The hunt continues.
In the meantime, my awesome employer suggested I drive the company vehicle so long as I pay for the gasoline. The vehicle doesn’t get very good gas mileage (15mpg) but it has taken off some of the pressure. I feel like I can relax a little and take some time to find a good deal, instead of desperately grabbing at the first thing that comes along and making a terrible mistake.
Mr. A and I have done some casual looking on our own – which was when we ran into the problem with being scammed by Vehicle History dot com (please be aware that the “official” site ends with dot GOV). My money has not yet been returned to me, but I have been assured twice now that someone would be getting back to me. The operator with whom I spoke indicated that it didn’t make any difference that I’d cancelled my debit card, they could still place the money into my account. I doubt that. I do have to say that I’m impressed with the company because real live American operators answer the phone.
Mr. A checked out the vehicles at a junk yard. <!!> He would send me a photo via his smart phone, details via text and I did some searching at FuelEconomy.gov to learn the fuel economy numbers. This made me realize there are a lot of cars on the road capable of getting 30 miles to the gallon, and not just brand new vehicles either. The main problem at the junk yard which claimed its vehicles for sale were reliable as well as cheap was the mileage was just way too high for my blood. As I’ve established, I’m not afraid of cars with a lot of mileage, but 200,000 without knowing the history on the vehicle? Risky business.
I found at FuelEconomy.gov you can search by class of vehicle and enter in miles per gallon that you would like to get. This has been very handy. Here’s a screenshot – just go to the site and click on “Find a Car”, enter your specs at “Search by Class”. I’m still not sure which vehicle I’m looking for at this point. I just want better gas mileage.
Here are three 1999 vehicles which get close to 30 miles per gallon highway. The site lists the vehicles with the best combined mileage (city/highway) and they also list “Our User’s Average MPG”.
- 1999 Toyota Avalon
- 1999 Chrysler Concorde
- 1999 Dodge Intrepid
Just for kicks I checked out the fuel economy for the 1996 Nissan Pathfinder. Interesting. I calculated my mileage almost every fill up and always got 18 miles to the gallon, and sometimes close to 19. The “real world” estimates are 17.2 mpg.
My route to work is almost all highway driving so that I’m sure that has a lot to do with it.
We’ve looked on Craigslist. That’s when I learned the usefulness of being able to get a VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) with only a license plate, free from Carfax.com. At first I wondered what’s the point? But then while looking up a car from Craigslist which had the license plate clearly visible in the photos, I found it can be very helpful since this particular car did not match its license plate.
However… I know “Arizona law provides that a license plate is assigned to the vehicle owner, instead of the vehicle.” So maybe that is why the vehicle in the photo was a completely different vehicle than Carfax’s free license report stated.
Except for the fact that the Craigslist ad was very scammy, so I’m inclined to think the plates were switched from another vehicle.
We contacted the family friend. Mr. A thought I didn’t want to deal with him. Ah, miscommunications. My readers here at the blog knew I wanted to deal with the family friend, but somehow Mr. A got the opposite impression. At any rate, we touched base with the guy and within a couple of days he found a very nice looking vehicle nearly double what we were looking to spend. A 1997 Toyota Forerunner purported to get 18 miles to the gallon highway for the low, low price of only $3500. Agh. I really think I’m ready to move on to a vehicle that gets better gas mileage, but I considered it. I ran a report using a company recommended at Vehiclehistory.gov which charges $4.95 per vehicle report (unfortunately I cannot recommend them either, but at least they only charged me $4.95 like they said). Everything sounded great. No problems reported, except one little issue…
The report stated that the vehicle had 51,119 miles on the odometer in January 2002… and supposedly it still had 51,119 miles when the current title was issued in July 2012. Something’s funny about that.
When we asked for the odometer reading from the family friend, we never got a response so I decided to bite the dust and pay for five Carfax reports (it is $10 more than buying one at a time and now I have 60 days to use them all). That’s when I learned the car had 256,000 miles on it. Even for this high mileage the vehicle still ranges in value at Kelly Blue Book for $4444 for “Fair” on up to $5669 for “Excellent”.
AND, it had been in four accidents in the last two years and the details read on each: “Vehicle involved in a rear-end collision. It hit a motor vehicle.” Hmmm… tail-gate much? Even though the $3500 was lower than Kelly Blue Book, we decided to pass on that one. This vehicle does seem to hold its value well.
I contacted a dealer. This was not purely intentional as I was trying to determine how much the aforementioned SUV was worth with that many miles on it (hadn’t yet gotten the hang of Kelly Blue Book’s site) and in so doing happened across a dealer site online and one of those “chat” boxes opened and asking how could help. Against my better judgement I engaged in “chatting” and ended up revealing my name and phone number. I told the chat operator that I did NOT want to be contacted by a high pressure salesman and indeed when the call came through it sounded as though the guy was on some serious muscle relaxers. He was sooooo not high pressure and soooo mellow sounding. It cracked me up. For a minute it made me want to deal with a car dealer since he was describing how they certify the vehicle and you don’t have to go through that hassle.
We’ve checked the Arizona Republic. We looked in the actual newspaper that you can hold in your hands! I found a whole slew of Mercury Gran Marquis, varying ages all “Senior” owned with fairly low miles. It made me wonder if some old Grandpa in Sun City had been collecting Mercury Gran Marquis every year and then just stashing them in his garage, taking each one out for road trips in turn. The phone numbers were different for each ad, so probably not. 🙂 It just seemed like maybe the old guy had passed and maybe one of his offspring were selling the vehicles.
I did find a vehicle which I was interested in and Mr. A called but the number just kept ringing and ringing and ringing. So maybe it’s already sold. It was 1995 Mercury Tracer priced at $2600 with only 57,000 miles. I didn’t do a Carfax on it since we don’t even know if it’s still available.
I am very close to submitting my income tax return and we expect to get back around $3500. If I find something I want before we get our return back we’ll be taking the money from our line of credit and pay it back once our income tax arrives.
I’ll keep you posted on our progress.