous, but find the W209s a bit bland. Interior feels a little cheaper as well--you definitely know you're in a 2 door C-class.

    Still, reasonably good reliability ratings and solid performance.

    Apart from the car though, I'm not convinced it's a great choice. 16k seems like it's right at the extreme limit of your price range. Do your homework and find out what common repairs will cost you. Plan on ~$750+ for anything other than a very minor repair. Replacing a window regulator (which is not at all uncommon) will run you a cool $500. The 2003+ cars are a little bit more complicated mechanically and, from what I've read, not as reliable as the previous generation. The only reason I could justify buying my CLK was knowing that the W208 AMG drive-train was reputedly bulletproof, and nothing on that generation car was especially complicated mechanically.

    Do you have a contingency plan in case of a major failure, other than being stranded? Do you know that your parents will help you out? In my case, I could have bought a more expensive car. Instead, I have a couple grand set aside for a worst case scenario. My father and I can also handle many basic repairs, and we have an excellent relationship with a local indie Benz shop. I won't necessarily be up a creek if my CLK needs a new radiator or wheel bearing. Think carefully on whether you would be able to say the same. I would consider something cheaper to give you a little more headroom for maintenance.

    Also, don't let a Benz enthusiast catch you referring to a CLK500 as an AMG.

    As another suggestion, have you looked at a 2003 Acura TL S-Type? With a fully loaded interior and 260ish HP, it wouldn't be a bad ride. Could easily find one with low miles for sub 10k, plus excellent reliability.
     
  12. Benzito

    Benzito Senior member

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    You know you'll make it big when your first car is a Benz (unless it is a C class). Either that or you'll look a little out of place being early 20s trying to look like a baller before your time. Maybe something a bit . . . less?
     
  13. Benzito

    Benzito Senior member

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    Other than the crap suggestions of a Buick or a cheap Honda, I am guessing his monthly insurance will run $175 - $250 anyway. If he is going to drive like a speed freak and trash his car, that won't make much difference either when it comes to consumables (tires, for example).

    I only mentioned the Honda because he's living at home and can afford it.
     
  14. BlacKidLA

    BlacKidLA Senior member

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    Car sold already... 3 hours after I found it, haha. My price range is 15-20k, I'd just like to stay closer to 15k so 16k is fine.

    I have a 1997 E320 right now and every time it needs fixing my dad and I fix it up. It's broken down a few times and he's repaired it on his own with a little help from me. That being said, my car is pushing 190k miles... There are so many minor things still wrong with my car but I haven't even bothered to pay to repair them because the money just wouldn't be worth it.

    I'm open to any recommendations but you sold me on the CLK! I've been researching and reading about it and it seems solid.
     
  15. impolyt_one

    impolyt_one Senior member

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    If the 175-250 figure is true nowadays (I'll trust you on that, I haven't been 22 in awhile, nor have I been in America for awhile either, but my insurance was that much 12 years ago when I was 17 or 18 on lesser powered cars) - then it's definitely a sign that OP should probably not be trying to get a fast car. He'd be paying 35% of his income towards owning and operating a massively depreciating asset.

    Andrewc's reasoning is pretty good actually, you CAN get a car that is unlikely to depreciate much further, but they are rarer, and also fairly old by now. That doesn't mean they're bad cars, in fact many are good cars, it'll just be 'vintage' by the time OP finally gets the pink slip for it in 5 years. I'd love an old 2001 E55 AMG and you can get them for a song nowadays, but it's pretty much a Russian drug dealer's car at this point.

    The Acura TL suggestion was good. It's a nicer Honda Accord basically, and would fit the budget reasonably. Wouldn't have to try and own it for 5 years either, necessarily.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2011
  16. Wolfador

    Wolfador Senior member

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    I would move out of my parents place before buying a 15k car.
     
  17. JayJay

    JayJay Senior member

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    This.
     
  18. impolyt_one

    impolyt_one Senior member

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    I think staying at home is a good idea actually - shit is kind of different in 2011. If I was 22 right now and could stay at home while working, I'd do it for maybe a few years, even.

    If I was OP and making $25K a year though, I wouldn't buy a $15K car - I'd probably buy a $5K car, insure it for liability only, and hope for the best.

    I was talking to a friend who is also 22 and graduating this year, and he has to buy a car of his own as well - he is actually gonna pull down $70K a year, live on his own, and he's smart enough to punch realistic numbers - he came to the conclusion that having a $15K car (car as in just a car, not a 300hp one) is a stretch for him. He could do it, but it's still a rather high percentage of income, all expenses factored in.

    Even my dad, who still works after many years, and makes a livable salary along with my mother, who also works and pulls down a salary of her own - my father is very determined to live within his means and up until a few years ago, he wouldn't have paid attention to used cars costing much more than $15K himself - even if you make $200K a year after taxes, a $15K car financed over a couple years could be in for up to 7 or 8% of your income once operating and ownership costs are factored in.
     
  19. Pilot

    Pilot Senior member

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    Was having a talk with a coworker the other day. He makes about as much as the OP, lives on his own, plenty of debt, and was asking my opinion on him purchasing an 08 Land Rover Lr3. I now see the OP's argument as perfectly reasonable in comparison.
     
  20. impolyt_one

    impolyt_one Senior member

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    would you buy a $15K car (ie a used MB CLK500) at 22, with a $25K/yr salary in LA? serious question.
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2011

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