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Easiest/Cheapest Car to maintain?

I need a car that is easy to maintain (When I'm inclined to buy a Haynes Guide), cheap to maintain (parts arent expensive), and relatively cheap in general, Im looking in the 3500$ range. Thoughts? Mechanic input would be great, Thanks!


  • edited February 2009
    Buy a vehicle without complex mechanicals or electronics. A stick shift, stripped Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla, Mazda Protege/323 would qualify. If you don't need a backseat, I would pick a Ford Ranger pickup with stick shift. It has rear drive, is easy and cheap to service, and has a good reliability record. In all cases, only buy a vehicle that has been well maintained and has reasonably low mileage for its age. For $3500 avoid anything with automatic, power windows, sliding roof, or other items that can go wrong.

    Good luck!
  • edited February 2009
    Toyota Corolla, Toyota Camry, Chevrolet (Geo) Prizm, Mazda 323, Honda Civic, Honda Accord, Ford Focus, Subaru Impreza, or similar, preferably with a manual transmission. The fewer accessories the better.

    Another vehicle that's cheap to maintain is the Crown Victoria/Mercury Grand Marquis, but I prefer the smaller cars for their better fuel mileage.
  • edited February 2009

    I'm sorry...but $3500 and CHEAP TO MAINTAIN are mutually exclusive. A car that cheap is either 10+ years old or has lot of miles on it...or has several mechanical problems...or ALL OF THE ABOVE.
  • edited February 2009
    Toyota parts are not cheap. I imagine Honda is in the same category.
  • edited February 2009
    Buick for one. Commonality, reliable, easy to service, and parts on the average can be found much cheaper than on many Asian or European models.

    Buicks are also generally owned by elderly people who have not beaten them into the pavement. Flashy, no. Good transportation, yes.
  • edited February 2009
    My truck is cheap and easy to maintain. It is a 99 Ranger I bought 3 years ago for $3200. 4cyl, 5speed, regular cab, rear wheel drive, no A/C, and had 45k on it when I bought it. They have been around and basically unchanged for ever so parts are cheap and easy to come by. The 4cyl isn't shoehorned into the engine compartment so pretty much all of the maintenance that needs to be done is easy to get to.

    But you?re right it is 10 years old now.
  • edited February 2009
    Buick Century has been one of Consumers Reports favorite American cars for many years. I rented one on my honeymoon 14 years ago. We cruised around the countryside outside of Las Vegas.
  • edited February 2009

    Sure you'll find the 1 out of 10 million that's in excellent shape and will last years without incident. The problem is finding that one. I guarantee you the VAST MAJORITY vehicles that can be bought for $3500 are no where near pristine condition..and will need work just to keep it running.
  • edited February 2009
    Crown Victoria and Grand Marquis are relatively easy to work on and parts are plentiful. tires are costly because they are big tires. Stay away from used police cars.
  • edited February 2009
    You're right, Mike. Every now & then you DO run across a 10 year old vehicle that was well maintained, and has some life left in it. I once bought a Chevy Caprice for $3000 that was 8 years old with 70,000 miles on it and carefully driven and maintained by a female hospital employee who always parked it inside, at home or at work. The only problem I had with it was the rear end bearings; $450 solved that.

    We put an additional 70,000 miles on it over a 10 year period and changed the starter, radiator, alternator, battery, exhaust system, belts, hoses, brakes and other wear items, but no engine, transmission or other major stuff.

    If you buy a well maintained older car from a senior citizen who stops driving, you can also end up with a good deal.
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