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Choosing a Car

July 7th, 2008 at 06:08 pm

A trip to get my oil changed turned into a lesson on carefully researching and picking a car and how choices can come back to haunt you.

When I went looking at cars with my ex (husband at the time) we were actually looking to replace our minivan with another minivan. The prices just about floored me. My minivan was 13 years old and was on its last legs. As we started test driving, I realized I would be alright without a minivan and I decided on a smaller car. My ex was fine with whatever I chose.

I should have gone home and done more research. I looked at Consumer Reports but I should have looked into it further. As my mechanic told me today, I should have looked at who really makes the car not the label on it. I bought a Ford Focus SE 2002. He said its made by Mazda and in his words it is made cheaply (he did not mean cheap in a good way), quickly and the replacement parts are the same so you pay for a cheap goods and they wear out quickly. Example, I now replace my brakes and rotors about once every 12-15 months. So, I have now spent $600 a year just to replace brakes, plus I am without my car for the day. This will be the 3rd time.

He said if you want to avoid this get a Honda or Toyota next time. As the conversation went on I asked about the Chev. Aveo and he said that it is basically a Toyota. Remember the label comment. I asked if that was just the engine and he said sometimes. You have to check the manf. plant to be sure. Interesting.

I have decided to just repair the car and I am hoping that now that I am the only driver I will cut my mileage enough to replace the brakes once every 2 years. Since I plan to get a new vehicle in 2 years(2010/11), maybe I won't have to replace the brakes again. But you can bet I will research, research, research the next time around. I'll probably ask him what cars are dependable, low maintenance and who makes it.

In addition to the minivan we had a Toyota Camry, from Japan (1987), and it was incredible. I can't say enough about how nice it was and the low cost of maintenance over the 15 years we owned it. It finally wore out at 348,000 miles.
It still ran when we gave it to charity.

I am still considering a motor scooter. There is a nice wide bike lane all the way to my work attached to the main road (not separate). I only have to go .7 miles to get to it. A regular bicycle wouldn't work well for me at this point. It is 12 miles to work and to ride I would be in the dark/dusk most of the year in the morning. That would not be safe. If I do that I might consider holding off on a new car for an extra year or two(2012/13).

5 Responses to “Choosing a Car”

  1. anonymouse Says:

    I had a Ford Probe for 10 years. It is also contained parts by Mazda. I only changed the rotors once during that 10 yrs. Maybe it's your mechanic putting in bad parts. It could be also where you live. If you live in a area that has bad winters the salt will destroy the car.

  2. PauletteGoddard Says:

    You could use reflective striping and a modulating ("flashing") light on your motor scooter to compensate. However, I do agree with you that dusk and pre-dawn are the most dangerous times to be on the road, scooter or car, for visibility issues.

    Wow, I didn't think many cars survived beyond 200K miles. I hope my car lasts until the three of us can't fit in it anymore, or until I have enough $$ to buy a car of equal fuel efficiency and reliability.

  3. FrugalFish Says:

    I'm not sure there's anything quite like a Japanese built Toyota or Honda. Our cars are 20 and 30 year old Japanese built Hondas. I sometimes have a love-hate relationship with them, but they are so darn reliable that I can't justify buying a new car just yet. But gosh, while other people's cars say they've arrived, mine say I've never left (the 1980's that is...)

    The older one is getting hard to find parts for, though DH has it looking like it just rolled off the showroom floor. For practicality, we may have to stop driving it at some point- or at least not drive it regularly. Being able to keep a car too long comes with its own set of problems!

  4. Aleta Says:

    I have a Honda Civic. These cars are so forgiving to people who forget to service them. I always take mine in. Sometimes the service rep tells me " you're OK, I'll see you in about 3 months". My car is a '99.

  5. greengirl Says:

    i have a 98 nissan pulsar, and before that i had a 89 nissan pintara. i think i will most likely buy nissan again when i replace the pulsar. my mechanic has said in the past that nissans (especially pulsars) are very reliable and are a medium priced car as well.

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