I am looking to buy my first car. I want something cheap, used, reliable, and with good gas mileage. I also don’t want something that I have to keep repairing either. What type of car should I be looking at? And what kind of questions should I ask the dealer to ensure that I don’t get a clunker? I know little to nothing about cars? Everything I know is from the show. I am open to any and all suggestions. Thanks!
Everyone on the planet wants the same thing you do. Unfortunately, there is no quick simple answer.
It’s not the make of car so much as it is how the car was driven and maintained.
Figuring out those 2 things can be impossible because you can ask a 1000 questions and every answer could be incorrect or a downright lie no matter if it’s a dealer or a private seller.
About all you can do is use patience, do plenty of homework on the type of car in question while comparing prices, etc. and have it thoroughly checked out before any purchase.
Keep in mind that the most thorough inspection by even the finest mechanic does not guarantee you a problem free ride. It only helps your odds a bit.
I think OK4450 is right on.
That being said, if my car were to die today, I would be buying a mid 90s to early 2000 Saturn. The S-Series seems to be very reliable. I have 240k on mine with the only major repair being the radiator. It uses a little oil, and the radiator fan eventually stopped working, but overall I think it was an excellent investment. It’s cheap to maintain, Not to mention that I consistently get over 40MPG!
I did buy mine new in 1998, so I know that it has been maintained. The only things I have done are oil changes, trans flush, brakes, and tires in addition to what was mentioned above
Pick up a recent Cunsumer Reports buyers guide. They do a good job of answering basic questions for car buyers.
What is your price range? Region of the country? Commuting distance? Age (for insurance purposes)?
The above posters have askded the right questions for you to answer. Consumer Reports has a good section on used cars by price range.
For what you want, some general rules:
Avoid 4 WD or All Wheel Drive. These vehicles cost more to fuel and maintain. Buy a compact or subcompact model to further save weight and complexity.
Avoid “loaded” models with all sorts of options you can do without.
Chose a 4 cylinder model over a V6.
Avoid any orphan cars, such as Saturn Astra where you might have difficulty getting parts.
Without knowing your budget, a Hyundai Elantra or Accent, a Mazda 3, Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla or Yaris would be interesting choices.
If You are repair budget limited, I would stay away from any Volkswagen, Subaru, Chevrolet Aveo, and any car listed as much worse than average by Consumer Reports.