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I know zilch zip zero about cars! - Printable Version

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RE: I know zilch zip zero about cars! - popcorn2007 - 08-27-2019

Safari van or compairable van plus 2 hours each way equals garage sale. You living in a city should not hold you back from selling off your stuff at a garage sale. Your going to have to store all the stuff you keep so clear it out before the costs add up.
Were you planning on living in a car/suv/mini van for the rest of your life?


RE: I know zilch zip zero about cars! - maki2 - 08-27-2019

It sounds like it is a little to soon for you to go van shopping. Wait until you have gotten most of your stuff downsized. Then you will be ready to leave and you will have more options such as getting a cargo van because the street parking issue will become a null point if you are ready to get on the road within a few weeks of getting the van.


RE: I know zilch zip zero about cars! - PODebbie - 08-27-2019

First off, I do not plan on selling my house. But, I have lived in this 2500 square foot house for over 35 years. Each garbage day, I fill the garbage dumpster with stuff. Eventually, we will move. My situation is different than yours, but I still feel great cleaning out cupboards, closets, under the beds, basement, garage, etc of stuff.

I did drive from Michigan to Kentucky to buy a van. I thought I could talk the person down. He would not budge. I did not want to pay the asking price. My husband said the van looked good, and just buy it. I slept in my car 2 days, deciding if I wanted to pay that amount. I did pay more than I wanted, but the bought the van from a retirement center. Probably a bunch of junk miles at slow speeds. Whatever. I had looked at about 10 vans on craigslist and at dealers, some solo, some with my husband. I would crawl under the van. One van had leaking fluid on the tires from the brake, and wires with electrical tape. Whenever I saw they used the "shiny" cleaner on the floors, and dash, I walked away.

The van I bought had no rust. It was very clean inside. It looked like a new van. There was dust inside the front hood, (no one tried to "clean" it for the sale) There was no whistling sound, the engine didn't strain, it ran even. That was the extent of my knowledge. The director took me for ride, he would not let me drive the vehicle, due to insurance. He had a folder of all the repairs and maintenance. Every flat tire, windshield wiper replacement, etc was documented. I left my car in the retirement center's parking lot and drove the new van home. I drove the van to Florida for Christmas, my husband flew down. On the return home to Michigan, we stopped in KY and picked up my car.

I paid $19,000 for a 2012. I had bid 15,500 on two auctions for an extended, high top van, so that was the price I was comfortable with, but my husband told me to buy it. My nephew is a mechanic and has his own shop. He said the van is in great shape. We have put 20,000 miles on it since December. We only owe 10,000 now, and hope to have it paid off in six months.

I could have bought a low top extended van and drove 5000 miles to California for have a 5,000 high top put on, or I could pay more for what I wanted. So, your requirements are different, and the money you want to pay, is less, you have to know more about vehicles. After, I would find a van, I would look it up on google and consumers report and find out what type of problems that particular van was known to have before I went to see the van in person.

So, keep downsizing, it will feel good no matter what you decide. Keep researching and saving. Then do the best you can. You may get a great deal, or like me, not. But I did get what I wanted.


RE: I know zilch zip zero about cars! - popcorn2007 - 08-27-2019

(08-27-2019, 01:55 PM)maki2 Wrote:  It sounds like it is a little to soon for you to go van shopping.  Wait until you have gotten most of your stuff downsized. Then you will be ready to leave and you will have more options such as getting a cargo van because the street parking issue will become a null point if you are ready to get on the road within a few weeks of getting the van.

She is losing her apartment and has to find somewhere to live. Her driving skills are limited so she does not want a full size cargo van. Come winter, a space heater in a cargo van will be what she wants!
- You want something you can keep for several years since you will have to have the money to buy the next vehicle before selling your current ride


RE: I know zilch zip zero about cars! - CityWoman - 08-27-2019

(08-27-2019, 01:55 PM)maki2 Wrote:  It sounds like it is a little to soon for you to go van shopping.  Wait until you have gotten most of your stuff downsized. Then you will be ready to leave and you will have more options such as getting a cargo van because the street parking issue will become a null point if you are ready to get on the road within a few weeks of getting the van.

