BEST CHEAP Winter Car College Student $3,000


There was a very similar post recently from a young lady in your situation. My advice (though not popular here) remains the same. Take that $3K and find the least expensive lease you can on a car you can tolerate. You may need a co-signer, or maybe not. You’re in college. Once you graduate, you will be working and making real coin. Keep the lease while in school and then ditch it for a ride that you are more happy with. You will have zero unexpected costs and if you opt for a Toyota you will have two years of maintenance included. There is no $3,000 car that will run many years “without needing constant fixing.” Just my viewpoint.


What kind of car can you lease for only $3000?


I think what John is trying to express is that there are 200.00 a month leases out there with reasonable initiation fees. The yearly cost is 2400.00 plus insurance and that eliminates costly repairs on a used 3000.00 vehicle. That is an option that is worth considering.


I have to drive to work, live off campus and my parents live on the other side of the state that I have to drive to see sometimes so, unfortunately, a car is a necessity.


Thanks guys for all your responses! They have been helpful. The Jetta is an okay car but about each year there is something that needs fixing and the fact that its a VW makes these fixes more usually have to spend like $600- $1000 each year on some kind of fix. It also costs more to maintain than most cars because it needs synthetic oil changes. I just would like something lower maintenance. Jetta does have winter tires.


Meghan , all vehicle maintenance is expensive no matter the brand. Most vehicles use synthetic oil not just VW. You can change oil at 5000 miles or 6 months so that expense will be about the same for any vehicle. 600.00 to 1000.00 a year for vehicle repair is pretty normal for a vehicle of that age.


Huh. All the mechanics I go to always say that the repair costs more because it’s a VW and the parts cost more as well as the labor to get to stuff that needs fixing because of how it is made.


yes, it is more expensive to repair VW than Ford or Chevy or Toyota… but in your situation is will be shadowed by transaction costs and unknown costs to get an unknown vehicle in shadowy-cheap category to run more or less ok, not to tell “reliable”

VW is definitely not a primary choice if upkeep costs are high on priorities list, same as any niche or premium brand

maybe I will step on somebody toe, but I’ve read somewhere that “German engineering” is now on the solid 3rd place in reliability competition among US/Asian/Europe makes, and having a friend of mine to “inherit” 2003 Passat with 100K miles from his daughter in great body shape, but sucking his blood for 4-digit bills for suspension/transmission/etc… clearly for the items poorly engineered if compared to US or Asian makes… kinda gets VW/Audi out of my “would I ever owned” list

STILL, you have Jett on your hands NOW, it is not the most reliable car, but it is not junk either, replacing it in “under $3K” category will likely get you even deeper in hole with repair bills, so you are pretty much stuck until some other variables in your situation change, for example you graduate and get good paying job

the only advise I would give at this point is to critically evaluate recommendations from your mechanic for “will I need to take care of this particular repair for as long as I’m going keep this car?” criteria. not about neglecting items clearly on the maintenance schedule or requring repair, but that “premium items” shops so inclined to promote

only today, doing safety inspection at dealer, I was given a $1,100 laundry list of items they “through to be beneficial or will need to be taken care of soon” for the 75K miles car in excellent mechanical condition and ridiculously well maintained by me. on their list I acknowledge around $50 in parts I will need to address in next 1-2 years, so I respectfully declined :slight_smile:


I had always heard that Toyotas were less expensive maintain. However, my 2011 Sienna that I used to own needed a new water pump at 90,000 miles. My bill to replace the water pump was $975. According to Consumer Reports, the 2011 Sienna has a good repair record. On the other hand, Consumer Reports says a 2006 Chevrolet Uplander is a vehicle to avoid. I owned one that I sold to our son and it hasn’t had an expensive repair like that in over 200,000 miles. On any used car, you pay your money and take your chances. I sold the 2011 Sienna to our son and replaced it with a 2017 Sienna. I realize that any vehicle may need an expensive repair. In your case, it’s better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.
As for synthetic oil, almost all engines now require it. I even use it in my lawnmowers that don’t require synthetic oil.


I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating. Maintenance and repairs cost more for any minivan than for a comparable car, truck, or crossover vehicle that has a full length hood, due to all the stuff that’s in the way between the hood and the water pump. On my car, the only things you need to remove to get to the water pump are the belts and timing belt cover. In a Toyota Sienna, there are about a dozen more parts in your way.


@Meghan_C The cost of a VW might be higher for some parts but just for fun I used AutoZone web site for an automatic transmission for a 2003 Jetta 3009.00 w/ 805.00 core charge 2003 Toyota Camry 3 prices 2531.00 - 3200.00 and 3510.00 w/ 600.00 core charge . For the difference in cost is why several of us think you should determine what is wrong with your VW before you buy what could be a money pit. Of course I kind of like John’s lease option.


@Whitey When I compare minivan vs minivan as opposed to minivan vs conventional sedan, I spent less on maintenance and repair on my 2006 Chevrolet Uplander than I had to spend on my 2011 Toyota Sienna. Besides an expensive water pump replacement on the Sienna, I couldn’t get more than about 35000 miles out of a set of tires on the Sienna while I got 60,000 on the tires that came on the Uplander. In fact, the Uplander was one of the least expensive vehicles to run that I ever owned. Now a sample of one proves nothing. Theoretically, since today’s minivans are built on car chassis, weigh more and have more difficult access to the engine and transmission than a conventional sedan, it would stand to reason that the minivan would be more expensive to maintain.


Visit a book/magazine store. Look for the Consumer Reports Used Car Buying Guide, it will list the best used car by price. I’ve owned a VW, it was an awesome car to drive, but maintenance was a bear, just like my SAAB, which was worse. My former room mate, only bought Honda/Acura. You may find deals at your local used car lot, or Craigslist (viewing the dealer-owned cars to sell). By all means, spend the money for an independent used car inspection, it can determine whether or not you’re buying someone else’s problem. The cost may be between $70, and $100, a local service station that marks car repairs on a regular basis my do the work. If the seller is confident in his/her product, they should not object to an inspection.

Most good “snow cars” have either front wheel drive, or all wheel drive.

God luck,


Sometimes the best source of a dirt-cheap used car with reasonable reliability is family. Have you put the word out to your family, relatives, friends, and acquaintances that you’re looking?

Other than that, if you’re planning to live on-campus, I agree with all those that suggest reassessing your needs as to whether you actually need another car or not. Other than going home on occasion, the VW should be fine… with good snows on it, of course.


@cdaquila @Spacebat Me thinks Cyberops is a Spammer.


I agree . . .

Over the years, we’ve had a few “spare cars” which were mechanically very reliable, yet couldn’t fetch $1000 due to their age and appearance

Nobody that we knew was interested or in need of such a car, so we donated them to our local NPR-affiliated radio station for a modest tax write-off

had there been a “starving” college student in our family or close circle of friends, we would have gladly given it to them