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Last Post 03/28/2014 4:33 AM by  AcceleratedAdjuster
In 2012
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Banyan Rider
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08/09/2012 10:35 PM

    Cant' seem to find a dedicated thread about current adjuster vehicles. A few answers here and there but dated mostly from 2008 or earlier. What vehicle should an adjuster purchase to travel around, do claims work, function professionally, etc?

    I've been driving a Dodge Ram but it's not in condition anymore for Cat adjuster driving mileage. I've been looking at Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier, but over the past 10-years I've seen more and more adjusters using Honda Civic-type 4-cylinder cars, or extended hatch Dodge Magnum-type for Gorilla Ladder and ladder assist company bringing up the rear to take care of the 2+ story stuff. 

    I'm of the mindset that an adjuster should have a vehicle to at least carry a 28' ladder, ext cab for tools, printer, etc but maybe this thinking is outdated. Anybody help or got an opinion on which vehicle I should be looking to purchase?

    Thanks.

     

     

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    Medulus
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    08/10/2012 3:13 PM
    As an aside, Banyan, posts by unknown or new members must be approved by a moderator before they appear in the forum. This has drastically cut down on all the anonymous sniping we saw in the past. I just approved your post so it now appears here.
    Steve Ebner CPCU AIC AMIM

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    Banyan Rider
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    08/10/2012 5:01 PM

    Got ya!  I figured that might be it. I didn't see a "pending" alert or anything in my profile so I couldn't confirm if I hit "send" or not; hence my other 'test' email which I'm sure you saw.

    Thanks, again. I've learned a lot on the site the past couple of days just by lurking. 

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    mxr618
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    08/10/2012 7:28 PM

    I roll in a Dodge Dakota. I'm looking hard at a Toyota Tundra Crewmax because:

    1. I need a ladder rack, any way you look at it. I use a 17' Little Giant, a 24' extension and a 28' extension. I use them all.

    2. I don't have a back seat in my little Dodge and I need something to haul around the stuff. I run daily claims so I've got boots, (sewer backups) tools, (boardups), and 1000 miles a week (so a cooler full of food. Gotta eat healthy). The Tundra with the Crewmax gets good gas milage and is supposed to be fantasic on maintenance bills.

     

    The downside? I'm choking on the $34k price tag for a used truck.

     

    If I could figure out a way to have a back seat in something and still get up 28', I'd be set.

    Good thread!

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    CatAdjusterX
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    08/11/2012 12:15 AM

    Banyan,

    The adjusters you see tooling around in the 4 door compacts in most cases are staff adjusters for carriers or IA firms. They are usually using some folding ladder system. Yes, they cannot access the average two story risk with those types of ladders, but again as staff adjusters, not that big of an issue.

    As an IA you are correct with a ladder of sufficient length to safely access most two story risks.  I carry a 24 foot extension and an 8 foot A frame (Werner). Further, I do NOT carry any aluminum ladder whatsoever. I only carry fiberglass for safety reasons. Being that you are a newly licensed individual, you most likely will be doing CAT claims. In many instances there will be downed power lines, on the average risk, power masts may be down or damaged and you must always operate assuming all power lines are active.

    I have a ladder rack on my 2006 Toyota Tacoma Prerunner Access cab and will transfer that rack to my new 2012 Toyota Tacoma Prerunner Access cab. It is my opinion that a truck is essential for the IA to carry tools and ladders properly. You don't wanna be driving from risk to risk with your ladder duct taped to the roof of your Geo Metro looking like Joe SH*T the rag man.

    My passenger seat folds down coupled with the access cab space, makes a great work space . Have the bottom of my seat and the bottom of my laptop with velcro tape for a sturdy base in transit and such. I suppose you could bring your printer along (in case the insured has some docx you want to make copies of) but I don't usually do that. Unless you some draft authority as an IA, you aren't going to be giving the insured a copy of the estimate you write up until it has been approved for closure.

    I think a compact truck is the best way to go all the way around, my Prerunner is perfectly set up for work with the access cab and ladder racks, stylish (for when I am not working, the ladder rack is detachable) but not flashy gets decent gas mileage with a V6, of course they make Prerunners with an 4 cylinder which is fantastic gas mileage.

    When I was brand new to the industry, the senior adjusters I worked with told me to avoid rolling up to a risk in a 80,000.00 Mercedes or Escalade to avoid a bad image from the insured. However they also stated to NOT rolling up to the risk in a 73 Orange hatchback with 4 bald tires and a brown door either.

    Of course this is just my opinion and others will differ,

     

    Good luck!!  

