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Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

08/24/2008 10:36 PM

I have a friend who starts teaching the 5th grade Sept 2.

With loans running high, funds are running low. To turn a two hour commute by rail and bus into a 3O minute drive across town she is looking for a low priced, reliable.. used car. I know this economy has made it better to be the seller of small reliable cars, but is was wondering? mileage helps too.. no clunkers

What have you had good experience with? the budget... low.. like 3k low.. give or take..

The only thing I know about small vehicles is what i read in the paper. .. although that will change!

...the good thing.. when her car breaks.. as they do.. the rail and bus are always there

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#1

Re: recommend a used car for a budget?

08/25/2008 7:54 AM

My son is driving an old 87 Toyota Camry. It's got over 140,000 miles. This is not much on it's own but he ran it with no oil and did some damage to the main bearings and cams.

Damn if it still passed state inspection and has still been running for over 3 years. No oil leaks just some valve tap. If the new Toyotas are built as well I would say to look for one of these.

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#2

Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

08/25/2008 10:56 PM

As you say, the trains and bus will still be there.

Don't rush to buy a car, rush over to the school and see the staff members there. Find out who lives in the direction your friend will be coming from and try to get them to become buddies and car-pool.

No purchase costs, no rego and taxes, no fuel, no thieves, no garage to find, no commitment, someone to talk to on the way.

Later (when the funds are available) they can decide to buy a car and then return the favour to the original friend or choose not to buy a car and pay the friend a little for fuel.

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#3

Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

08/26/2008 12:26 AM

I buy Mini vans from a rental company with about 150,000 miles usually $2,000 then $1,000 to have the transmission rebuilt and you have a van that will usually last 2 or 3 years paid for. If you want it to lst a few years longer then replace the valve seals.

I usually get 5 years out of these rental cars with only a small investment. I keep 2 or 3 around ready to go if one breaks down.

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#4

Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

08/26/2008 12:33 AM

I'd look in Consumer Reports Magazine Annual Auto Issue - I think it comes out every April. They publish a list of recommended reliable used cars grouped by price. I believe they start in the 3 or 4K$ range and go up from there. They also give advice on what you should be looking for when you test drive and inspect the car. Good luck. EdK

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#5

Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

08/26/2008 1:18 AM

Thanks for the info so far...

I like the information on the Toyota.. I did drive a black corolla hatchback with s sunroof way back when, but it had apparently been in in accident before my family owned it, and the problems were ... well too many.

As good as the idea of car pooling is, there is little chance of that. this is out of the way.

As much as the bus and train can do her well, she is already heavily involved in volunteering her time and spends a couple hours minimum each day commuting..

So, once the school year begins.. no time will be left for anything without a car.

I'll check the consumer reports too, but appreciate your experiences.

I don't think spending a little more would matter if it were worth the $

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#6

Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

08/26/2008 2:35 AM

if you can tear yourself away from the "ultra-reliable" japanese cars (I agree, but the prices really seem out of proportion - i've owned about 15-20 hondas over the years)

For the money,Chevy cavaliers have been a pretty robust car in my opinion - very popular fleet car (rental cars are abundant, keeps prices lower)

ABS, airbags, decent ride, usually $1000- $2000 less than comparable Japanese car

we just sold a 96 with 219,000 miles, 3 teenagers (one a baja 1000 wannabe "hey watch this"!!), and 1 transmission.

the AC died at around 130k and again at 219k alternator, starter and battery @ around 170-200k

the tranny was a used one, and the car is now in the hands of a 4th teenager... tough car.

but there was nothing wrong with the radio!

DADW4BOYS: your days are coming!

the oil pressure light was always on at idle, timing chain was rattling away, overheated twice by my kids - I mean really overheated...

oil-turning-to-carbon overheated,

"oh yeah, the radiator stopped leaking, so i thought it was fixed" -overheating

but it still started, and ran, no head gasket or cracked head issues...

if you can find a later model with under 100k:

  • with proper maintenance, you should be able to get another 50k.
  • With improper maintenance, lead foot, blasting radio, weird stickers, a back seat full of debris/homework, and numerous off road excursions (make sure to roll on side at least once!) you should get another 120k miles.

oh, and hit a curb at about 45mph "i wanted to miss the bunny" this adds about 20k to the mileage, but is tough on tires. (and dad's thinning hair!)

good luck

Johnny B

fleet manager

"they get easier when they're older" HA!

