The Debt-Free Car Project Chapter 8: Wrap-Up on

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The Debt-Free Car Project Chapter 8: Wrap-Up

Final Fixes, Selling the Car and Measuring Success


One year ago, we set out to test a theory: Could a person with limited funds and poor credit avoid a "Buy Here, Pay Here" car dealership by purchasing an inexpensive but reliable car outright? We set a price point of $3,500, figuring that someone could reasonably save up that amount. But this meant we would have to buy an older car than would ordinarily have been sold at a "Buy Here, Pay Here" dealership.

We chose a well-maintained 1996 Lexus ES 300 in Classic Green Pearl, with chrome wheels and the then-popular Gold package. It was like a time capsule from the '90s, but we liked the styling and the price was within our budget ($3,800 after tax and title). Also, Lexus is a brand known for its reliability.

Time, however, takes its toll on everything. And despite the Lexus being relatively reliable (it left us stranded twice in just over a year) there were a number of costly and unavoidable issues and repairs. We sorted out most of these over the course of the year, but those instances resulted in higher maintenance costs than we had anticipated.

In this chapter, we take care of some final repairs on the Lexus, sell it and determine whether we'd proved our theory of the Debt-Free Car.

Final Repairs
The Lexus ES 300 was in Death Valley, California, on its last road trip, when Senior Consumer Advice Editor Phil Reed noticed that the driver-side door wouldn't open from the outside. There was also a loud rattle coming from inside the door panel. Reed's first response was to spray WD-40 on the door latch mechanism, but that yielded no results.

Reed took the car to a body shop near his home. The culprit was a broken plastic clip, hidden deep inside the door panel. It was a quick fix and the car was ready the same day. Total cost: $100.

Coincidentally, the "Check Engine" light came on during the same Death Valley trip. Reed took the Lexus to Pep Boys and used its code reader to diagnose the problem, free of charge. The diagnostic code, "P0135," meant that there was a faulty oxygen sensor on "Bank 1" of the engine.

We took the car to an independent garage to keep costs down, but oxygen sensors are a relatively expensive part. The total cost for the fix, with parts and labor: $272.

In February we fixed a problem that we had thought we could ignore... until it started getting worse. The gauge cluster light bulbs had burned out to the point where we couldn't see the speed we were driving until the 80 mph mark. This bulb burnout was a common issue on Lexus ES 300s of our vintage, but it turned out to be a more specialized repair than we had anticipated.

Our usual shop wasn't able to fix it, so we called on a person who has a network of mechanics and was happy to refer us. He recommended a shop a few miles from the Edmunds offices. Within a few hours, the gauge lights were fixed. The bulk of the total bill went to labor, as it was a fairly time-consuming job: $112.

Later in February, the "Check Engine" light made a surprise reappearance. It turned out to be a minor repair, and our mechanic didn't charge us since we were repeat customers.

We took care of two final items not out of necessity, but for the purposes of selling the car. We knew that some Edmunds employees were interested in purchasing the Lexus, so we decided to get the oil and air filter changed: something you'd do as a courtesy for a member of the family. We took the car to Jiffy Lube and had a surprisingly positive experience. The cost of this minor maintenance: $51.

After the oil change, we took the car to get a smog inspection. In California, it is the seller's responsibility to ensure that the vehicle passes a smog test. We'll confess to being slightly nervous about whether the Lexus would pass, given the recurring "Check Engine" light issues, but the Debt-Free car passed with flying colors. Cost of the smog inspection: $71.

In-House Sale
When March rolled around, the Lexus had been in the fleet one year and it was time to sell it. We typically give Edmunds employees first crack at buying a car before we turn to CarMax or a private-party sale. To avoid any perception that we play favorites with employees, we offer cars to them at a "no-haggle" Edmunds private-party TMV® price. We listed the Lexus internally at $2,668.

About five people responded to the listing, but in the end it came down to two employees: Bob and Blake. Edmunds policy states that when there is more than one employee who wants to buy the car, the matter will be decided by a random drawing.

We dusted off an old raffle cage used for events at the office and called in the VP of HR to supervise the proceedings. She put six crushed pieces of paper in the cage: three for Bob and three for Blake. After a couple of spins, we had a winner: Bob.

Bob was looking for an inexpensive daily driver that would replace a Honda Civic in his garage. His main car is a gas-guzzling sport sedan. The Lexus would serve as a fuel-efficient daily driver.

