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First time car buyer needing advice!

I’m a 17 year old highschool student looking to buy his first car! I have two options.

The first option is a 2000 Jeep Wrangler Sport with 203,000 miles on it and is priced at $5500.

The second option is a 1998 Toyota 2 door sport utility Rav4 with 98,000 miles on it and priced at $5000.

Both are in fairly good condition.Down the road which car will last me the longest, which one will give me the least trouble, and which one is the safest. My immediate opinion is the Rav4 but i’ve been told otherwise by my dad and friends. I need more opinions! Which should I go with? Thank You!

Rav4 if it checks out ok by a mechanic.

I would never spend that much on my first car. I would look at craigslist and find one for $500 or $1000, then it’s not the end of the world when you scratch it or hit something. That being said, if you are set on one of the two options above, the Toyota will probably last longer with less repairs.

$500 – $1,000 decent used cars no longer exist. They will require twice as much work and money. Nor would I let my 17 year old kid drive one. $5,000 buys a decent used car these days. I’d go with the RAV4. Honda are reliable and get good mileage, Jeep do not. Get service records if possible and a pre-purchase inspection.

Good luck!

I think you should shop around a little more. Both vehicles are overpriced for what they are (granted Wranglers hold their value very well due to their enthusiast following). Five grand ought to get you something five years newer than what you are looking at.

Would not pay more than $2000 for the RAV or $1500 for the Jeep. Keep looking.

The average retail is 5800 for the Rav. 98000 is low miles for that old a car, so the price is not bad. Obviously mechancs are important, but equally is the body condition. ANY rust through at all, then I would go with mleich and say the car is worth half that. No bubbles in body panels anywhere, and check the floor boards under carpet as well as the rear. Peal back every thing and check for rust, interior and out. The body should hold up much better then a jeep’s.

Personally, if I were going 5k I would shop for a much newer compact fwd with fewer miles.

A Jeep with 203,000 miles or a Rav 4 with 98,000 miles for both almost the same price?
This one’s easy; the Rav4. Assuming, of course, that it gets a clean bill of health from your mechanic.

The jeep is in the twilight years of its life. The Rav4 has another reliable 100,000 miles left. Or perhaps even much more.

twotone, I respectfully disagree. If you shop around, you can find one. I did. Less than three months ago. And it doesn’t matter that he’s 17, age means nothing whatsoever. Most accidents are not caused by lack of experience, though some are. The majority of them in my area either involve drugs or alcohol. Young drivers are at a higher risk of accident. I don’t argue that. It’s that most of them can be avoided if the driver is paying enough attention to do so.

Twotone, to me the question isn’t CAN you find a reliable car for that price, the question is which of the cars that OP asked about is most likely to be reliable.

Hey, if $5K is all yu have to spend, you find the best you can for $5K. That’s the bottom line.

"Most accidents are not caused by lack of experience, though some are. "

Actually, not true. In the first 12-24 months of driving the accident rate is double or worse. So most are related to inexperience. Drugs or alcohol, while certainly a contributor, are no less a contributor for 18, 19, and 20 year old drivers.

The biggest concern I always have withvehicles for new drivers (but the OP didn;t ask this question) is how well they handle the types of errors that new drivers typically make. New drivers have a tendency to go into turns too fast, overcorrect, brake too late, brake when turning too fast, an basically poorly estimate turns. Vehicles with high centers of gravity and short wheelbases, such as those the OP asked about, These vehicles are much more prone to go out of control and/or roll over than, say, Honda Civics.

When we think of how “safe” a vehicle is for a new driver, we always thinnk about passive safety systems, but I believe the aforementioned is every bit as important.

But, as I mentioned, that’s not the question the OP asked.

$5000 will get you a much nicer car than either of these (though the RAV4 looks like a nice option). The Jeep has over 200,000 miles on it: it’s going to break very soon. Keep searching. Go to or something like that and get creative: look for stuff that you wouldn’t normally look for. If you want an SUV and MPGs aren’t a huge concern, Blazers and Explorers tend to come with not too many miles for cheap.

A 2001~2003 Ford Explorer should run about $5000

Just make sure whatever you get you don’t blow the bank, save some money back for unexpected repairs and maintenance items you’ll beed

On the surface, the Toyota looks like the better deal. However are either or both 4wd? That makes a difference, 4wd adds value but it also means more problems. Are either or both stick shifts?

Are these private sales or a used car lot. Private sales are far better, but beware that many used car salesmen take lot cars home and represent themselves as private sales.

The best vehicles are from senior citizens who recently retired or have just stopped driving. Those vehicles are generally well maintained and not driven hard. AVOID any vehicle that shows multiple incidents of body damage. even minor damage because that indicates severe neglect.

If only two cars left in the world, then the Toyota, otherwise I will still look around. On 2nd thought if the Toyota checks out okay, I will haggle.
On private sales, I usually keep the info of the seller if I am really interested in the car. I call them every 2 weeks until the car is sold. Sometimes you get lucky and they are frustrated.

I would give you the 50/50 warranty on the Jeep. Fifty seconds or fifty feet whichever comes first, unless you want to do off road driving; then the same applies to the Rav.

Wranglers are lousy highway vehicles, with poor handling and a punishing ride. They are made for off road conditions. The RAV4 is a much better bet for most people. As it handles much better, it will also be safer. I don’t keep up on used car prices, so can’t say whether either one is a reasonable deal.

I agree with “same”. $5 k takes you out of the 4wd market unless it’s a second car with special occasional use or you live in the Yukon.

@texases while I completely agree with your premise in general, technically in my 37 years working with teens, I found it isn’t their driving ability that contributes most to accidents. Many are very capable and have driving reflexes and abilities far beyond many experienced and older drivers. It’s there overall judgement and decisions they make before they step behind the wheel or their over estimation of their skills. We may be talking about the same things but I saw kids who raced weekly at a local raceway and handle cars in ways you would be amazed by. The same kids party, show poor judgement and wind up in an accident.

One of my students became a NASCAR driver on the circuit. While in school, Often after hearing his employtes both on and of the track I was surprised he was able to show up for class on Mondays.

During the day in coaching situations, I trusted many kids to use my own cars to run errands. Would I let them borrow them later on their own time ? Never !

I’d say stay away from both. The jeep won’t last as long as the RAV4, and is pretty expensive. I would say they are both relatively unsafe, given that they are light, tall SUVs, especially 2-door models. I’m in college, and I got a 2001 Honda Accord last year for about the same price as you’re looking at, with 102,000 miles. It may not sound like the most exciting car, but it is actually nice to drive, gets great mileage, and it’s practical and comfortable. I can give friends rides without much complaint from the back and it’s great for road trips, and it’s safe. Even if it sounds boring, I’d look for something like that, because it will serve you better long-term.