Best used car for about 7 to 8 thousand dollars?

I would like to buy a clean, very dependable used car for about 7000-8000 dollars.

The most dependable used cars, according to consumer magazines, are the Honda Accord and the Toyota Camry. I find that a six year old Accord or Camry (2002 year) with 60,000 miles on it, goes for about 10 to 11 thousand dollars. Ouch!

What other 2002 or 2003 model year cars should I consider?

Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and, if they were still selling them in '02 or '03, the Chevrolet Prizm, which is identical to the Corolla.

The Corolla/Prizm is one of the most reliable cars on the planet, and the Civic is right up there with the best of them.

I’ve had very good success with Ford Taurus. Have had 8 of them for myself and two daughters over past 15 years. Get one with the standard 3.0 6 cyl( 12 valve engine). They are easy to work on, not that expensive to repair, are good in collisions( have seen several close up after daughter’s wrecks) - one of them would have been killed if in any type of Honda. If you perform maintenance as required, you’ll be amazed how long they will last.

I don’t put a lot of faith in consumer magazines and surveys as there is just too much of an opportunity for bias to exist.
The Taurus/Sable cars are a good option. The Sable I had was still running/driving well when I sold it 2 years ago and it had 420k miles on it.

That being said, a used car is a used car and a lot depends on how it was driven and maintained by the previous owner. A thorough checkover and a lengthy test drive always helps.

Surprisingly, they are all about the same. The market decides. If there were one $7-8000 car that was clearly superior to the others it would sell for $10,000.

What I’m saying is that you should consider everything in your price range. Rule out nothing. Since many American cars depreciate faster than the Japanese cars you can find 2-3 year old domestics selling for the same as a comparable 7-year-old Japanese model.

So learn how to check out a used car in general rather than focus on a small group of make/models. Again, the market decides.

If you define “dependable” as being freedom from repairs, given that the maintenance schedule is followed, here is problem. Many Hondas and Toyotas require a timing belt change at about 60,000 miles. This is considered maintenance, but this maintenance runs about $400. The Ford Taurus and Chevrolet Impala do not require this maintenance. I’ve also found that parts such as alternators are less expensive for the Fords and Chevrolets than for the Toyotas and Hondas. One of my vehicles is a 2003 Toyota 4Runner. It has a very good reliablility record. I had quite a problem when we first got the car–the serpentine belt made a terrible squeaking noise. The dealer replaced the belt three times and the problem would always reoccur. In one belt replacement, the belt wasn’t put on correctly and it pulled out the crankcase oil seal. After suggesting the dealer buy it back under the lemon law, the dealer replaced the tensioner and after 50,000 miles, the 4Runner hasn’t had a repair. My other vehicle is a 2006 Chevrolet Uplander. According to Consumer Reports, this vehicle has a terrible repair record. In 32,000 miles, the biggest repair, covered under warranty, was for the fuel gauge sending unit. The Honda and Toyota minivans have a better repair record, but for the $10,000 difference, I decided to by the Uplander. Both vehicles, the 4Runner and the Uplander, have been dependable for me.

As you look at cars in the 2002 or 2003 model year, the Ford Taurus, Chevrolet Impala, Buick Century or Regal may be good choices as a compromise between freedom of repair and cost of upkeep.

At the price range you are looking at, a low mileage Hyundai Elantra is a good bet. They are reliable, easy to maintain and repair and fuel mileage is acceptable. Toyotas and Hondas are overpriced because of their popularity. A Mazda Protege is another possible choice. They are extremely durable cars, fun to drive and easy on gas.

It depends on what you are going to use it for. Give details!

Buick Regal. The price is in your range and it is reliable.

I sold my 2002 Nissan Altima for about $8200 a few months ago. It was a great car, and a lot of space in it too. The back seat had tons of room even with the front seats slid all the way back, and the trunk was immense. And I loved the styling. Too bad I had to get rid of it!

Consumer magazines in general that may be true. Consumer’s Report last time I checked has never lost a lawsuit on these accusations that they are biased. People who claim to know better than CR on reliability are usually with no basis for their opinion, except they really really want to be taken seriously.

Have you ever replaced the alternator on a Toyota? Just curious. Our 1988 Nova had a bad diode, and the rebuild shop said he had never had to do machine work on a Toyota alternator, just replace bad diodes. A part you never need to replace is not a cost comparison factor.

My Toyota needs a new timing belt at 90,000 miles, not 60,000 miles. The new engine, I think it’s 4 cylinder, never needs a new timing belt because it has a timing chain.

One thing is true about Toyotas. They do cost more. You get what you pay for. If a person knows he will not keep a car beyond say 80,000 miles, there is no point in paying the extra for a Toyota or Honda. Most main brands will run 100,000 or 150,000 with few problems. If you plan on keeping a car 200,000 or 250,000 miles or more, then one can’t afford anything else.

Previous comment by someone else was that the market decides what a car is worth, and if a car is that much better, a $7,000 car will sell for $10.000. That is exactly what OP reports for Toyota.

I am aware we have some real Toyota haters here. But, Toyota isn’t working well at becoming #1 in the world by selling over-priced junk.

irlandes, if your comment about being a “Toyota hater” is directed at me then of course you’re dead wrong. Toyota builds fine cars IMHO.

