Ten Grand or Less? Buy One of These!

2005 Dodge Neon SRT-4 4-dr turbo sedan

Have fun, save money, look good.

Isn’t that what we all want in a car? Sure, sometimes people want the boring stuff like practicality, cargo capacity and fuel economy, but that’s no way to live!

If you want to spend your $10K on something that no one looks at and offers as much excitement as a cantaloupe, well, you have plenty of options. Those, though, shall remain nameless.

If you want to spend less on a used car that makes a bold statement and offers some real fun, keep reading.

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When Used Cars Were Owned by Rock Stars


As a teenager in Washington State in the 1990s, it was required that I be a huge fan of Seattle grunge music. Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, The Melvins, Pearl Jam… they were all required listening. More so, perhaps, than actual school work. (Do my required reading of The Great Gatsby, or listen to Nevermind again? Not a difficult choice.)

As we all know, the thrill of the music was overshadowed by tragedy, as both Kurt Cobain of Nirvana and Layne Staley of Alice in Chains died young.

We’ve covered on this blog the van that once belonged to The Melvins. Cobain drove the band around in it before his own band hit it big. The Melvan, as that 1972 Dodge Sportsman is known, was for sale for $100,000 not long ago. It didn’t sell, was relisted at $50,000 and still hasn’t found a home.

Apparently the market for old beater vans isn’t very hot, even with a connection to a rock legend.

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Used Midsize Pickups Don’t Come Cheap

2011 Ford Ranger

Want one? Pony up!

Tell someone they can’t have something, and they’ll want it more.

Stop making something, and people will demand it.

Put something in limited supply, and prices will rise. Or, in the used car market, prices will at least fall a little more slowly than usual.

That’s exactly what’s happening with used midsize pickup trucks. Since fewer are made new, there are fewer on the used market, and prices are nearly holding steady. Want a 2010 midsize truck? With prices just 3.7 percent less than the original price, you might be better off snagging a brand-new one! If you can find one, of course.

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The Great Cherokee Debate: New or Used?

2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited

Some will say Jeep has gone soft.

The original Cherokee, the more refined but still muscular Grand Cherokee, and the go-anywhere Wrangler have kept the Jeep brand name the only one on the shopping lists of America-loving off-road purists.

Owning a Jeep meant getting it dirty on the weekends, then proudly driving it to work on Monday still caked in dried mud. Somewhere along the line, owning a Jeep turned into taking it to family BBQs then driving it to work covered in nothing more than water spots from an over-spraying lawn sprinkler.

When Jeep announced the coming revival of the Cherokee name, enthusiasts clamored at the gates, hoping for a throwback to the boxy and capable greatness of yore.

What they got was, well, the new Cherokee.

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Buying Used: Do You Go for Value or Brand?

Which will offer a better used value?

Which will offer a better used value?

There are a lot of blogs out there that happily tell their readers what new cars hold the best resale value.

That’s important information to know and can lead to a wise financial decision when buying a new car. Well, at least for the guy or gal who buys the new car. But is buying one of those cars used, say 5 years later, still a good financial choice?

A Toyota Tacoma that holds 60 percent of its value after 5 years is great for the person who bought it new. But for the person shopping for a used pickup, there might be much better values to be had.

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The Beauty of the Service Loaner Sales Tactic

2013 Mercedes GLK-Class

Drive a $50,000 car around for a day or two, and you’re going to wind up wanting it. You’ll be seduced by the scent of the plush leather, the smooth ride and the impressive tech toys. Maybe it’ll be the push-button start that gets your engine going as quickly as the car’s motor fires up.

Then there’s that moment… maybe you’re stopped  at a red light, taking in the sensory input this beautiful new car provides, when you say, “What if? What if it were possible to own this car? What would it take?”

Soon a top-of-the line service loaner becomes the newest accessory in your garage.

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A Scary Experience in a Brand-New Car

2013 Subaru Legacy

I had a terrifying experience in a brand-new car last night.

The story begins with yesterday’s blog about the demise of auto parts stores. The universe played a very cruel joke on me by causing my car to overheat last night and become undriveable at a seriously inopportune time. Think rainstorm, far from home, dead phone battery, groceries in the car… you get the idea.

I hope the problem is as simple as low coolant level or a faulty thermostat. Lucky for me there’s an auto parts store within a mile of my home, which will make for a very convenient morning walk. If parts stores are indeed on the decline, I’m happy that the one near me still has its doors open.

Without a car but still needing to go for a drive, I managed to talk my way into a 2013 Subaru Legacy for the evening. And that was enough to scare me into holding on to my car or buying used when the time for replacement comes.

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Are Auto Parts Stores a Thing of the Past?

How's the parking lot at your local auto parts store?

How’s the parking lot at your local auto parts store?

How much longer will auto parts stores be around?

In college I worked the parts counter at a national auto parts chain store in Seattle. I loved my job. I worked all day on Saturdays and Sundays and from 5 pm to 10 pm two to three times during the week. I loved helping out and learning about the customers’ project cars, learning about different parts for different cars and occasionally helping stranded motorists by changing a battery, doing an electrical test, even breaking the rules once and changing out an alternator right there in the parking lot. In the dark.

This was in the late 1990s, and the auto parts store was a busy environment of shared enthusiasm for cars and ambitious DIYers taking on repair projects for their beloved vehicles.

I have a feeling that culture is gone… or quickly vanishing.

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Used Buyer Beware: GM Recalling 200,000 Vehicles

Saab 9-7x

Imagine buying a used car, getting it home, parking it in the garage, then waking in the middle of the night to flames caused by that car.

It’s not a likely scenario, but it is possible. If you recently purchased, or plan to purchase, a used GM SUV, be sure to check for recalls before signing on the dotted line.

Fires caused by a defect in a car are rare, but around 200,000 2005, 2006 and 2007 SUVs made by General Motors are being recalled because of that risk.

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When a Lexus Turns into a Lemon

2004 Lexus RX 330

A 2004 Lexus RX 330 should run forever. Especially one that’s well taken care of, undergoes regular oil changes using synthetic oil, gets its scheduled maintenance done, has just 77,000 miles on the clock and was purchased in 2008 as a certified used car with just over 30,000 miles.

The car has performed well, gone on many road trips across most of the Western United States and carried many loads of Costco groceries, football gear and horseback riding equipment. It has never let its owner down. Even amidst all the positives, the car has had certain issues and, now, they’ve reached a point where the owner wonders if she should keep the car or sell it and move on to something newer.

The car still has about $12,000 owed on the bank loan. Based on similar vehicles posted on the CarGurus used listings, this RX 330 is still worth somewhere between $14,000 and $18,000.

Here are the issues facing this RX:

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