Buying my first car, looking for suggestions

mb96's picture
Rank: Senior Monkey | 68

So essentially I'll be on the market for the car in the next weeks before I head back to school for my final semester. I've already accepted my FT offer following my SA program last summer. I won't be in NYC so I'll need to have a car for my commute/weekends.

I'm looking to purchase something for less than $20k, more than likely pre-owned with <45k miles on it-

based on what I've seen on the market, I could pick up an Audi A4 or BMW 320i with about 30k miles for $19k or go with a cheaper option like a Toyota Camry / Ford Fusion / VW Jetta for about $12-14k

Obviously the cheaper models have much less resale value than the Audi's/BMW's

Would appreciate any input anyone has about experiences with those cars or other makes/models to check out while sticking to my budget.

Thanks.

Comments (73)

Dec 23, 2017

2017 Acura ILX is around $20K

Will be reliable and cheaper to maintain than the German cars.

https://m.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale/vehicledeta...

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Dec 26, 2017

The new Acuras arent that great (sorry). The reliability is great, Im sure, but as a vehicle the interiors are bland and outdated. If anything, Hondas are better imo than an acura!

Dec 26, 2017

Nice car, we don't have it in EU lol

Dec 23, 2017

Definitely a truck with the tow package.

    • 1
Dec 23, 2017

Good point, definitely going to need that tow package once I buy a 30' boat with my signing bonus!

Dec 23, 2017
mb96:

Good point, definitely going to need that tow package once I buy a 30' boat with my signing bonus!

30' boat? That's unreasonable bro.

40' or hacksaw.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

    • 1
Dec 23, 2017

I was in a situation similar to yours not too long ago and opted for a black 2014 VW jetta thats reliable and still a pretty attractive car. Mine had 48k miles on it and I got a good deal buying it for 8grand. My thought was to get something cheap while I pay off the school loans and hold off on getting the Audi I actually want until i've built up my career a bit.

Spend around ~11k and invest the money you saved by not getting a bmw right out of school.

    • 2
Dec 25, 2017

I got a 2013 Jetta with about 24k miles and it cost around $9300. I love it and its pretty cheap to run and it has some decent speed and is an all round great car.

    • 4
Dec 26, 2017

Just wondering because I haven't talked to many other owners yet since buying; do you shift into S very often or just use it occasionally while highway driving? I certainly like the different rpm shifts it allows but not sure how much it actually hurts fuel mileage.

Jan 4, 2018

I bought a 2015 Jetta TSI about a year ago and it's a great car. Honestly, it may be the best daily driver out there for the money. If you do go with that generation of Jetta, I would recommend getting one with the turbo as the base model only has about 115 HP.

Speaking from experience, be careful going down the older, used BMW route. it can be done, especially if you work on the car yourself. But it's probably more practical to buy something newer. However, if you really want a BMW, by all means go for it.

Dec 23, 2017

Knockout two birds with one stone, get yourself an rv and you can live in the parking lot.

    • 5
Dec 23, 2017

2014 Infiniti Q50.

"Work ethic, work ethic" - Vince Vaughn
Dec 23, 2017

I was in a similar situation this semester, opted for a 2016 Honda Accord Sport for $15k. They look luxurious for a low price. Can't beat the reliability.

    • 1
Dec 24, 2017
X2:

I was in a similar situation this semester, opted for a 2016 Honda Accord Sport for $15k. They look luxurious for a low price. Can't beat the reliability.

Yeah - For $15K I like the V6 Coupe --- pretty good deal

2015 Honda Accord EX-L V6 Coupe

$14,900

Mileage 24,339

https://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale/vehiclede...

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Dec 24, 2017

Agree w/ what other posters are saying. Ideally, go for a 3-5 year old asian sedan that is reliable(Honda Accord Sport, Infiniti, Acura, Nissan, etc).

Dec 24, 2017

ah man you got me on auto trader

I don't know how I found this one, but it is hilarious....

Used 2006 HUMMER H1
$179,000

https://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale/vehiclede...

