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!


A Buick of some sort with a 3.8 engine might be considered. The cars are reliable, relatively cheap to maintain, and many of them have been driven a bit more gently due to the type of person who will buy a Buick.

Flashy? No, but the purpose is to get through school first and if you do the right amount of legwork and play your cards right you can probably find a good used one for the amount of money that you already have. Patience in looking is the best option but many people want a car nowtodaythisminute.


Your experience with the Camry is the norm, when you buy any used car you need to have some money for repairs available. To get a car requiring no repair expenses is either pure luck, or you bought a NEW car. Even a used car only 2 or 3 years old will require something, at least tires and brake work.

You are buying in a price range where you can expect some repair costs. Getting a car a couple of years newer won’t make any difference. Buying used cars is risky business, the best way to know what you getting is to see documented service records, and get a mechanic to inspect your car before you buy it.


If you look at any cars with a timing belt, make sure there’s documented evidence that it was changed. If not, factor that cost into the price.


Avoid popular cars like Toytoa and Honda. They will cost a lot to buy, and you can’t afford that now. I would still buy an inexpensive car and reconsider after getting the job. What about a 2003 to 2005 Hyundai Elantra? They have a good record for repairs, too. A Chevy Cobalt has a good repair record, though 2005 was it’s first year; prices might be too high ($5000-$6000). The 2004/2005 Cavalier has a good repair record and is right at $5000. Another unpopular but decent pick is the Ford Focus.


A P71 former cop car Crown Vic (YOU brought this up) can provide a lot of car for the money. But you must do your homework and buy one RIGHT…Success in this endeavor is VERY satisfying!


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

I don’t understand this, perhaps because it has been some years since I rode in a Crown Vic. Are they this underpowered now?


No, but everyone thinks you’re a cop, so they slow down to the speed limit, or slower


Dude, search for threads with my username on it. I went through this a few months back, and all the posters helped me tremendously .
In the end I got a manual Chevy Cobalt, with 24 K miles on it.


I have a 2002 Hyundai Elantra with 135,000 miles. Runs great, low maintenance, Highly recommended.