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#7
In reply to #6

Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

08/26/2008 2:57 AM

Buy something Japanese!

Honda especially are very very reliable cars.

But it doesn't really matter what make. Japanese cars are very reliable!

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#8

Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

08/26/2008 4:37 AM

I asked a mechanic at a transmission shop what car he would buy as far as transmission durability. Honda.

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#23
In reply to #8

Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

08/26/2008 6:14 PM

Don't get me started on Honda transmissions. I replaced one at 45,000 miles and another one at 90,000. Neither were under warranty. At $6600 these pieces of junk are not cheap. Just add $13,000 to the purchase price of the car. Honda will not sell transmission parts to transmission shops any more. They are having so many failures with my 2001 Odyssey, that they are saving the parts for the dealerships to cover those with the warranties. Apparently, Honda used to have good transmissions, so they don't really have the infrastructure in place like, say, Chrysler, to get spare parts out. I am selling it right after I get it out of the shop. (Engine problems). I don't know that I would buy another Honda less than 10 years old.

Other repairs are expensive as well. Spark plug replacement: $210 dollars. Timing belt $720. My teen-aged son has an '85 Honda Prelude that is still running good. I much more impressed with that car than my van. He bought his 3 years ago for $1500. I could buy 8 of them for the price of my transmission repair.

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#26
In reply to #23

Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

08/27/2008 8:46 AM

Honda had some serious issues on their automatics around the beginning of this decade. A friend of mine found out the hard way after buying a brand new Acura CLS. Trans blew at 20k and again at 40k.

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#9

Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

08/26/2008 5:56 AM

Buy a small motorbike which would save a lot of gas for a 30 min ride, then ya could pick up an older VW bug, the engines are easy to replace when need be and there are a lot still around

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#10

Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

08/26/2008 6:58 AM

JE in Chicago

dont know what your budget consists of, but as far as a used car, you really cant go wrong with a honda. If your looking for comfort and reliability this is the way to go. In my area used honda's, in the early to late 90's models, are for sale everywhere. For fuel economy an older civic is the car of choice. These cars with 100,000 miles on them, still run great, and will continue to run, as long as you service them properly, for many years. The Accords are really nice. Ride, comfort, gas mileage is great, but a little higher than the Civics. Also, the resale value on a honda is about the best you can get for an older car that is in good condition. Shop around, buy from an individual rather than a dealership, and make sure the one you are looking at was not owned by a teenager, and I would say in my experience (with the one civic Im still driving that I bought new in 1991 with 289,000 miles on it, and its still strong) you couldnt go wrong. Hope this helps

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#11
In reply to #10

Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

08/26/2008 7:49 AM

Toyota sedans are the way to go. Having owned five toyotas in the last twenty or so years, they are reliable and easy to maintain. Last 4runner had 291,000 until a knucklehead ran a red light and totalled it. Driver and dog walked away from that one. Currently driving a 1987 4runner with 186,000 and plan on driving it for at least another 1000,000. Toyotas are a little more than their American counterparts, but they last a lot longer for the same expenditure.

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#53
In reply to #11

Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

03/06/2009 8:49 AM

While I have a 2008 Chevy Impala and 08 Chrysler Town and Country, the Chevy has major issues in electrical, HVAC and ride. Too many VAVE's by GM world wide purchasing.

My 1989 Toyota 4Runner on the other hand is a champion. 20 years old and other than general maintainance it is outstanding. 144,002 Miles as of 2 days ago. I use it for recreational purposes. Use synthetic lubricants for a major cost savings in gas and upkeep due to extended drain intervals. I have used them since 1981.

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#12

Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

08/26/2008 8:17 AM

I know you are looking for a suggestion on a car. And I have a few personal choices. But a $3000 car can be tougher on the pocket book in the long run than getting something newer.

Unless you know a good deal about cars or know someone that does you may end up stuck with some surprising repair bills. Especially if you can't do the work yourself.

It does not matter the make or year or milage. You need to know what to look for first. I've been working on-in-around cars all of my life and I've been caught with the occasional lemon myself.

Also... and apple isn't an apple. Certain models of the same car are totally different. For example the Ford Escort. It is an ok cheap car but apparently in the SE trim it is a lot better car. Not because of the trim level but I guess there are production differences. (just what I've researched)

And certain platforms are a better choice. On the list below is the Pontiac Vibe. A joint venture with Toyota. Your getting a Toyota platform for a Pontiac price. Dodge/chrysler crosses platforms a lot too.