Your comment about cars other than Toyota or Honda only being good for a 100k or so is also dead wrong of course.

Your comment about Consumer Reports being in the know and correct because they have not been sued repeatedly and lost is also skewed. They publish opinions and a lawsuit will not be won UNLESS it is proven they published an opinion piece KNOWING that the info is false and is done in a malicious manner.

Of course CR does not err, huh? Like the recent child seat thing?

CR’s testing “methods” are very shaky and biased, like it or not. It’s similar to walking down the streets of NYC, polling a few dozen people about their cars, and then establishing that as factual for all cars in NYC.

Lastly, I’m sure your perception about CR is one of a bunch of lab-coated technical people slaving away doing the right thing, struggling to get by on donations and magazine subscriptions, and staying totally objective. Not.
A search one time shows that they do not have one single person on their administrative staff that holds a degree in any engineering, accounting, medical, or scientific field save for one doctor if I remember correctly.
Almost all are lawyers with a huge percentage of them having degrees in “Political Science”.

Do NOT tell me that Pol. Science people are objective on anything. They do have one staffer who is a lawyer of course and holds a degree in music. Another’s specialty is “yoga” and I have no idea how their expertise is used in testing. Join hands and chant now - “Ommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm”.

I think you will find that CR receives money from many left leaning groups who have an agenda and has also taken sides on political issues (Prop 79 in CA), etc.
Some years back CR leaned a bit favorably toward Chrysler. At the time they had an EX-Chrysler exec on staff. Now you don’t suppose that would have anything to do with it would you?
Sorry, but any organization (CR) that takes money from a group like the Open Society Institute is not to be trusted. I hardly consider George Soros (familiar with him are you?) to be an objective person.

taurus’ are horrible. as are most fwd american v6s. sorry to say but thats the way it is.
I’ve had too many break on me.

the reason for this is that the motor torques in the direction the car travels (eg. in the direction of the wheelspin)

while a japanese carmaker will use as many as 6 motor mounts to correct for this, the taurus and malibu/impala platforms use 4.

unlike the japanese fwd 6’s, the US version will weaken a motor mount around 90-100,000, usually breaking a cv (that clicking sound you hear when you’re turning) then the transmission slips for the next 20,000 till it dies.

or you can keep up at replacing the mounts and/or CVs and eventually transmissions at a faster rate than simply using more motor mounts in a better design (the japanese cars)

also, the designs are great for the builders and horrible for repair costs (for example the extra cash i’ve paid to have the belts changed on a 3800 v6 malibu, because the motor has to come up, since the belts are looped through the upper passenger side motor mounts.

The Consumer Reports repair record charts may be a place to begin to learn potential trouble spots. However, categories such as engine problems encompasses quite a few things. A good independent mechanic is often a very good source of information on weak spots of a particular make and model of automobile, because they have had to make the repairs. I subscribe to Consumer Reports and I do fill out the questionnaire on vehicles and appliances every year. I have used their frequency of repair charts when I’ve purchased used cars. However, I then talk to my independent mechanic about what he has observed.

I wonder if an opposite approach may need to be taken in following Consumer Reports’ advice on buying a used car. A used car that exhibits a high frequency of repair record may have had the repairs made and be a very good purchase, while a used car that has had a good repair record, may, as a used car, be needing these repairs.

If you live in Florida, you can sometimes find an older Toyota Camry or Honda Accord with very low millage. I recently bought a 1998 Camry with 19,000 miles on it for $5,500. It was owned by an elderly woman who was giving up driving. The car had been garaged every day. I replaced all the liquids and the tires and I feel like I have a
very reliable car for the next 80,000 miles. I spent $800 after buying the car so it cost me $6,300. It has leather seats, ABS and remote entry.

gee, I wish you lived near me. I have a 1998 camry with about 28500 miles (mom drived it to grocery, church, doctors etc) and I need to sell. It’s had oil changes 3K or less. Standard LE model. It’s garaged in central NJ but I might drive to NC or SC to sell where I live. Great car for a college kid.

7-8 grand will buy a VERY nice Crown Vic or Grand Marquis. These cars are bullet-proof and offer the best VALUE in a inexpensive used car…They deliver very low cost-per-mile. That’s why Taxis and Police use them.

I don’t know where you’re coming up with your mechanical theories.
The motor “torques in the direction of wheelspin”? Go figure.

What Japanese vehicle uses 6 motor mounts?

A motor mount failure seldom has anything at all to do with a failing CV joint, although someone with limited mechanical expertise might assume otherwise.

Sable/Taurus cars go through motor mounts all the time? Not.
The early models had some right rear mount failures but few failures of the other mounts. CV joints were NOT affected by these failures unless the CV joint was on the way out the back door anyway.

My 87 Sable that I sold 2 years ago was still running/driving well at 420k miles and other than replacing the previously mentioned right rear mount it still had the original mounts in it.

As to transmission failures, most of those could be laid at the feet of the car owners. Flog a car for 90k miles, never change the fluid, and then carp when the transmission drops.