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Unread 04-03-2012, 08:35 PM   #1
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Default Need help making a decision about whether to buy a car or not

So this is going to be a pretty lengthy question and will include some background info; but it's an important decision to me and I definetely need a second look at it from someone whose already done it.

So let me give you the background info first; I'm 15, love cars (always have. Grew up with em and know lots about them; dad was a car mania and any car questions anyone in my school has, comes to me for answers. I love em), have a part-time job, live far away from school, and my mom has a CR-V.

I'm debating whether or not to be buying a car when I turn 17 or 18 or 19 (basically very early years. I did not include 16 as I cant legally drive alone at that age. I live in Canada); and if I do, I'm debating whether or not it should be a DD or a track car.

So here are my options for when I turn 17-19;
1: Buy a daily driver car. Pay for gas, insurance, and everything on the car myself
2: Buy a track car. No insurance, little concern for gas, and have lots of fun. Still have to pay CR-V insurance though.
3: Buy no car and just use the CR-V

(My mom wants me insured on a car at all times whether it be primary or secondary to "build driver history" so that I can get better rates later on.)

I went over every company and every single car model (down to the trim) ever sold in Canada from 1997-2005 and went through a criteria to figure out which cars may be a suitable DD. I used edmunds, auto123, kanetix, kbb, and msnautos. They needed to have atleast 30 MPG EPA, under 325$ a month via kanetix (using info I would probably be using when I am 17), and be cheap to buy used. I went through MOST of the cars and singled out almost all of them except cars like the Geo Metro and Chevrolet Metro; but the 1997 VW Golf and all its' trims made it too. I still have a few to go but those cars are probably the vehicles I'll have to choose from.

If I pick 1, I'll be paying for absolutely everything. If I pick 2, I'll be paying for everything on the track car + my share of CR-V insurance + my share of CR-V gas. For 3; just my share of CR-V insurance and gas.

I make ~600$ a month via part-time job. ~80$ of that goes away to some savings and cell-phone bill. When I am 17, I will have more to save for.

I am aiming myself towards an automotive engineering job. I am going to be taking an automotive co-op next year via my highschool; and POSSIBLY an automotive course. I will be going into GR11.

My mom has always driven me to school usually and probably will for the remainder of my highschool years, unless I decide to take the bus. Which is also a very good possibility.

So that should give enough of background, I'm really wanting a few opinions on this, I know it's long but I'd appreciate it alot. Just to recap;

1 Pros: Have my own DD, learn about cars firsthand, gives lots of independance, just plain fun
1 Cons: Super expensive, have to work a lot more hours to afford it, takes up more space in the parking lot
2 Pros: Cheaper than 1, learn LOTS more about cars as I can tear it apart as it doesnt need to be insured or street legal, gas isnt a big deal and insurance isnt either, it's much funner
2 Cons: Might be difficult to convince mom; but should be possible as my dad does it and it's perfectly safe. Isnt cheapest but also isnt most expensive. Least practical
3 Pros: Cheapest. Most practical. Work less.
3 Cons: Less independance, learn least about cars, dislike the CR-V

Thanks for any and all opinions on the matter and if you have any questions go ahead and ask them : )

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Unread 04-03-2012, 09:04 PM   #2
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I would not recommend a track car as a first car. It will eat up your savings and will prolong getting your DD.

The cheapest would be to pay the insurance on the CRV and keep driving, but I'm sure your parents would rather you have your own car, and I agree. Owning a your own car is the best path to responsibility. You will also get to see what is involved in ownership. You will also learn about cars much faster when you have to fix your own.

I would look for a Corolla or Civic. What kind of "track" are you speaking of? Auto-X or road course? Auto-x is the best and cheapest venue to drive competitively. You can use a somewhat prepared Civic and have a lot of fun learning to drive with precision. It is very affordable and you can join a local car club. You can work up to a better performing car in steps as you save some money. Tires, sway bars, shocks etc. You will also see how each modification improves the handling, again, a great way to learn hands on.

