Buying First Car(~15k)

Hi all, I’m in the market for my first car. I know this technically is a broad statement but what I want is a reliable car. I’m talking about no required engine rebuilds at a certain number of miles, no blown transmission problems, and essentially nothing super major. I’m looking for a manual 8-cylinder, but all the listed ones have high mileage so I’m not sure how reliable they are. Can someone please help me out?

Get a new car, not someone else’s headache.

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The way that the previous owner(s) drove a car and–especially–the way that they maintained the car are likely to impact its reliability and durability. I could say “get an X-mobile because they are historically reliable/durable”, but if you snag one that was badly-maintained and/or was frequently driven like a race car, that car will likely be a money pit of repair expenses.


Why , there are V6 and inline 4 vehicles will give a lot of enjoyment for every day driving . Also if you under 25 years of age insurance cost should be on your mind .


A manual 8 cylinder?

Methinks you have dreams of either a muscle car, such as a Mustang or Camaro, or a vintage pickup or older full size car.

None of which will be readily available or reliable at $15K. For that price you’re looking at a 4 cylinder hatchback as a best choice.


How about a 2008ish S5? Are relatively old Audis even worth bothering with?

How much are you willing/able to budget annually for repairs, over and above regular maintenance?

Unless you can afford to spend several thousand $$ per year, I would advise against buying any European car that is more than… let’s say… 6 years old.


Age reduces reliability and the likelihood of finding a 15 year old sports sedan with less than 150,000 miles is low IMO. Add to that the car was probably driven hard by at least one of its previous owners. I’d pass on an S5.

Consider a 4 or 6 cylinder car. As an example, a 6 cylinder Mustang or Camaro from around 2015 has 300 or more HP, power that you will probably be happy with. Drive one and see.

Especially any Audi with “S” as the first letter. Any S model has the biggest, most powerful engine underhood which makes working on them an expensive problem.

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Any manual trans car with over 100,000 miles is a candidate for a new clutch. Clutches do last longer, if well driven, but buying a car with 150K miles will mean a new clutch if it has not already been changed once. That can cost $1800 to $3000 or so.

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I am not aware of any good quality V8’s in your price range. Hint: ford, chevy, etc. are NOT good quality. V8 Toyotas are above your head. BTW, sticks are harder and harder to come by these days. In the US, that is. For example, Toyota makes 4Runners with stick but they are not sold in the US…
What’s wrong with a solid 6 or even 4? I mean if you - as you should be - are interested in dependability first, and everything else second.

More worthless biased opinions that have zero credibility.

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I feel you failed to find “statistics” in a dictionary. It’s there. Promise.
Here is a very good resource (not mine!):
In case you have not noticed, I explicitly said “I AM NOT AWARE”. Let me translate it for you: it means that they may exist, I just don’t know about them. If you are, care to share?
PS Why are you allergic to facts?!?

If it’s a manual it’s not as big of an issue if the previous owner drove it hard. It’s the automatic transmissions that get worn out real fast when they have to shift in to 2nd or 3rd at near full throttle every time the car pulls away from a stop. There are some weak manual transmissions that have been put behind big engines. Think Ford. But that should be the exception not the norm.

With an automatic you don’t always know how worn out it is. How do you tell how much life is left in those clutches? You could take the pan off and look for excess sediment, but if it was done in the past then that evidence is lost. With an engine you can check to see if it is burning oil. So you have some advance warning there.

Obviously “The Snowman” has given no consideration to the factor of excessive clutch wear when manual shift cars are driven aggressively.


Point of fact, I have broken many manual transmissions but no automatics.

I take full responsibility for how those manuals broke! :money_mouth_face:


It’s possibly to drive it hard and not put excessive wear on the clutch. It’s also possible to drive very gently and let the clutch slip a lot and wear it out. If you buy a used manual and you keep it for a while you should expect that you’ll have to replace the clutch anyway.

