Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Ed asks: What car is the best car to own long term? Given initial cost and repair cost. I love your writing, major long-time fan. Keep up the good fight!
My reply: This can be answered several ways. First, the general way.
Almost any used car that you buy for say $5k or so that gives you even five years of service without a major repair needed is a great car. At the end of five years, assuming the car is still serviceable, you could probably sell it for at least $2,500 or so and thus your actual cost to own over the five years is about $45 per month, less fuel and incidentals. Or, keep on driving it; the more you do, the less it costs. Even after another three or four years, it will still be worth around $2,500 – because that’s the baseline these days for a mechanically sound car, regardless of mileage or age.
There’s still some risk, of course, when buying any used car. Even given what seems to be a clean bill of health. Things can go wrong. The odds are they probably won’t – but the fact is they might.
If you want a near zero-risk proposition, here’s my specific recommendation:
Buy a new Toyota Corolla or Camry. These cars are popular for a reason. It is because they are the vehicular equivalent of a shoebox full of gold and silver coins – literally, almost.
They hold their value amazingly well – which they do because they can be counted on for Biblical prophet longevity. 15-20 years and 200,000-plus miles with few, if any, major repairs during that time. Toyota offers the worst new car warranty in the business – three years/36,000 miles – because it doesn’t need to warrant these cars.
Toyota is also very conservative in terms of engineering and gadgets. For example, it has only recently begun adding direct-injection (rather than PFI) and several current models still haven’t got DI.
Nor high-pressure turbo’d engines.
You could also combine the general – and the specific – and shop for a used Corolla or Camry. My pick would be one from the mid-late 1990s through the early 2000s. Even with 100k-plus miles, these cars are as close to risk-free as it gets with something that has moving parts.
They aren’t exciting cars.But they are cars that have more durable virtues.
Thanks for the kind words!
. . .
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