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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?

  • Lisa - I just bought myself a new car back in October and I initially had the same dilemma as you (and about the same budget). I wanted used initially, but couldn't find ANYTHING that wasn't extraordinarly old/had way too many miles on it, so I ended up getting a new car. I got a 2012 Mazda 3 for right around $18,000 and so far it's been an excellent car with no problems. It's very reliable and has good gas mileage. That's my recommendation! ReplyCancel

  • Melissa - I test drove the Honda Fit a few months back when I was car shopping and loved it! It handled really well, and it seemed really well-built. (They seem to have improved the 2012 models significantly, because a few friends of mine said they test drove it in previous years and it seemed like a toy car.) The biggest thing that kept it from being a serious contender was just the lousy financing at the time I bought it. So it really was good. I ended up buying a Kia Rio hatchback, which is more or less the same as the Fit. I love it so far. Good luck with your purchase! ReplyCancel

  • Melissa - p.s. I bought brand new, for the reasons you listed. I wanted reliability over all else, and buying a used car with low mileage didn't seem to save me that much over buying new. ReplyCancel

  • Katherine - I always said that for my next car we'd buy used, but I was surprised that used cars with low mileage were very expensive – just like your experience! There is also some apprehension with buying a used car – I feel like you have to be more educated and wary – and the wee bit of savings wasn't worth it for us. We ended up buying new which was a surprise. I feel like for brands that have a lot of demand, the used market is a lot more highly priced. ReplyCancel

  • Stories from Austin - I bought a used Corolla about 3.5 years ago and LOVE it. It had about 35k miles on it and was in great shape (I paid about $13500)—and it was MUCH cheaper than a new car. It was only a year old too. I've got about 85k on it now and I still love the car. I used to own a Honda and SWORE I would never own anything else, but I love my Toyota.

    I won't buy new cars, but it's mostly because I've had great luck finding great priced gently used cars and I tend to get "dings" on cars easily and I know it would make me upset if it was a new car. I refuse to buy a car with more than 50k miles on it though.

    I've heard great things about the Hyundai Elantra, and they have a GREAT warranty with their cars. ReplyCancel

  • Ashley - Our 2005 Honda Civic was totaled in an accident last year. Like you, our families have had great experiences with Hondas, and we wanted to stay in the family. Budget and reliability were a huge concern, so we were mainly looking at cars like the Honda Fit. We test drove some Toyotas and some Hondas, and the Fit won by far. The Toyotas just felt clunky and heavy, and the insides felt cheap. Not so the Fit! It handles great, it has great visibility, it's tiny, the hatchback is wonderful for being flexible, it gets pretty decent gas mileage (we get ~33mpg, factoring in a combination of city driving, freeway driving, and sitting in traffic during commute).

    I seriously love this car, and if we are ever in the market to get a second, we might very well pick up another Fit!


  • Angie - I just bought a Honda Fit last month, and I absolutely love it. I was also debating buying new vs used. I decided on buying a 2010 Certified Used Fit with under 10k miles on it, from a well-known dealership. I still have the warranties that came with the car, I was able to buy the version I wanted (black, Sport edition), and paid $15,700 for it (under KBB value). I'm SO happy with my decision, and it's been great to me so far. Hatchback is amazing and great for road trips. The only tough thing with buying Fits is that Honda doesn't seem to ever have any deals or promotions on them, and they are in high demand. If you see one you like, definitely go see it right away. I went to test drive one, and when I got to the dealership a couple was already purchasing it!

    Keep us updated on what you end up doing, good luck! ReplyCancel

    • Well Heeled Blog - Thanks for the tip! I'm going to look into the Certified Used programs… maybe a dealer near me will have something good. $15K vs. $18K is a pretty big difference. :-) ReplyCancel

  • Jess - Is there any chance there are ZipCars near your campus? If you're not using the car every day but rather for errands and the occasional trip, they could be a good value. You rent by the hour and it includes everything–gas, insurance, etc. Maybe something to look into instead? ReplyCancel

    • Well Heeled Blog - I would consider this if the ZipCars are much closer to where I'm at… but I think it's quite a trek to just get to the ZipCars in the first place… ReplyCancel

