When to Buy a New Car?

I’ll never claim to be a frugal person, but in regards to large purchases, that’s where my frugality shines. And by shines, I mean “has scratches.” My Toyota Solara (1999), which I purchased used off of a man selling it on Craigslist in 2005 with 130k miles on it for $7,000, is showing signs of “time to get rid of me.” I’m trying to figure out exactly when I do get rid of her… which, if it’s up to me, will be the day she stops running and no one can fix her for less than 1/2 her current value.

What’s wrong with her? Let me count the ways.

– front bumper on left side is ripped off (from “no fault” accident (it was his fault))
– air conditioning is broken
– left window won’t ¬†open
– radio is broken
– back tires need to be replaced

She has 190k miles on her, which for a Toyota might not be a death sentence yet, but still influences my decision whether or not to fix her up or sell her for pennies on the dollar, and buy a new (used) car.

This is the first car I’ve ever owned, so I’m unsure when I should make the plunge and start shopping for a new car. In theory, I’ve been able to save $3k per month so buying a new (used) car that is similar in quality and value to my current car (when I bought it) would only eat up 2.5 months of savings. Then again, maybe I’d want to buy a slightly nicer car. I really want a (used) Prius. What do you think?

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4 thoughts on “When to Buy a New Car?”

  1. hate to say, it may be time to look for something else. i'm going car shopping today ONLY because my car was in a wreck. i will first look at used (new to me) and then new. i hate having to go into any debt for a car, but i do need one and right now, at least for a few months, i will have to make payments on something.

    you have enough wrong with your car that you should start looking. if it's not an immediate rush, then don't rush it, but it's time to hit the pavement and look for something else…within the next few weeks or months.

  2. a used prius might not be a bad idea or some type of hybrid. i * thought* about a hybrid sonata. gas is high. if not now, then maybe in the future.

  3. I'd keep the solara a bit longer following your own "no one can fix her for less than 1/2 her current value" rule. If you're putting less than 10k miles on it each year you should be able to get another year or three out of it barring major catastrophe. However, I'd also start saving for the next car since you can't be sure when the solara will break down.

    I'm personally not a fan of hybrids since they don't break even compared to a used civic or corolla unless you drive a ridiculous amount. If you're only driving 10,000 miles a year it may not be worth it – you can do the math. Beyond the math, the batteries in hybrids are pretty awful for the environment so don't feel any "green" envy if you don't get one.

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