If we had sold the Lexus on Auto Trader, we would have likely listed it for about $4,000. We're fairly confident we would have ended up accepting an offer somewhere around $3,300. It would have been nice to come close to breaking even on the price of the car, but we're glad the ES 300 has found a home.

Final Stats
Miles Driven: We drove the Lexus a total of 18,394 miles: far more than the 15,000 we had originally set for our goal, and likely more than the average driver would put on a basic transportation car in a year.

Fuel Economy: The Lexus ES 300 proved to be more fuel-efficient than we had anticipated. We ran it almost exclusively on regular unleaded fuel, except for one month when we were testing if premium would make a difference (it didn't). The Lexus averaged 24.9 mpg over the course of 70 fill-ups. For reference, the EPA rated this car at an estimated 18 city/26 highway and 21 mpg in combined driving. The best mpg was 33.4, set during the Lexus' cross-country trip. The worst tank was 16.5 mpg, which likely occurred after driving in L.A. traffic. The average tank of gas cost us roughly $43.16, with an average fuel price of $4.08 per gallon. This translates to a cost of 16 cents per mile to drive.

Maintenance Costs: We spent a total of $3,286 in maintenance over the course of 13 months. Coincidentally, that was the exact price of the car before tax and title.

At the beginning of the project, we established a monthly maintenance budget of $365. Our theory was that the buyer of a debt-free car could use the money he'd ordinarily have spent as a car payment for car upkeep. We used the $365 figure because it was the average monthly used-car payment for someone with poor credit in 2012, according to Experian Automotive. Our maintenance spending averaged about $253 per month. We went into the red a couple times, but for the most part, our repair and maintenance expenses fit well within this budget.

We committed one budget bust intentionally, in the first three months of ownership. (You can read about this in more detail in Chapter 6. The car was about to take a cross-country trip, and we wanted to make sure that we took care of several items beforehand. Most car owners would likely have waited on some of these repairs, so the costs would have been more evenly spread across a year of ownership.

The Lexus was in the black every month until January, when it went over by just $7. By the end of the ownership year, we had a budget surplus of $1,459. A disciplined car owner would set aside that monthly surplus, maybe as the beginnings of a substantial down payment on another car, as a starter budget for second-year maintenance costs, or better yet, to fully fund the next debt-free car purchase.

We were curious about what those second-year costs would look like. We took care of several big-ticket items in the first three months of ownership: new tires, battery, control arm bushings and brake rotors. Those costs would not be repeated in a second year of ownership. To get a preview of second-year maintenance, we subtracted those items from our first-year spending and did some math. We estimate that our monthly maintenance budget during the Lexus' second year would have been around $120. But since our long-term cars are one-year snapshots of ownership, we won't have the chance to test that part of the theory.

The True Cost of Buy Here, Pay Here Cars
We now know what our Debt-Free Car cost us to own and operate for just over a year. But how would a car buyer have fared if he had gone to a "Buy Here, Pay Here" dealership, rather than buying a car outright? A critic of our project gave us a good basis for comparison.

A few months after our project launched, Peter Salinas, managing editor of Dealer Business Journal, a publication for "Buy Here, Pay Here" dealers, took issue with several points in our premise and said our project was "Fundamentally Flawed."

The biggest issue, he said, was that people with poor credit do not have $3,500 to buy a car outright, nor would it be feasible for them to save up that amount without it negatively impacting their lives.

He proposed that a 10-year-old Ford Taurus or Buick Century from a "Buy Here, Pay Here" dealer would be a more reasonable selection for such a buyer. Salinas said that those vehicles run from $4,500-$5,500 at auction, which is where car dealers often get their cars. He chose a midpoint value, $5,000, and proceeded to illustrate how the numbers would shake out at a "Buy Here, Pay Here" dealership:

  • $5,000 for the vehicle the dealer bought at auction
  • $600 to recondition it
  • $2,000 for dealer overhead costs (i.e., building and lot expenses, insurance, personnel and employee benefits)

We are at $7,600 so far. Next is the dealer mark-up. This is how car dealers stay in business. However, Salinas didn't provide that information. We turned to's senior pricing analyst, Richard Arca, to help fill in the figures. He said that for a 10-year-old vehicle, the average mark-up is about 40 percent from auction to retail purchase price. That would be $2,000 for the car in this example. The $5,000 Taurus will now be listed for about $9,600.

