We sent her down there with one of the family cars. It was not the new one (107K miles) nor was it the old one (223K miles). It was the 2004 Malibu with 160K miles. We are in the process of selling it to her. The transaction price is $3000 and she is making payments.
She is working full time. Her thinking is that she would like something that will be around for a few years. She wants her own car.
She decided that she likes the size of the Malibu. She is active in her new church and sometimes she carts people around. She looked at new (2014) and she looked at used. Being able to buy a low miles 3 year old car for half of sticker price is very attractive to her. That apple did not fall too far from the tree.
She narrowed this week's search down to three choices. This is the email I sent back to her:
Just a bit of used car shopping philosophy:
There are no perfect cars.
There are good cars. A good car is a happy balance of price, miles, wear and features.
There are OK cars.
There are poor cars.
It is impossible to be ABSOLUTELY sure where any give car will fall. You can be pretty sure, but not absolutely sure.
Not all problems are visible.
It pays to take the car you plan to buy to a trustworthy auto repair shop for their assessment. Our long-time family mechanic performed the last inspection for free. He said that he would much rather flag us off from a lemon than to have to keep fixing for the next six years. Nobody wins with a lemon.
A new car becomes a used car the second you drive it off the lot.
She also has a friend who has access to Carfax so she will be able to access the car history....where it lived, if it had been owned by a car rental company, if it has been in accidents.
I think she is doing a dandy job in her search. It is gratifying to see children spread their wings and function as competent adults. It gives me joy that we have a solid relationship and she trusts me enough to give me a box seat from which to watch the events unfold.