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Discussion Starter #1
Okay, so long story short. I have an old ford taurus and it's kicked the bucket. I want a new car and plan on getting a Mazda3, I cant afford anything fresh off the production line, but here are some options:
(keeping in mind I am looking at used 2012/2013 i model hatchback (want that skyactiv gas mileage and storage space) preferably under $15g within the NY/NJ area)

2012 Mazda3 i touring hatchback - $13,695
36,580 miles

2012 Mazda3 i touring hatchback - $13,997
39,233 miles

2012 Mazda3 i touring hatchback - $15,990
17,389 miles

2013 Mazda3 i touring hatchback - $16,938
3,441 miles

Now let me clear a few things up. I am not comparing these cars specifically. I understand there is much more than gas mileage that factors into that decision. What I want to know is, assuming each car is in good condition with a good history, is shelling out a few extra thousand dollars worth the cut in mileage when on a budget. Is it a good investment.

Maybe I am being naive and this question is unanswerable, but anyway, I am a college student with little money and know I can handle a car loan for either of the first two cars. Going to the higher two would be pushing it and I know you do not take out loans for what you cant afford assuming you even get approved...

In summary, is it a better investment to put up the extra money for a car with less mileage (assuming all involved are in good condition with good reports)? Or should I focus on the short term and the fact it won't be as easy to afford, although doable. This probably comes down to circumstance and personality, but a few opinions wouldn't hurt. All are appreciated!
 

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Based on my experience, I'd say finance only what you can comfortably afford, get one of the higher mielage cars (not that 30-40K is high mileage) and drive on. My wife and I bought her 2008 3i sedan years ago with 39,000 or so miles on it. It's currently past 120K, has never given us any trouble at all, and was well worth what we paid for it. Buying a 30,000 mile old car just means you let someone else break it in and eat the depreciation.

Also, having once been a poor and struggling college student, NEVER bite off a monthly financial obligation that will cause you any more struggle than absolutely necessary. When bills get tight, school books get expensive, or shit happens (and it always does) that extra $30-$50 you spend a month on that car note will suddenly be missed.

All that said, buy based on condition. I wouldn't buy a 17,000 mile old car that didn't look well cared for over a 30,000 mile old car that was garage kept and immaculate, but stay within your budget and do not compromise that.
 

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As plilrab said, go with one of the cheaper ones. I would be a little wary of cars that are a year or 2 old with really low mileage, like the 2013. It could mean somebody really didn't like the car for some reason, possibly they had several issues with it (lemon) and wanted out.
 

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yeah I plan to get one of the lower ones. going to look at both and I should be able to play the dealers off of each other a bit for price. for 36-40k miles still isn't much, I just wasn't sure if I really would be better off going higher, but the budget really says no.

that new car with few miles on it actually had two price drops over the last two weeks, for what ever reason theyre desperate to get rid of it.
 

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yeah I plan to get one of the lower ones. going to look at both and I should be able to play the dealers off of each other a bit for price. for 36-40k miles still isn't much, I just wasn't sure if I really would be better off going higher, but the budget really says no.

that new car with few miles on it actually had two price drops over the last two weeks, for what ever reason theyre desperate to get rid of it.
Every time a new body style comes out, the older ones lose value. The 2012's and 2013's lost some of their value on the dealership lot due to not being the current body style, which is fairly common. For that reason, my first car was a 94 Mazda Protege, purchased in mid 1994 when the 95's (fresh redesign) were all over the lot. That 94 just sat and got cheap till my parents swooped in on it, and I bought it from them when I turned 17.
 

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I concur, 40k isn't an unreasonable amount of miles for a three year old car. With a good report and if it looks well cared for the less expensive cars sound like the better investment. Plus you can probably haggle down even further.

Do you have a trade? If you can manage a direct sale on it instead you'd be in an even better negotiating position.
 
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