That said..... here is a bit I Googled:

Consumer Reports rates reliability of 1998-2005 models

March 9, 2006 -- Consumer Reports magazine compiled the results on more than one million vehicles in its 2005 Annual Subscriber Survey. Because of that, CR says, its data paints a more expansive reliability picture than ever before. The result is the compilation of its 'Good Bets' and 'Bad Bets' lists, published in the magazine's annual April 2006Auto Issue.

The lists are compiled from overall reliability data covering 1998-2005 models with better-than-average or much-worse-than-average reliability.

Consumer Reports 'Good Bets' for used cars

A total of 62 models are included in the 2005 Good Bets list of typically reliable models that have performed well in road tests.

(listed alphabetically)

Acura: Integra, MDX, RL, RSX, TL

BMW: Z3, Z4

Buick: Regal

Chevrolet: Prizm

Ford: Crown Victoria, Escort, Mustang (V8)

Honda: Accord, Civic, Civic Hybrid, CR-V, Element, Odyssey, Pilot, Prelude, S2000

Infiniti: FX35 (V6), G20, G35, I30, I35, QX4

Lexus: ES 300, ES 330, GS 300/GS 400/GS 430, IS 300, GX 470, LS 400, LS 430, RX 300, RX 330

Lincoln: Town Car

Mazda: Millenia, MX-5 Miata, Protege

Mercury: Grand Marquis

Mitsubishi: Galant

Nissan: Altima, Maxima, Murano, Pathfinder

Pontiac: Vibe

Subaru: Forester, Impreza, Impreza WRX, Legacy, Outback

Toyota: 4Runner, Avalon, Camry, Camry Solara, Celica, Corolla, Echo, Highlander, Land Cruiser, Matrix, Prius, RAV4, Sequoia, Sienna, Tundra.

Consumer Reports 'Bad Bets' for used cars

A total of 34 models are included in the 2005 list of CR Bad Bets, models that are considered especially risky buys and that have exhibited several years of below-average reliability.

(listed alphabetically)

BMW: 7 Series, X:5 (V8)

Chevrolet: Astro, Blazer, Express 1500, S-10 (4WD), TrailBlazer, Venture

Chrysler: Town & Country (AWD)

Dodge: Grand Caravan (AWD)

GMC: Envoy, Jimmy, Safari, Savana 1500, Sonoma (4WD)

Jaguar: S-Type, X-Type

Kia: Sedona

Land Rover: Discovery

Lincoln: LS, Navigator

Mercedes-Benz: CLK, E-Class (V8)

Oldsmobile: Alero, Bravada, Silhouette

Pontiac: Aztek, Trans Sport/Montana

Saturn: Vue (AWD)

Volkswagen: Cabrio, Jetta, New Beetle, Passat Wagon (V6)

Volvo: XC90.

GOOD LUCK!!

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#13

Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

08/26/2008 8:33 AM

I hate to have to recommend this to "anyone" but tell them to look at Saturn.

You should be able to find a low mile (10k-50k) later model, clean for within the $2000 to $4000 range. They are ugly, their performance is poor, but with a little love and attention (don't beat on it) they will last a long time.

Check out Cars.com, this came up as something with low miles, cheap, and newer. Of course make sure to do a carfax. Make sure it hasn't been in any bad accidents, flood, etc.

5

$3,588 14,600 mi.

2001 Saturn SC Blue, 4 door, FWD, Coupe, 5 spd, 4 Cylinders, Stock# 39. Dealer: Omega Auto Sales (Milton, VT ~185 mi. away) 888-857-7826 Email Dealer Get a CARFAX Record Check

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#14
In reply to #13

Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

08/26/2008 9:04 AM

I don't dissagree with your Saturn. They are a good value until you have to fix them. I have found that part costs are hign for these.

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#18
In reply to #14

Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

08/26/2008 9:50 AM

You bring up a good point on service. I'd reccomend (for someone who isn't a DIY'er) to find a small local garage. Dealers have much overhead and now with poor new car sales, they are taking it out on service charges and over inflated parts.

Expect to pay 1/3 at an independant garage. You also will get a mechanic with decades of experiance instead of some teenage hotshot with his impact wrench set on full torque.

Rockauto.com is a good source to gauge fair part pricing. ...or just google the part you want.

