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ANOTHER poor college student in need of a car

So I live in MD and we got hit hard by the snow storms recently. As a semi-direct result, my 97 Camry le (115k) has been declared totaled by my insurance company. They’re giving me $2500 for it after my deductible.

So I need a new (used) car. I will be done school in 1.5 years and not in a liberal arts field! (Learned my lesson from my previous degree, which was in a liberal arts field - now going into healthcare).

So heres the dilemma. I was originally thinking of buying a car around the $5,000 mark like I did when I bought my Camry (it had 85k miles then). But at that time, I spent maybe another $1,000 soon after due to repairs, tires, etc. But since, it has been running like a champ.

So…should I try to find another car for $5,000 or get a newer used car for a bit more? What has been catching my eye recently is the 2006 +/- a year model Hyundai Sonatas! I’m finding them for around $8000-$10,000 with 30-50k miles on them. Now it will be a stretch for me, but maybe it will be worth it? I really can’t afford to be late for schools, being on call, etc.

Im also open to any other suggestions. I have looked at Foresters, but they sound a bit more expensive to maintain and i don’t like the head gasket issues they seem to have.

I’ve looked at the Toyota Matrix/Vibe but they’re expensive, higher miles, and hard to find.

I’ve looked at Crown Victorias - but I don’t want to constantly be stuck behind cars doing 55mph.

Thanks all!

I posted this in the wrong section - sorry all. Moderators - please delete.