I know zilch zip zero about cars!

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maki2

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You would get a better vehicle if you purchased one from another area of the country. Stay away from the ones that are near the saltwater oceans and stay away from the states that frequently have to put salt based deicer on the roads. That still gives you a wide geographic range.

Rent a car, go on a vacation to an area that has a lot of the vehicle models you are serious about buying. You are unlikey to be spending any extra money as cars in New York are not cheap but cars in a lot of the country are more affordable. Hopefully you have family or friends who live in such a place. They can help you locate some potential vehicles and/or give you a place to stay while you shop.
 

highdesertranger

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if there are a buch of recalls yes I would run, on the other hand if there are a couple of minor ones I wouls still look at it but demand the paper work stating it was fixed by a dealer.

BTW a dealer can look it up by the VIN and tell you if it was repaired.

"Oh, and if an ad says the engine "starts with a boost," that means it needs a new battery - correct?"

maybe, but could be a few other things as well.

basically if the owner doesn't care enough to fix the issue to sell it I would stay away because what else have they neglected over the years.

also I would be highly suspect if you go look at a vehicle and it's already warmed up.

I would run away from any visible rust. rust is like an ice berg, you only see 10% of it.

highdesertranger
 

CityWoman

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maki2 said:
You would get a better vehicle if you purchased one from another area of the country. Stay away from the ones that are near the saltwater oceans and stay away from the states that frequently have to put salt based deicer on the roads. That still gives you a wide geographic range.

Rent a car, go on a vacation to an area that has a lot of the vehicle models you are serious about buying. You are unlikey to be spending any extra money as cars in New York are not cheap but cars in a lot of the country are more affordable.

It's pretty close to impossible to rent a car around here with only a debit card. A few years ago, I was told the car rental co. would take my debit card when I needed one for a vacation, but when I showed up they refused me. It took hours (and lots of exhausted tears) for me to find one that let me rent in time for me to get to my destination and make my hotel reservation. But it cost me more than twice the usual rate due to extra insurance I had to buy. Would've been cheaper, actually, to fly. So, trying to rent a car is a headache I'd rather avoid.

I have come across a number of listings in my area that say "Southern car brought up here, no rust."

The only way I can get out of my area is by bus, train, or plane. I wouldn't know where to go, though, to get a good rust-free car. ????? And still trying to figure out what car I'm "serious" about buying. I plain don't know.

And I don't have any friends or relatives to stay with in other states. I'm not sure I have anyone to stay with near me, actually, which is why I need to buy a vehicle asap.
 

bullfrog

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See if there are still any non-profit groups that fix or repair vehicles like vocational schools or churches, like the ones that take donations (Ha! Ha! this is beginning to sound like a service Homes on Wheels could do) for help selecting and inspecting the ones you find for a donation. Used to be some groups in larger cities that did this.
 

GypsyJan

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"I'm 5'6" and they look sort of small to me"

I am 5'7" and have no issues with the Toyota RAV4. My cot in the cargo area has room to spare when I am fully stretched out to sleep, though I usually end up curled on my side in fetal position most of the night.

However, if you are going to be an urban van dweller and won't have the rear hatch door open and therefore will not be living outside much, go for a larger vehicle. Just make sure you can stow the seats, the resulting cargo floor is relatively flat and you can stretch out full length to sleep.
 

CityWoman

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I have to admit I'm feeling pretty defeated right now.  I have to buy something quick, but don't want to be stuck with a lemon, and just don't know enough. Too many choices, so many differing opinions online, look up a car and there's a list of recalls, people talk about problems with parts about which I know nothing, not sure how much I should spend and not get ripped off, nor how old of a car is safe... on and on.  And I really don't have anyone in my life to help me.  

I might wind up sleeping in the airport before I find a car.
 

highdesertranger

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I will ask again, post up a link to one you like. lets get this ball rolling. highdesertranger
 

JohnnyM

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Hi CityWoman,

Don't feel defeated; you're not.

You can buy a good car for what you need right there in the city. Sure, it's going to cost a little more to license and insure than if you lived in Mayberry, RFD, but you don't, so quit worrying about that. That's just one of those things over which you have no control. Plus you have the huge advantage of knowing your way around the city, so that way makes up for the extra cost.