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

    • 1
Dec 24, 2017

I would go for the cheapest, not reliable, and manual car. You still gotta learn about mechanics and basic car maintenance.

Also i'm pretty sure you don't know anything about cars in general. What do you value most in a car? Perfomance? Comfort? Reliability? Space? RWD, FWD or AWD?

Anyway, I would choose a 320i only because it's RWD and BMW offers the best driving experience.

    • 4
Dec 24, 2017

Wouldn't say I know nothing about cars...

I would say I care most about Price, Reliability, and something that doesn't look shitty

320i is definitely an all around solid car...

Dec 24, 2017

320i is getting a Bimmer just to have a Bimmer. What year are you talking about anyway?

It is a shell of a car. I'd rather have a newer low mileage peppy V6 asian car or a 2008/2009 BMW E90 M3 V8.

https://thegarage.jalopnik.com/you-can-buy-the-bes...

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

    • 1
Dec 24, 2017

Any argument that can be put forth on why Ubering everywhere isn't viable?

    • 1
Dec 24, 2017

Maybe because driving put a smile in my face?

It depends on the situation, but I think most people would spend less money Ubering everywhere than owning a car.

In fact, even for me Ubering everywhere would be financially wise. But I enjoy owning a car. I enjoy having that little extra confort that a personal car provides. I enjoy driving.

I've never desired about having a big mansion, travelling first class and shit like that, but I definitely wanna have some cool cars.

Dec 25, 2017
Hedgehog2017:

It depends on the situation, but I think most people would spend less money Ubering everywhere than owning a car.

lol a comedian here

Unless you're just going to and from work and get delivery/amazon. Sounds like a pretty dull life though.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

    • 1
Dec 24, 2017

Congrats! Actually anything new is a special one. Enjoy!

Dec 24, 2017

beside the fact that toyota's aren't "cool" id actually seriously consider a used avalon. contrary to popular belief toyotas are really reliable and require much less maintainence than a 3 series or equivalent.

Another thing that I think is important to keep in mind is that even if you ball out and get a 3 series now, if your career trajectory continues upwards then in 5 years or so you're probably going to want to get a new car regardless of what you buy now (and if you dont, even more props to you) so might as well spend less for this weird transition period from becoming financially established to becoming financially secure.

Dec 25, 2017

Solid point there-

Mind as well save some money now and spend it when I've got a decent amount in the bank in a few years

Dec 25, 2017
hopeful123:

contrary to popular belief toyotas are really reliable and require much less maintainence than a 3 series or equivalent.

Contrary to wha? Most people think Toyotas are reliable.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

    • 1
Jan 9, 2018

I've been driving on '05 limited 4runner since freshman year of college and have had it in the shop once (aside from regular maintenance). Unbelievably reliable, I've driven it from KC to San Diego and back and at least three trips out to Colorado every year. At 175k miles and counting. The thing is incredible, already dreaming on my next one.

Dec 24, 2017

Nissan Sentra SR, get the 2017 if you can find them.

You can knock out 2-3k if you can negotiate, add another discount or so, and it will be about $16-17k for a brand new car fully loaded.

I got one as a gift to my mom. It handles well along with the backup camera and LED lights you will be going in style.

No pain no game.

    • 1
Dec 26, 2017

Wouldn't go for brand new. If anything buy a CPO

Dec 25, 2017

1997 Land Rover Defender and spend the rest of your bonus on this:

https://us.suitsupply.com/en_US/coats/jort-transpa...

What concert costs 45 cents? 50 Cent feat. Nickelback.

    • 4
    • 1
Best Response
Dec 26, 2017

Crisis hits next year. You get let go. Can't flip your car to somebody else because no one wants something expensive (read: above $10k). You are fucked.

Buy something sub $5000 that looks like shit but is reliable and not likely to break down. Take the extra $15k and stash them in a boring cash park or gold and wait for shit to hit the fan before investing it (Trump might have delayed the crisis by a few years, but you never know - always keep cash to get ready to buy on discount). Then again I know what a crisis feels like and you don't, I also don't know if you have student debt, if you are just rich from your parents etc...