Next come the tax and title fees. We used a 2003 Ford Taurus (a 10-year-old car) as the basis for calculating the fees on our finance calculator. The sales tax and registration would be about $1,056 for this car in Santa Monica, where the Edmunds offices are located. The total so far is $10,656 but that still doesn't include financing costs.

We used the following stats to populate our finance calculator: A $792 down payment (the average down payment at a "Buy Here, Pay Here" dealership in 2012), a 17.7 percent interest rate (the average interest rate for a deep subprime consumer, according to Experian Automotive) and a 36-month loan (the length of the average "Buy Here, Pay Here" loan). This adds up to $2,920 worth of finance charges on the Taurus.

The grand total of the "Buy Here, Pay Here" loan would be $12,784, with a monthly payment of $355 per month. So it would have taken only an $800 down payment to get the immediate gratification of getting a car at a "Buy Here, Pay Here" lot. But in the long run, the buyer would have paid $8,984 more than we paid for our Lexus ES 300.

Further, a "Buy Here, Pay Here" purchaser can't sell the car without going deeper in debt. If he falls behind in payments, he faces the possibility of repossession. And there's still the cost of maintenance and repairs to pay for, in addition to the $355 monthly payment. Is a 10-year-old Taurus more reliable than a 17-year-old Lexus? Maybe. But it still will cost some money to keep up.

Our Debt-Free car buyer and his family, on the other hand, have the freedom to sell the car whenever they want. They are not in debt, and they don't have to worry about making car payments every month. They only make "payments" to themselves for maintenance. And if they lapse on one of those payments, their car doesn't get repossessed. At worst, they just have to put off repairs for awhile.

Success or Failure?
Would our imaginary owners have been happy after a year with the Debt-Free Car? We have mixed feelings about this.

On the plus side, we ended with a surplus in our maintenance budget. The car got good gas mileage. It was comfortable and had a reasonable number of amenities. And when you look at the total costs compared to a "Buy Here, Pay Here" car, the Lexus shines even brighter: Even counting our costs of maintenance and repairs, the Debt-Free Car buyer would have been $5,698 ahead.

But the Lexus did leave us stranded twice. It required a number of trips to the repair shop. We used resources that everyone has access to (word-of-mouth references, online forums, Yelp, YouTube, Google Search), but it took some time to sift through all that and find a good shop and decide what parts to buy. We took care of some fixes ourselves and others we left to the experts.

Would our Debt-Free Car buyer and family have been discouraged by that kind of ownership experience? Would they have had the time, patience or willingness to do some DIY repairs? Some of our readers argued that people buying in this price range most often perform most of the repairs themselves, but we know that a lot of people just want reliable, hassle-free cars. Would our Debt-Free Car have been too much trouble for them?

If someone were to ask us if they should follow in the footsteps of the Debt-Free Car, we would tell them yes, but with a disclaimer: In this price range, you will drive a car that will have repair issues. If you have a trusted mechanic, or if you are capable of doing the repairs on your own, then by all means, give it a shot.

But if you get overwhelmed dealing with mechanics and repair shops, or will worry excessively about potential breakdowns, you may want to find a newer (and more expensive) car. But bear in mind that there's no guarantee that a newer car won't break down either.

Breaking the Cycle
Financial guru Dave Ramsey has a great quote: "If you will live like no one else, then later you get to LIVE like no one else!"

It means that if you make financial sacrifices now, you will reap the rewards later. It isn't easy to save money, but at some point, people with troubled credit must break free of the cycle of debt to have any hope of improving their financial futures.

If you're ready to join them, we would encourage you to try cutting back on unnecessary expenses to save up for a car. And once you have enough money, keep up that pattern of savings to give yourself a maintenance budget. Self-discipline, planning and knowledge: the real secrets to owning a debt-free car.

