Cheapest to Run Second/Third/Tenth hand Car?



I am looking for a second car for our geezerly family… we have a geezerly Oldsmobile (Really this car needs something… A drop kit?.. But then this is Ohio…) but I teach and I am not comfortable leaving my elderly (geezerly) dad without a car for long periods of time.

Can you suggest a reliable, AND cheap choice?

Can you suggest a relilable, AND cheap choice? here in ohio


Buick, Crown Vic, Grand Marquis, Town Car, Malibu, Impala.


The list is too long to post here, and you didn’t name a price range.

I suggest getting a copy of the latest Consumer Reports magazine, which is their annual auto issue. Inside is a long list of reliable used cars separated into price ranges. Surely there will be something there that suits you and your family.

If you’re too cheap to buy the magazine I’m sure your local library has a copy. Maybe even your school library.


I’m in “like” with Buick, Crown Vic, Grand Marquis, Town Car, by “bscar” too. All officially geezerly… Remember though that “old”, “cheap” and “reliable”, regardless of the models become progressively harder to use in the same sentence. It will take some work. Get the school to subscribe to CR on line…


Police cruisers auctioned off makes a great and safe car for a senior, as it has a lot of reliable life left in it and is the kind of car seniors like. Don’t buy a 10 year old taxicab, since those are really used up and will not have had the good maintenance that police cars get.

You can buy a “plain clothes” one that you don’t have to repaint the doors on. Those models also have more comfortable upholstery.


The One That Has Had The Best Maintenance And Care With Records To Prove It, Has Parts & Service Readily Available In Your Locale And Is Priced Within Your Budget.

Put the word out where you teach. Have they got a bulletin board ? Buying from somebody you know is very often better than a pig in a poke from a stranger.



Reliable And Cheap Don’t Belong In The Same Sentence. Can You Say, “Reliable And Fairly Inexpensive” Or “Reliable And A Little More Than I Wanted To Spend” ?

If you are looking and do find a couple of them that are “reliable and cheap”, buy them both and sell one at a profit. There’s a huge market for reliable & cheap just as there is for water from the Fountain of Youth.



I love the idea of a “Plain Clothes” car! Would I just call the local precinct station?

We are on a bit of a low budget, but I don’t want to sacrifice too much on safety and longevity. My dad still drives, but the way we discovered mom’s dementia, was her disappearance 2 years ago in this very Olds… She ended up in Kentucky - and was found by a Police Cruiser (driven by a SAINT, by the way!) So it would be doubly appropriate…


I am grinning!
Now if we could just find the vehicle that runs reliably and cheaply on that water…


I thought I would get suggestions here before I went there (CR), cause I just look at the pix and drool. I have some students that claim to be car aficionados, but their rides don’t advertise that fact very well…


Student car aficionados usually are not conversant in “geezer” cars. The kids like the latest “cool” thing.

There are lots of cheap, reliable cars out there. You just have to do some research, take your time, and find a good one.


Police cars are normally auctioned off every year on a rotating basis by the department itself or a profssional auction house. Your local department or highway patrol dept will tell you when and where these are sold. They used to be sold every year, but now go 3-4 years, depending on mileage.

Larger centers will have more “plain clothes” models, driven by captains, detectives, forensic staff and others.

Nearly all police and many city service vehicles have heavy duty transmissions, suspension, cooling systems, seats, and electrical system. Many people buy them to pull campers for that reason. Small town taxi operators love to buy these cars and repaint them for another 400,000 miles service.

Others on this site may give more detailed information.


I have owned over 80 cars and trucks…I currently own seven, three of them Crown Vics two of which are former highway patrol cars…The Vic’s are, by far, the cheapest cost-per-mile-to-own-and-operate cars I have owned…Two Dodge pick-ups are a very close second…

When repairs and maintenance are needed, these vehicles can be serviced by almost ANYBODY, including myself…They have no “built-in” maintenance nightmares like rubber timing belts that can produce a four figure repair under normal conditions or total the car when they fail…Their automatic transmissions have a low failure rate and if they do fail, they can be rebuilt without totaling the vehicle…

When looking at Ford “Panthers”, I avoid the rear air suspension which can be troublesome as they age and I check to see if the intake manifolds have been replaced on the '95-2000 models which had problems with cracks and coolant leaks. Most were replaced under a Ford recall. By 2001 (I think) the problem was corrected when a metal thermostat housing and cross-over pipe was used


Where do you live?
What would the second car be used for?
How safe is your dad behind the wheel?
Are there any age-related memory problems?

I have an elderly neighbor who has an all-electric car (basically a large golfcart with all the road-necessary lighting) that he uses to go to the corner store. These vehicles are common in many retirement communities in mild climates. It’s safe, easy to use, gives him some freedom, gets him to and from the local stores, and keeps his speeds at levels that are safe for his abilities. And it’s far less expensive to operate than a regular car would be.

If such a vehicle would work for your dad, you might want to consider one as an option.


One generally unrecognized benifits of owning and driving a crown vic. is that at night other cars around you behave much better. When you see that unmistakable light configuration in your rearview mirror, all of a sudden you are on your best behaviour.


“I have owned over 80 cars and trucks…I currently own seven, three of them Crown Vics two of which are former highway patrol cars…”

As you can see by Caddyman’s post, look at PD cars from rural towns or highway patrol use. Do not be taken in by lower mileage big city cars that could idled for 8 hours continuously during security checks, only travel 20 miles a shift, but shifted a gazillion times.
It’s not unusual to have some with, minor body repair that’s been repaired…that’s often why they are cheaper, and really not a concern.