It turns out that I subscribed to Consumer Reports at just the right time. We just received their issue for April and it is all about cars. From listing the best and worst new cars to highlighting the best cars for safety and reliability, we have a lot of information to review for our car search.
Reliable Used Cars $10,000 and Under
While I read through all of the articles, I repeatedly read their reports on reliable used cars, particularly family sized sedans. subscribers can find incredibly helpful charts not only organized by vehicle style, but also by price range. I honed in on small and mid-sized sedans that we’re $10,000 and under.
Dependable and Affordable Cars
Looking at all of the picks, here are some cars on our wish list based on Consumer Reports’ data:
- Ford Fusion
- Honda Civic (Hybrid)
- Honda Accord
- Hyundai Sonata
- Scion XD
- Subaru Impreza
- Toyota Camry
I had originally included small SUVs in our search, but after thinking about how we’re going to use the car most of the time, it makes more sense to stay with sedans. If we need to increase the cargo space, there are more cost efficient ways to do it.
Having the list makes the hunt a bit more productive as I’m looking at the dealership inventory to see if there are any specials on those models. I’m also asking friends and family to keep an eye out for private sellers who have maintained their cars well and are looking to sell.
Just checking out some Craigslist ads over the last few weeks, I’ve seen how owners have either neglected their cars or have keep them in pristine condition just by how they list it.
Thoughts on Buying a Car
I’d love to get your feedback on buying a car. How many of you are on the market for a new car? What makes and models are you looking at?
Photo Credit: Main and Side
With gasoline creeping up already this year, keeping a gasoline spreadsheet can help you keep an eye on your gas budget. If you’re worried about keeping constant track of everything, don’t worry. You can put information once a week (or every two weeks), if you can keep you receipts. I like giving my husband the receipts as he seems to enjoy it more than I do.
Creating a Gas Spreadsheet: Quick and Easy
You can see what your actual gasoline expenses are and budget accordingly. See how effective hypermiling can be by tracking the before and after. Here’s the spreadsheet that my husband created for tracking your gasoline mileage. Feel free to copy and modify to suit your needs. There are some extra tabs, but you don’t have to be as detailed.
If you see a dip in your miles per gallon, you can use it as a gauge about your car’s condition. I noticed my car’s gas mileage decreasing a couple years back and it turned out that my car needed a tune up. The gas mileage went back to what I was getting before the drop. Easy fix.
Tips on Improving Your Gas Mileage
There are some things you can do and adjust in order to improve your gas mileage and save money. They can also help you extend the life of your vehicle.
- Keep your car maintained. Check tire pressure and make sure you get oil changes regularly. Check all the fluids in your car too.
- Make sure your car isn’t loaded down. Clean your car regularly and don’t accumulate junk in your car. The extra weight can decrease your gas mileage.
- Be mindful of your driving habits. Speeding can not only increase your chances of getting a ticket, it can lower your gas mileage.
Thoughts on Gas Spreadsheets
What do you to save on gas money and/or keep track of your car? What’s the price of gasoline in your area?
I mentioned Friday that we signed up for Consumer Reports in preparation of buying a family car this year. We’re close to our savings goal so we decided to get a list of cars to check out. We want to avoid taking out a car loan, so based on our budget, we’re looking to buy a reliable used car.
We’ve done it before with my husband’s current car. When his car was declared a total loss by the insurance company, we hunted and found a replacement that we paid for completely with cash.
Now that we have a baby, we need to get a bigger car that is still fuel efficient. Right now we’re looking at getting a mid-sized sedan or small SUV for us.
Most Reliable Used Sedans
According to Consumer Reports, here are the best reliable used sedans:
- Acura TSX
- Ford Fusion
- Honda Accord
- Honda Civic
- Lexus ES
- Lincoln Zephyr, MKZ
- Mercury Milan
- Nissan Altima
- Subaru Impreza
- Toyota Camry
- Toyota Corolla
- Toyota Prius
- Volvo S60
Wow, that’s still a bit much to hunt for, we’re going to look at our family budget and start seeing what’s available in the area. Right now our biggest items on our list are:
- Good Gas Mileage- We like to get a car that gets at least 30 mpg on the highway.
- Solid Reliability– We’re buying a used vehicle so we’re hoping to minimize the chance of repairs by focusing on highly rated vehicles.
- Cheap (in Price) Parts – We want a car that doesn’t have expensive parts to replace so we can keep repair costs manageable.
Thoughts on Shopping for a Car
I’d love to hear your thoughts on shopping for a car. How many of you are thinking about buying a car this year? What make and model do you have now? Are you happy with it?
Photo Credit: Bidgee
We’re starting to hunt for our next family car. I was expecting to shop for a vehicle some time this summer, but we may get our next car this spring as the refinance didn’t go as plan. We would really like to avoid taking on a car loan for our next vehicle.
Avoiding a Car Loan
Not having car loans has been beneficial for us for several reasons.
- Smaller monthly expenses. Having a car payment is usually a big chunk on many people’s budget. It was for us years ago and remember the relief once we paid it off know that we had some breathing room in our monthly cash flow.
- More freedom to allocate money. That few hundred dollars that we don’t pay for the car loan has been reallocated for other goals. Yes, some of it is being redirected towards our car replacement fund, but it’s also giving us a bit more fun money and charity money. The point is we can decide month to month what we want to do with it.
- No more pressure to go to the dealership. Now that the car is paid for and isn’t on a warranty, we don’t have to take it to the dealership to get inspected. I don’t have a problem with getting a repair done at the dealerships, but I’ve noticed that I’m strongly encourage to get more services done there that only they could handle. I’ve found a greta independent mechanic who has done a great job on my car and who has been consistently cheaper than the best dealership prices.
Our goal for this next car is make sure it gets gas mileage as least as good as my husband’s car gets (30 mpg) and has a bit more space than our Jetta has now. We’re looking at some cars that are 2007-2008 models that are in good condition. I’m hoping that as we continue to build our savings, we can pick from more options.
Building Up Our Car Replacement Fund
The contributions to the car replacement fund has been going on for awhile. We’ve been making ‘car payments’ to ourselves on a monthly basis as well as putting a portion of our windfalls. Where do we stash our savings? We use ING Direct and have a sub savings account to help us keep track of our progress. If you’re looking for a savings account that works for you, you can compare saving account rates right here on Couple Money.
The key to success with this goal is automating deposits straight to the car replacement fund. I’ve set up an automatic transfer of $400 to be deposited into the the joint savings account each month.
Plans for The Jetta
Once we buy the family sedan, we’ll then focus our attention getting the Jetta Spruced up and ready to sell. We hope to use that money to cover car repairs and as seed money for replacing my husband’s car some time down the line.
Photo Credit: pedrosimoes7