Related Articles:
The Debt-Free Car Project Chapter 1: Finding and Buying an Affordable Used Car
The Debt-Free Car Project Chapter 2: Preventive Car Maintenance
The Debt-Free Car Project Chapter 3: Curbstoners and Internet Scams
The Debt-Free Car Project Chapter 4: Dealing With Repairs
The Debt-Free Car Project Chapter 5: Driving Cross-Country in a 1996 Lexus ES 300
The Debt-Free Car Project Chapter 6: Midyear Check-In
The Debt-Free Car Project Chapter 7: Sailing Past 150,000 Miles
The Debt-Free Car Project Chapter 8: Wrap-Up

1996 Lexus ES 300 Long-Term Road Test

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  • It is a little hard to read past the "left us stranded twice" and still be excited about it. --- to me it sounds like a bad punchline to the good old "buy a used X brand car because they last forever". ---- I guess the real lesson here is maybe shop in the $5,000 to $7,000 range if a long list of problems is going to be inconvenient for you. Or buy a car that is newer but started out cheaper so you aren't paying for the name on a 15+ year old car. If your wife getting stranded in the 'bargain' car you talked her into multiple times isn't going to go over well with her a newer car might be a good idea. ---- It is also good to keep in mind that your jobs involve cars and taking cars to get things done to them. Many people work at jobs where the boss can get a bit grumpy if you keep going "I have to take the car into the shop again" and co-workers may start avoiding you if you keep asking "can you pick me up a the repair shop on the way into work tomorrow?"

  • zoomzoomn zoomzoomn Posts:

    I like this story. I've been in the service end of the car business for what now seems like an eternity and one thing that is certain is that there is no such thing as a free ride! I have had hundreds of customers with older cars and the rule of thumb for me? "Is the car letting you down, leaving you stranded?" Spending money to keep ole Nelly going is a given. Being stranded? Not so much so. I often use the figure of half of what the monthly payment would be on a newer model over the period of a year as a rule of resonable expense. Most customers agree, others decide that the security and sanity of a new, or newer car is worth making monthly payments. Again, nice artlicle.

  • tbone85 tbone85 Posts:

    I'm just not sure about the selection of the vehicle for this experiment. That's an older and more expensive car to maintain. 3 years ago we bought our daughter a 2005 Kia Optima with 76k miles for $5000 from a standard used car dealer out the door. It has never left her stranded. Even with a new set of tires and a $400 worth of O2 sensor repair, she's right under $1500 in maintenance. While I know that is above your budgeted amount, I'd suggest something of similar vintage and mileage, or to befriend a mechanic who can help with auction cars or private owner cars to knock another $1000 or so off of that kind of pricing. Even then, the key is to narrow your search and give yourself ample time to search and get a great understanding of market pricing for the 3-4 car models you are interested in looking at. Interesting article.

  • Your first mistake was when you bought the Lexus badge instead of going with the Camry.

  • bankerdanny bankerdanny Posts:

    I have enjoyed the experiment, but I still think you should have avoided all luxury brands, even one with as good a rep as Lexus. The experience with the gauge lights is a perfect example. A V6 Camry would have been mechanically identical, but had conventional gauge lighting that probably wouldn't have needed any repairs, and if it did you could have fixed it for far less that $116. If you are going to shop at that price range don't bother with Lexus, Acura, BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Volvo etc. Stick to the domestics and the non-luxury Japanese brands. Parts and repairs aren't always cheaper, but they usually are.

  • stever stever Posts:

    Chapter 8: Wrap-Up? You really should have sold it at Chapter 7. That's where a lot of folks who dump a big chunk of their income on car payments wind up when their job strands them.

  • mfigge2 mfigge2 Posts:

    Regardless of what people say this is an interesting concept. I think you guys did a good job IL/Edmunds. If my finances were tight this is definitely the route I would go, but I would probably go with craigslist, autotrader, etc. and do most of the maintenance myself. Still a well done "study".

  • I think the consensus is avoid 'luxury' cars for your affordable car, not to avoid affordable cars. Unless you are Top Gear and get to blow it up at the end of the episode. --- tbone85's example is perfect. That car will easily run another 75,000 miles. Even if you figure it dies at that point and split the cost by the 6 years you are at $70 a month and in reality after 6 years they will probably sell it for $2000 if they keep it maintained so about $42 a month. That is an affordable car that shouldn't leave you stranded and if it starts to do that after a couple years you can push it over a cliff and still be money ahead of buying new. --- I know though that if they had bought a completely practical car it would have never been driven and nobody would have read about it so it makes for more interesting reading but a bit too interesting of real life.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    There were certain flaws in the approach you took with this project, but the one that really renders it irrelevant is that most owners, having spent the amount of time and money getting the car sorted out as you did, would have kept it and leveraged the expenditure of time, money and attention, rather than getting rid of it. You did something no owner would have done, citing editorial considerations. When you finished with the car, even though it had more miles on it and was a year older, it was undoubtedly in better shape than when you bought it...but you turned around and sold it for quite a bit less than you paid and left the next owner to enjoy the fruits of all the work you did getting the car straightened out. Would more stuff have gone wrong with it? Sure - but I think you had dealt with the lion's share of the work and were looking forward to some low-cost motoring when you pulled the plug.

