Is it better to purchase a used car in Houston or Minneapolis?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jun 01, 2001

Dear Tom and Ray:

I currently live in Houston, Texas, but will be moving to Minneapolis this summer. I plan to purchase a used vehicle soon (1996 or 1997 Toyota Avalon). Would I be better off purchasing this vehicle in Houston or in Minneapolis? I have heard that Southern vehicles are better, because they are not subjected to road salt and cold starts. I have also heard that Northern cars are better (mainly from Northerners), with no explanation. My instincts say to go with a Southern vehicle. Please lend me your sage advice. -- Jackie

TOM: You didn't mention that the people who said "Northern" cars are better were mostly Northerners ... trying to sell cars!

RAY: Right. I'd go Southern, Jackie. While it's true that the more intense Southern sun can have some harmful effects on cars -- like fading the paint and cracking the vinyl -- those problems tend to be cosmetic.

TOM: Road salt, on the other hand, and its concomitant rust can cause structural damage. So whoever advised you to avoid cars that have been bathed in road salt is absolutely right. And it's also true that cold-weather starts are harder on an engine, because there's an extra second or two before the oil warms up and sufficiently coats the internal engine parts.

RAY: If you just keep your cars for a few years and then trade them in, it probably doesn't matter, Jackie. But if you intend to keep this car for the long haul, then get a nice, pampered, Southern Avalon. I'm told Southerners have better (road) manners than we Northerners, anyway.

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