Stay away from VW's, stick with mainstream cars that have proven themselves. After you have driven some time and saved some money, you can better afford going deeper into some performance car. Beware that just becasue a car does well on a track it isn't necessarily the best DD.

Hang around the forum and you will pick up on a lot. I've auto-x'd many years ago and have just rediscovered how much fun I had.

Search Youtube for auto-x and you will see how much fun it can be.
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Unread 04-03-2012, 09:14 PM   #3
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I would not recommend a track car as a first car. It will eat up your savings and will prolong getting your DD.

I don't mean it as a car to pour all my dollars into, just a "toy" to learn with and have fun.

The cheapest would be to pay the insurance on the CRV and keep driving, but I'm sure your parents would rather you have your own car, and I agree. Owning a your own car is the best path to responsibility. You will also get to see what is involved in ownership. You will also learn about cars much faster when you have to fix your own.

Yeah, but my family (and I) isn't the richest family and buying my own car would be 100% my responsibility financially. The cheapest would be the CR-V decision. I also personally think that I would learn MOST about cars with the track car as instead of just general maintenance and fixing, I'll be literally running through every single part of the car to see if it can be improved, and I wont have to give a damn about streel legality or emissions or anything.

I would look for a Corolla or Civic. What kind of "track" are you speaking of? Auto-X or road course? Auto-x is the best and cheapest venue to drive competitively. You can use a somewhat prepared Civic and have a lot of fun learning to drive with precision. It is very affordable and you can join a local car club. You can work up to a better performing car in steps as you save some money. Tires, sway bars, shocks etc. You will also see how each modification improves the handling, again, a great way to learn hands on.

Corolla or Civic are nonos. Too high on insurance. Over 350$-430$ a month (I live in a suburban that is headed in a direciton of becoming urban. Car insurance is hell for younger drivers) and I simply cannot afford that, even if i take up more shifts; and I'm already working 3 days a week. Working more wouild hurt my studies, my finances, and my mom already dislikes me working 3 days/week.

Also, if I get a track car, I can pick most any car that is cheap used and modify that to my hearts content. DD? Sort of, but then I got MPG and street legality and etc. to worry about.

Also for track car I meant autocross and drag racing. My father drag races his corvette so it could also help me get closer with my dad (which is hard these days as I only see him once every two weeks, but we get along really well and both love cars).


Stay away from VW's, stick with mainstream cars that have proven themselves. After you have driven some time and saved some money, you can better afford going deeper into some performance car. Beware that just becasue a car does well on a track it isn't necessarily the best DD.

I dont want a performance car DD anytime below 25 yrs old. I dont wanna have to worry about paying for some of my college, some misc expenses like cellphone bill, AND a performance car. Would rather have an econobox instead. I would only get a performance car for track, and that is significantly cheaper as it takes out insurance and most gas.

And what do you mean? Geo Metro's and VW Golf's are pretty mainstream.. I'm not getting a Daewoo or anything. Keep in mind, if I get option number 1, it will see VERY little track time and wont be a performance car.


Hang around the forum and you will pick up on a lot. I've auto-x'd many years ago and have just rediscovered how much fun I had.

Yeah I've been around the forums for a few months now and love it

Search Youtube for auto-x and you will see how much fun it can be.

Will do
Thanks for your response! my replies are in bold

edit: I looked over some road course and auto-x videos and would probably be doing both if I do option 2.

Last edited by elemein; 04-03-2012 at 09:20 PM.

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Unread 04-03-2012, 09:24 PM   #4
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I'd advise against a track car. If i was in your shoes I'd try to find a DD that can be autocrossable. Think light, manual transmission, RWD. A Nissan 2x0SX should do the trick, as would a Miata or Fiero, etc. All of these cars have tons of aftermarket support as well.
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Unread 04-03-2012, 09:25 PM   #5
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I'd advise against a track car. If i was in your shoes I'd try to find a DD that can be autocrossable. Think light, manual transmission, RWD. A Nissan 2x0SX should do the trick, as would a Miata or Fiero, etc. All of these cars have tons of aftermarket support as well.
... Insurance and MPG is killer on all those cars as a DD except the Miata. Which I cant use as it's a 2-seater :/

Guys, I really dont have a lot of money to work with here. ~600$ a month - cellphone - savings - some college savings - whatever other savings I have when I'm 17. That really is not a lot after all the fact.

