No. of Recommendations: 4
I agree with Ishtar (and other replies).


1) Forget about new cars period. They are a complete rip-off. Don't go into debt for a car, ever, if you can help it.

(Personal anecdote, I was still forced to borrow $6K for a *used* car, because DW's car had a blown-up engine. I bought it from a private party, not a dealer, and even this small level of debt over a car makes me mad. I hate car payments. My truck is paid off, with 120K miles, and I will drive it another 100. It needed a few parts (clutch, etc. at 88K miles) and has been bulletproof ever since.


2) Forget about dealerships. They charge double or triple on everything, especially repairs and bogus "warranty" offers. Buy and sell cars privately, through craigslist, or some other low cost method (newspaper ads). If this scares you, use an independent auto broker not affiliated with a dealership. For a small fee (but usually better than dealers) they will find you a used car at auction in the price range you tell them to find.

3) Find a good mechanic. Ask *SMART* people you know, who they use. Independent garages (Stan's Auto, etc.) kind of places where the same people have been in business for *years* are often better than large chains with low-skill workers who turn over constantly. However Maaco got good reviews from a consumer survey I read, and I have also had decent service at Sears in the past. YMMV (your mileage may vary).

4) Research the most reliable used car make/model/year at places like Edmunds.com, and check out Consumer Reports in your local library, or online. CR recently came out with the worst 10 cars. Half of them were Jeeps, and some were Chevys. Only sell or trade your current car if it is an unreliable model.

Hope you don't drive a Jeep.

~dswing
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