Car hunting: Things to look out for

So, the car search is tentatively on.

Here’s what we want. It will be a four-door, at least 1500cc and we’re looking to spend up to about $5k. Maybe a little more. Preferably a Toyota (Corolla, Corona). Toyotas, well, go forever.

I suppose we might be willing to entertain the thought of another Mazda (or equivalent Ford), possibly a Nissan. We’re staying away from Hondas, Hyundais, and anything European. (I know you Yanks all seem to have a thing for Hondas, but the Dog and Lemon guide disagrees. As do I; I have observed a sharp decline in the number of old Hondas I’ve seen on the roads in the last couple of years, and that’s probably for a good – or bad, rather – reason).

Reliability is key. Safety, not to much. In fact, Dog and Lemon deemed our current car reliable but an accident risk, simply because it was “small and light” nor did it have airbags. Which is sweet with me; the odds of being in a serious accident concern me far less than the likelihood of a breakdown.

When it comes to narrowing the field, we’ll be looking at:

Mileage. Obviously, the fewer the better; around 100,000km would probably be about right. Even less would be ideal. This also means we have to be hyper careful and ensure the cambelt has been changed.

Age. The newer the better. In this price range, mid to late 90s would be realistic, bordering on hopeful. Seeing as Toyotas and Mazdas are such longlifers, they’re valued accordingly.

Engine capacity. We don’t want anything below a 1.5l, and if we end up getting a wagon, 2l would be better. No 1.3l Corsas for us!

Consider ease of procuring replacement parts. Ideally, a fairly common model so we can continue to visit Pickapart when things break.

This probably goes without saying, but it needs to be a petrol car. No diesel versions for us; road taxes suck, as do emissions, and repairs should things go south.

We’ll probably go for a private sale again, but this time we might consider dealers or auctions.

What factors do you consider when car shopping?

5 thoughts on “Car hunting: Things to look out for

  • Reply Stephany November 9, 2010 at 13:30

    One of the biggies for me is mileage, although I look for something under 40,000. I don’t know if we just drive more, but our car hit 100,000 a few months ago and we’ve had it for 5 years! So low mileage is definitely a must.

    And there are certain cars we’ve had that have been really good for us. I’m a big fan of Honda’s because they do seem to last, at least here. And they’re good, reliable cars. The car we have now, a Mitsubishi Lancer, has been golden for the past 5 years almost never breaking down, only a few times because of a bad battery.

    Good luck on your car shopping!

  • Reply gem November 9, 2010 at 14:33

    My first car was a Carolla! We got it from my cousin and it was ten years old, but it was wonderful and never died, even after me and my brother drove it in our reckless teenager ways for four years. (We eventually traded it in, so I don’t know it’s total lifetime, but it was running perfectly fine when we did trade it in.) I don’t have to really think about cars anytime soon, but I’m sure you shall find yourself a perfect one soon!

    • Reply eemusings November 9, 2010 at 18:33

      10 years old??? Dude, all our cars have been at least 15 years old.

  • Reply Kara November 9, 2010 at 14:48

    Gas mileage is always something I try to consider, but usually, I go for style before anything, and then cost. I like to try a happy medium for all my factors, but really, the boyfriend is the car-hunting guru!

  • Reply Jane November 10, 2010 at 04:16

    I love my Corolla. I plan to drive her until the wheels fall off. (With the way I drive, that may be sooner than I would hope, but we’ll see…)

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