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Unread 04-03-2012, 09:33 PM   #6
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It sounds like you are pretty much set on a track car. Are you intending on have both a track car and a DD? That would be much more expensive than owning a DD that you could auto-x.

If you are only intending on pursuing an auto career in racing, then I suppose that going straight to a track car might do it, but I personally wouldn't be too keen on getting a kid (no disrespect intended) that wanted to go straight into racing and didn't even understand how the family car worked. Learning on a DD you will have hands on, not just a few minutes of track time, to see the results of you efforts. All the racing greats have had to learn how the family grocer getter works. You would hard pressed to get into a racing environment, a serious racing environment unless you had connections.

I've worked on cars for over 40 years and many years at VW dealerships. Cars come in all types, fast, dependable, easy on gas, cool looking, but none possess all the above. VW's are not bad in handling, but they are way over priced for what you get. They are money pits. They are not reliable. I say this after owning over 35 of them! I strongly suggest you consider a mainstream Japaneses car like a Corolla or Civic. You say you are watching the money you spend. You can pay less for a car, but much more later in keeping it going. I bought a 1993 Lexus with 145,000 kms several years ago, cost me $6500. Over the following 5 years I spent a total of $90, it never let us down once. Their are owners of Caravans that are happy as a pig in poop and don't car if the car breaks down every 2nd month and requires a rebuilt transmission every 18 months. I will not own or recommend cars like that.

The happiest customers I have own a Toyota or Honda.

EDIT: OK, I see that you are tight on money, but trust me, you are better off saving up to buy a good car, and insurance, than just buying something you can afford right now, and doing a head gasket, transmission later. A GEO is a good car, until they get about 150,000 on them, owned a few of them too.
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Unread 04-03-2012, 09:45 PM   #7
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It sounds like you are pretty much set on a track car. Are you intending on have both a track car and a DD? That would be much more expensive than owning a DD that you could auto-x.

I'm not set on a track car at all; it's just that I really want a car (pushes me away from option 3), but if I choose the DD option, it'd cut into my already very low income and would hurt me a lot (pushes me away from option 1), but I don't know everything as I've no experience with ANY of the options. So that's why i'm asking you guys. And I already looked at the option of a DD that I could auto-x with and it just seems like it'd be too expensive. Insurance really hurts. Badly. I cant have two options in one, it seems all I can afford is one of them. And no, I am not intending on more than one car.

If you are only intending on pursuing an auto career in racing, then I suppose that going straight to a track car might do it, but I personally wouldn't be too keen on getting a kid (no disrespect intended) that wanted to go straight into racing and didn't even understand how the family car worked. Learning on a DD you will have hands on, not just a few minutes of track time, to see the results of you efforts. All the racing greats have had to learn how the family grocer getter works. You would hard pressed to get into a racing environment, a serious racing environment unless you had connections.

I know how cars work; I mean. I'm no mechanic or anything, but please dont underestimate my knowledge, I really do know the basics (and then a little bit more) of every aspect of a car. Quiz me if you like, I really know. I'm not pursuing an auto racing career, but I am pursuing an automotive engineering career. I think I'd be able to learn more about how cars work with a track than a DD as (like I said before), I can tear into the car without having to worry about MPG or street legal and etc.

