Please, need advices on buying a car. I have too much money on my hands (yeah right)

<p>Off to college in a year. Need a car for work and such, but am completely clueless. What should I buy? I'm looking for:</p>

<p>Like new
SUV-ish (for safety)
Price range: $15000 to $20000 (Is this price feasible? I can pay about $500 a month for the car)
Hybrid? Would you recommend one?</p>

<p>About how much can I expect to pay a month? (High school senior... so no credit on my hands) How much is the usual down payment? How does having a car affect need-based financial aid at colleges?</p>

<p>I have lots of questions for you. No answers as yet.</p>

<p>You need a car for work now, before you head off to college? Or you need a car once you get to college to hold a part-time job? </p>

<p>If it's the latter, have you considered schools in locations where you wouldn't need a car? That's a terrifically high expense item. Have you factored in the cost of insurance (is the $500/month meant to include car payment as well as insurance)?</p>

<p>Do you already own a car? Who is paying for the insurance?</p>

<p>Where will you get the down payment? What kind of income do you have to support a loan?</p>

<p>More questions: will you actually earn enough, after taxes, to justify the expense of a car? If you're working so that you can have a car, and you have a car so you can get to work, then you're on a treadmill and getting nowhere.</p>

<p>I'll skip the sermons etc., and assume you got the bucks, know the insurance game and so forth.</p>

<p>Hybrid? Only if you want to make a social statement. Otherwise, the price premium for the vehicle never matches the gas savings, which are pretty small in annual $$ terms (do the math and see for yourself how much a rise in mileage from 20 to 25 saves you if you drive 20,000 miles a year at $3/gal: $600/year.)</p>

<p>SUVish for safety? Do some careful thinking. Truck based SUVs are safer in collisions with cars, but are much more prone to rollovers, so the the true net is that they are NOT safer, contrary to popular wisdom. They sure do a number on smaller cars, though, in collisions. Car based SUVs (a lot of them these days) offer none of the safety that one gets in a truck based SUV when you tangle with a car, and are a bit more stable for rollover, but still not as good as a plain old car. And many of them have crappy emergency handling, so you're more likely to be in a mess. I guess you could say the higher seating position allows one to SEE the pending problems better?</p>

<p>So, within that price range you have a lot of choices, including some decent sedan choices if you're willing to give up the SUV dream.</p>

<p>Frankly, if you are off to college and are going to be parking on the street, letting friends drive it and so forth, consider buying something a bit older with more miles. You'll save money and not cry as much when somebody sideswipes the car when it's parked on the street. Or backs into in in your apartment parking lot. You save on taxes, plates and insurance, too.</p>

<p>I need car for pretty practical purposes-work. I work for a tutoring company that operates in many states so I can work no matter where I go to college. If I do not earn enough to cover the cost of the car, I won't purchase one. I wanted a SUV primarily for safety purposes, hybrid for saving money (and higher probability of a good reselling deal later). But I guess these two are unrealistic now?</p>

<p>I do not have a car right now. The $500 covers all I can afford (including insurance) for a car. As long as a car is safe and fuel efficient, I am perfectly fine with it.</p>

I wanted a SUV primarily for safety purposes,


<p>One of the biggest myths is that SUVs are safer than sedans. They are NOT and they are much more expensive. Another way to cut costs is to buy used and buy a car with a manual transmission (stick shifts also get better gas mileage than automatic).</p>

<p>I agree that it makes more sense to wait & figure out where you're going to college & whether you REALLY NEED a car before bothering with trying to purchase one--it is a money pit. Some schools have very good public transportation or students use bicycles to get just about everywhere. If you end up at one of these schools, you can apply much more of your earnings directly toward college expenses rather than paying off a car & gas & insurance & repair bills.</p>

<p>For purchasing a car, I'd recommend finding rental car companies near campus that will include a warranty with the used car purchase. Decent cars can be purchased for about $10,000+ (my niece & neighbors have been happy with their purchases). I also would NOT recommend a hybrid or SUV for the reasons specified by posters above.</p>

<p>FauxHoax - how much do you expect to earn from tutoring while you are at college? Will you work that job both term-time and summers?</p>

<p>jmmom-Probably all year long. I don't want to be too optimistic about my earnings, but I suppose $6~800 a month is not unrealistic. Another thing is that I really love the job. So working is not purely financial. </p>

<p>Older, more mileage, manuel transmission and Subaru-ish, maybe? That gives around $10000? How much would the car consume my monthly budget now?</p>

<p>Consider a late model Subaru Legacy or Outback.</p>

<p>Safe as they come, reasonably fuel efficient, real all weather capability, lots of cargo space.</p>

<p>Sounds like you really need to do some research. Most SUVs are not only not the safest, most are not fuel efficient. $500 a month total with insurance and gas probably won't but you the car you're envisioning.</p>

<p>You also need to think about whether you want to be tied down to this job through college. Hopefully there will be other opportunities, some without pay, that may be a good idea to prepare you for a real job or grad school.</p>

