Hello, I need some used car buying advice please. I'm a single mom who needs reliable transportation.
I narrowed my car search down to a 2007 Toyota Camry V4 w/70,000 miles, 2 owners for $11,000. Or a 2004 Honda Accord V6 w/104,000 miles, 1 owner, very well maintained for $8900. The Camry isn't power anything but the Accord is fully loaded. The Camry's engine was loud verses the quiet hum of the Accord so I'm leaning towards the Accord. Any advice is greatly appreciated. I can also purchase a 36,000 mile warranty on either for $1695, do I need it? Any advice is greatly appreciated, thank you.
Both cars use "interference" engines which means if the timing belt breaks, the open valves will be hit and bent by the pistons as they coast to a stop. Toyota is one step above Chrysler as far as customer-friendly business practices. I don't know where Honda is on that list but I would never own a car with an interference engine. There is no need to design them that way. I've never had a timing belt break on any of my cars but a friend had one break on his car with an engine identical to my daily driver, and he just popped a new belt on and was back on the road in a few hours. With a broken belt on an interference engine, you can expect a $2500.00 to $3000.00 repair bill.
If you want to know if a car you're considering has an interference engine, go to rockauto. Com, then click on the car brand, model, and engine size. Click on "Engine", then select "Timing belt", "Timing components", or anything similar. Under the choices that pop up, if you see "interference engine application" included in any of the descriptions you will know it's an engine I'd never own.
November, 29, 2012 AT 2:03 AM
Forgot to mention, in general, service contracts are not a good deal for most people. The largest percentage of the premium goes to pay commissions to the person who sold it to you. That doesn't leave much to pay for the insurance. The next problem is there is almost always a rather high deductible so you'll still end up spending money of repairs. Third, at the very nice family-owned dealership I used to work for, when you had a contract from an aftermarket company, I overheard way too many times, "what you need isn't covered". In particular, when they say "internally-lubricated engine parts are covered, that takes care of the rare serious internal engine damage. Timing belts are not "internally-lubricated", and the resulting valve damage, while they are internally-lubricated, is not covered because the damage was caused by something that is not covered. They will look for any possible way to avoid paying a claim.
When you do have a legitimate claim, the companies require all kinds of proof and documentation. They will deny a claim if you can't prove the oil was changed at the proper intervals. Engine problems often require a detailed analysis of the oil which is a major headache, and is way beyond what any manufacturer requires when their cars are under warranty.
Many repair shops are fed up with trying to collect from some of these companies for "approved" repairs. Instead, they make you responsible for the bill, then let you get reimbursed from the insurance company. Those companies are more responsive to policy holders than to shops. If you don't have the money available, your car will sit there until the bill is paid. That contract isn't worth much if they take a month to send you a check.
I'd recommend putting that 1700 bucks in the bank rather than prepaying for an expensive repair that may never be needed. It will be available if you have a sudden unexpected repair. If you do buy a service contract, (it's not really a warranty), be sure it covers any electrical problems. With all the unnecessary, unreliable computers on all cars today, electrical problems are WAY more common than engine and transmission problems, and they can get to be expensive. You should also know that if you get stuck with a big bill they refuse to cover, you can request a refund of the remaining amount of the contract, then put that money toward the repair.
At the mileages you listed, the Toyota is due for a new timing belt so factor that into the cost of the car unless someone can produce written documentation it has already been done. Regular maintenance isn't covered under any service contract. Honda used to recommend replacement of the timing belt every 75,000 miles, ... And they typically broke at 65,000 miles. The insurance companies will also want proof that you followed the maintenance schedules in the owner's manual. Even if they do cover timing belts and the resulting damage, they will deny the claim if you missed the specified mileage it was supposed to be replaced at.
Be aware too that most owner's manuals list a "severe use" schedule and a "normal" schedule. Those trick owners because the "normal" schedule is designed to make that model appear to cost less for normal maintenance than their competitors' cars. We used to joke about those normal schedules that they don't apply if you drive in the city, or if you drive on the highway, or you drive in cold weather, or you drive in hot weather, or you drive in the rain, (or you make too many left turns)! Only that last one was sarcasm, but you get my point. It is almost impossible to not have to go by the severe service recommendations, so don't get caught by that loophole.