I've worked on cars for over 40 years and many years at VW dealerships. Cars come in all types, fast, dependable, easy on gas, cool looking, but none possess all the above. VW's are not bad in handling, but they are way over priced for what you get. They are money pits. They are not reliable. I say this after owning over 35 of them! I strongly suggest you consider a mainstream Japaneses car like a Corolla or Civic. You say you are watching the money you spend. You can pay less for a car, but much more later in keeping it going. I bought a 1993 Lexus with 145,000 kms several years ago, cost me $6500. Over the following 5 years I spent a total of $90, it never let us down once. Their are owners of Caravans that are happy as a pig in poop and don't car if the car breaks down every 2nd month and requires a rebuilt transmission every 18 months. I will not own or recommend cars like that.

Well you bring good points and experience to the table. I'll look into the Golf a little more throughly with customer satisfaction-wise. But for the Geo Metro/ Chevy Metro/Pontiac Firefly/Suzuki Swift; theres NOTHING but GOOD reliability reviews. Suzuki knows how to make a good reliable engine. Also, like I said, the Civic and Corolla are too high on insurance. I already did all the numbers and I'm on a very strict budget; I know you intend well, but the cost of a Civic is high, and a Corolla is even higher!

The happiest customers I have own a Toyota or Honda.

For obvious reasons.

EDIT: OK, I see that you are tight on money, but trust me, you are better off saving up to buy a good car, and insurance, than just buying something you can afford right now, and doing a head gasket, transmission later. A GEO is a good car, until they get about 150,000 on them, owned a few of them too.

So I guess doing option 3 would be your suggestion? (which would be nothing for 17-19; just saving up.) Also, most Metro/Firefly/Swift owners i know are happy with their cars past 250k and beyond. Yes, they go past that.
Thanks again for your response

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Unread 04-03-2012, 09:51 PM   #8
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Hey, please don't be offended by my position, I have seen lots of young guys start out on the wrong foot and it costs them money and holds back their career.

I worked for several years in the beginning and accepted better pay if I didn't get certified. I took the money over a ticket. Years later I regretted it as I was taken advantage of because I was doing journeyman repairs and they only were paying me helper wages. If you are serious about getting an automotive ticket then start early. Get lots of hands on learning, your car or anyone who will let you work on theirs.

I'd be interested to follow your journey so please keep us updated.
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Unread 04-03-2012, 09:56 PM   #9
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Get an old clunker in the $2500-$5000 range. It will still be mostly reliable, you'll learn a fair bit about maintaining and repairing cars, if you wreck it you're not out much, and you don't end up spending a fortune on insurance.



Also, get a manual and stay in manual transmission cars at least until you've graduated high school. I believe it's a vital skill every driver should have and that every driver should learn how to drive on a stickshift. You never know when life will thrust you into a car that has one with no other options.
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Unread 04-03-2012, 10:00 PM   #10
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Hey, please don't be offended by my position, I have seen lots of young guys start out on the wrong foot and it costs them money and holds back their career.

I worked for several years in the beginning and accepted better pay if I didn't get certified. I took the money over a ticket. Years later I regretted it as I was taken advantage of because I was doing journeyman repairs and they only were paying me helper wages. If you are serious about getting an automotive ticket then start early. Get lots of hands on learning, your car or anyone who will let you work on theirs.

I'd be interested to follow your journey so please keep us updated.
Which is why I'm doing an automotive co-op program in my highschool and possibly an automotive course and general technology course (I'm actually in the process of possibly switching over highschools just so I could get these two other courses as my current one doesnt offer them.)

I was just wondering what to do with the whole car situation as it's been on the back burner for a very long time; and while it seems like I am bias; I just dont believe having two of the options at once is affordable, and I am on a really strict budget. I'm not offended, I understand that not all kids have the same passion as me (trust me. Yesterday one of my classmates who is a self-proclaimed "car guru" said most Honda's only rev up to "like 4k RPM"... I died a little inside), but I do my best not to appear as just "another ricer kid" and actually try learning the stuff I love.

So if you had to choose ONE of the options, which would you choose? Keeping in mind budget (the budget is the biggest thing here... If money was no thing I'd be DDing a BMW M3 in a heartbeat.)

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