  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    Considering this was not a new car test and the car itself wasn't eating much money, it should have been okay to keep it for a couple of years. I still think that if you want to be smart about purchasing a car, get an approved loan from your bank or credit union which you use to buy a certified used (10,000-30,000 miles) so that the original owner can take the biggest depreciation hit, and you get a nice almost new car still in warranty. You then drive it for the next ten years. I understand that most owners don't want to do their own maintenance, but you should do the simple stuff (cleaning, conditioning interior, oil, filters) to really get out ahead. Once it is paid off, put a little of that money aside for repairs and keeping it in good condition, and a little towards your next car purchase. Instead of running the car into the ground, sell it while it's worth about three to five thousand dollars and use that for the down payment on the next car. Rinse and Repeat.

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    This was a great experiment, and even with some of the controversies regarding what a low income family would and would not do in regards to vehicle repair and maintenance, I think this gave a lot of people a good idea of what to expect from used car ownership. As tbone said though, it might have been a better idea had you guys gotten a more mainstream vehicle to start with that had cheaper parts and greater depreciation (though it feels a lot better rolling in a Lexus ES =D), and you might have saved yourselves a ton of pain/headache/costs if you had found that great garage that fixed your door clip sooner. As you guys stated yourself, considering you had given this car new tires (most would have gone slightly used or the cheapest of the cheap), bushings (this item especially since it's the big ticket suspension maintenance item and usually most expensive), rotors (most would have done fronts only), battery, and fixed a ton of minor issues, you would have needed at least 3 years to leverage all of the repairs that you have done; else if it was only for a year of ownership you would have continued rolling on with most of the issues you've had.

  • legacygt legacygt Posts:

    I've really enjoyed following this story and appreciate what you did here. It's been a helpful perspective and a nice change of pace from the vehicles you typically cover. But count me as one of the skeptics. Was the car cheap? Yes. Was it cheaper to maintain than expected? Yes. Is it a better deal than the buy here, pay here alternative you present? Yes. But was it reliable? Not really. All of the repairs and days out of service were well documented. But it's a matter of perspective. For Edmunds, each of these repairs was part of your job. Diagnose a problem, search for a solution, drop the car off at the shop, pick another car from the long term fleet to drive for a couple days and then write the blog post. However, many people shopping for cars in this price range cannot miss a day of work. Missing work means not getting paid. It might mean losing your job. At Edmunds, car maintenance is part of your job. For most people, car maintenance can mean losing your job. That's a big difference. My conclusion: If you're looking for a second/third car or a beater or you work in the auto industry, a 20 year old Lexus may make sense. But if you need one car to get you and your family where you need to go every single day you need to find something a bit newer.

  • huisj huisj Posts:

    Who in the world is out there buying a 10 year old Taurus for $9600? Maybe prices are wacky out in California, but a quick browse of listings here in Michigan shows a ton of them available for a lot less. The best of the best 2006's are selling for $7000 max on lots at new car dealerships. A true 10 year old one is maybe $3500 to $4000.

  • texases texases Posts:

    +1 huisj - that Taurus 'cost analysis' stunk of BS. "overhead" is not in addition to "dealer markup", they're the same thing. Plenty of 2002-2003 for $5k retail here.

  • noflash1 noflash1 Posts:

    It was a good experiment, but in the end it failed. Your scenario of the poor folks paying 17% interest is the clincher. I can think of dozens of cars I'd rather get than pay $365/month on a 10 year old Taurus. A new Civic LX for $300 month for the first five years and then no car payments for the next 12 years. That's the way to go. Cheers, nf PS The cheapest car is always the one you're driving now.

  • evodad evodad Posts:

    As of others have stated good experiment, but with keeping the car for only a year it failed. After maintenance costs and the loss on the sale vs your purchase price you guys spent 4k to drive a 17 year old car for one year. I actually think it costed edmunds/IL less to drive their ferrari for a year. Anyways, I will gladly spend $2k a year in maintenance on my Evo if need be, because it's fun (so I wouldn't consider trading it for a similarly priced newer car that will require less and cheaper maintenance) and $2k is still less than any car payment for any halfway decent car.

