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View Full Version : Which used car should I buy?



dennis thompson
07-23-2014, 12:21 PM
I am buying an inexpensive used car for my grandson to commute about 20 miles to college each day. I am looking at a 2005 Ford Taurus with 90,000 miles on it for $3100 and a 2003 Subaru Forester with 130,000 miles on it for $4500. I've owned a Taurus and have had pretty good luck with it, I've never owned a Subaru but have heard many good things about them. The difference in price really doesn't matter to me. I do see many Subaru's for sale with very high (160,000-190,000) miles on them.
Any thoughts or suggestions on which to buy will be greatly appreciated.
Thanks

Chris Padilla
07-23-2014, 12:32 PM
Lower mileage, cheaper one for sure. :)

Pat Barry
07-23-2014, 1:18 PM
I think you'd be best off letting your grandson make the pick

Wes Mitchell
07-23-2014, 1:25 PM
From a maintenance standpoint, the Ford would probably be a better option. Most times with AWD vehicles, if 1 tire goes you have to replace them all. That would cost a lot of money for a college kid.

Rich Riddle
07-23-2014, 1:32 PM
I have owned a Mercury Sable (Ford Taurus) and Subaru. The Ford cost far less to maintain. You might want to look at owners groups similar to SMC and see what folks who own each type say.

Erik Loza
07-23-2014, 3:04 PM
From a maintenance standpoint, the Ford would probably be a better option. Most times with AWD vehicles, if 1 tire goes you have to replace them all. That would cost a lot of money for a college kid.

+1 for the non-AWD vehicle. Just extra transfer case, axles, etc. to have to maintain and repair.

Any Civics or Camry's for sale in your area?

Erik Loza
Minimax USA

Chuck Wintle
07-23-2014, 3:22 PM
+1 for the non-AWD vehicle. Just extra transfer case, axles, etc. to have to maintain and repair.

Any Civics or Camry's for sale in your area?

Erik Loza
Minimax USA

a civic or a corolla would get my vote. Also lately the hyundai have become reliable and their used prices are lower.

Raymond Fries
07-23-2014, 3:26 PM
Years ago when I was in the market for a car, I decided to look at the classified ads in the paper and choose a brand that was either not there or only a few of them. It was full of old chevys, fords, etc. I figured that brands that were not in abundance were kept by owners longer. I ended up with a used cadillac which was problem free for several years and then I gave it to my daughter for a gradualtion present. She drove it for several years before trading it.

Although the Subaru might have more miles, it might have more longevity assuming both cars had equal maintenance.

Used cars are tough. You never know how prior owners treated them. Was the oil changed frequently? Bla Bla Bla Do you know a mechanic that can check them out for you?

Good Luck in your search.

+1 for a Corolla. I had awesome longevity and low maintainance with one of those. It met its end when on my way to work I was stopped at a light and was rear-ended by a guy going 40 mph and working on a powerpoint presentation on his way to work. Bad Call...

...He missed his meeting he was rushing for. Turns out he worked with my wife. Small world.

ray hampton
07-23-2014, 3:54 PM
If your car is driver only then buy the smaller car

David Weaver
07-23-2014, 4:36 PM
Subarus are great cars, but they are not that low maintenance when they get old and maintenance on them isn't cheap.

I don't know anything about the taurus, but if the parts are cheap and there aren't any known problems that are terminal, I'd go that route.

What standard service is the taurus going to require at 100k miles? Is it a timing belt or chain car, and if it's belt, is it a $600 fix, or a $1600 fix with all kinds of idlers and stuff needing to be replaced at the same time?

Mark Bolton
07-23-2014, 4:45 PM
From a maintenance standpoint, the Ford would probably be a better option. Most times with AWD vehicles, if 1 tire goes you have to replace them all. That would cost a lot of money for a college kid.

Agreed from a first hand experience but not a subaru. I love 95-96-97 jeep grand cherokee's with 6 cylinder. They are sherman tanks, indestructible. Happened into a 97 with quadratrac (full time 4wd). My mechanic tossed on a single new tire when one went south and within short order the viscous coupler in the Tcase ate the Tcase alive.

I think simple is best.

Jim Matthews
07-23-2014, 4:46 PM
Plenty of room, safe as houses and easy to service.

Buy the Ford.
Present with Fuzzy dice installed.

Make sure to preset all the radio stations to AOR channels.

Matt Day
07-23-2014, 10:40 PM
I would go with the Subaru, but I'm a Subaru guy. I have an '04 Forester XT (105k miles) and my wife has a '14 Forester.

Assuming all the proper maintenance has been done to the Forester, once you pass the 103k mark (timing belt) there aren't many big ticket items to go wrong if the car has been taken care of well.

Obviously anything could go wrong in either car at any point. The tranny could drop the day after you buy it.

The Subaru AWD system is a very reliable and proven system too. You might have a wheel bearing to replace or cv joint work, but that's typical of any car at that age. And if your grandson or anyone else in the family has some DIY skills, a lot of it can be done on the cheap. There's a vast wealth of knowledge on subaruforester.org.

And the car is one of the safest you can buy from that era.

Edit: you're right about the tire replacement to an extent, so inspect the tires thoroughly before you buy. You need to have all four wheels with the same OD or very close, so you can replace one tire if it matches up.

Jason Roehl
07-23-2014, 10:50 PM
I would go with the Subaru (made near me, for full disclosure) over the Tow-us. I had an '88 Mercury Sable (the sister car to the Tow-us) that was nothing but problems, including the tranny. As for ride, power and creature comforts, it was great, but all that power was sent through a too-small tranny, and a lot of the parts were penny-pinched at the factory. Granted, that car was 17 years older than the model you're talking about, but from what I've seen among a few people I know who have newer Tow-uses, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

If your grandson is in NJ, he may appreciate the AWD system on the Subaru come winter, and I'd be more likely to put money on the Subaru getting to 250k miles than the Tow-us getting to 175k miles.

dennis thompson
07-25-2014, 2:51 PM
Thanks for all the excellent recommendations. I found a very well cared for 2006 Taurus for $3,800 with 50,000 miles on it and bought it. Grandson is very happy(who wouldn't be if given a car!):)

Myk Rian
07-25-2014, 7:02 PM
Consider new struts and shocks at 50,000 miles. I replace them on EVERY car I own at that point.
About $500 to have it done, but well worth the investment. Will save a ton of money down the road for suspension work later.

Jim Becker
07-25-2014, 10:41 PM
Subaru would be my choice, even with the mileage difference. Great AWD system. And they tend to last a long time, too...

Peter Froh
07-26-2014, 11:44 PM
Toyota Prius. Some cabbie in Vancouver,bc has driven one for 1.5 MILLION kilometres and said he only needed regular maintenance. No major components broke or needed replacing. The batteries lasted that long. It was the cheapest car he ever ran as a cab. Incredible.

ken masoumi
07-27-2014, 12:22 AM
+1 for the non-AWD vehicle. Just extra transfer case, axles, etc. to have to maintain and repair.

Any Civics or Camry's for sale in your area?

Erik Loza
Minimax USA
+1 to Honda Civic,I have had 4 different models since the eighties,my last one is the roomiest ,sharpest looking and of course,most reliable of them all,it is 2007 2 door civic,I'm planning to keep it for another 10 years. If I buy another car,I still won't sell this one.