    "A good leader leads..... ..... but a great leader is followed !!" CatAdjusterX@gmail.com
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    AllenJ7572
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    08/12/2012 9:13 AM
    Banyan,

    As a staff adjuster I am provided with a Suburu Forester, gets good milage and I can get a 19" little giant in the back with the rear seat folded down. I have seen the trend over the past 5/6 years with the IA's going from F250 Diesel 4x4 trucks to small Tacoma size trucks for obvious reasons. There are plenty of small size pickups and SUV that will fill the bill just got to find one that you can afford and are comfortable with.
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    John_salvador
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    08/12/2012 9:44 AM
    Although I see the advantages of a truck for being able to haul 2 story ladders, I personally can't get over the higher cost to operate them given the current state of fuel prices. I personally am using a 2007 Acura TL whose trunk is large enough to carry my two Xtend and Climb ladders, and I have a Mobile-Desk mount in the front seat and my printer in a bin in the back seat. For those instances that I need a two story ladder (less than 10 times for me in the past 100 days), I have a 26 ft Little-Giant Extreme which when I need to I mount on my Yakima roof rack. Without the ladder on the rack, I am averaging 25 mpg with an average speed of 24 mph (per the cars computer), with the Little Giant on the roof it drops to 22. When not in use, the Little Giant leans on a wall in my hotel room. So, although a truck is ideal, if you don't like them, or want to save money, a decent sized 4 door car can get the job done nicely for you.
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    Banyan Rider
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    08/14/2012 9:00 PM
    Thanks, CatAdjusterX,
    That really clears things up for me. It all made sense once I read your reply that those were most likely staff guys.

    Also good to read that my original minimum descriptions for an IA were correct. I'm still looking for a Tacoma but I haven't yet figured out the benefits of a pre-runner vs base cab yet. It's quite a price difference so I'm sure there must be something valuable in the details. I've always been a straight 1500 truck guy without much need for details. Now I'm trying to buy for the very exact balance you mentioned (stylish enough for when I'm not working yet equipped for when I am).

    If you get a chance for another reply could you do a quick reply on the type of laptop stand you prefer in the truck? There seem to be many preferences but perhaps your experience could guide me even better. Thanks!
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    CatAdjusterX
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    08/17/2012 2:44 AM
    Posted By Banyan Rider on 14 Aug 2012 09:00 PM
    Thanks, CatAdjusterX,
    That really clears things up for me. It all made sense once I read your reply that those were most likely staff guys.

    Also good to read that my original minimum descriptions for an IA were correct. I'm still looking for a Tacoma but I haven't yet figured out the benefits of a pre-runner vs base cab yet. It's quite a price difference so I'm sure there must be something valuable in the details. I've always been a straight 1500 truck guy without much need for details. Now I'm trying to buy for the very exact balance you mentioned (stylish enough for when I'm not working yet equipped for when I am).

    If you get a chance for another reply could you do a quick reply on the type of laptop stand you prefer in the truck? There seem to be many preferences but perhaps your experience could guide me even better. Thanks!

    .......................................

    Banyan, as far as laptop mounts I am prolly not the one to answer what type of stand works well. As I stated in my earlier response I have velcro on the bottom of my laptop and the underside of my seat and works quite nicely. Further, in most cases I don't usually even bring my laptop and stays in the hotel. I run with some detailed tick sheets. I always carry two cameras (because you will drop a camera and you need a backup) and have 2 memory cards for each camera. I try to burn all the daylight with scoping the risks, grab a bite to eat and decompress for about an hour by smacking the dog around and then write up the days claims. My goal is to write up and complete claims scoped that day so that I can either upload or drop off those reports first thing in the AM of the following morning at the claims office and start the day fresh

    "A good leader leads..... ..... but a great leader is followed !!" CatAdjusterX@gmail.com
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    Banyan Rider
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    08/17/2012 7:13 AM
    Thanks to everyone else who responded! I didn't see your posts when I last checked (only CatadjusterX's) so hopefully this explains why I only thanked him. Sorry.

    These were good answers. Thanks to all. I'm burning midnight oil trying to get a different vehicle before a Cat happens. So far the Atlantic is sending ominous signs. I know my Ram won't perform on 100+ miles a day if I'm called. Got to close the deal soon.

    Yea, the price tags for some of the better used trucks is still so close to a new truck it's depressing, especially if you want something under 50k miles on it. I still remember when gas was expensive at $1.86/gallon! Sheessh!

    @CatadjusterX ... good advice on the Laptop mount. I've been detailing Cat claims for years without one, and then completing my maps and estimates at night to send to Insurance companies. You made a very strong point that I don't really need one, especially as a beginning. Perhaps if I ever become a SF staff issuing checks and stuff, I would. You saved me from too much preparation (which I struggle to curb sometimes), but you're right. I don't need one right now. Better to be a professional than just look like one (for now).