The above is only what I would do if I needed a car to commute - if it's just for fun I would never fucking buy a car as an analyst. Today I live in London and use taxis to go out and otherwise walk and cycle everywhere after almost 10 years in the city, the hassle of insurance, parking, fender-benders, fueling up, etc... Just do not make it worth my time.

One last point "the cheaper model have much less resale value" - I don't get this, if you buy it for cheap, you should be able to sell it at a small discount to the price you bought it at in the first place, that won't change anything.

    • 8
    • 2
Dec 26, 2017
Disjoint:

The above is only what I would do if I needed a car to commute - if it's just for fun I would never fucking buy a car as an analyst. Today I live in London and use taxis to go out and otherwise walk and cycle everywhere after almost 10 years in the city, the hassle of insurance, parking, fender-benders, fueling up, etc... Just do not make it worth my time.

bro isn't moving to bloody London

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

    • 1
Dec 26, 2017

And the Earth is round. What's your fucking point?
OP is not the only one reading my comments. I replied to him in the earlier part of my post.

Dec 26, 2017
Disjoint:

Crisis hits next year. You get let go. Can't flip your car to somebody else because no one wants something expensive (read: above $10k). You are fucked.

If he buys a 320i for $15K and "only" flips it for $13K on Autotrader you mean? Big deal... Used cars that run and are in good condition don't just go from a liquid $15K to illiquid $3K POS unless you have flood damage or a meteor hits the windshield.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Dec 26, 2017

Echoing the sentiment of others, don't waste money trying to flex with a BMW/Audi at this point. Maintenance costs aren't insignificant and the joy you get from driving is severely diminished when most of that driving is spent sitting in commute traffic.

I'd highly recommend getting a used Camry or Jetta, potentially even a Mazda 3 or 6. They're all great for commutes and the latter two are still fun to drive compared to a $2,500 hand-me-down Civic. If you absolutely must buy new, I'd still recommend one of the above options over a BMW/Audi.

    • 2
Dec 26, 2017

Buy something that comes w/ a nice warranty and is not too expensive. What I mean is buy a certified pre owned car. I know that Toyota and Kia have some of the best CPO programs (and are both extremely reliable). If you're looking for value I'd go for Kia (the recent ones 2012+). The newer Kias have Audi styling , BMW engineering, and Japanese reliability. Literally can't get better than this

Dec 26, 2017

Op just get a scooter, it's the most eomically sound option

    • 1
Dec 26, 2017

OP you can get a used BMW Z4 convertible for around 20k if it's a couple years old and has like 40k miles on it

You want to be cruising in style, trust me. Girls will go wild

    • 1
Dec 26, 2017

So BOM.

Dec 26, 2017

I'd go with a mini cooper, can get a great used one for around 10k (50k miles) 8 - 10 years old.

Fun ride, reliable and hold their value great!

Dec 26, 2017

Lots of mediocre advice so far so I'll give my opinion. Here are a few question to get you started.

Where are you going to be living? How do you envision using the car? Do you have a garage/parking? Have you owned a car before? Do you know how to maintain it? Will there be places for maintenance close by?

I will echo some of the advice above and recommend something cheap and in the 12-20k range. Any lower and you'll end up with something that will mostly likely be less reliable, higher mileage, etc.

I'd also stay away from the entry level BMW,Audis, Benz, etc type cars for a few reasons. Sure, you could own a used bimmer for around 20k, but if that car doesn't have warranty maintenance, it could get really expensive very quickly. Plus, as much as you could afford that type of car, you'll have to decide if you want that type of image so early in your career. By buying an entry level bimmer,audi, etc you get almost none of hte benefits(not that luxurious or fast) and all of the downsides(people think your entitled, parents pay for everything, etc) Will that be true? No. But if you show up on your first day and your MD pulls up next to you in a Honda, how is that going to make you feel? Personally I like to be able to keep a lower profile if need be.

