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I know zilch zip zero about cars! - Printable Version

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I know zilch zip zero about cars! - CityWoman - 08-16-2019

Like the title says, I'm pretty clueless about automobiles except for where to stick the key in, how to work the pedals (automatic only!), and what to do with the steering wheel.

But I've been dreaming, researching, and following blogs about nomadding in vehicles for a few years now.

My current circumstances are pushing me out the door sooner than expected (more about that here: Tentative plans).  I've only got about two weeks before I must leave my apartment.  My plan is to buy an SUV or minivan.

So, weird thing about me is I've never owned a car - always borrowed when I was younger, and then I moved to NYC where no one needs a car and have been here for over 30 years. When I was married, we occasionally rented cars but my ex always drove. Took refresher driving lessons when we split up, and will do so again, along with basic mechanics.  I'm planning on staying in and around the city for a while, so really most of my driving will be moving from one parking spot to the next - at least at first, until my comfort level with driving grows.

All that is just to lead up to the fact that, while I've been searching CL and various sites to see what used cars are in my area, I've been overwhelmed and going in circles about the myriad number of choices.  As you might guess, there's a lot of cars in the NY/NJ/CT metro area.

As for budget, I'm actually not sure what to spend.  I just received some money from a settlement, which will enable me to buy something, but the money needs to last me for as long as possible.

An acquaintance tells me look for Toyota or Honda.  They all look so small to me.  Then I read threads here and someone says GMC.  That seems more doable for living out of.  Then someone talks about Subaru and there are a few that look promising. Ford's, I don't know. And so on. I keep going back and forth.  

But most importantly, besides space considerations, I have no idea what kind of engines to look for... how many liters, how many cylinders... RWD, 4WD, or?... when an ad says this or that has been replaced, is that a good thing or indicator of problems?...I know to look for low miles, but how old of a car  should I risk?

I'm going to try to find a mechanic to go with me when I find something, but there's so many listings! They're surely not going to go around with me all day long while I ask dumb questions. How many cars should I look at and is it normal for someone to look at a car and say they'll think about it and come back? A lot of ads say "No tire kickers.". Wtf?

Any insights that might help me keep focused would be greatly appreciated.


RE: I know zilch zip zero about cars! - HalfShadows - 08-16-2019

If your not looking for a Van or RV, but something smaller and extremely reliable.  Your acquaintance gave you good advice. If I restricted myself to something small I would look hard at a Toyota Sienna. There are several Toyota Sienna conversions on youtube. The Toyota Sienna is renowned for it's comfort and reliability.  Plus decent room for it's class.


RE: I know zilch zip zero about cars! - B and C - 08-16-2019

I suggest going to a few used car lots to get a feel for what the size of each vehicle is. You get to check out a lot of different vehicles without having to run all over. Just don't let them pressure you into buying something.


RE: I know zilch zip zero about cars! - CityWoman - 08-16-2019

Thanks for the responses so far!

I am leaning more towards buying from a private individual, rather than a dealer/lot. I think I'll have to go to Queens to check out a used car lot - but I've always been taught to beware used car salespeople. 

It may be a challenge because I have to take the subway or a bus to visit any seller.  Or commuter train, if there's something outside the city.

As for checking out different makes/models for ideas, I actually live very close to a major car rental place, and there is always a changing selection of cars of all types parked (and double-parked on Sundays!) on my block.  I have been taking walks and checking out all the cars parked on the streets and avenues in my neighborhood and when I see someone at their vehicle, I ask them about it.  Last week, I talked to a guy with a Suburban, tonight a woman with a Honda CR-V.  They both let me look inside their cars, which was helpful.  There is no shortage of vehicles to look at here.

I just... the whole process... I don't know what to look for, really.  I have a book that tells you how to check certain things when you go to see a car, so that's not what I am worried about.  I feel like I need to narrow down my search somehow to start with. I must have 40 or more different cars "saved" on Craigslist.  How do I know which ones are worth checking out?

I'm not really looking for specific recommendations on makes/models in this thread, although it's fine if anyone wants to offer one, but rather a guideline on how to determine what I need and recognize whether a car I see advertised could possibly meet my needs.  I hope that makes sense!


RE: I know zilch zip zero about cars! - HalfShadows - 08-16-2019

Given your time constraints anybody would be in a quandary.  Your mention of hiring a reliable mechanic sounds like a excellent idea. Sometimes a mechanic can help locate a sound vehicle that may suit your needs.  But the question is, what are your specific needs. If you can clarify your needs without too many generalities the mechanic may steer you into the right direction. Since you are time limited for researching you must triage so to speak. Priority number 1 safety,  #2 security #3 expense etc...

I wish you the best of luck with your endeavors.


RE: I know zilch zip zero about cars! - Sofisintown - 08-17-2019

(08-16-2019, 02:06 PM)CityWoman Wrote:  Like the title says, I'm pretty clueless...
..My current circumstances are pushing me out the door sooner than expected (more about that here: Tentative plans).  I've only got about two weeks before I must leave my apartment.  My plan is to buy an SUV or minivan.
Another good choice would be a Honda Odyssey, or a Dodge Grand Caravan. They are very roomy, and get decent mileage. Try to find the ones with the lowest miles you can afford, and since you are in the snow belt, check the undercarriage for rust.
I 'd suggest you go to a dealership or two, and drive some vans to see what you are comfortable driving. Best of luck, and see you down the road.


RE: I know zilch zip zero about cars! - CityWoman - 08-17-2019

(08-17-2019, 01:49 AM)Sofisintown Wrote:  Another good choice would be a Honda Odyssey, or a Dodge Grand Caravan. They are very roomy, and get decent mileage. Try to find the ones with the lowest miles you can afford, and since you are in the snow belt, check the undercarriage for rust.

Oh yes, the Honda Odyssey looks like a great option and there are a few for sale around here. What should I look for in the ads, as far as engines and other internal stuff? How old of an Odyssey should I consider?

Back when I first started thinking about nomadship, I thought a Dodge Grand Caravan looked roomy enough. There were a few I saw on CL that I really liked. I used to drive my boyfriend's Dodge Dart back in the 80s. It was always a dependable car. But recently I have heard some people say to avoid Dodge. Why? There's someone on my block who has an old Dodge from the 70s - been seeing that car around here for years, so it's still going strong. Yet a friend of mine told me to stay away from anything by Dodge or Chrysler. He was quite adamant about it but didn't explain.


RE: I know zilch zip zero about cars! - highdesertranger - 08-17-2019

post the ads up here we can usually point out the ones you should obviously stay away from.

someone suggested to ask a mechanic if they know of something for sale. beware mechanics can/are be as bad as a used car salesperson.

highdesertranger


RE: I know zilch zip zero about cars! - HalfShadows - 08-17-2019

Reliable Mechanic


RE: I know zilch zip zero about cars! - B and C - 08-17-2019

Have you at least narrowed it down to car, minivan or full sized van (or larger?). It sounds like you are all over the place on vehicle. You need to figure out sleeping as it is what takes the most space.