Best used vehicle

My daughter’s 2006 Ford Escape has reached the point where I refuse to put more money into it (just replaced the entire front suspension less than a year ago and now the ABS sensor is out) so I’m in the market for a reliable used car. She will be driving 4 hours away to college so we need it to be reliable. I am a single mom and she is working to try to help with the cost but we need to keep the price down because of other factors. Insurance is already going to go up. I really don’t want to buy another vehicle that has something wrong with it every other day. She absolutley loves a Volkswagen Jetta. I don’t know enough about their reliability/cost of maintenance. I’m open to other ideas. Any suggestions? Thanks!

Parts are expensive knowing its a German car.Reliability is not very good.On a good point,it drives like a charm.

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Jetta’s reliability is inconsistent but tends toward worse than average as the car ages. The April 2019 Consumer Reports has data on reliability of used cars from model years 2011-2018.

For used cars, written maintenance records are extremely valuable. Also, any prospective vehicle take it to your mechanic and have them do a complete inspection on it

Toyota products - Corolla, Camry, older Rav4’s with front wheel drive.

Good maintenance history - Used car dealers will NOT have this, private sellers may.

Pay for an inspection by a mechanic of YOUR choice, not the seller. Best $100 or so you will ever spend. No guarantees but it helps your chances. Try not to spend every dollar you have on the purchase. Even with all this, things wear out and cars break. Be prepared.

European cars do seem to be more troubling and costly than Asian brands regardless where they are manufactured but Asian cars have become so plebeian.

Thanks shanonia! I’ll look it up! I have a Ford Fusion going on 85,000 miles that I love but she hates it. It’s too long for her. I thought about a Focus or Honda Civic too.

I absolutely plan to take anything I am thinking of buying to my car guy. He’ll be honest. Not snark…seriously love him! I’m sure he has opinions I just wanted to ask others too.

I really want to spend enough that the mileage is low enough I don’t have to worry about “big fixes” yet not so much I have nothing left for maintenance, etc. I know…I know. It’s what we all want. :woman_shrugging:t2:

How much are you willing to spend? That determines a lot of what to look for. Also, SUVs are more popular and therefore more expensive than sedans. I have a 2017 Accord, and that replaced a 2005 Accord. Look at Detroit 3 brands, too. Rates of failure have compressed in recent years, and you could find a reliable car in that bunch. For used cars, it’s mostly about how the car was cared for. As @Mustangman said above, get the one you choose checked by your car guy. Make sure this is the sat thing you do before paying for it so you don’t spend $100 for a prepurchase inspection too often.

You have an 06. Do you want newer? As in more money? An 06 Jetta might have 150k miles. That’s not comforting.

Give us a dollar amount that you can comfortably afford to spend on this used car purchase. That will get you much better advice.

Have you had him evaluate the 06 Escape? What exactly is wrong with the ABS… just a wheel speed sensor?

Is the Escape paid for, entirely? Sometimes it’s better to dance with the one who brought you…

…running off with some other used car may not result in fewer nickel & dime repairs.

The old sow in the barn could be a better choice than a pig in a poke.

Most used cars will need some repairs/maintenance to bring them up to “reliable.” An older car is going to require more repairs than a newer car, regardless of make, ratings, etcetera. A different car may not be the panacea you are imagining.

Tough love…
Oh, boy! It’s awful what one has to deal with as a poor college student, too long a car. I’m sure the old cars I sent both my kids off to school in weren’t their versions of the ideal car, but they understood and were grateful for any provided transportation. Some students don’t even have a car on campus… life can be very tough.

Now graduated, both kids drive better, newer, more desirable cars than I do, ha, ha.

If you haven’t already, I’d discuss this whole situation with your chief mechanic and after a decision is made, then involve your daughter in it.

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I am hoping to keep the price under $10,000. I’ve seen a few nice looking vehicles in the area in that price range, 2013 to as recent as 2015. I definitely want an economical, smaller vehicle. The Escape was a gas hog. I did have it evaluated by my mechanic and it was $500 to replace both sensors. I put $2,000 into the front suspension last fall and another chunk of change for the struts 6 months before. It is paid off but I just think with 165,000 miles I’m risking another huge expense. I have even considered a lease so it’s under warranty. She won’t be driving much once she gets up to school. The only miles will be the back and forth.

Commonsense…I honestly don’t want her taking my Fusion. She is anxious driving it because of the length. It was longer than the CR-V I loved. Her spatial sense is not the best so why make her drive it? I have to buy something anyways. I would rather have her in a car I can trust since she’ll be driving longer distances. Plus, I LOVE My Fusion and am happy driving it until the wheels fall off.

Look at something like a used Camry. Any vehicle , avoid anything with a turbo or a CVT transaxle in it . These can expensive to repair . Use sites like or . You can get very specific as to what you are looking for . Great for used and or new car searching. I would stick to dealers for any buys as you do not know how a private owner has maintained the car . $10000 isnt a lot so your choices will probably have a fair amount of miles on it .

How many times a year will she be coming home? If it 4 or 5 maybe just renting a car and hold of purchasing one until she needs a car.

A college student (if a recent high school graduate) driver could be too young to qualify to be a driver of a rental car. I’d check that out first.

It will probably be more often than that. And as the reply above notes, she’s too young to drive a rental. I also need her to be able to get herself to work throughout the summer and help with errands. Thanks for trying though!

I’ve seen a few under 50,000. That’s reasonable isn’t it? That’s what I’m shooting for.

so, up to $10k to spend and one of main factors was the car size not to be big, so Camry and the same size class is way too big for her…

in the smaller size class, Honda Civic / Mazda3 / Toyota Corola would be on the top of my list of vehicles to target for their long-term reliability.
I would definitely avoid used Nissan or Subaru for their unreliable CVT transmissions.
inspection by your trusted mechanic is a must.

I would not go for any Korean makes as once they are “used”, they loose their long powertrain warranty (not transferable) and they are not exactly stellar in reliability department to take chances.

I can not tell about domestics of “reliable” type, as after my sour experience with small-class Fords, I avoided this segment

This is what I needed. The Civic was on my list but wasn’t sure what the comparable Toyota was. Didn’t even think about Mazda. I want to go online to narrow down my search. I don’t have time to drive all over town to see if someone “might” have something. Thanks!

Buying ANY used car is “risking another huge expense” unless it’s new enough to still have a year or more of factory warranty remaining (doubtful at this price point). My advice is to stick with the devil you know, fix the Escape, and have your daughter keep driving it until something major goes wrong–e.g. the transmission goes out, or the engine fails. You will save way more money in the long run doing that.

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you can pick up a Focus for much less than a Civic, if you’re comparing the same model years and similar trim levels

If your daughter doesn’t want a Fusion, the Ford Focus might be right up her alley, as it handles reasonably well and is a lot smaller than the Fusion

The equivalent small Mazda is the Mazda 3, which comes in hatchback and sedan. And the equivalent small Toyota is the Corolla, which only comes in sedan.

The downside is that they tend to have high value retention, which is good if you’re the original owner, but bad if you’re looking to buy one used.

A Chevy Cobalt can also be picked up cheaply, versus a Civic or Corolla, but I’m not sure I’d recommend getting one. I’d definitely recommend Focus over Cobalt

Since you seem to think your daughter’s depth perception isn’t very good, I suggest buying a car that is new enough to have a back-up camera