Another thing to think about is whatever type of car you buy, will be there be a dealer or maintenance place close by? That's something that has been a pain for me as I've moved around with my car.

Also think about how you'll use the car? Do you camp? Ski/Snowboard? Maybe you want a small SUV. Maybe you'll be wanting to drive into a local city often, in which case you'll want something small and fuel efficient.

With all that being said, my recommendation would be for something asian made like a Subaru (Subarus are my overwhelming preference but Hondas are ok) or ... something American made like a Ford/Chevy. American cars have been making a resurgence and they're actually pretty good value and cheap to maintain. Oh and if you buy new(with 0% financing) or lightly used, you might be able to get the factory warranty, which is crucial in my opinion. Mitigates a ton of risk from having something going terribly wrong with the car and you being stuck with the bill. I've had a small American SUV for a few years now and while it's not a fun or sexy car, its been reliable and super useful for all the things I've wanted to do. I've thought about upgrading to something nice for a while, but given where I live(major city) it just doesn't make sense.

    • 4
    • 1
Dec 26, 2017

A lot of good points on things to consider- Definitely agree the maintenance could be pricy without some sort of warranty on it.

Appreciate the input

Jan 3, 2018

I don't own one anymore, but everyone on this board discounts Chevy for a normal (non-luxury) car brand. They are much more reliable/equipped/even stylish than they used to be.

For $20k you could get a very nicely loaded low mileage Equinox, Malibu or even Impala. For my last purchase I got an Infinity, but I looked at all of the main stream luxury brands (audi, BMW, Acura, etc...) and I actually think Chevy's Infotainment was the easiest to use. Especially if you get one with Apple CarPlay, it's pretty slick. Overall, they make pretty good cars now.

twitter: @CorpFin_Guy

    • 1
Jan 4, 2018
accountingbyday:

I don't own one anymore, but everyone on this board discounts Chevy for a normal (non-luxury) car brand. They are much more reliable/equipped/even stylish than they used to be.

For $20k you could get a very nicely loaded low mileage Equinox, Malibu or even Impala. For my last purchase I got an Infinity, but I looked at all of the main stream luxury brands (audi, BMW, Acura, etc...) and I actually think Chevy's Infotainment was the easiest to use. Especially if you get one with Apple CarPlay, it's pretty slick. Overall, they make pretty good cars now.

Yeah I had a Chevy rental car last year. The link to my iPhone was pretty cool/seamless.

I feel Chevy is a bit of a vanilla brand until we get to some of their sports cars.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Jan 4, 2018

The idea that people will judge is a real scenario.

On a different note, my parents bought me my first car at 17 in 2009, an '09 Hyundai Sonata, and I just let it go last week with 147k miles on the beauty. To be completely honest, I would have kept driving it except that I bought my Dad's 2013 528i bmw with ~50k miles on it for 17.5k including the extended warranty and the knowledge that he's babied it.

This was a huge upgrade from me and I got a great deal, but to the outside world, people will naturally assume that you bought an over the top car due to the bmw stigma. The fact of the matter is that people will always have their own opinions, but as long as you love what you're driving and it's within your means then you're going to enjoy the ride.

    • 1
Dec 26, 2017

get a minivan with stow n go seating. can camp, bang, haul guns, etc. and still get about 25mpg or more on the highway.

If the glove don't fit, you must acquit!

    • 1
Dec 26, 2017

The best market value car you can get to get around, handsdown, is a used Honda. It's lender friendly, it's resale value holds up because there's such a huge market for them, they're cheap, easy to maintain, and usually can still run ok after 170k miles.

    • 2
Dec 27, 2017

After years of admiring the car, I bought a used Lexus SC430 with 70k miles on it for $16k and could not be happier. I really wanted a convertible but did not want to pony up for a new car. The car is very reliable based on my research and personal experience. With that said, just sharing my opinion/experience, as this tends to be one of those love-it-or-hate-it cars (not everyone like the styling).

    • 1
Dec 27, 2017

Is it a tokyo drift car? U Asian?