Also, I own a 2004 Saab and cross referance my parts to it's Opel and GM counterparts. Chevy Malibu parts cost 25% that of Saab 93 parts and are identical.

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#15

Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

08/26/2008 9:11 AM

nissan sentra i have 2 2005 has 98000 on it never a problem, 1991sentre se 293000 miles and still going strong never a repair except for wear items orig clutch engine and trany all orig. cant beat them and much cheeper than honda

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#16

Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

08/26/2008 9:21 AM

With gas prices so high, small used cars (especially japanese ones) have aquired premium prices. You might look at a mid size car. I bought a Taurus. Paid a bit less than for a compact and still get good milage. In a couple years, I'll probably trade it but in the meantime I've bought a lot fof gas with the money I saved.

I have a commute of 25 mi each way through downtown Cleveland, so milage and reliability do count.

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#17

Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

08/26/2008 9:30 AM

Two suggestions that may be of interest. 1. Try to find a near-by commuter who drives to that location, and car-pool, or share expenses. Local newpaper ad, post on the bulletin board in the teacher's lounge or office at school. The driver would likely be more than happy to have someone pay half for the gasoline!! 2. Select a few car manufacturers, such as Toyota, Ford, Dodge, GM, Nissan etc. Call them and ask for local used car dealers who may have some good transportation at a low cost. You'll be surprised at how helpful they can be! Good luck to your friend.

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#19

Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

08/26/2008 10:31 AM

Look for anything Honda or Toyota in the 3k price range.

I picked up a 94 4dr accord with 89k in 2005 for 2800...I sold my 85 accord with 246k for 300 bucks.

Before that I had a 89 Sentra.

I'll never waste money on a nice car for a DD just to have it destroyed by Id10t's in parking lots. Or destroyed by State road goons that love to cinder your vehicle as you pass. Or some other moron that must pass you and pull directly over in front throwing cinders all over your car.

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#20

Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

08/26/2008 10:53 AM

I'd suggest either a Toyota Corolla or Honda Accord or Civic , as early as possible,and with a 5 speed standard transmission !!!

I had a 87 Accord 5 speed that I drove for years and it got 40 MPG !! YES !!!

Nowdays U might find one of these from around 1990 to 95 for under $2000 bucks.

Always do a <carfax.com> to find history of car , costs around $20.

Suggest used auto websites such as <bargainnews.com> , or <autotrader.com>.

Good Luck

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#21

Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

08/26/2008 12:23 PM

I studied automotive engineering in college with emphasis on suspensions and engines. I also was a shade tree mechanic for 30 years. After 25 years in the automobile industry, in both sales and technical ends, a pattern of economy surfaced that holds true even to this day: Buy a two year old car and keep it three or four years.

The new car suffers the highest percentage of depreciation in the shortest period. After two years the rate flattens substantially. After two years any defects attributed to manufacturing have likely already surfaced and been repaired under warranty. The original warranty may still be in effect.

If driven typically, a two year old car will have perhaps 30,000 miles. That's peanuts by today's standards. Worse case scenario, you might have to buy 4 new tires but unlikely unless their is an alignment problem. If there, a closer inspection for collision damage is warranted. I search on the CARFAX web site for the car's damage history is well worth the time and $ spent.

If kept for three years, and driven at the same rate, the car might now have 75,000 Four years: 90,000. It can, depending on equipment, how it's cared for and driven, still be reliable.

However, we have reached the stage when if things fail, they are likely to cost a bit to fix. Fixing an automatic transmission can easily cost 4 figures and if you do fix it, you still have a used transmission in a power train with the same high mileage.

For this reason, I discourage purchasing any car with an automatic transmission, new or used. Now, in an era of high gas prices, an automatic is an expensive luxury that one must pay extra money as an option and continue to pay for with higher fuel bills. It is THE most likely item to fail and the most expensive to fix.

Manual transmissions are no longer "standard" bit are probably the most reliable device in a power train, don't cost "extra" and reward you with better gas mileage.

My suggestions is to buy a sub-compact car of Oriental design (it's likely built here in the US) as their reliability record consistently outpaces the track record of the Big Three.

This is not a subjective estimate on my part but a conclusion arrived at by friends who are still in the car business and whose job is to support third party warranty programs that supplement those offered with a new car by the factory.

I've been privy to the claim statistics paid under those extended warranties and the Japanese win, hands down.

