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401k and Personal Finance

Time to get a new car, or a used one?

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(Update 07-24-2010) Got it, this is my new car (SUV, or tall wagon to be exact), 2006 Subaru Forester. BTW, I think this Subaru Credit Card reward program is quite interesting.


(Picture credit: edmunds.com)

(Original) As much as I love my 2001 family sedan, recent repair bills made me think hard on my options. Year to date I’ve paid $1,500 to fix the engine noise and windshield motor problems, not a small sum, considering the car itself is worth about $3,000.

Car problems show up as it ages, this is normal phenomena. I remember spending pretty money maintain my 1991 Corolla back from 1998 to 2002 (can not afford a new car). I bought my current car brand new a little over 9 years ago, now it’s aging fast, esp. since I started to commute again this Feb, after working from home for 15 months.

Besides the cost issue, another reason is we will need two cars, because now I need a commute car (better to be reliable), and my wife will need to take our baby girl sometimes, she will need the car to do her own thing too. Couple days ago I said “rent a car” is an option, but after 2 days of renting, I do see some of the inconvenience of renting as well.

I thought about getting a used car, but after recent my own car issue, and my own inability to diagnose and fix the car problems, I am thinking new car should also be an option. I know, financially buying a new car is not always smart, but a new car comes with warranty, and a piece of mind.

Buying a used car


The above was written a while ago when my 2001 family sedan was in the shop. I started more serious car shopping yesterday. I did this little survey-like Auto calculator (by Bankrate) which evaluates whether I am more suitable buy a new car or a used one. The result? I am OK with either. Another investopedia article explained the upside and downside of the new/used car fairly well. With the tool/article in mind, I am letting my pocket solve it by itself 🙂

We have much better tool to track used car nowadays, such as tools like Carfax, AutoCheck etc (Edmunds article on Carfax or AutoCheck). I used AutoCheck for a car I am interested, and it turns out the result is clean. I ran it on my current family sedan, and the result is mostly correct. BTW, I am using mostly Craigslist for the used car info (with some reference from AutoTrader.com). It looks like tomorrow we (my wife, our baby and myself) will check out the car I checked out using AutoCheck report.

Last not not the least, to the loyal readers of my blog, if you are in the market for used car, please let me know if you like to have AutoCheck report (just send me the VIN, and I will send you back the report). Note this offer expires on Aug 21.

Have a cool summer.

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