  • Cristina - We are a Honda family as well. We have a 2004 Civic (bought new, still going strong), and a 2011 CR-V. I liked the idea of buying a CPO, but I found the same issue that you mentioned to be true. Anything with relatively low mileage did not offer much in the way of savings. My main concern about the Fit is that it might be a little small if you are planning to have children in the next few years, but small cars are much more economical and easy to park if you live in a city. However, even if you have to trade it in 5 years from now, the savings over a larger car might make up for trading it in early. ReplyCancel

    • Well Heeled Blog - We don't plan on having kids in the next 5 years, and if we do, I think we are sticking to one (unless we get twins or something), so hopefully a small car would still suffice. ReplyCancel

  • Leah - I bought a demo car–best of both worlds! A couple thousand miles on it, massive discount, and still "technically" brand new! ReplyCancel

  • Michelle - When I had to do the same upgrade (to car-need-to-have), I test drove a Honda Fit. It was really great, but then I walked over to the Nissan dealer and test drove the Versa. They're in the same size range, and the Nissan was much cheaper. I've got the hatchback one, and just love it.

    I bought new, and don't regret it at all!

    Have you considered going with a Nissan?

    One good thing, considering the time of year, is that you may be able to get something new, but for cheaper… if you go to a dealer and look at last year's models. They usually offer them either cheaper, or for 0% financing. ReplyCancel

    • Well Heeled Blog - I'm going to do some research into the Versa, thanks for the suggestion! ReplyCancel

    • Emmye - I was going to say to look into a Versa. I was debating between a Versa and Fit. The Versa won due to price. I’ve had it almost 5 years now and I’ve had no problems so far. Best decision for me. I highly recommend it!ReplyCancel

  • Kim - $18k? That's a ton of money. Why not try Zip Car? Movies, dance classes, visiting nearby cities – all wants, not needs. And all but the groceries sound like something outside of your budget. This is certainly a flip-flop without much discussion besides PITA. ReplyCancel

    • Well Heeled Blog - There are Zipcars, but not very many, and not located close to my house. It's a VERY suburban place I live in, and there are pockets of sketch that I'd rather avoid if I can (but that I cannot avoid if I want to walk). Safety-wise, it's probably better to have a car, so that made it easier to check the "Need to have" box. Another thing I considered was that I'm very likely going to need a car after I graduate. Even if CB and I end up in a city with good public transportation, we can just stick with my car and be a one-car family. As to wants vs. needs… I mean, a car is technically not a need for anyone, but it's a much bigger need in my area than, say, D.C. or Boston. ReplyCancel

  • @samjo - Movies, dance classes, and groceries – can you do those things via public transportation or a bike? And then weekend trips away, what about something like zipcar or the peer sharing car services such as relay rides? ReplyCancel

  • Jen - I bought my civic brand new in 2008. I considered a used car, but the newer used, like you said, weren't much cheaper and still had more miles on it than I would put on my car if I was driving it for the same length of time. My plan is to keep the car until it dies, so I also figured buying new wasn't a big deal. I did finance it, but paid it off early.

    I also looked at Toyotas, but I didn't like driving the toyota as much and when you compared apples to apples, the toyota corolla was pricier. Dual airbags and anti-lock brakes, which are standard on a honda, were an upgraded package on the toyota. ReplyCancel

  • wmwo - I wish I had some words of wisdom, but unfortunately I'm in the same boat right now. I look forward to seeing what you decide on! ReplyCancel

  • Carolyn - I would go for a used BMW M3, very highly rated. Personally I would like to get an Audi A3, or any AWD Audi. They are *beasts* on ice, absolutely unstoppable. But of course, it all depends on what you need!

    I also dream of getting a Fiat 500, so darn cute.ReplyCancel

    • Well Heeled Blog - Fiat 500 is my dream car at this point. Not sure about their reliability, but they sure win on the styling. 😉 ReplyCancel

    • StackingCash - Maintenance on a BMW M3 would break even me! I do believe that Audi's are expensive to maintain too. ReplyCancel

  • Angie - I found a small family-owned dealership that specialized in used, low mileage foreign cars. I got a 2003 Honda Accord with only 26k miles for about $11k. Obviously I got lucky but I would recommend that you keep looking for a used car because the savings could be substantial.