Mitsubishi's are a remarkably good buy. They do not have the amount of agreement in the marketplace they deserve so the used cars have prices disproportionately lower than their real value as machines. I shop at car auctions occasionally and it amazes me how much less Mitsubishi's cost when compared to others of the same genre age and mileage.

Downside of Mitsubishi's: dealers are not as plentiful. Given the reliability of the make, this is likely a non-issue.

Subaru's are notoriously reliable and with the solution to the rust problems that plagued their cars until the late 90's, their competitiveness in the market has risen appreciably. However, their cars are almost always equipped with four wheel drive.

Front wheel drive is sufficient for most people, even under snow conditions. 4WD burdens fuel economy and adds unnecessary complexity and cost. Unless there is an obvious need for it, I'd stay away from 4 wheel drive systems.

I'd also try to avoid ABS systems. Although an obvious advantage in emergency braking, the diagnostics and repairs to these systems are enormous, to the point where many owners elect to simply deactivate the system when it falters, rather than pay the high cost of repair. That being the case, why buy it in the first place?

Reliability is the single biggest concern to women drivers for reasons so obvious I need not get specific. Another overlooked reason for a woman needing reliability is to avoid being scammed by less than ethical mechanics, who apparently think that all women are stupid mechanically.

I once dated a lovely woman who crewed on weekends for her brother's half mile dirt track team. She could do anything any of us men could do, sometimes faster and better and was as feminine and attractive as could be, until some fool tried to charge her for a repair that wasn't needed. What happened was funny, fantastic but too long a story to tell here.

Bottom line: I suggest your lady friend consider a 2 year old Mitsubishi, Toyota or Honda with a standard transmission with an engine no larger than 1.8 liters. Drive it until it has 100,000 miles and then decide if she should start over. If she can't drive a stick. . . . teach her!

L.J.

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#37
In reply to #21

Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

11/02/2008 12:59 AM

"Another overlooked reason for a woman needing reliability is to avoid being scammed by less than ethical mechanics, who apparently think that all women are stupid mechanically."

Hey! If you ain't got no witnesses, I"m denying the whole thing.

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#22

Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

08/26/2008 2:40 PM

Toyota has been making good small cars as long as anyone, but, I would encourage your friend to explore car pooling. There will be a community clearing house of riders and drivers that she can net work with.

There will be hassles, but there are hassles with all other alternatives also.

For the cost of a phone call she can give it a try if it doesn't work, she can buy a car.

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#25
In reply to #22

Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

08/26/2008 10:11 PM

Many of my past activities featured long term support for teachers and I can say with reasonable certainty that no two teachers in the same school have the same after school program commitments.

That being the case, it would be difficult if not impossible to find a match both going and coming home.

Teaching is a full time job, rain or shine. I can't imagine anyone riding a moped or even a big V twin motorcycle, in the rain, especially in the colder months.

I've two bikes and have been riding for 50 years. As much as I love riding bikes, I won't do it in the rain, anything time of year.

L.J.

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#24

Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

08/26/2008 9:51 PM

Moped.

Small. Cheap to buy. Low fuel costs. No parking fees. Trendy. Kids think your cool

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#27

Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

08/27/2008 11:27 AM

I have a moped that's been sitting in a basement.. they are not very well suited for long winter weather comutes...

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Thanks a lot for all of the suggestions. When the day comes, I'll let you know what was selected and then give a follow up way down the road. yuk yuk

...After looking at all of the feedback, It looks like a small Honda .. or maybe a VW.. there are a few options in the local tradin' times that fit the bracket..

ALL options have 111,111 to 146,000 mi on the od.. well most..

a well maintained vehicle is out there. A professional opinion is priceless

If the thing has an enlarged chrome aftermarket exhaust pipe that you attach with a screwdriver, I'll tell her to walk away.

-------So.. What's your favorite source for used cars?

Mine is still the local tradin' times and the current big Sunday paper/s

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#29
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Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

08/27/2008 1:48 PM

I don't want to agree with "guest" completely but I do think the added value of reliability isn't worth the extra cost associated Honda's and Toyota's. I think buying a Honda or Toyota "might" best done into new cars because they depreciate in a very linear manner. I would also recommend not getting a VW. They are mechanically very solid but are prone to all sorts of electrical and non drivetrain related issues.

To contradict what I just wrote above, read "The Toyota Way." After you'll never want to buy anything but...a Toyota.