Please don't worry too much about rust -- it has no positive value but it's not a death sentence either. Every vehicle from that part of the country will have some rust issues. When car shopping, look underneath at the suspension and mufflers and springs for serious and corrosive rust only. You can expect to see some surface rust on everything,so just look for things which are falling apart due to being rotten. Exterior body parts like rocker panels (the body parts below the doors that catch all the salt and rocks) aren't really important to the operation of the vehicle, they just make it look pretty. Again, buy as new as possible and don't fret a few dings and a little surface rust.

Also, you're not buying the car to go on a 'round the world tour, you just need something dependable and reasonably roomy. After you drive it around the city for a couple of months, you'll know what to expect if you head out to someplace warmer when Winter comes.

Looking forward to seeing you out there.

Johnny
 

CityWoman

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highdesertranger said:
I will ask again,  post up a link to one you like.  lets get this ball rolling.  highdesertranger

Okay, here's one in NJ that I could easily get to by bus:
'04 Chevy Trailblazer

A GMC Envoy in da Bronx:
'04 GMC Envoy

Here's a Subaru in Brooklyn:
'09 Subaru Tribeca

A Chevy Astro van in Queens:
'01 Chevy Astro

A Honda in Queens:
'03 Honda CR-V EX

And here is an '03 Trailblazer out on Long Island. Could probably get there by commuter train:
'03 Chevy Trailblazer

These are a few I bookmarked. What do you all think about my selections? I have a few Suburbans saved also, but wondering if they're too big. Most of those are outside the city in PA and CT. I think some of the ones I shared above might be overpriced but I'm not sure. Still trying to figure out my budget.

Opinions welcome!
 

CityWoman

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Oh, sorry, I just wanted to add this one - a Toyota Highlander in NJ but not far from NYC:
'02 Toyota Highlander


Thanks again for any feedback you folks have for me.
 

tx2sturgis

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Something you might consider is paying a bit more to buy a 'certified' used at a dealership. You will get some kind of warranty. You wont have to deal with random sellers....but...salesmen can also bring some challenges.

Another option is to get a carfax report on the cars you focus on...One report for $39 or six reports for $99....you will need the VIN numbers to run the reports.

Keep in mind also that for any of these cars of that age and mileage, repairs are inevitable. If you buy a $4000 car that pukes its transmission after 2 weeks, you might be out another 3 grand getting that 'bargain' ready to roll. Not fun at all.

And before you hand over any money to an individual seller, be sure to INSIST on a mechanic at least looking over the vehicle, and be 100% sure of the clear and clean title. You need to SEE it and preferably have them sign it over to you in the presence of a bank or notary. 

If your budget allows, look for newer vehicles since you don't have any mechanical knowledge and would be at a big disadvantage if something major breaks. There are no guarantees, but at least you can try to stack the deck in your favor with a newer vehicle.
 

CityWoman

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tx2sturgis said:
Something you might consider is paying a bit more to buy a 'certified' used at a dealership. You will get some kind of warranty. You wont have to deal with random sellers....but...salesmen can also bring some challenges.

I'll look into that.

If your budget allows, look for newer vehicles since you don't have any mechanical knowledge . . .

How new???
 

tx2sturgis

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If you have the budget, (cash or credit) I would recommend (in your situation) a nice SUV or minivan at no more than about 6 years old or 75,000 miles...very rough numbers here.

Mechanical aptitude (or a strict budget and lots of time) means you can keep looking for that bargain, or the fixer-upper that you can buy cheap and spend some time and money fixing it up if needed.

But for someone in your situation, I would say it might be money well-spent to buy as new as you can comfortably afford. I mean, don't spend EVERYTHING...but buying newer, especially with some kind of drivetrain warranty, might help you save money in the long run.

Often, especially in your part of the country, cars that see a LOT of urban driving and have 120,000 miles on them have seen a LOT of stop and go driving, snow and ice, maybe have rust issues, etc.

Conversely, out here in the sticks and the flats, its not unusual to see a rust-free specimen with 200,000 highway miles that is still in good shape.

Just my 2 cents and others may disagree. But its the way I see it, given your situation.
 

tx2sturgis

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You might want to PRACTICE buying cars. Let's say you want to practice on this 2017 Ford Escape, and let's suppose you can afford 11 thousand. This car is listed at 13-7.

https://newjersey.craigslist.org/ctd/d/jersey-city-2017-ford-escape-se-fwd/6957178794.html

You're not in love with it, the color is too dark or whatever, but you want to check it out.