    (I've had the car for over 18 months now with no problems.)ReplyCancel

    • Well Heeled Blog - Maybe I can compromise and look for Certified Used cars… a quick search showed a few in the $12K-$15K range with less than 50K miles. ReplyCancel

  • Jashshea - Don't know where you are (obviously), but those smaller cars don't handle well in the snow, especially if you aren't used to driving in it. Just something to think about if you're in snowsville.ReplyCancel

    • Well Heeled Blog - Good point! I've never driven in the snow and frankly have no desire to do so. Fortunately I'm not in snowsville. ReplyCancel

      • Trinh - I bought a new 2010 Mazda 3-5-door 2 years ago and I absolutely love it – I put a small amount down for it, but for the rest, I'm making monthly payments with 0% interest for 5 years. I tested the Toyota Matrix and loved it too, but when I test drove the Honda Fit, I found that it didn't have much power (i.e. acceleration speed, which is scary when merging into 65mph traffic) compared to the other two vehicles. My co-worker has a Honda Fit and with the snow in Minnesota, he always keeps a shovel and heavy-duty snow boots in the car just in case he gets stuck. ReplyCancel

  • lkrant - Although I just bought a new car, I would advise against it. You are in an entirely different point in life.I would longer and see if you can get away without it. Before you know it, the two years will be over. What if you get a plum offer in NYC, you cannot have a car in NYC. ReplyCancel

    • Well Heeled Blog - How plum? 😉 The chances of me ending up in NYC is very slim. It's a great city, but I don't really want to live there. ReplyCancel

  • Alyssa - I had a Honda Civic, bought used, and it stayed in great condition. Got a new Toyota Corolla as a graduation present (for saving my parents money since I got a lot of grants and scholarships) and have had no problems. Both are great cars. My advice would be to see if you can find any of the cars you want just a year or two used. Much better to find it that way than to stress with dealerships in an unfamiliar city. Best of luck! ReplyCancel

  • Emily @ evolvingPF - Sorry to hear about your determination but I'm sure it's the best decision. I have a Toyota and I think it's great!ReplyCancel

  • Little House - Just a thought, but would a bike work out for you instead of a car? It sounds like it's the small errands that are making you feel like you need a vehicle. You can actually move a lot quicker on a bike instead of by foot. I know that you're probably looking at much harsher winters on the east coast, but a bike could save you quite a bit of money. ReplyCancel

  • Sam - Since you’re spending the bucks for business school, might as well get a nice new ride and live it UP! ReplyCancel

  • My Money Design - I would go with the Hyundai. They've been getting the best safety ratings of most vehicles out there. I'd really try to swing a used one, but if you really want new than go for it. ReplyCancel

  • Sense - In my opinion, the fact that you can get to school without a car makes it a want, not a need. I think you are giving up too soon! A week is not enough time to transition to enjoying bussing it, or figuring out a carpooling schedule, or other options. You are denying yourself the opportunity to get creative and work with less than you are used to. Do those awesome roommates have cars? Can you tag along on grocery runs? Could you go in on co-owning a car, if not?

    But maybe I'm just bitter from having to lug 35 lb of groceries around to the bus stops almost every week. :)

    If I could afford a car here, I would have one, so I'm quite envious that you've decided to get one. A car makes life SO MUCH EASIER. I don't begrudge you the thought at all. I'd get a used one, though. I don't think you can afford an $18K car, no matter how you justify it. $0 to $18K is a huge jump. You are in school! You have no income! You need that money for tuition! You should be in I'm-in-debt mode. Think of how nice it would be to not have to pay back that whole sum after school's done. What about a very used car for <$5K, and upgrading once you have a primo salary again? Insurance rates will be lower on older cars, too. You don't need it for anything but wants and fun stuff, so if it breaks down for a week it won't affect your schooling or anything important. That is what I would do in your situation. Only you know what will work for you, though, of course.

