Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy -- meditate on these things.
We bought a "new" minivan last year, and it had the lowest mileage, and highest cost of any car we've owned so far. It is a 1997 Oldsmobile Silhouette, and it had 107,000 miles on it. We did a lot of driving (I hit 135,000 today, after a year and a half). Heather and I both take one trip to Pittsburgh each week, and we took a lot of vacation trips this year.
It has been a pretty expensive car to maintain, and it is not in the best shape, so I've been looking to sell it, and get a new van. However, the Cash For Clunkers program has apparently messed with the used car market, and so the sort of cars I would normally look for are much harder to find. Though, I am a little mystified by the lack of minivans, since they get more than 18 mpg, and unless someone is replacing a minivan with a tiny car that gets more than 28 mpg (which we have one friend that did that), they shouldn't have been able to trade an old minivan for a new minivan.
The best prospect right now is a used minivan from Enterprise, which I originally was thinking was a great deal, but we finally figured out what the CarFax report was trying to tell us, that the car wasn't a rental vehicle ever, but had two owners, the second of which traded it in to Enterprise when they bought a newer car. The first owner always (or at least regularly, for every oil change, etc) brought it to the dealership, so there are good records during the first 30,000 miles. The second owner did not, so the next 35,000 miles are less clear. It is a 2005 Chrysler Town and Country, listed at $9,000, and Enterprise should give us at least $2,500 for our current van.
We paid -$700, $1500 and $2100 for our first three cars (after a rebate from our credit card), so this will be our most expensive car yet, and since we just bought our current car last year, we've only saved up $500 in rebates on the credit card). But, I've resigned myself to the fact that our next van will likely be in the $6,000 range, unless we get something more than ten years old, and everything I've seen so far has either been in pretty bad shape, or else still in the $4,500 to $5,000 range, and so it seems worth a couple thousand to get a car that is 7 years newer and 50,000 less miles on it.
There are lots of nice looking minivans in the $12,000 and $18,000 range, but that seems pretty crazy to me.
The only downside (so far) to the Enterprise car is that I suspect there might be a problem with it, because it has been taking a long time for them to "certify" it, they have internal mechanics that check out the cars before they sell them, and that process is only supposed to take a couple days. One guy is on vacation, so that might explain part of the hold-up, but we'll see how it goes.