...and to find this dream machine check out:

- Craigslist (good source for private sales)

- Cars.com (this pulls from some local papers)

- Ebay (I bought a '96 Jetta for $1000 w/140k miles back in '06 here, lots of work to keep running but easy for a DIYer)

- traderonline.com

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#38
In reply to #29

Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

12/04/2008 9:55 PM

Dontcha just hate those non drivetrain issues? I know I do, you betcha!

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#28

Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

08/27/2008 1:13 PM

Don't be going brain dead and buying a stinkin honda. I recomend that you stroll around a few parking lots and see which models really do hold up and not just jump on the BS bandwagon spouted by the automotive press. Then make your decision as a truly informed consumer instead of a brainwashed sucker.

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#31
In reply to #28

Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

08/28/2008 2:56 AM

Just to disagree with guest its not just the automotive press but its also the public that agree about Japanese reliability if you look at things like the JD Power surveys the Japanese usually come top of those due to the build quality of their cars!

Also walking round a car park will not tell you about the reliabilty of a car cos it could look great and be absolutely crap mechanicably!

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#32
In reply to #31

Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

08/29/2008 12:22 PM

I am rethinking the old saw that the Japanese cars are more reliable bit. That may have been true in the 80's and 90's, but I don't know if that is true anymore. The fit and finish and reliability of my Ford is, hands down, superior to my Honda. It's not even close. Things have been falling off the Honda since I bought it (literally): handles, interior post covers (left and right), glove box door, and gas cap holder have all fallen on the ground. In addition it has a leaky windshield, wiper fluid pumps that don't pump(front and back), sliding doors that wont open, 2 transmissions and an unresolved mysterious engine problem that has it in the shop for the 4th time. This is a partial list. Problems with the Ford: the 'door ajar' light sometimes comes on when it isn't ajar.

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#33
In reply to #32

Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

08/30/2008 3:31 AM

Surely thats the exception that proves the rule!

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#30

Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

08/27/2008 3:32 PM

oh.. or a Toyota.. :) thanks for reminding me..

brain dead? is that what you suggest?

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#34

Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

09/04/2008 1:11 PM

I have heard that Toyotas are quite reliable, but have no personal experience with them.

In January 1986 I bought a 1983 Honda Accord. I drove it for 20+ years, at which time it had 230,000 miles on it. It finally reached the point where it was getting not so reliable so I donated it to Kidney Cars. Certainly over the years, I did have to do some work on it... like a new radiator and a water pump... those are the only things that immediately come to mind. If I could do it over again, I would not hesitate in a moment. I loved that car... Referred to it as my poor mans Mercedes.

Bill

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#35
In reply to #34

Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

10/04/2008 2:09 AM

I'd recommend a 1983-86 Toyota Tercel (add in 1987 and 88 if it's a wagon). These second generation Tercels were some of the most reliable cars Toyota ever built. Later Tercels had the 3E 12 valve engine (as opposed to the earlier 3A 8 valve engines), and they commonly failed before they hit 100k miles.

How good are they? I've owned 6, all purchased well-used. 3 had well over 200k miles and were still running strong. My current Tercel, an 86 wagon with a 5 speed, has 364k miles on it currently. I bought it at 200k miles in 2000 (for $600), and have never had to walk away from it due to a mechanical failure. I did run it out of gas twice, though.

5 speed 3A Tercels with a good carb can get 32-35mpg on the highway. I get 38 in mine with a new Weber 32/36 DGV. Automatics don't have an overdrive, and they generally get less than 30mpg highway. The automatic transmissions are very reliable. The 5 speeds are as well, unless they're abused. Test drive one by accelerating and decelerating in each gear to make sure it doesn't pop out of gear. Some differential whine is normal in these cars.

BTW, these are non-interference engines, so a broken timing belt won't hurt anything. While the wagon was available in 4WD, even the 2WDs make excellent winter commuter cars.

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#36

Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

11/02/2008 12:55 AM

I have a 93 S10 that turned 300,000 miles on it today. The tranny (T5 5 speed) is in need of a replacement due to a worn bearing that started wearing the output shaft 3 years ago. Had a timing chain at about 130,000 miles. Two A/C compressors. But as of today it still gets 22 MPG. And that is from the 2.8 liter V6, which is not the more reliable 4.3 eng. It has had synthetic motor oil from it's first oil change.

Some of the small pick-ups are cheap to get into, and VERY simple to maintain. If gas is now $2.50 @ gal, that $1,000 repair will buy 400 gal of gas. How much is that extra 10 MPG worth?

