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Need a car to get to roller derby practice

I am a 37 year old New Yorker who has never owned a car. I recently started reverse commuting to Long Island (30 miles away) 2-3 times a week using ZipCars to transport friends and gear.

I would like to purchase a used car instead- spending $3000 or less- to make the trip and allow more freedom to travel local places outside New York City during the summer. I would rent a parking space in an outdoor lot in my neighborhood of Chinatown.

I feel so un-informed having never owned a car myself! Can anyone suggest cars for me

$3,000 or less can be a tough price range in which to find a good car. Have you taken into consideration the cost of having a pre-purchase inspection done on the car, or at least have a mechanically inclined friend to take along with you? Either will greatly increase your odds of not buying someone else’s headache.

As for cars, I will go against the grain due largely to your price range. Hondas and Toyotas generally get rave reviews and tend to be highly recommended, but for those reasons I would rather buy a $3,000 GM or Ford vehicle than a $3,000 Honda or Toyota. You’re less likely to end up with an overpriced problem child that way. My favorites are probably the large Buicks (LeSabre/Park Avenue). They drive very nice and have a lot of room for passengers and cargo. They also have one of the best engines ever made (3800) in terms of low maintenance and repair costs, good power, and good fuel economy. This engine was also used in the Pontiac Grand Prix and Bonneville, if you want something sportier and can find one that hasn’t been beaten into the ground by some teenage boy. If you want a small car, the Ford Escort/ZX2 are quite good, cheap, and easy to find. I also feel inclined to recommend the Chevy Cavalier/Pontiac Sunfire due to low resale value and high production numbers (read: there were tons of them made, so it’s easier to find a nice one). A lot of people absolutely hate these cars, and I may catch some flak on this site for recommending it, but I have not seen much bad out of them, mechanically (save for the Quad Four. Get the 2.2L instead). I have seen people get 300,000 trouble free miles out of them.

When I graduated from college I interviewed with a company in Manhattan. I looked at the cost to rent a parking spot and it was as much as renting an efficiency in Midtown. Add to that the insurance and hassle of driving in NYC, and I’d reconsider. I discovered that I could take a taxi everywhere; even commuting, and still be ahead. Maybe you could take the LIRR to the closest station and then take a taxi. All of you can split the taxi cost.

I’m just looking for suggestions of cars here- all other transport modes are being considered- I’ve lived here 13 years and am well aware of all the ins and outs (and expenses) of city living!

Really? You can’t take the Long Island Rail Road?

But we never met you before. We know nothing about what you are aware of; only what you post.

For such a small amount of money, I would look at a Chevy Cavalier. If you need extra room, you might consider a wagon, like a Cavalier or Ford Focus. I would avoid popular cars like Toyota or Honda because that popularity will make them much more expensive. And discuss your purchase with an insurer first to see what you can expect to pay each year. Add it all up and see if it is more expensive than public transportation. If you want a car, that’s great, but expect to spend a lot to park, insure, and fuel it.

The cab companies use Crown Vics for a reason…But better think $5-$6K for something half-way decent…Pass on those with over 150K miles…Avoid the “air-ride” option if you can…


Take a look a the recent “car issue” of Consumer’s Reports. It’s available at your public library. It might even be available on-line on their website. They have some good recommendations for specific year/make/models of inexpensive & reliable used cars.

Me, I’d look for something like a Toyota Echo, something like that. Or if you want a little pizazz in your car-life, see if you can find an air-cooled VW Beetle (the old pre-1975 version, not the new water-cooled ones.) The Beetle will break down more often, but it’s probably less expensive to fix when it does.

Best of luck.

Look at rent a wreck or other car rental deals, if you can minimize your driving renting would make sense, and avoid insurance, parking licensing and maintenance and purchase costs.

What is important for you in a car? Tell us how many people you want to carry and how much cargo. For instance, a Toyota Echo might carry you and 3 friends, but it would not likely carry everyone’s roller-gear.