    ... as a matter of fact I'm going to add that last statement as my signature. LoL!
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    ChuckDeaton
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    08/17/2012 4:26 PM
    Today is to today, by that I mean that the old adages no longer apply, especially with regard to vehicles. Carburetors are a thing of the past, no longer do vehicles use v belts, we have moved to serpentine belts with a spring loaded tensioner and rotary a/c compressors. Oil, especially high end oils, are greatly improved. The upshot is that the old saw about vehicles with under 100,000 miles is no longer true. About the only things that wear out in 100,000 miles of use is brakes and spark plugs.
    The point of this occupation, any occupation, is to make a profit and one of the largest investments is a vehicle. With that said one avenue is to carefully select a used vehicle. Many adequate used vehicles can be purchased for less than 5,000USD.
    "Prattling on and on about being an ass with experience doesn't make someone experienced. It just makes you an ass." Rod Buvens, Pilot grunt
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    AllenJ7572
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    08/17/2012 9:12 PM
    My Suburu gets 24 mpg in town and 28-30 on the Hwy, a 19' little giant fits in the back with 1/2 of the rear seat folded down, it has a roof rack standard so you could carry a larger ladder if necessary. It's a 2011 model and cost $23K new. Not too bad, and it's 4-wheel drive! I like the Tacoma's too just they don't get as good gas milage and are not 4 wheel drive unless you pay extra.
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    CatAdjusterX
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    08/17/2012 11:48 PM
    Posted By Banyan Rider on 17 Aug 2012 07:13 AM
    Thanks to everyone else who responded! I didn't see your posts when I last checked (only CatadjusterX's) so hopefully this explains why I only thanked him. Sorry.

    These were good answers. Thanks to all. I'm burning midnight oil trying to get a different vehicle before a Cat happens. So far the Atlantic is sending ominous signs. I know my Ram won't perform on 100+ miles a day if I'm called. Got to close the deal soon.

    Yea, the price tags for some of the better used trucks is still so close to a new truck it's depressing, especially if you want something under 50k miles on it. I still remember when gas was expensive at $1.86/gallon! Sheessh!

    @CatadjusterX ... good advice on the Laptop mount. I've been detailing Cat claims for years without one, and then completing my maps and estimates at night to send to Insurance companies. You made a very strong point that I don't really need one, especially as a beginning. Perhaps if I ever become a SF staff issuing checks and stuff, I would. You saved me from too much preparation (which I struggle to curb sometimes), but you're right. I don't need one right now. Better to be a professional than just look like one (for now).

    ... as a matter of fact I'm going to add that last statement as my signature. LoL!

    .................................................

    The thing about a new/used vehicle is this: I know and have heard of many people who upon becoming a licensed adjuster go out and get the 2012/2013 Chevy/Ford/Dodge dually, a brand new shiny 5th wheel trailer. They have all the finest laptops and a sat dish for their Internet connection, a brand new Disto 8, have all the power converters and all of this stuff before they even get a hint at a deployment.

    This exact scenario played out for a new fella last year during Irene (Yes, during (before she even made landfall). Some IA firms had experienced and rookie adjusters alike deploying from the ends of the earth. Fortunately most of the experienced hands were savvy enough to pass on this deployment because they have seen this many times before. However desparation and excitement for a rookie adjuster to get their 1st real claim assignment overrode common sense and they were deployed and on scene ready to go. The problem was Irene made landfall over 500 miles away from the expected staging area. So these guys made the treck to the new area ready to go. Well Irene did not do as much damage as expected and the IA firms were overstaffed 5 fold with red headed step children (IE the CAT adjuster)

    Well, some of those rookies got lucky and were handed 5 to 10 claims. The unlucky ones were told ,"Sorry but you are not needed" and were sent home. Most went home with zero dollars. Some were given a few hundred bucks. So now they make the return trip home and what are they supposed to do now being that they quit their day job to deploy and make the big bucks as an adjuster?

    Most of these duallies and 5th wheel campers were financed.

    Chuck Deaton stated the #1 issue, to make a profit! However with a $700.00 to $800.00+ dollar truck payment, I mean come on, these $60,000.00 truck aren't gonna have a $250.00 a month payment unless you finance that puppy for 30 years!!! Now add in the 300.00 to 400.00 a month for full coverage business (or Artisan)auto insurance and let's not forget the 500.00+ 5th wheel trailer payment. All of this is in addition to your monthly nut of Mortgage/food/fuel/kids college fund/health insurance.