    I don't know about cars enough to help pick one, so I'm just leaving my unsolicited and probably not so nice-to-listen-to advice. Good luck!!ReplyCancel

  • Lance@MoneyLife&More - My suggestion to you is buy a 5-7 year old used car that is known for reliability with a decent number of miles on it. Honda Accords and Civics are great choices! At this point a brand new car would be rather expensive considering your financial situation. In the end it is up to you and your priorities but if you spend $5,000 on a used car and have to spend $2,000 on mechanic visits you're still $11,000 less than the new car AND your insurance should be much lower… if you weren't in school and were working I wouldn't be as concerned but just driving around school doesn't require a new car by any means… I'm not trying to be harsh, just offering an opinion. ReplyCancel

  • belowhermeans - Used car! Reasoning: you're a student! ReplyCancel

  • Jordann - This has probably been mentioned since there are 37 comments ahead of me, but have you considered a Car Share program? You pay a monthly fee and have access to a fleet of cars available, generally via booking slightly in advance. You can book for a few hours, a day, or a whole weekend. The monthly cost would be significantly less and obviously there would be no capital investment. It might be a good option if you don't need a car for commuting, but only a few times a week and the occasional weekend. Just a thought! Here's a link to one in my old city, I imagine there is a similar option in your city. http://www.carsharehfx.ca/ ReplyCancel

  • Jason - For me, buy used. There are hundreds of local garages offering cars with less than 50,000 miles on that will be reliable and come with some form of warantee. By buying used you will avoid the majority of depreciation as this usually happens in the first few years of a cars life. ReplyCancel

  • Heath - Hi there – long time reader, first time commenter.

    I my opinion, DO NOT buy a new car. That 18k is A LOT of cash and I promise you will be kicking yourself a week after buying something that expensive once the new car love affair is over.

    If you must buy a car at all (and I agree with several other commenters that it sounds like a want, and not a need) buy a very, very cheap used one from a reputable source. I bought a 12 year old used car two years ago with 95K miles on it for less than $1000. It is still running and all I have had to do was put new tires on it. Is it the prettiest car? No. But, it gets me where I need to go, the insurance is cheap, it gets great gas mileage, and the money I saved has gone far in so many other MORE important areas of my life. For you, I would define "important" as tuition and/or future loan payments!

    I would really, really think hard about this one and would try getting to know your area and schedule first, and then using the public and/or car sharing options that are available. I could be wrong, but I think down the road you would be very glad you did.

    Also, check out the following blog: http://nomoreharvarddebt.com/. He talks a lot about the whole graduate degree debt and car scenario. Good reading.

    Good luck with your decision! ReplyCancel

  • girlmakescents - I had the same dilemma earlier this year as well. I searched a lot of cars, and test drove a bunch of used cars and was not in love with any of them. I looked at the new Nissan Versa and loved it! New all taxes in was $17500 Canadian dollars, that's with a few upgrades (cruise control, bluetooth, steering wheel controls, etc). It's one of the least expensive new cars you can get.

    I am so happy with this new car, I hope to keep it around for at least 10 years. ReplyCancel

  • SarahP - I'm going to go against the flow here and say buy new.

    My husband and I are buy new people and we stick to makes like Honda, Toyota, and VW. The resale values on those makes are crazy high – which is why I'd say to go new.

    And I can speak as an actual ex-owner of a Honda Fit Sport (Automatic). They are a great little car, with gas mileage that knocks anything else out of the water. Ours averaged about 40 on the highway (with premium grade costco gas) and about 27-30 in town. We purchased it for about 18k brand new and I'd say that the one feature we miss most since upgrading to a fancier/cushier VW model is the ipod/usb connection in the compartment on the dash. You can plug in an ipod or put a bunch of music files on a USB thumb drive and it will read that too and you can control it thru the standard controls for the stereo. We would kill to have that again; I think it's only available on the sport model though.

    Anyway, we bought a 2008 model brand new towards the end of the model year, so we got a pretty good price – right about 18k for the Sport model. We live in Washington State and have driven it through a couple snowy winters and it handled just great. Last year we upgraded to a VW for a bit cushier feel, and we traded in our Fit for 19k. $19,000. We went back to our dealer to pick up the permanent plates for our new car, and they had the used Fit priced at 21k.

