NEO Car Shopper

Submitted by Evelyn Kiefer on Mon, 03/06/2006 - 14:19.

How does one shop for a car online? I am going to find out!

 I need a new car. I think I know approximately what I am looking for -- excellent safety rating, high fuel efficiency, attractive design, comfortable enough for long road trips, roomy enough to carry skiis, bikes or some large piece of art. I'm convinced I should buy foreign (unless someone can convince me otherwise) because what I hate most is taking my car in for repairs often. What ever I buy I plan to keep it 10 years or more.

I am learning toward the Honda Element, but I have n't test driven one yet. Other contenders are the Honda CR-V and the Toyota Rav4.

How do you get the best deal? New or used? Some of the used vehicles I looked at were loaded with extras, 2-3 thousand less than pared down new models but they had 30-40,000 miles. 30-40,000 miles isn't that much on a Honda, though --right? I plan to finance and I should qualify for the best possible rate but how do I know what that is?

I will check out the online resources and report back with my findings.


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The cars you mention are all presently in vogue.  So they will sell at the high end of the transportation value spectrum.  Try to go with what is presently a black sheep fad wise - like say a minivan or even a full size van.  These are not the desirable model right now.  Crossover vehicles are the in thing. Stupid name “crossover”.  Element looks too military and that is not a good look to support, in my opinion.  

 I have owned numerous foreign and domestic dinos and I am of the opinion that a domestic dino is much cheaper on repairs - they are easier to work on and the parts are much cheaper and you can get them at any Autozone.  I usually do all my own work and putting a starter, brake discs, or an alternator in a US legacy line vehicle is much easier than in a Honda.


Sure, the dinos suck fuel, but if you aren't driving 15,000 miles a year the additional fuel mileage of a compact may not be offset by their more expensive original cost and more expensive repairs.   Do a quick calculation of the cost difference at 3.00 per gallon for 7,500 miles per year at 15 mpg vs 30mpg  = $750 per year.   You can probably buy a 5 year old dino (big GM like unit) for 1/2 the cost of a crossover.   Loan interest, sales tax and insurance will be less.  You will pay for the cheaper unit sooner and can drop comprehensive insurance as soon as you don’t owe the bank.  Who’s going to steal a dino?


If you look around - especially in the local for sale news flyers like a local newspaper -  maybe you can find an older low mileage car which is being given up by someone who is giving up driving.  Keep your eye on neighborhood driveways with cars for sale. Take your time.  Do your homework so you know the fair value of the year, condition and mileage of the car model you finally decide to really go after.  Don't freak out if you go back and a car you liked has been sold.  Chances are very good you will find something better.  Use Kelley Blue book,   Edmund's. and NADA guides (all on line) to develop price - make offer to private individual at very low end of guide numbers.  Use guides to convince seller you are being fair. 

Finance through bank and not car dealer.  Pay cash if possible.

Take the car to your mechanic for pre- purchase shake down. 

Don't shy away from a 10 year old car with low mileage.   

If this line of reasoning leaves you cold,  (which proves my point about those big vans being out of style) then I suggest going to the other extreme and buying a used Toy or Hon ultra low emission hybrid.  They are more expensive, but at least you will be sitting in the most environmentally  correct seat.  

A Diesel  VW bug gets excellent (50mpg) mileage, and VW has the best automotive colors to keep you mood elevated.

Good luck. 


New Avenues

Thank you. I appreciate your comments. You have given me quite a few things to consider and I will be posting what I find.