I have NO desire to buy nor drive a full-size cargo van! I've explained why a few times already. And I don't have the time nor the skills to outfit a van even if I wanted one. I want an SUV or minivan that is clean and comfortable enough for me to sleep in immediately, and easy to drive. I've stated all that before (either in this thread or the other one I linked to in my 1st post here).

I have also mentioned that I have very little time left in my apartment. This is not by choice; it's beyond my control. I've been working on downsizing for the past several years, but now my situation has changed and I will need to leave this apartment sooner than expected.

I want to stay in and around the city to nurture a microbusiness I started, as well as sell off my belongings out of the storage unit as I can, do some freelance work in the city, and to have a familiar home base from which to take small trips little by little while improving my driving skills. Hitting the road for longer trips will not happen right away.

I feel like I keep repeating myself.

In this thread, I'm not seeking advice on downsizing, making money, nor anything other than how to buy a car.


RE: I know zilch zip zero about cars! - CityWoman - 08-27-2019

(08-27-2019, 03:44 PM)PODebbie Wrote:  I did drive from Michigan to Kentucky to buy a van. . . .

Oh PODebbie, you get me! And I appreciate your post so much! I would love to hear more about your search strategy, why you decided to go to Kentucky, and how you planned your time there to see several vans. I assume you told sellers you were heading down from out-of-state and they were willing to wait?

Thank you so much - your post is very helpful!


RE: I know zilch zip zero about cars! - PODebbie - 08-27-2019

I tried bidding on government auctions. My husband and I went to University of Michigan auctions. I looked in Craigslist and Facebook Market. I wanted an extended, high top van. I kept searching Craigslist, going further out and trying to get out of the rust area. I went on several test rides with my husband, while he told me things to listen, smell and look for. I saw an ad for what I wanted in KY, so I drove there to look at one van. It was too much money, but it looked really good. I slept in my car for 2 nights, then went back and bought the van. The seller and I drove to my bank, he got a certified check and we had the bank employee notarize the title transfer. I called my insurance company, and they e-mailed me a policy. I drove it home and made it to the Secretary of State 15 minutes before they closed. I did not get a good deal. You may get a low cost van, but it may have mechanical problems. You have to do the best you can, and then deal with the consequences. You will have a much larger field of vehicles as you are looking for a mini-van. You might want to look in bedroom communities, and not the big apple as you will have more soccer moms driving the type of vehicle you desire. We were going to vacation in Florida for Christmas. If I did not buy the van , We would have spent an additional $2,000 on hotels and eating out 2 times a day. So, we slept in the van and did not pay for camping or hotels and we ate out once a day, or got drinks on the beach. So, I spent more than I wanted, but in reality, I needed a van before vacation, so my out of pocket expenses were not so great. You need to get out of your apartment. The money you save for temporary lodging or 1 or 2 months of rent, can be the money that you need to spend of repairs for your car or mini-van. I will say that I can't back-up. I drove into my daughters car in my own driveway. We were storing her car, while she was on a trip and I forgot. But, I am not good at backing up. I love my van, the mirrors are way better than my car. I can back that sucker up to within 2" of a building in the dark. So, may be surprised how good you can drive after a couple of weeks.


RE: I know zilch zip zero about cars! - Stargazer - 08-28-2019

CityWoman,

Your two weeks has gone by and still no car, no place to live, stuff still needs to be stored or whatever.  I've been following this thread since Day 1 and it's just become too much.  Time to act or be on the streets with nothing.

Try CarMax.  I've purchased four or five vehicles from them in two different cities over the past 20+ years and never had a problem with the vehicles nor the transactions.  I have also sold a few cars to them.  They did a thorough inspection of each before making an offer.  They also offer a five day (maybe a week?) full return guarantee on any car you purchase from them.