<p>You also have no idea how much time for work you'll end up having. With all of the potential activities, you could end up feeling tied down by that car.</p>

<p>Well, FauxHoax, I'm thinking that a pencil and paper or spreadsheet are in order first. If you gross $600-800/month, your net after car payment plus gas plus insurance plus occasional repairs would be anywhere from negative to so minimal that you would probably be earning about $1/hour.</p>

<p>That may not be quite right. But the only way to figure it is to lay out the # hours you plan to work per week, the hourly pay and gross income you expect, the take-home pay after taxes and other deductions, the monthly payment on cars of different costs, gas cost, insurance cost and allowance for repairs.</p>

<p>Lay that out and see if it makes sense and what your realistic budget per month could be for a car and all of its associated expenses.</p>

<p>Then, tell us a little more about how your tutoring job would work (how close to campus would your students be? could public transport work?). </p>

<p>I think the question of which car would work best, if any, depends on answers to all of these questions.</p>

<p>I think Subaru Legacy/Outback seems like a good pick. </p>

<p>jmmom, this tutoring job has pretty nice pay, with ~$40/hour plus travel bonuses. The rate also goes up constantly with each student contract you complete (so by the end of your senior year you'll be earning $80/hour). You usually go to the student's house, so a car is pretty much necessary. (the student can pretty much locate anywhere in your state)</p>

<p>If buying a car doesn't make much sense if you use it for work only, does having a car in college carry any significant benefits?</p>

<p>I really think it all depends on where you go to college. Obviously, if you're going to college in Manhattan, a car would be a nightmare. </p>

<p>If you drive a TON, a hybrid could be very useful. There are some years when I put close to 30,000 miles on a car, and a hybrid would be wonderful. If you go hybrid, you don't want a used one; the technology is just starting to get ironed out. Also, don't buy hybrids in their first few phases (the companies that are just coming out with hybrid technology won't be as good as same-year Toyotas, for example). </p>

<p>If I were to spend ten grand on a used car, I would get a 2000 year BMW or Volvo S70. The mileage is pretty good; the cars will last freakin forever, and they'll keep you safe in an accident. Then again, I come from a die-hard Volvo family. We take pride in putting ridiculous miles on our cars and keeping them until accidents kill them.</p>

<p>In our neighborhood, $10,000 won't buy a 2000 BMW or Volvo--it would cost considerably more than that, but those are good brands of cars. The bottom line is that in some towns, colleges & neighborhoods, cars are more of a problem & liability than a help--they need to be parked, serviced, insured, etc. Wait until you KNOW what school you'll be attending & what transportation options are available & feasibility of cars for freshmen (some schools do not allow freshmen to have cars).</p>

<p>Depends on the mileage. Maybe 1998, then? If it's been garaged, for those brands, it almost doesn't matter. You have to look a bit harder for those, but it's worth it when you can find it.</p>

<p>I'll also put in a plug for Hondas - very affordable, awesome mileage, and they will last until attacked with an atom bomb. (Volvos, be it noted, will last through the atom bomb blast with only a faint ripple upon the paint.)</p>

<p>It's not the world's most exciting car, but the Toyota Camry is really quite safe and fuel efficient. </p>

<p>But they do hold their value absurdly well, so a later model might be harder to pick up for less than $10K...</p>

<p>$500 a month is over the way top for a college budget for a car, imo. </p>

<p>Plus you are going to really take hit if you have to sell for some reason. We are looking right now and you will get creamed if you buy an used SUV. Most of us are "upside down" on our loans with our gas guzzlers. Be warned!</p>

<p>Hop onto Craig's List, Kelly Blue Book, Edmunds, and find yourself a decent used, gas efficient (30-40mpg)car. A nice SUV is no good if you cannot afford to fill it. When gas prices jump you are looking at 200 & up to fill your tank once a month.</p>

<p>A few suggestions:</p>

<p>Go to or Kelly Blue Book at to get some idea of prices.</p>

<p>Many rental companies no longer sell their used cars, but turn them back to dealers, so look at dealers, but be prepared to negotiate hard.</p>

<p>Subarus are rather a cult clasic. Service can be tricky, and the four wheel drive adds weight (= lower gas mileage), and complexity (= higher service costs). So, unless you really need 4wd, I'd consider others. Keep in mind, too, that 4wd helps you start, but does not help you stop. What do you suppose the winter time accident ratio is for starting problems:stopping problems? (Hint, you gotta be moving to smash into something...)</p>

<p>There is a world of vehicle choices, depending on your interests in size, reliability, age, cost, service ease, styling, insurance cost and so forth.</p>

<p>Don't rely on free stranger advice from boards like these for specific models. Do your homework.</p>

<p>If you're buying a used car, you really need to calculate maintenance costs. The cheapest cars to service (in our experience) has been Toyotas. They're reliable so they don't need much servicing & if they do, there tend to be a lot of mechanics that work on them. Volvos & BMWs require more specialized knowledge & tools & very few mechanics do a good job on them & they charge a LOT (just paid >$4000 for 1998 Volvo repairs--ouch!)</p>