I’ll chime in with some advice that probably isn’t as popular but worked for me. Firstly, you need to define dependable in the context of the age, history, and type of car you’re buying. Does dependable mean that everything about it is 100% perfect without even a single blemish on the paint? Or does dependable mean that it generally starts when you turn the key, goes forward when you hit the gas, and stops when you hit the brakes? Or is it something in between? Also important to consider - will you be doing at least some of your own maintenance and your own repairs? If not, are you buying a car that can be serviced at any shop, or a unique European car that needs to go to a specialized mechanic? Finally, if your budget is $15k and you can’t of over that, great! 15k is a lot of money. Don’t spend it all on the car. Say you find a car and research its common issues and know approximately how much they cost to fix. You look at the car, inspect it (or have a mechanic inspect it) and its in relatively good shape. Buy it for $15k - the expected cost of repairs and maintenance with a little left over.

Finally, in terms of reliability, for me it is more about how the car was taken care of than the make (although of course there is a lot of variation in the quality of different manufacturers). I drive a 15 year old Saab 9-3. Turbocharged European car with some American elements that basically everyone refuses to work on. It has 200,000 miles on it, had its first clutch job done PREVENTATIVELY (i.e. no slipping) at 190k miles, and took me safely on a 4,000 mile road trip without a single hitch this summer. I paid $6k for the car including the cost to do the clutch job. I also have a clone of the special scanner the car needs for codes and programming and do as much maintenance as I can myself. The only repair I’ve needed to do so far was a thermostat. $20 and a little frustration and I was good to go again. This car has a meticulous service history, even a log of all the oil changes (performed at half the interval) for the last 12 years. Previous owner fixed most of the common failure points. And what did I get? A 15 year old European semi-luxury turbo car with 200k miles that runs like a top and has been nothing but reliable.

So for me, buying a used car is more about proper budgeting and caring for the car than it is anything else. In my opinion, my Saab is more reliable than someone’s 1996 Honda Civic with 300k miles and and no known history. Yeah, Honda is a good car but they aren’t immune from negligence and abuse and even when well-cared for, they’ll age like anything else. In my opinion, you should just research the car you want, make an estimated cost to keep the thing running, and make sure you buy something within that price point (including fuel if you go for a V8 with these gas prices…). Most of all, inspect it thoroughly (or have a competent mechanic) inspect it thoroughly before you buy. The owner or dealership is not there to be honest with you. They’re there to get as much money as they can and they will likely be more than willing to screw you over if you let them. Not everyone is like that - I’ve bought 2 cars off of Facebook and Craigslist for less than 5k each and both of them were as described, but be careful and vigilant.

I have bought several vehicles on Craigslist, all were dirt cheap, and all had major mechanical problems which I fixed myself. Once the repairs and deferred maintenance were completed, all of these vehicles delivered excellent service, and great bang-for-the-buck. Even my Daewoo, which is a car that everyone here laughed about, became a comfortable, reliable car once I did the necessary engine repairs.

Personally, I would suggest that the OP look for an older used Toyota Camry, Toyota Corolla, or Dodge Caravan, as these are the type of vehicles which can provide dependable transportation at a low operating cost. I would avoid any sports cars, as these are not reliable or economical, especially when used and on the third or subsequent owner. Even when new, sports cars offer a very poor value proposition.

Ah, Youth and the triump of hope over reason.

The simple facts are that any performance/sports car, new or used, will cost significantly more in insurance, maintenance and repair.
And at a $15,000 price point for a performance/sports car you’re looking at an older, “well used” car that is practically guaranteed to require expensive repairs/maintenance, often to the point that it begins to dwarf your iniial cost so unless you also have a trunkful of money, it’s a nonstarter.

However the good news is that there’s plenty of “sporty” 4 cyl & 6 cyl vehicles tyhat will give you all the performance you can handle, not break the bank and some actually have stick shifts

On the stick vs automatic, I enjoy driving a stick, currently have two and they’re often cheaper to buy, the reality is that they’re terrible to drive in traffic, have much lower resale value and in a used car you need to budget/cash in hand $2,000 for a clutch job.