February 3, 2011

Help! Need CAR advice asap.

The mighty Subaru has died. (moment of silence, please)

It overheated and Jrex had to get it towed to the mechanic. The bad news came back today: either the head gasket blew (again. $3500 the last time to fix it...) or the engine block is cracked. We'd decided that anything over $1000 on our beloved '99 Outback would signal the end.

Thus (swelling orchestral music), The End.

Sooo.... we need a second car AND we're moving this summer. Don't yet know if we need a cozy car for a land of rain and mountains or a breezy vehicle with tons of A/C for a HOT desert environment. AWD? Not so much need for it in Dallas? Portland: it would help. Kid factor? Hopefully, but definitely no need for a mini-van at this stage. Our biggest need in either case would be great gas mileage. We'd prefer something that can handle mild off-roading to get to a trailhead. Room to tote furniture or plywood (any homeowner knows the need for hauling capabilities...). Stick shift is fine.

As you may recall, we bought a used '95 Civic from a friend a couple months ago, but haven't decided yet if we bring her for the move or let her retire in sunny California. Ideally this second car would be the one we can drive cross country and use in our new lives.

What do you recommend? We'd prefer to buy used and not spend more than $15,000 (preferably less). I've looked at craigslist. Any other sites people have used and loved?


mama nabi said...

I have no advice per se but... the man's Suburu (and I think it might even be a 99 model) has been axed today. Well, it's not completely dead yet... but we need a second car ASAP... AND... we might also be moving this summer... AND we thought, once we got pregnant, we'd do a mini-van but... we didn't want to commit until we were preggo... and... you get the picture. Hi! Welcome to the boat! :-D

mama nabi said...

Hah. Yep. Headgasket, most likely. Oil leaking big time. And yes, it was a '99.

OTRgirl said...

Sounds eerily familiar! I'm so sorry.

Yeah, we have a huge crescent shaped stain on the floor of the carport. Likely oil... sigh.

Inkling said...

How about a VW? Maybe serious, maybe kidding. It all depends. I think you have to love the brand. Only the really old models have mechanics telling us it would be worth it. We almost bought a Jetta wagon TDI from Texas (found it on Craigslist), but the folks selling wouldn't budge from their asking price and their own mechanic said it was too high. Our own mechanic here suggested a Highlander, but gas mileage on that is only slightly better than a minivan.

The only thing I know for certain is that if you choose Texas, there's no way you could live without a/c and tinted windows. I'll pray the right vehicle pops up and you know it's the one.

BTW, I keep imagining you guys in Dallas and the only question that pops into my head is this: So, OTRGirl, are you planning on getting big hair to go with one's stereotype of Dallas? But then again, even Beth Moore has toned down her Texas do. =)

Aimee said...

When we were looking for a vehicle, I combed over everything: newspaper, eBay Motors, Cragislist, and an ad bulletin. Not sure if they're everywhere, but here, there are little mini newspapers that list items people are selling. They're a weekly publication here.

As crazy as this sounds, we found the van we ended up buying parked in a K-Mart parking lot with a "For Sale" Sign. Classy, right? It was what we needed in the price range we needed, and it showed me that you never know where you'll find what you need.

If you love your Suburu, perhaps try finding another one. I'm VERY happy with our Toyota, and my parents love theirs, too. They have a Camry and it's very roomy, but not gigantic.

Emma said...

I'm a single girl so when my little 4 door died, i did an extensive search for a toyota pickup truck - again, single, rochester native doing house renovations and hauling so it was perfect for me.
I actually did most of my searching on cars dot com and another site like that. I didn't buy from an individual, those sites helped me find a great used car place in Florida. Perfect truck, great condition, perfect price. Lots and lots of looking, searching, comparing etc. But toyotas are hardcore.

Erin in MKE said...

I got a little nutty with the research when we moved into the minivan market. My fave online sites were edmunds.com and autotrader.com. I also splurged on an AutoCheck subscription to run VINs that looked promising. When we found the car we wanted I checked our regional "blue" book (which is really red - and owned by the library) and used that as a negotiation tool at the dealership. What do you think about the Mazda5? Big enough to haul some household things, could work as a family hauler down the road if necessary, and the gas mileage isn't horrible (21/28). Of course it still kind of looks like a mini version of a minivan... Good luck with your search!

Anonymous said...

If you go to Dallas, it's a no brainer. Get a Ford truck.