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Ask a Patch Pro: Buying a New Car

Got questions about buying new cars, or other automotive topics? We've got someone with answers.

When it comes to buying a new car...

Do you have to stick with an SUV if you want cargo room? How can you measure whether you're getting good value for your money? What cars work best in a Minnesota winter?

This week's Patch Pros, Patrick Sutter and Debbie Tufts, are here to help sort out these questions.

Sutter is the general manager for Borton Volvo's Minneapolis and Golden Valley dealerships, which together employ about 70 people. He's worked for Borton Volvo for nearly 30 years, and works closely with the car company in a number of other areas.

Tufts, meanwhile, has been a sales manager for nine years for Golden Valley's Rudy Luther's Toyota Scion, a dealership that has been in the community since 1972.

Add your question in the comments section below and our experts will get back to you with their suggestions.

Caitlin Burgess (Editor) November 27, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Alright, I'll go first. I am sadly at the point where I need to attempt to trade in my vehicle or drive it into the ground. I have a 2002 Chevy S10 with about 150,000. I like to think it's in pretty good shape but that's a lot of miles. Advice on whether I should get rid of it, or ride it out for another couple years?
adrienne harrison November 27, 2012 at 07:10 PM
My parents have been looking for a vehicle that has an 'assist' handle along the side of the passenger door frame, instead of it being positioned at the top of the passenger door frame (as in all the vehicles we've looked at). My mom is 5' tall, and needs to grab hold of a handle along this lower (side) area, to assist her entering into a vehicle.
Borton Volvo November 27, 2012 at 08:50 PM
Caitlin, thank you for your question! Like may things in life, there is rarely a time when one can say "you should trade now!" It's great that your S10 has been so good to you. However, it is nice to at least do some shopping before your current vehicle develops a problem and forces you to make a hasty purchase. At 150,000 miles you might want to consider some options and see if there is a vehicle out there that catches your eye! Thank you very much, Patrick Sutter - Borton Volvo
JAG November 27, 2012 at 11:25 PM
I just got 2007 XC90. How come the dashboard is constantly squeaking? Unfortunately this did not catch my attention during test drive. I believe this is a common problem with every XC90, for sure early years. Is there anything to be done to eliminate that annoying squeak or this is a Volvo standard. PS: Car has not been in any accident, and there is nothing to suggest that a dashboard was ever removed.
James Sanna (Editor) November 27, 2012 at 11:42 PM
I'm getting to a similar point as Caitlin—our family car is a reliable early '00s Jetta, but we can see a point coming where we'll need to replace it with something that's got a) great gas mileage, b) can fit into our neighborhood's tiny parking spaces, c) is still useful for IKEA errands and d) is really fun to drive. Looking at the car market, should we be ready to compromise on any of those four?
Simon D November 28, 2012 at 01:06 PM
Q. How many honest used car salesmen does it take to change a lightbulb? A. Both of them! ;)
Wayzata Law Group, LLC November 28, 2012 at 02:58 PM
I have a 2003 Nissan Altima with 177K miles. I have a cracked windshield and the "check engine" light is on because of the lack of pressure in the gas tank. Yesterday, my passenger side rear door handle snapped off as I opened the door. My question: Should I 1. put more money into my car to fix the problems and sell the car myself; 2. sell the car myself without fixing the problems; or 3. trade in my car as is for a new/used car? Thanks for your time!
SomeGuy November 28, 2012 at 03:32 PM
150,000 miles? 177,000 miles? If you have followed the routine maintenance schedule and stayed out of accidents, the is no reason a car designed and built in the '00s and later cannot go 200,000 or 250,000+ miles. Especially if it is a car you have owned and maintained over the bulk of that time (or even since new). Cars are designed and built much, much better now than in the '90s, '80s and certainly the '70s. So it is not so much a matter of "Will my car make it?" Your car will (and there is a hot market for maintained, used cars - sell it yourself). It is more matter of "Do I want/need/desire something different?" and "How much am I willing to spend to fulfill that desire or need?"
Kris Janisch November 28, 2012 at 04:03 PM
I have a 2000 Camry that seems like it's going to top out at about 190,000-200,000 miles. So, what can a 2012 model car expect to hit? Upward of 300,000? Will they be able to design cars that go 500,000 miles in the future?
PSutter November 28, 2012 at 10:46 PM
Hi JAG, XC90 dashboard noise was an issue on 2003-2004 but not later models. Most common issues are personal items like coins, pens, etc. remove everything from clove box and door pockets (even the little compartment below the radio) first then drive vehicle if noise continues have a passenger place hand pressure to various parts of the dash while driving to locate noise. If you are able to change or stop the noise with hand presure we can ussually find the loose bolt or wire harness that is making the noise. Hope that helps. Pat
PSutter November 28, 2012 at 10:54 PM
There are so many professions that fit in that blank... Thank you
PSutter November 28, 2012 at 10:57 PM
Your car is 13 model years old and has gone beyond it's reliable time in miles... it's time for a replacement

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