    The name of the game is to keep expenses to the minimum. In the beginning, you don't need to add expenses. If you were gonna purchase a new vehicle anyway, fine. But try to avoid an "adjusting" vehicle. If you already own that stuff that is awesome and could save you alot of cash for lodging expenses.

    Keep everything at minimum impact until you have established a work product and a work ethic that the powers that be can take notice of. When you are asked to stay around for cleanup for the 3nd or 3rd time, you will know that more consistent work is a viable option and the daily claims may start coming. When that happens, you could then viably start to think about upgrading (but within reason).  The goal is not to have the newest or most expensive equipment or to have every possible scenario covered. The goal is to bring in the most amount of income whilst minimizing your expenses. As an adjuster, you are essentially a business unto yourself. The goal is to keep the doors open throughout the year. The goal is to be in a position to weather (no pun intended) the lean times and able to still be around when the next Andrew or Katrina comes a callin'. As far as the big one making landfall, It's not a question of IF, it's a question of WHEN.

    If at all possible purchase with cash. When I first started my goal was to get my dream truck (Toyota Tacoma Prerunner/4 inch lift big obnoxious 34 inch tires) I worked with a bunch of old school adjusters who took me under their wing. I had to apprentice for the first year or so. I didn't get to do my own claims until I learned how to scope a risk from the basement to the roof and everything in between with a pencil paper calculator, tape measure. In any case, these old codgers (whos favorite pasttime was to remind me that my adjusting skills were akin to a monkey trying to #$%^ a football) quashed my goal (the Prerunner) and said my first goal was to save enough money to live on for 6 months (if need be). Well I did that, then they said now shoot for a year(I did that) My 3rd goal was to get that damn Prerunner but guess what? When I had the opportunity to get the truck in late 2004, I passed on it and kept my Chevy 3/4 ton pickup for a couple more years and saved even more money. In December of 2006, I finally purchased a slightly used 2006 Prerunner (had 1,875 miles on it) The best part for me was...I paid in cash. Here we are 6 years and almost70,000 miles later, the Prerunner is set to go to my oldest boy (15) next year. I just recently purchased a 2012 Tacoma Prerunner. Those old codgers saved me from myself and their advice and instruction in not only adjusting but financial matters as well is in all likelihood the ONLY reason I am still here in the biz today. My hard and fast rule is to when considering buying any big ticket item, can I purchase whatever that is and still have an emergency cash reserve for living expenses up to a year  

    "A good leader leads..... ..... but a great leader is followed !!" CatAdjusterX@gmail.com
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    ChuckDeaton
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    08/18/2012 10:06 AM
    My 1989 Dodge Durango was purchased at a salvage yard immediately before I left for Hurricane Irene. I paid cash, $2,700.00, and put on a set of tires. At 166,000 it is going strong and no payment. I expect it to go to at least 300,000 miles. There is money to be made investing, so that is where the money goes.
    "Prattling on and on about being an ass with experience doesn't make someone experienced. It just makes you an ass." Rod Buvens, Pilot grunt
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    okclarryd
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    08/18/2012 10:10 AM
    I'm with Chuck

    I buy used laptops, usually less than 6 months old for less than 1/2 of new price and I've only owned two new vehicles in my life.

    I would pick a mid-size crossover or SUV with all wheel drive or 4 wheel drive with low mileage and add the features that make it work for me. I don't like the idea of being saddled with a big payment as then I'm working for the vehicle instead of the other way around.

    Happy Trails
    Larry D Hardin
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    ChuckDeaton
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    08/18/2012 10:56 AM
    I am with you Larry, if all I am going to do with money is make house, car and RV payments, no need to work, I will just forego the payments and stay at home. I screwed up and bought two new vehicles, years ago, and now I wish I still drove the 6 cylinder flat head Plymouth that I bought for $100 in 1965!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Buy a used Durango, off Craigslist, change the belts and hoses, the plugs and the fluids and put on some new tires and have the a/c topped off and you are good to go for less than 5 grand.
    "Prattling on and on about being an ass with experience doesn't make someone experienced. It just makes you an ass." Rod Buvens, Pilot grunt
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    Banyan Rider
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    08/23/2012 3:48 PM
    UPdate: .. Got myself a 2005 Nissan Frontier 6-cyl crew cab. I test drove a bunch of 4-cyl 2.7 but it was uncomfortable driving as the engine was slow to get up to driving speed. I did consider MPG while choosing between 4 or 6-cyl over and over again (and over and over) but I ultimately decided my style of driving with the 6-cyl could balance out better 4-cyl MPG but without the underpower of the 2.7 4-cyl all the time, and on every road (especially highways.)

