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Need cheap, reliable used car

I need a used pickup or SUV or something that will seat 2 adults and 3 child seats with room to store a wheelchair. I only have $3000 and need something that is reliable and good in snow. What do you suggest?

Me thinks you ask TOO much. No awd/4wd reliable SUVs that I’d buy for $3000,
Let ME know if you find one…

Where you live has a great bearing on your likelihood of finding such a vehicle. Small vans go cheaply in most markets but what is the snow/ice situation?

You need a minivan. AWDs are hard to come by but if your snowy driving needs are not completely nuts then a FWD van with winter tires would be fine (taking into account the driver).

Take three car seats and add wheel chair and there is little left. Maybe a Dodge Durango? I’ve seen those very cheap.

For something in reasonably good shape, $3K is possible, but $4K is more realistic. But that is only if you’re combing classified and craigslist and such for private sellers. You won’t get what you want from a dealer.

You need someone who knows cars - best a pro mechanic who can look them over - and you need to be willing to do the legwork of combing the ads and looking at them.

For $3-4K you’re looking at say '02 or older with at least 100K miles on it.

My current van is a 2000 Oldsmobile Sihouette. I bought it with 104K on it from the original owner who had all service records from the same shop. It needed nothing imperative (e.g. good brakes, tires, basic maintenance items up to date), though it has some things that I will need to attend to sooner or later. In your price range you will not get something that is issue free. It has traction control and ABS brakes and did fine in the snow & ice of this winter with mediocre all season radials on it.

Anyway, I paid $2900 and have been happy with it. (I really wanted another Caravan though.) I spent a lot of time on Craigslist and with the local classifieds, and I spent a lot of time looking at vans. It is not something you can do in a day unless you get lucky.

If you only have $3000, FORGET about anything with AWD or 4WD, since they will be unreliable and expensive to maintain. The most cost-effective vehicle is a used full size minivan with low mileage.

There are many on the market, and I would buy one with least gadgets, only those items you need.

A long wheelbase minivan will accomdate a wheelchair in the back., if the wheel chair folds. Since you need 3 child seats, you’ll need the third seat in place. Does you spouse ride in the passenger seat?

If the wheelchair does not fold, you will need a full size van as used by hotels and air transport companies. These can be had used (3rd hand) for a modest price. The other alternative is a 2WD Chevy Suburban, long wheelbase.

As I said, stay away from anything that is not 2 wheel drive. Put some money in good winter tires.

As others point out, your shoppping list is somewhat unrealistic at the price you quote.

See if you can find an old Ford Taurus, or Mercury Sable station wagon. $3,000 won’t get much and it will likely need repairs to be “reliable”. To be good in snow, get 4 snow tires. To be reliable, have a mechanic do a pre purchase inspection, and wish for luck.

You are asking a lot on a budget that is basically what you need to buy a “clunker” today.

A Japanese minivan will likely be too expensive. You will probably have to get a Ford Windstar or another domestic van.

Take a look at a 2001 Suzuki XL-7. It’s big enough. Your cost requirement is so low that the way it was taken care of is the primary issue, not who made it. The Taurus wagon is about the least expensive way to get the seating and wheel chair hauling done, but putting a child and the wheel chair in the way-back probably won’t work.

“Take a look at a 2001 Suzuki XL-7.” That’s a really good suggestion. They weren’t the most reliable in the world but $3000 and reliability are really tough to put in the same sentence. These are “reasonable” for the price and may be cheap if you can find one and parts for it…a big problem with my Suzuki of old.

I’ll 2nd the minivan suggestion.

Let’s combine this post with another, and through out a Crown Vic police cruiser…two adults up front, big old rear seat for child seats, big trunk for wheel chair and maybe limited slip with snows…you’re good to go.

Ford Windstar is a good suggestion. They are fairly reliable and, at least where I live, a dime a dozen. They made a ton of those things, and now nobody wants them for some reason. $3000 could get you a '99-'03 Windstar with 100k miles on it if you look around. Just be sure you have a knowledgeable mechanic drive and inspect the vehicle before you buy it, and budget another grand or so for repairs and bringing the maintenance up to date (for 3 grand, the vehicle is going to need some work). Do all this, and you should end up with a nice, reliable vehicle in the end.

Vickies are popular cars. A 2001 CV is $1200 more than a 2001 Taurus wagon. But your idea of a full size car is a good one. A quick check shows that they are comparably priced to the Vickie. But a 2000 CV would work. Hey, 9 yers old, ten years old, 11 years old, what’s the dif?

Hey Folks, nice discussion. I too have similar requirements. Looking for a car with large interior space for kids and my grand parents. Would like to go with Ford Taurus in good shape. Does anyone have an experience with this car, and can they please share here?
used cars

You should buy a SUV only if you intend to drive rough terrain, maybe a forest road or something like that. If you intend to travel longer distances and though about a SUV because of the extra space, I recommend looking for used class b motorhomes or vans. They have the advantage of having plenty of space for your family or friends.