You ring the dealer...Joe answers and yes..he still has it. You take the subway and maybe an Uber ride to the dealer. Or better yet, a trusted friend drives you to the dealer. You walk in, ask for Joe, tell him you want to look but you are also looking at other cars. He takes you to it, shows you a few features, offers to let you drive it. The salesman will probably need to ride with you. 

You drive it around the neighborhood, you like it. But dont ACT like you like it. 

You get back to the dealer after a 20 minute drive. You tell him that you might be interested, but will not be buying it at 13-7...no way...you just really dont like dark blue. You will probably have his full attention now.

He takes you inside and asks questions about your credit, the payments you can afford, etc. Take charge. Its YOUR money we are talking about. Tell him that the car will be on your shortlist if they can sell it to you for 11-5. No fees. No add-ons. And you want a warranty, in writing. (X number of miles or whatever).

He comes back and says no way...the lowest he can go is 13. You stand up, thank him for his time, offer to shake his hand, and begin walking out the door.

One of two things will happen:

He will let you walk.

OR more likely he will say something like, what if we came down to 12-5. Plus tax.

YOU are in control. Never forget that.

Smile, then offer him your phone number and tell him you will be buying a car in the next week....and it might be this car IF they can make a much better offer. Suppose he DOES meet your price. You STILL have the option to walk if the car is just too expensive for you right now.

Either way, you have now done the 'dance' so you can be more confident for each subsequent negotiation.

It takes a bit of practice to work up some confidence. But you can do it.
 

CityWoman

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Hmm... after doing a little searching, looks like CPO cars are a bit beyond the realm of possibilities for me, price-wise.  

But millions of people buy used cars every day - why should it be problematic for me?  I wish I had somebody who knows this stuff to go with me.  I'm trying to get in touch with possible mechanics but it'd be nice to have someone with me whom I don't have to pay.

Ugh, what a quandary.
 

highdesertranger

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what are CPO cars?

on that previous list,

that Astro Van is beat up stay away. there is body damage on the left rear corner panel. also the plastic around the dash is not fitting right.

not much info on That Trail Blazer

not much info on that Envoy. me personally I don't like AWD(All Wheel Drive)

I am also not a Subaru fan. I don't get the cult like following. just another throw away car IMO.

not much info on that Honda. Note AWD is not 4WD(four wheel drive)

that 2nd Trail Blazer is cheap but has a lot of miles and is showing wear. you can see the wear in the steering wheel and seats. also I don't care for those funny camera angles that make the front end appear to be lower than the rear either something is up or they are trying to hide something.

some general things to consider.

the more doo dads a vehicle has the more there is to go wrong with it. for this reason I don't care for the push button 4WD or automatic AWD

when you test drive you must check everything, every doo dad. you must check the 4WD and you can not check 4WD on pavement you must be on dirt.

don't get a false sense of security from a "Clean Car Fax Report". Car Fax is only a guideline very few shops report to Car Fax and there is a bit of incentive to take a vehicle to a shop that doesn't report to Car Fax, for a major repair. a vehicle could have been totaled in a wreck and still have a clean Car Fax. Used car Dealers almost never report to Car Fax.

sure does seem a lot of people in your area don't give much info with there ads. ads with little info makes me leery.

highdesertranger
 

CityWoman

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highdesertranger said:
what are CPO cars?
CPO = Certified Pre-Owned. That's what tx2sturgis suggested I look for.

sure does seem a lot of people in your area don't give much info with there ads.  ads with little info makes me leery.

highdesertranger
Yes, I find that very frustrating.

Did you see my post after that one, with the Toyota Highlander?
 

CityWoman

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When you go to buy a car from a private seller, how is it possible to buy insurance before driving it home?  Are private sellers usually willing to wait for someone to look at a car and then come back to have a mechanic look at it, pay for it, and already have insurance?

I am also reading up on what I need to do in order to buy a car out of state.
 

highdesertranger

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the Highlander looks to have damage at both corners of the rear bumper. lots of wear on the steering wheel. I wonder why all the front end work, not enough miles for that IMO something's up. I wonder what a "new power steering pipe is". highdesertranger
 

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