    I think a 4-cyl is a great truck for non-pulling local driving, but a 6-cyl seemed to fit all possible scenarios for a CAT adjuster, as well as downtime when not working.

    I hope that was the best choice.

    Next up is the right ladder rack. Got to search CADO for some advice. Thanks again for everyone who offered their opinion and help! I appreciate it.
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    CatAdjusterX
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    08/23/2012 8:53 PM
    Posted By Banyan Rider on 23 Aug 2012 03:48 PM
    UPdate: .. Got myself a 2005 Nissan Frontier 6-cyl crew cab. I test drove a bunch of 4-cyl 2.7 but it was uncomfortable driving as the engine was slow to get up to driving speed. I did consider MPG while choosing between 4 or 6-cyl over and over again (and over and over) but I ultimately decided my style of driving with the 6-cyl could balance out better 4-cyl MPG but without the underpower of the 2.7 4-cyl all the time, and on every road (especially highways.)

    I think a 4-cyl is a great truck for non-pulling local driving, but a 6-cyl seemed to fit all possible scenarios for a CAT adjuster, as well as downtime when not working.

    I hope that was the best choice.

    Next up is the right ladder rack. Got to search CADO for some advice. Thanks again for everyone who offered their opinion and help! I appreciate it.

    Banyan,

    almost any ladder retailer will have a vast selection of ladder racks. Since you will not always be deployed, I suggest you purchase a rack that  has permanent anchor sleeves so as to be solid in transit but with a few turns of a wrench both pieces will slide right out of the sleeves and you are back to a personal vehicle.

    One important issue Banyan is your auto insurance. When you install a ladder rack and are carting those bad boys around (ladders) running from claim to claim and you get into an accident, your insurance will deny deny deny all day long. Every auto policy or should I say more specifically, every insurance policy I have ever had contained a business use exclusion form that I have either signed or initialed.

    In my experience business use contained within an insurance policy is what I feel prohibitively expensive. However, I have found a compromise that is reasonable and affords coverage should I be involved in an accident whilst running claims:

    Artisan coverage will cover both personal and business endeavors and will ONLY increase your current policy by somewhere close to 10 to 20% per annum  

    "A good leader leads..... ..... but a great leader is followed !!" CatAdjusterX@gmail.com
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    HuskerCat
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    08/24/2012 1:29 AM
    Posted By Tom Allen on 10 Aug 2012 07:28 PM

    I roll in a Dodge Dakota. I'm looking hard at a Toyota Tundra Crewmax because:

    1. I need a ladder rack, any way you look at it. I use a 17' Little Giant, a 24' extension and a 28' extension. I use them all.

    2. I don't have a back seat in my little Dodge and I need something to haul around the stuff. I run daily claims so I've got boots, (sewer backups) tools, (boardups), and 1000 miles a week (so a cooler full of food. Gotta eat healthy). The Tundra with the Crewmax gets good gas milage and is supposed to be fantasic on maintenance bills.

     

    The downside? I'm choking on the $34k price tag for a used truck.

     

    I have a Dodge Dakota Quad Cab with the short box, but I don't work field anymore (after about 18 years of that) but being the farm kid still like the pickum up truck.   I maybe got lucky but my 2001 V8 Magnum gets about 22mpg on a long haul if I hold it under at or under 75mph, and about 18 mpg otherwise.  The best part is, I paid $9,700 cash for it in 2004, with 55K miles, some minor damage to the rear bumper and a small dent in the rear left quarter.  Book value was $14,300 and I've never put a penny into it other than oil changes.  Knock on wood?



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    Jud G.
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    09/10/2012 10:43 AM

    I have consistently put 60,000 miles on my two Honda Accords every year for the past four years. My current one has 230,000 miles on it now and it runs great. I have a roof rack that will hold a two story ladder when I need it. For everything else I use an Xtendandclimb ladder which works great with a silicone lubricant such as pledge. I get light use out of this ladder since less than half of my claims require one.

    I don't see any reference in here to Consumer Reports and their usefulness. I always take out a one month subscription just for researching the repair trends on the type of vehicle I'm going to buy.  Then I will pick one of the top two or three most reliable vehicle types.

    I never buy new vehicles.  I will generally purchase one that has lost its 'hype' value at a 2-3 year age.  By incorporating Chuck's wisdom above, you will discover very little difference in vehicle reliability from one that is new versus one that is 2-3 years old.  Conversely, you will see a huge and disproportionate difference in price.

    Just a word of caution to some of you just getting into Consumer Reports.  This may come as a rude awakening.  Vehicles that you thought were "like a rock" or those that have "Guts. Glory...." won't be listed anywhere close to the tops of CR's lists.

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