Impending Used Car Purchase

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In 2005, I bought a 2002 Chevy Malibu LS (3.1L v6) with 48k miles on it for $7k. It has served me well despite my abuse and is getting ready to hit 200k miles. It has tons of normal maintenance work coming up (tires, suspension, brakes, etc) and just recently had the fuel pump go out (because I never changed the filter... despite the fact that I bought one that had been sitting in my garage for three years). It has also been in two wrecks for which I have done no repairs. It is time to put 'er down.

I found a 2003 Chevy Malibu LS (3.1L v6) with 48k miles on it... and they want almost $8k for it. I haven't seen it in person, let alone driven it... so I don't know its true condition. It is being sold by a local Toyota dealership, so I trust that they aren't just completely misrepresenting it (although there could be some small inconsistencies.

From what I have seen, they may be a few hundred over KBB. I don't feel comfortable with the price despite the other positive aspects of this deal. I am familiar with the vehicle and have done all of the regular maintenance. Assuming it isn't worse than they state, I should be able to get it to 200k miles easy enough... probably further if I treat it better.

Which brings me to my next point... this will be my daily driving car for the next 2 - 2.5 years, until my kids start driving, and then they will be the drivers. I feel that it is a safe car and it should be reliable. I put 22-25k miles a year on my car with my current commute, and I don't see it changing during the time I would be driving it, then it will have far fewer miles, but it will probably be abused more than I would.

Based on that situation, what price would you feel comfortable paying if you were in my shoes... and what is the reality that I will be able to talk them down?

They also have a 2006 Chevy Malibu LTZ (3.5L v6) with 48k miles for just under $10k. Being the LTZ trim pack, it is fully loaded. It is a different platform than the model I drive, so I don't know about the reliability and such, and I have never driven one. If I can't talk them down closer to $6k for the 2003, I think I would rather go with a newer model that is loaded. For those that actually have a significant amount of driving experience with the newer platform, is it as reliable as the older platform? It has a larger engine that I would assume would take my foot pedal abuse with more ease.

I am ready to pay cash for the 2003 if I can get it to $6k... I would have to save up a couple more months or take out a short-term loan for the 2006, which I don't mind doing as I would have it paid off within 2-3 months and would be able to get a good rate.

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Crown Vic. /thread

No offense to everyone here and the Crown Vic, but I have no desire to have one, at all. I drove one around for a funeral escort once and it was fun for the job, but I cannot imagine it for daily use. I don't want any part of the fuel economy and I don't want to see my kids dinging up everyone else when they start driving and cannot fit into a parking spot.

I am looking for a mid-sized sedan, and I am fine with what I have... I just want one with fewer miles and no body damage.

Something doesn’t sound right… you bought your present car when it was THREE years old for $7k; now you’re considering the very same model, same mileage, but NINE years old, for $8k (or somewhat lower)? Now, I know there’s inflation, that used car prices are up (to what extent, I have no clue, but that’s what I keep hearing), but the current option still sounds expensive to me…

greieras said:   Something doesn’t sound right… you bought your present car when it was THREE years old for $7k; now you’re considering the very same model, same mileage, but NINE years old, for $8k (or somewhat lower)? Now, I know there’s inflation, that used car prices are up (to what extent, I have no clue, but that’s what I keep hearing), but the current option still sounds expensive to me…

That's my dilemma. I know that used car prices have jumped... but just because it has low mileage doesn't mean it hasn't depreciated. If it has been driven so little, it could have sat with old oil in it for a very long amount of time... and it could have oxidation in many places. That is why I would be willing to pay a bit less than last time, especially not more. It is one model year newer than my current car, but it is the same car.

Any used car of a certain age is going to need some maintenance/repairs. Can you repair/maintain your current car for less than $8000 this coming year? If so, then keep it. There is no reason to go through all the hassle of changing cars, especially when the "new" car could come with problems of its own.

That's not really a good way to measure it, to be honest. It would probably cost me $3500 to do the fixes that I need and that would likely give me two years before major stuff... but there is always a risk. My car has cost me less than $1000/year for the price of the vehicle and maintenance. I am looking for something that is similar, although I would be willing to go to $1200/year for cost and maintenance.

Besides, those fixes will last two years, and then what I need to replace it and get another car for my kids? Nah, I will replace this one now and get some personal utility out of it and then pass it on to the kids. Then I will get something a little better for me. While I don't mind doing regular maintenance, I really don't like doing repairs and I hate paying someone else to do them even more. I would prefer to not have to think about it. I just don't need anything extravagant... just reliable and moderately fuel efficient.

Which brings up another point. Besides the reliability comparing the GM "N" platform (1997-2003) and the GM Epsilon platform (2004-2008), what about the fuel economy between the 3.1 and the 3.5? I am not overly worried about it, but if each vehicle is similarly reliable, if the newer 3.5 is even slightly more fuel efficient than the older 3.1, then perhaps I should go that route and get the 2006. At $3.50/gal, I will save about $175/year for each mpg higher I can get... and that is conservative... gas may very well be higher for an extended period of time.

Are you only limited to this one dealership? Why don't you keep shopping if you are not happy with the price?

Why go to a stealership?

No, I am still looking for more cars. I want something with less than 50k miles on it, the newer the better, and I want it for ~$8k or less, with that anticipation of getting $8+ years of driving out of it.

9 year old Malibu for $8k? Pass. Used car prices are up, but they aren't up that much. I would be exceptionally concerned that it wasn't driven enough (less than six thousand miles a year, could have a lot of problems from the amount of sitting it probably did). Obviously you can call the dealer and negotiate, go see the car and kick the tires.

The '06 LTZ could be nice, but I think you're overpaying for that too (not knowing where you are in the country). I would try to find a deal similar to the one you got on your current car. I would go to the dealership and see what they're willing to do, while remembering that there are plenty other Malibu's out there.

KBB on the 2006 is showing $14k for me... so, maybe I go and try and get a little more off and be happy.

Dus10 said:   KBB on the 2006 is showing $14k for me... so, maybe I go and try and get a little more off and be happy.

You don't seem like a guy who loses a lot of sleep over trim level. It's worth considering that apparently you can get a brand new Malibu for under $18k (that is, if you start seeing '06 LTZ in the $14k range). http://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale/vehicledetails.xhtml?zip...

Yeah, keep shopping. I bought a 2-year old Toyota Yaris on Craigslist, with 20K miles, for $8K two summers ago. I realize car prices are up, but they're not up THAT much. I'd keep looking and definitely make looking for a car on CL an intense hobby for a few weeks. Around here, good deals are snapped up very quickly, but once you've limited your search to a few models, you start to see what gets snapped up and at what price, so you then learn when to jump.

Well, the new car can wait... this one will become the kids' car, so I am not going down that road right now. And since the Malibu will become a 4cyl-only this coming model year, I won't be considering it any longer (beyond the existing v6 models). I used to love the Impala, but the interior space is actually less than the Malibu (and I am 6',2" and have broad shoulders, so it matters to me... and there are plenty of others that would be worse off). The 2013 Impala looks sharp... Camaro-style headlamps... if they fixed the interior space issue, that may be the next car I get after this currently fiasco.

That malibu is a TERRIBLE deal! If they knocked $3000 off you might consider it, but those are not good cars to begin with.



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