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First car. Volvo?

I asked about the VW rabbit Diesel being safe on this form a few days ago and I see that it’s not safe. But now, I need another car as a first car. Im not some jerk kid with $10k for a first car. I have a modest 2k (i could get up to 3k if needed) to spend on a car with airbags and low insurance. I want to keep away from the accords, civics, camrys, and corollas. Im not trying to find a muscle car, but I want something different. I will have a 22 mile commute to and from school everyday and about 5 or 6 miles of driving to cross country practice. So about 50 miles a day. I need something safe, efficient, different, stylish, has 4 seats (no delsol or ranger for me) and reliable. I have a few I like so far.

Any early 90’s volvo is cool to me (the seniors on the cross country team have them) (92-95)
Any affordable Saab
Toyota Celica (looks nice)
Dodge Neon (they look weird enough to look kinda cool)

If there is anything that fits my description that is not listed please tell me. I like vintage things, so I want my car to reflect that. Tell me if any of the above are good or bad. thanks, i like this community form.

Out of all the vehicles you listed…the Toyota Celica is the only one I would consider. Volvos, Saabs and Neons are money pits and their reliability is questionable.

rember safethy is a attude .

@missileman is 100% correct. At $2-$3k, avoid ALL European makes. At that price you’re wanting something old (but '96 or newer would be good for the safety and engine diagnostics) that may have high miles but has been well-maintained.

I’ll second the comment about staying away from older Volvos.

A family member has a 1998 model, and I kid you not, it costs $500 minimum every time it goes to the shop. And it goes to the shop regularly.

While we all wish we could drive Ferrarris and Porches… remember that a car is simply a tool to get from Point A to Point B, ideally with safety and reliability. It is not representative of a lifestyle or image, and anyone that judges you based on what kind of car you drive is probably a person you want to avoid anyway.

Good luck.

As I tell my friends…Yes, I owned a Volvo…once!
I agree that Volvos tend to be extremely costly as they age, but beginning with day one, my purchased-new Volvo was the absolute worst, unmitigated piece of automotive junk that I ever had the misfortune to own.

The car was not good quality when delivered, and as it aged, things only got massively worse.
I could give you the laundry list of the incredible, expensive problems that I had with that car during the 6 years that I owned it, but you probably wouldn’t believe me.

Suffice it to say that if I had been able to afford a different car, I would have gotten rid of that Volvo when it was about 4 years old. Unfortunately, I had to hold onto it for a couple of additional years until I could get a replacement.

Never again!

At that price range you might want to consider a Chevrolet Caprice or a Crown Vic, both are considered bullet proof and surprisingly economical for their size. I averaged 20 mpg for local driving and ~25 mpg highway with my 1993 Caprice.

I took it off the road recently to save insurance. In the 9 years and 36k miles that I drove it, it needed 4 shocks replaced ($200 total), a third brake light ($2), and an alternator (~$225 for the part and ~20 minutes to replace it). I did the tune ups and general maintenance myself.

Ed B.

Any Volvo you could get for $2-3K is guaranteed to be an absolute money pit.
Any Saab you could get for $2-3K is extremely likely to be an absolute money pit.
And Neon you could get for $2-3K probably going to be an absolute money pit. And no fun whatsoever.

In your price range there is only one car that fits your criteria…and I already own it. And it isn;t for sale,

Be realistic. If you’re looking for a reliable means of transport in that price range you need to throw out all other criteria and focus on something reliabel. That means accepting a Civic, Camry, Accord, Corolla, 2-dr, or whatever you can manage to find that’s in decent shape. Picky won’t get you a car.


My daughter inherited a 2001 saturn, 1.5 years a power steering pump, and a cooling fan. Waiting for the next thing, but might be worthy of consideration. Parts were reasonable and repairs easy enough.

Whatever you get, don’t spend more than $2K. You 'll need some money for repairs, new tires, new brakes, etc. With a $2K budget forget “cool”, and focus on an old car someone has taken good care of. Brand, 2dr or 4dr, are not issues for you. Just get a decent car that was well cared for by the previous owners. Often this is a car that comes from an older driver who can’t drive anymore.

I have 1st hand experience with old Volvo’s - don’t go there.

I asked about the VW rabbit Diesel being safe on this form a few days ago and I see that it’s not safe.

I must have missed that one.  Let me make a few suggestions. 

IMO the make and model car may be an indicator of safety, but only to a minor extent.  I would suggest about 10 - 15%.  The rest is how the car is cared for and most important how careful and skillful the driver is. 

 Don't expect the car to make up for poor driving.  

Sorry if this is a repeat of what may have been discussed before.

Look for a coupe or sedan in excellent condition. If the owner has receipts for all maintenance and repairs, that is better. If you can find a retiree that is selling her car, that is best. Condition, rather than brand or model, is the most important thing. You might find an Asian car that fits the bill, but it is likely to be older than a comparable GM or Ford car.

Buying an old Volvo for $2k? There are definitely worse things you could do, like buying an old Saab or an old Neon for $2k. Do not go there. They will eat up your money and, before you know it, you will be pulling your hair out. I understand you and, like you, I would not want a Corolla either. I like those old 240s as well but, if you do not have money to waste, buy a miniature of it to look at (it won’t need $1k repairs every three months) and get the Celica or, like someone suggested, an old Crown Vic. Those can be very cool too. Whatever you do, wherever life takes you, DO NOT buy a European car over 7-8 years old. Ever.

There is a reason one of the biggest selling cars of all time is a Corolla. There should be plenty of older ones to choose from and others in this same category. Leave the Volvo crowd and save your money in repairs and operating costs. Even a Neon can be a better buy if you are willing to keep it for just a year and move on. Put some labor into cosmetically, sell it for what you payed or more, and buy another.
“same” has a good list of where to start looking.