  • 330i_zhp 330i_zhp Posts:

    @Evodad - I completely agree. Spending a couple grand to keep my (paid for) 04 330i rolling is easily worth it to not have to drive a newer (probably more reliable) econobox like a Civic, etc. Plus, having bought my car used, keeping it for a few years

  • empowah empowah Posts:

    It would have been helpful to consider the time costs as well. If you figure the typical driver of such a vehicle earns $15/hour, how much did it cost after factoring in the time spent stranded, waiting at the mechanic, and DIY-ing?

  • maxedoutmax maxedoutmax Posts:

    All this fine and dandy, but compare that with a lease on a new civic and the civic comes out ahead. It will be more fuel efficient reliable and cheaper to run, sure it doesn't have a LEXUS badge, but this thing is beat to crap anyways. Point being for someone non mechanically inclined there are other ways to save money on cars than taking a risk on a used luxury car.

  • autoboy16 autoboy16 Posts:

    While the idea didn't exactly come from Edmunds, I personally am living this daily. I'm coming from a 2005 Vw Jetta TDI that needed some repairs, making payments, etc. I ended up letting that car go to Carmax and taking the money I had attempted saving and the Carmax money (luckily I wasn't upside down) and I went and bought a used 1995 Vw Cabrio for cash. It's been a few months now and I have definitely recouped the money. I have more cash to spend on my daily life and so far the most expensive repair on my car was an oil change and the money needed to buy all of the tools and stuff to complete it. I now have a savings with each month without a car payment. While the fuel from going TDI back to Gas/petrol is gone, the car still gets great mileage. I personally would recommend this type of project to anyone that wants to break the debt cycle. This project ends for me when I have money saved to buy something new cash and not a moment before.

  • chunky_mike chunky_mike Posts:

    great article and thoughtful summary. I hope it is useful for Edmunds readers. Thank you!

  • nrkmann99 nrkmann99 Posts:

    Having owned a Mercedes diesel for many years (also other MBs) and have found their TCO to be the lowest of any car I have owned. At 30+ mpg, very low repair expense, and extended maintenance using synthetic lubricants I run about 45 to 55 cents per mile TCO. With 280K miles on the clock I have never been left stranded. Only one or two repairs have take more than one day.

  • foooj foooj Posts:

    Since you sold this car to an employee, why not continue quarterly updates on how the car is functioning, especially in terms of maintenance costs? Sounds like year 2 should be a pretty cheap year to operate and it would make for interesting reading.

  • laciea laciea Posts:

    8 months ago, I sold my beloved, fully loaded 2010 Pilot because my husband and I decided we want to live debt free. We're not credit card people but as a family of four on his USMC paycheck, our student loans and car payment weren't going away very quickly. As a mother of 2 young girls with a husband who's gone a LOT I did not want to be dealing with a ton of maintenance issues, but at the same time we were committed to changing our financial lives. We ended up buying a 1997 Saturn station wagon, and it was a great decision. After dropping all of $1700 on the car, putting new tires and brakes and a new radiator in it we have invested $2500 total. I have not been stranded once (but I watch this sucker like crazy) and we will be debt free in less than 12 months from when we started. Talk about freedom. If anyone is considering this, we really recommend it - it was a great decision for us. Of course I miss the Pilot, but when I get to drive a car with automatic windows and a little more under the hood I will appreciate it that much more because I own it, not the bank.

  • laciea laciea Posts:

    I would also like to add that the Saturn still gets 33 mpg and costs only $25/month to insure. Doesn't get more economical than that!

  • zsuzsi zsuzsi Posts:

    I just found this story ... loved it! My husband & I have been driving used cars for 25 years now, and have used many of the tips listed here, but figured them out on our own before internet! The only thing we do differently is we rent cars for cross-country trips, use our CC from our insurance company so we don't have to buy extra coverage; plus, we get our "new car fix" for 7-14 days, then go home and count all the money we have saved over the years :-)

  • lucasy lucasy Posts:

    Or buy an old used Honda for $2500 and do nothing but oil changes and new tires for 5 years until it starts to run rough, then get a new one and sell the old one 'as-is' on craigslist. That's my method and my cost of ownership is less than 1/10th of the Edmunds approach.

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