    So I'd say don't waste your time buying one used, they are in super high demand, and they retain their value really well, and have some great features. The only thing I didn't like was the seats, but they have about the same seats as all the other similar "economy"/value range of cars.ReplyCancel

    • StackingCash - Ever thought of upgrading your car stereo to get that ipod, usb, and/or bluetooth connection?

  • Chrissy - I have to second a number of the commenters and say go used/certified pre-owned — there's no point in paying a new car price even for a base model. I currently own a certified pre-owned that cost $9K less than a brand new model (both the same year model) parked right next to it on the lot. Secondly, you aren't working, so I wouldn't dare plunk down $18k from savings — you never know when an emergency will come up! Since you're not planning to work while in grad school, I'd take out a loan for 4 years, then, when you graduate in two years, knock the balance on that loan out w/n the next year. That way you have some money in the bank even if you're using it now to pay for living expenses, etc. I didn't have the luxury or option to not work while in grad school and since I commuted to classes at night for three and a half years, a loan on a reliable used vehicle was my only option. ReplyCancel

  • Arc - My Ford Focus has been a great car for me. It has a salvaged title when I bought it, (they have to be state inspected in Florida), paid cash and have put 75K on it in 3 years (2006 ) Never had a problem and love it! Yes, it's not fancy but I drive way too much to buy anything I will just drive into the dirt. I was 35 when we bought our first new car, and have only bought 1 new car since then (now 50). They are both paid off and love not having a payment. Have you considered buying American? It's a large chunk of ching and in this economy we should all consider supporting our own economy and not wonder why so many jobs move overseas. There are many great foreign cars that I have owned (and I really like current models), but never again for me. It just doesn't feel right. Good Luck!ReplyCancel

    • StackingCash - There are many "Japanese" cars that are built in America. ReplyCancel

  • becca - It may be worth bearing in mind that it is particularly annoying to not have a car when you first move to a place.

    Still, assuming you do get a car of some sort… a 2006 Honda civic dx with 85k miles on it is in the neighborhood of 8k KBB value. If they are reliable, do you really think the odds are too high that you'd spend 10k (plus equivalent interest because of increased student loans!!!!) on repairs more than you would if you bought new?
    Also, I'm not sure why "reliable" is key if you don't need the car for daily transit. Is it worth paying a 10k (plus interest!) premium for a new car to avoid having to go without a car for a few days if it does break down (especially if you get AAA anyway)?

    I did own a car during grad school, though I wasn't going into debt for grad school so it's a bit different. Since I couldn't find a used Corolla for love or money, I bought a Chevy Prizm with 38k miles for $9k (6k cash, 3k credit union loan, which I took out for cash flow and to boost my credit score). It's never broken down or required expensive repairs (knock wood!), though the interior is now shabby. If it died tomorrow it'd still probably come in under < $1500/year for cost to buy and maintain (not counting gas and insurance, but those are quite reasonable compared to other cars). ReplyCancel

  • Margo - This will sound crazy, but finance the car if you can. The best auto loans are substantially lower rates than the Grad Plus loans, so put most of the cash into tuition and keep some in reserve to make 2 years of payments on the car, til you get a job. ReplyCancel

  • StackingCash - You should suffer not buy a car. Actually why don't you get more roomates to lower your rent. Wait, just go homeless and visit the local women's shelter when you need to bath. Good grief, to all the people telling you not to buy a car or even an "outrageously" expensive Honda Fit, go take your frugal self on a hike across the country instead of flying in an airplane on your next "vacation." Oh wait, you take "staycations!"

    Sorry, but I hate those who hate on new cars. I just think they are jealous and don't want others to live comfortably. Regardless, I think your idea to buy a new Honda Fit is a good one. The cost is reasonable and I predict that this car could last you 20 years. If not, I'm sure the car will keep a good value when you do sell it. The Nissan Versa and Mazda 3 are great alternatives. Actually I think you should think bigger like the 2013 Nissan Altima. Very hot car! If you have the courage to get into debt for your schooling, I would think you would have the courage to get a nicer car knowing you can afford it because you will make a ton of money after grad school!

