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I NEED a Car… Now, New or Used?

honda fit I NEED a Car... Now, New or Used?

When I first moved to School City, my intention was to NOT buy a car. I even canceled my auto insurance and AAA membership.

Now that I’ve been settling in for a week or so, I’ve realized that while going car-free is technically feasible, it’s not very fun. Or even practical. I don’t think there’s a problem going from home to school, but it’s all the other things (groceries, movies, dance classes, visiting nearby cities on the weekends) that are a big PITA. So even though I feel like a bit of a wimp – given how excited I was about the prospect of leading a car-free lifestyle – a car has jumped from “Nice to Have” into the “Need to Have” category. On a scale of 1 to 10, having a car is pretty much a 8.5 or higher in my area. Oh defeat, thy name rolls bitterly off my lips.

To buy new or used car?

  • I have around $18,000 to get a car out-the-door. This will obviously impact my graduate school cashflow, namely, I’d be out $18,000 that I can use to pay tuition. My monthly expenses would also rise thanks to insurance costs, AAA membership, etc.
  • Reliability is one of the most important criteria to me, as someone who is, ah, not very well acquaintedwith the inner workings of an automobile.
  • Cars I’m considering are: Honda Fit, Hyundai Elantra, Toyota Corolla, Toyota Matrix

So I’m leaning towards a new car, specifically a new Honda Fit. It’s reliable, I love the hatchback, and $18,000 will just about cover an automatic base model. Two years ago, I contemplated buying a new car vs. keeping my old Honda, and decided to stick with the Ol’ Faithful. Now, the equation has turned to buying a new car or buying a used car.

While I can get a used car for much cheaper, I’m hesitant. My family has had a stellar experience with Hondas (our cars were a 1993 Honda Civic – still running, a 1996 Honda Accord – 250,000 miles and going strong, and a 2006 Honda Pilot), and so I’d like to stick with that brand if possible. Used Hondas with lower mileage (say, fewer than 100,000 miles) are very expensive, so I wouldn’t be saving much on depreciation. And if I keep my Honda for 10 years or 250,000 miles, the depreciation hit of a new car wouldn’t be much higher…

What do you think? New car, used car, Honda Fit, something else?

  • Amy - When I went to get my new car (out of necessity – my old '93 Mercury was dying with well over 100k miles on it), I was also debating new vs. used. I got awesome low financing on a new Honda Accord and have been driving it for almost four years now with no issues, and I love it! My brother also had his old clunker give out last summer and went for a used Fit, and he loves it as well. He was lucky they had one on the lot, apparently they have been flying out of dealers the moment they're in stock, new or used. I'd go for it – nothing beats the convenience of a car, no matter your decision re: new or used. I know I couldn't get around my Northeast town without one, everything here is contingent on having a car. You might not have to plunk down all $18 at once, you seem to have excellent credit and could buy new but then finance it for very low interest for the period of time you're in school, then decide if you want to buy outright. If you think you'll be returning to the West Coast, awesome! You have a car! If you decide to relocate to a big city like NYC, you can decide how to handle it from there. :) Good luck! ReplyCancel

  • Buying our first new car | Well Heeled Blog - [...] I first started thinking about a new car last summer, but a big reason for the delay is my dread of going to car dealerships! Fortunately, the process was remarkably smooth this time. First, I sent out an electronic request for quotes to about 8-10 dealerships via Edmunds.com and directly emailed a dealership’s Internet Sales department. I received about 4 quotes, everyone else wanted to jump on the phone to “understand what we really need.” Then we did some market research: I visited TrueCar.com to see the average price paid in my area and we searched on forums for out-the-door prices in our little corner of the greater SoCal region. [...]ReplyCancel

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