Dear Car Talk:
I have read your column for years, and I have learned a lot from your advice and really enjoyed your comedy and bad jokes.
I have liked the Volkswagen Beetle from the very beginning. I even considered buying a VW thing back in the day but never did. I've never owned a Beetle but always wanted to. Lately I have been thinking seriously of purchasing a used one.
A convertible is a must, as well as an automatic. This would be a second car, just for fun. I believe the last year of production was 2019. Would you offer some advice as to whether I should pursue this purchase, and, if so, what to look for in my search? Thank you. -- Cathy
You should absolutely get a Beetle convertible, Cathy.
Look, some people have always wanted to climb Mount Everest. That costs at least twice as much, and those people come back with only four toes and half a nose.
By comparison, fulfilling your lifelong dream is a piece of cake, Cathy, and I can't see any reason you shouldn't do it. Tomorrow.
Mechanically, the Beetle is the same as the VW Golf, which is a perfectly good car. The engine in the Beetle is a little harder to work on, because the shape of the hood forced them to cram the engine in there. But Golfs and Beetles have shown at least middle-of-the-pack reliability over the years.
Regardless of where you search for a Beetle -- a dealer, classifieds or one of the single-price used car delivery services like Vroom or Carvana -- it's important to have your own mechanic check it out from stem to stern before you buy it.
Even if the seller promises a 489-point pre-sales check, get someone you trust to test drive it and put it up on a lift.
Ask your mechanic to tell you if there's anything that needs to be fixed right away, if anything is obviously wearing out, or if there are signs of excess wear and tear or abuse. You can then use that information to negotiate with the seller, and either ask for the failing items to be fixed or get a reduction in price.
Obviously, the fewer miles on the car, the more reliable it should be for the first few years. So if you can find one with 30,000 or 40,000 miles on it, you'll have a lot of miles ahead of you. And a less likelihood of unremovable dog odor.
And don't stress too much about this decision, Cathy. Remember, it's only a car. If you change your mind and suddenly decide that you always wanted a Ford Pinto, you can always sell the Beetle.