    YOLO! :)

  • mary - I'm no personal finance expert, but I don't think buying a new car is wrong. I was lucky to find a Hyundai Accent with ~ 20,000 miles on it back when I started grad school 7 years ago. It's been wonderful, but now that I'm working I've been thinking about getting a new car in another year or so – but this time around it seems much harder, like you said, to find a car with lower mileage, and the used cars aren't much cheaper than the new.
    My friend also recently shared this article which confirmed what I was thinking. http://bottomline.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/07/31/13
    For what it's worth, I financed my first care through a credit union and like the poster above said, the interest was lower on that than on all but my lowest-rate consolidation loan. ReplyCancel

  • addvodka - I have a honda civic and I love it. It was $12K when it was all said and done and it had 42,000 KM on it (I don't know what that is in miles). They are super reliable and just awesome. I definitely have out of control transportation costs, though! ReplyCancel

  • Cordell - Hey I'm in that same situation- except I've recently gotten married after moving back to Idaho. So I'm car-less unless I borrow family's. And now my wife's car has been in to the shop twice in just a couple of months. It's nearing the end and we don't have as much as we'd hoped to buy a car! Anyhow my family has owned Honda cars, and we love them as well! But we've also had Subaru and are leaning more toward that, they get much cheaper the older they are comparatively with Honda. My experience is they are quite comparable just preference. I don't know all the details there, so does that sound correct? We've had very dependable cars of both companies. ReplyCancel

  • Daniel Stoller - In most cases, you get what you pay for. I would suggest getting a new car – which subsequently will last longer than purchasing an older car – and can save you money in the long run. However if possible just planning public transportation use is still a really great option. I have a sister in her third year of college in Ohio, and she hasn't driven a car since she moved out there. ReplyCancel

  • Nick - Personally I don’t think where you are financially, buying new would be the best choice but if you do look at the Prius C. ReplyCancel

  • Will - If you're looking for something under $20k I'd go new. Used car prices are just too high right now that it makes buying new a no-brainer. Why pay $10k in depreciation to own it from 100k to 200k miles, when you can own it from 0 to 100k miles for the same price? I think you should assess your needs and buy something that fits them. A Honda Fit is very versatile and gives the utility of a hatchback and I think it would serve you well. ReplyCancel

  • Christina - I just bought a 2013 Hyundai Elantra GLS with the preferred package (a small step above the base model)–it went out the door for a little over 19. It’s stylish, economical, and the warranties Hyundai offer are fantastic. You won’t need AAA for 3 years or so (depending on what you were using AAA for) as you get roadside assistance 24/7 as part of your warranty. Hands free Bluetooth, XM radio, a beautiful interior, and I get 50 mpg highway and about 35 city. I would highly recommend Hyundai! It was named North American Car of the Year and CR gave it great reviews. I’ll stop with the gushing now, but I hope that helped!ReplyCancel

  • michelle - I've driven a Honda Fit since 2008 and have been so pleased with it – no problems at all. In my opinion, you can't go wrong buying a Fit, either new or used, although the used prices were not that much less than for new. Good luck! ReplyCancel

  • femmefrugality - Whatever you end up getting, I'm in the slightly used school of thought! Get something with a few thousand miles on it that depreciates the value highly but the quality almost none. ReplyCancel

  • misterstress - You do not need to buy a new car, you can do fine with a certified pre owned. If you do a Honda, those cars are great and run forever, so CPO does not really make a difference.

    If you are in the city I suspect you are, a new car is doing to get a lot of dings in that area and PT is not the greatest.

    Good luck! ReplyCancel

  • De Razor - The new Honda Civic is a nice looking car, I drive the Accord at the moment but might downsize to the Civic next. ReplyCancel

  • Quay Accounts - If you're buying second hand then you could do a lot worse than buying Japanese. A 3 year old Honda is more than likely going to last a lot longer than a brand new Chevvy or GM equivalent! ReplyCancel

  • James - I know it's been mentioned before, but Certified Pre-Owned is the way to go in my opinion. That way the car is virtually brand new, and you'll get all the dealer protection you need, along with a healthy discount too! Plus the new Honda Fit is a fantastic car – i'd choose that in an instant! ReplyCancel

  • 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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