Daughter -college


My daughter is college-bound next month & needs an economy car fast. Since I do most of the basic repairs, I want a car with timing chain (have bad experiences with timing belt-equipped cars), & preferably 4-wheel disc brakes. Can anyone suggests what’s the best economical cars for her? Thanks.


What is your budget?


having done this in the past several years for dson and daughter here is my opinion. No mattter what they say do the 4 doors, after several months they realize they need the 4 doors for ease of transport of stuff, friends, moving etc. 4 cyl definitely and ease of maint and does the campus have a dealer near by in the event of problems. I wnet syntheitc oil route and changed oil and filter once a year or filter at summer vacaton or Christmas time. Even though she put on 10-15,000 per year she still has the car in grad school 140,000 miles and engine is great. Also, train her on how to inspect car once a week or so for uneaven tire wear, check fluids, tire pressure etc and warning lights and what to do ( drive with check engine on but not with oil light on etc) . Also, very important, remote lock and alarm for females, a scary world out there. <ake and model not too important really, one in good shape that will last her through four or more years. Wathc ins also, under 25 drivers at school etc, check with ins company on any change needed in coverage, probably not.


Definitely 4-door, 4-cyl with A/T. Thanks.


I should have mentioned “used car”. I’m a hard working man & not rich. I am looking at around $10-T or less, & maybe model 2000 or after?


Ford Taurus.


I sent my older daughter to school with a 10 year old Nissan Sentra. It had 4 doors and a stick shift. She had no troubles with it until half way through med school when she traded it in on a Hyundai Elantra. The Elantra is 5 years old now and still going strong with no problems. It is also a 4 door stick shift. Both these cars have/had timing belts. I’m not sure why you fear that, but I’ve not had problems with timing belts.

My younger daughter I bought a used Honda CRX. Clearly a 2 door. I had the timing belt changed as soon as I got it. It had no problems until it got rear-ended by a Buick.

Anyway, if you are looking at new cars, the Hyundai Elantra is a good choice in my opinion. It has a 5 year bumper-to-bumper warranty so it will see her all the way through 4 years of college and her first year in the “real world” without any repair bills. The 10 year power train warranty is OK, too.


Look for a used Saturn 2000/newer – very dependable, comfortable, reliable. Wife is on her second one - 1st had 80,000+ miles, current one has 130,000+, still going strong and any GM dealer (as well as local shops) can work on it.


Look for a chain if you like, but frankly timing belts are reliable as long as the users replace them as scheduled. I would guess that 95% of those who have problems have the go after the prescribed period.


I’ll second that. I have NEVER had a problem with a timing belt-equipped car because I change them when they’re supposed to be changed. And since the change interval is 90k miles usually, your daughter will probably not need to have it done the whole time she’s in school.


I would not buy a timing belt car for myself either, but if I was shopping for a “kid car,” that would not be my primary consideration. In that price range, just look for a well maintained car with reasonable mileage. If it has a timing belt, make sure it is/has been replaced on schedule. Something else will probably fail before the belt anyway.


Have you checked with your daughter’s college to see if they allow freshmen to have cars? Some colleges don’t allow it.
From experience,she really doesn’t NEED a car.
Have you talked to your insurance agent about what it will cost for her to have a car on campus, yet?(it is ugleeeee)
I’d wait for a year, before I bought her a car. But that’s just me.
Our son didn’t get his car until his senior year of college. He did just fine without it.
We had to pick him up & drop him off at college, but it was an excuse for a road trip! :slight_smile:


Some colleges prohibit freshman from owning cars? What crazy world is that in?!

But certainly look at the costs of parking versus cost of public transportation. For instance, at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, a monthly student bus pass costs about $55(Canadian, obviously.) The cost for a semester’s parking permit? Around $400. That’s $800 per year, assuming your daughter comes home for the summer, compared to $440 per year for the bus. Also, the Ottawa transit system has a summer student deal, where it basically costs one months ‘adult’ fare for the entire summer. That’s four months for around $70 or so. Which is a hell of a lot cheaper than buying a car.


My son’s college prohibited freshmen from having cars on campus. It was a parking thing, I guess.
His parking permit (when we finally gave him a car) cost him $450. His insurance cost him $2500/year, for minimum coverage on a 1993 Buick Regal. It all came out of his pocket.


Some colleges prohibit freshman from owning cars? What crazy world is that in?!

That is very strange, my daughters high school only lets juniors and seniors park at the school, and the charge about $50 per year for parking. It is probably a parking thing.

Of course, it doesn’t take college students very long to figure out that they need to find someplace to live off campus anyway.


Definitely look on the college’s web site to see what they have to say about freshmen having cars.

Even schools that do not prohibit cars often discourage them - especially for freshmen.

If few freshmen have cars at school, she probably won’t miss having one very often.

Inquire about what parking is available - where and at what cost. The car may not make much sense if available parking is 6 blocks away.


The college my two daughters went to would not sell parking passes to Freshmen or Sophomores. They had to be academic Juniors or Seniors to park on campus. That doesn’t prevent them from having a car off campus, of course, but it really limits the utility.


Maybe she will commute to school. There won’t be restrictions on commuters, except for the cost of parking.

I have a 1998 Buick Regal with about 115,000 miles on it. It has been very good to us. Early 2000’s Regals have excellent reliability. We get about 26 MPG on the highway during rush hour. Not as good as the 4-cylinder cars, but not bad. And they are larger - they will fare better in an accident than a samller car.


I had an extremely reliable and inexpensive car during college. It was called a mountain bike.


Why 4-wheel disks. Drums on the rear work fine as long as they are big enough. Is she driving in the mountains? Why an econo car, purchase price or fuel mileage? If she is not going to drive much the latter is not important. Escorts or SX2s as they were later called are pretty good and pretty inexpensive. A manual trans is best, but if you add a cooler to the auto trans models they are fine. If the miles will be low, but a Crown Victoria or Grand Marquis. Grandpa and grandma are always trading in for new ones so they are inexpensive. They are also quite reliable and cheap to fix if they do break.