An older way to locate a used car used to be to contact a local private mechanic, and find out which of his customers are looking to get rid of a car. He usually would know who wanted a new car, and what was wrong with the old car. This might be worth a try. The cost of synthetic oil is well worth the cost. Good luck.

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#39

Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

12/06/2008 5:40 PM

I'd be very happy to get rid of my 97 Accord 16 valve 4 banger if it wasn't for the fact that it still runs well and has cost me a minimum of maintenance.

A couple of years ago and with nothing better to do I re-built the engine and took note of cam wear and bearing clearance.....002" on both. Line boring took off no material. Replaced valves, valve guides, seats, springs and rings......and the car is good for another few years.

Otherwise, my 46 Chevy truck is still running well! 6 volt batteries are a pain to get though.

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#40
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Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

12/07/2008 9:25 AM

216 cubic inch on the truck??

Been a long time since I thought about one of those...

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#41
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Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

12/07/2008 9:31 AM

Yep....starts and runs like a charm.....and actually managed to find a brand new clutch and plate for it....double clutcher!

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#42
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Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

12/07/2008 10:15 AM

My Dad told me once that the transmission in those things were designed before they had learned to make round gears. I had to drive his '49 Ford once as a teenager, and no one had ever told me about double clutching. Luckilly a friend of his explained it to me.

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#43
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Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

12/07/2008 10:49 AM

They didn't have synchronizers in the gearbox in those days.

Mine is still plated and I use it quite a bit. It's a dump truck.

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#44
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Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

12/08/2008 1:40 PM

Does it have the updraft carb?

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#45
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Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

12/08/2008 4:25 PM

I'm not sure. Filter is an oil type so it just might be. I think the carb is made by Zenith.

How do I find out?

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#46
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Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

12/09/2008 10:25 AM

The only Chevys that I had contact with that were older than the 57, 3100 pick up was an older step van. The carburetor was actually hung below the intake manifold, with the airflow traveling upward into the carburetor. I will try to find a picture.

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#47
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Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

12/09/2008 10:49 AM

Mine is mounted on top. I think the original engine might have had that type (come to think of it) but she had a broken crank and, unfortunately, nothing could be salvaged.

Good idea that....I just wiki'd that flooding was never a problem with that type of carb.

Thanks.

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#48
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Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

12/09/2008 11:32 AM

This is a picture of a Carter BB1 used only on Step vans, and forward control trucks. Yours must be the more common downdraft with the air cleaner above the carb.

What I do about these engines.

  • They were available in displacements of 216 (1935-52), 235.5 (1950-62), 261 (1954-62)
  • They were available until 1962 in passenger cars at 235.5 cu. in.
  • Used in 1953 and 54 Corvettes with factory 3-one barrel manifold and carbs. Also duel exhaust manifold.
  • NAPA still lists many parts for these engines.

Good luck.

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#49
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Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

12/09/2008 11:52 AM

Yep....carb on top....216 displacement.....6 volts all around....won't start on Sundays....catches fire on Tues.........

I'm keeping it as close to original as possible.

Leaking hydraulics next job.

What I like is the posi rear end and low 1st gear.

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#50
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Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

12/09/2008 12:09 PM

When idling is first gear, can you get out walk around the truck, and still walk back into it? As I recall, the tranys used in the 3/4 ton and 1 ton trucks had a first gear that was very low, The similar four speed tranys used in the 1.5 and 2 ton trucks would have a first gear that was not as low. Those buyers that wanted a lower first gear on the bigger trucks would have to buy the 5 speed transmission. My old boss would search the junk yards for the 1.5 and 2 ton four speed tranys for us to tear up in the 3/4 and 1 ton tow trucks we drove in NYC. We would never start in first gear anyway, so starting in second was harder on the clutch. By going to the non- low first transmissions, we had to use first, as second was too hard to get the truck rolling then.

Talk of your truck brings back some fond memories. Thanks.

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#51
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Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

12/09/2008 12:16 PM

I now have remembered another thing about those old trucks. A starter "button" located on the floor next to the gas pedal. What series is your truck?

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#52
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Re: Recommend a Used Car for a Budget?

12/09/2008 1:20 PM

Don't know the series but it's a five speed trany and yep....the starter is next to the gas pedal. It's a 2 ton.

I can put it in 1st, rev it up and still be able to walk beside it. If on flat ground I'll start off in 2nd.

I like it a lot. It's a workhorse around my place.

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