Jan 1, 2018

Neither

Dec 27, 2017

Get a Mustang or Dodge Challenger.

Wicked Smaht

Dec 27, 2017

im on the market for a first car also.

I may just by a Hyundai Sonata Eco/Hybrid and call it a day until I can get something really nice.

Jan 1, 2018

An older BMW is a classic

    • 3
Jan 3, 2018

and a horrible first car for someone on a budget

twitter: @CorpFin_Guy

    • 2
    • 2
Jan 3, 2018

Not really... Assuming you are not buying a brand-new BMW (which is around $70k), the older, used models are pretty affordable. Check TRUECar - you can get a 2014 320i for around $15k. The even older 320is, with obviously more mileage, can be around $10k or even less. The maintenance is a pain in the ass, but if you find a good car you should be fine. Plus, a Beemer is a pretty sweet car for a 20-year-old and definitely has a more 'young' appeal than a Toyota.

    • 2
Jan 3, 2018

When I graduated I purchased a 2015 Passat Tsi. Attractive and affordable.

Jan 4, 2018

I understand as a first year analyst with a new paycheck and someone who may be driving in the thing a lot depending on your city a nice car might be valuable to you. That being said, you will have plenty of time in the future to also by that car when you advance your career.

In High School I had a slightly used benz C class which was great for the first 4 years then became a huge pain in the ass. Bought myself a used infiniti when I started working and the RWD makes me happier to drive it the 40 miles a day I have to, so I am glad I didn't get a Toyota or Honda. Car Payment is 250 a month on it at the end of the day but other expenses do cost more, and all of them. Gas, maintenance, insurance, etc. Youre getting 20 mpg vs 30 the other guys get. Cars I would definitely stay away from so young are things like even older Mustang GTs, M3s etc. that will kill you even moreso on gas/insurance/maintenence

Jan 4, 2018

I'd recommend looking into a newer model Infiniti (Q50, Q60, G37), Lexus (IS, RC) or Acura (ILX, TLX, RDX) at that price point. These are the luxury brands of Japanese OEMs Nissan, Toyota and Honda, respectively. These generally offer better option packages and styling than most entry level cars, while still offering great reliability and comparatively low cost of ownership. German luxury cars are great for different reasons, but Audi, Mercedes and BMW can come with a lot of headaches that you probably don't want to deal with at this point in your life. Other posters have mentioned the cost of maintenance as a major cause for concern, which is something that is easy to underestimate beyond the initial sticker price. See the link below for some quantification. Also worth pointing out, while 320/328s and A4s are within reach at ~$20K, these are among the most costly to maintain at ~$16K and ~$13K, respectively, over 10 years. The cost curve also goes up dramatically if you are buying one that is out of warranty in order to get a lower purchase price. A Lexus IS250 on the other hand would be cheaper to buy, still look great and costs ~$6.5K to maintain over the same time frame.

Maintenance by brand

    • 1
Jan 4, 2018

I just bought my current car (2012 Acura TL) last year and have nothing but great things to say. I purchased the base model TL (still has everything you need, all power everything, Bluetooth, leather, etc) and is fun to drive (280HP V6 with paddle shifters). I bought it with 28k miles for 18.5k and get compliments on it all the time. Plus honda cars last forever.

Jan 4, 2018

Update

Thanks for the input everyone, interesting to hear everyones perspective.

Ending up finding a 2010 Passat w/ 41k miles thats in extremely good shape for about $8k. With some trade in credit, ended up around $6.5k. A lot more practical than dropping $20k+ on a BMW/Audi and I can easily ditch this in a few years and buy what I want.

    • 1
Jan 4, 2018

Solid find and solid car. Now you can pick up all the fairies in the Castro district.

What concert costs 45 cents? 50 Cent feat. Nickelback.

    • 2
Jan 4, 2018

Sounds like you know a thing or two about that district..

Not going to be in SF lol

Jan 5, 2018
Comment
    • 1
Feb 12, 2019
Feb 12, 2019
Feb 12, 2019