Will you get the best price?  I don't know.  At this point, a couple grand may be all that stands between you and a very bad situation.  ANY vehicle you get, new or used, will eventually need repair.  I will say the one van I bought that was professionally, independently inspected, was the only one that had problems!  It was from a luxury car dealer, someone's trade in.

You have no car experience.  It will be your home.  IF you can at all afford it, I strongly  suggest the following:

1.  Go to a CarMax and look at minivans, especially the Chrysler Town and Country and/or the Dodge equivalent.  The seats easily fold down into the floor and you won't have to deal with how to remove them and then find a place for them.  Their sales people do not work on commission; they were never pushy and were very helpful.  I bought my current Town & Country from them intending to use it for travel etc.  That didn't happen but it has been a good all around vehicle and it is great for hauling people with seating for seven and in a few easy minutes, I can fold down the seats and have hauled lumber, firewood, a sofa and stuff galore in it.  No problems at all; bought it two years old, 25K miles on odometer, about $25k.  Now has 72K miles and hasn't cost a dime in repairs.

2. Get the newest with the lowest mileage you can afford.  That gives the least chance of a breakdown, which will create a miserable and expensive situation for you that you don't need.  How do you know FOR CERTAIN it will be a good car?  You don't.  What is now in perfect condition can break next month.  It's a crap shoot.  Newer/lower mileage puts the odds in your favor.  Btw, the only vehicles I've had that broke down were a brand new car and the van that was inspected.  See?

3.  Don't overthink this!  You will go crazy and be paralyzed with fear.  It's just a car.  You can always sell it or push it into the Hudson River.  It is not a life or death decision.  You don't need The Best, you just need Good Enough.

Best wishes!


RE: I know zilch zip zero about cars! - Stargazer - 08-28-2019

And now, how to do it in plain simple language.

Drive it, on smooth and rough roads (if available).

1.  Before starting, feel the hood. Is it warm?  Or better yet, open the hood and carefully feel the engine.  Is it hot?  If so, it's been run recently.  A cold start is best.  Does it start immediately? Listen for knocking, squeaking, strange noises that interrupt the hum and purr of a smooth engine.  Roll down the window while going down the road.  Listen for whining or humming noises from the wheels (or anywhere else). 

2.  Does it steer straight?  Does it pull to one side at highway speeds or when you brake hard?

3.  When you brake, do it very gently first; any noise?  Then brake hard.  Listen for noises and feel the steering.

4.  Accelerate slowly from a dead stop.  Then do the opposite.  Stop, and hit the gas.  What happens?  No stalling, hesitating is allowed.  And with automatic transmission, it should shift smoothly and quietly as your speed increases and decreases.  No clunks or jerks.

5.  Open all doors and hatches.  Slam them when you close them.  Any looseness or rattling?

6.  Look under the hood.  Check the date on the battery.  Is it a sealed battery or will it need to have the levels checked?

7.  While driving, do you notice any "chemical smells?  Or "hot" like burning rubber smells?

8.  Is it clean?  Any smoke smells or animal fur?  Are you sensitive or allergic?

9.  Turn on everything: the heater, the air conditioner, the radio, whatever it has. If it has AC, if you can, drive uphill with the AC on.  Does it falter or overheat the engine?  Watch your dash gauges.  What do they read?  If it's a gauge, it most likely shouldn't point past the half way mark.  Dash warning lights probably won't come on till it's too late but look anyway.

10.  Look underneath on the ground before you start it.  After driving, park, shut it off, wait a few minutes and look again.  If any drips, swipe with your finger and smell it.  If it just smells like water, it may be AC condensation, no big deal.  If it feels oily or slippery or has an odor or color (green, brown, yellow, orange), that's a problem.

Basically, look, listen, sniff.  Be calm.  Be aware. You don't need to know What's wrong, just If wrong.  And remember that only means right now, this minute, not next week.

Actually, it sounds like fun!  Go for it!!

Good luck!