Please help me! I have problems making big decisions and I don't know enough about cars!

I need to buy a crossover/SUV with 4WD/AWD for $13,000 or less. I’m seeing Kias, Subarus, Jeeps, and Fords in the 2010-2015 year range. I don’t drive far distances often, just locally. I’m seeing newer models with higher mileage and older models with lower mileage and I don’t know what to consider as being more important. I’ve also never bought a car on my own before so I want to make sure I don’t get ripped off. Any advice from people who know more than I do about this (which is most people) would be extremely appreciated!! Thank you in advance.

You are going to get many of the same replies you got in your May 5 - thread about what to buy. Why do you need allwheel drive anyway ? That is just a thing that will be expensive to repair if it breaks in a used vehicle . There are new vehicles with full warranty and better financeing that can be found in the 20000.00 range . I have found that FWD will work most of the time in the winter and when it doesn’t you should stay home anyway.


Hi. I’m going to take you at your word that you have to buy a crossover, and your price range is firm. But as for getting screwed over, there are calculators online for determining values of cars by age. However, used car prices have been kinda high for a while due to some covid effects on the new car market. As you look at prices in your area, you’ll get a sense of what the market I. your area is looking like. If there are known issues with the cars you’re considering, that’s worth accounting for in the price, too.

Anyway—I just bought my first ever car last year, and it was a comparatively low mileage Kia for its age (2013). That’s neither here nor there for you. If you can find out anything about the car’s maintenance history, that will help put your mind at ease, along with a prepurchase inspection to ward off anything glaringly troublesome. The other thing I can suggest is making sure that you have wiggle room financially factored into your purchase budget/cash flow in case repairs do come up, which can happen even if you did your homework beforehand. That’s another way of getting screwed, but not by the seller. Hope that helps, and that you find something you like!


Go buy the Consumer Reports car buying guide, lots of info on used vehicles.


@JJ_168268 You state that you mostly drive locally. What about your driving conditions and vehicle use requires 4WD or AWD? I’m asking, not challenging your premise. That info, if you choose to answer, will help get you helpful answers.


I assume you don’t want a sedan. Maybe need to haul stuff? The suv is the replacement for station wagons and for people who don’t want a minivan. Why not a minivan?


The problem with opinions is that everyone has a different opinion…and they could all be right, all be wrong, or some could be right. What if I told you that in 25 years of driving, the most comfortable, best-handling, best-performing vehicle I ever owned was a 1995 Dodge Caravan with the 3.0L engine? What if I also told you that I cannot recall a single situation in which FWD would have been insufficient for where I needed to go?


Hey fellow forum members, in all the comments about whether the OP needs 4WD / AWD or not, in the various opinions of those reponding to the OP, we’ve lost sight (including me) of the central question the OP asked for help with; newer with high mileage versus older with low mileage.

1 Like

Maintenance history is a plus. Having a mechanic do an inspection on whatever car you decide on is a plus plus. The inspection will give a heads up on costs to plan for, ie brakes tires etc.


This person is concerned about reliability and repair so the question is valid about all wheel drive. At that price range each vehicle will have to stand on it’s own .

If they’re deciding between the range they stated they’ve seen vehicles in their price range (2010-2015), I’d probably go for the vehicle with lower mileage vs the newer one, all else being equal.

As for 4wd, I’ve been some places where 2wd wouldn’t cut it. I’ve also gone to some areas where 4wd only served to get me further stuck. I’m assuming the OP lives in an area that gets a lot of snow, so I can’t speak to that much given my location.

Personally, I’d pass on Subaru. They don’t seem too reliable judging from posts I’ve seen here.

I live in New England so 4WD/AWD is almost a necessity in the winter weather.

Speaking as someone who is currently driving his third Subaru, and who has found them to be more reliable than any of the other marques that I have previously owned, I have to give an informed opinion that you are wrong.

However, that being said, I wouldn’t buy a used Subaru or any other used AWD vehicle. Something simple–like consistent tire rotation–seems to evade many people, and that results in big repair bills for them, or for the sucker who buys it when the first owner bails.

All too often on this site, we see evidence of vehicles that have not had their transmission fluid changed every 30k miles, and then people seem to be mystified that their trans failed at somewhere between 100k-120k miles. We see people who think that checking their oil is something that is not necessary, and there also seem to be some folks who don’t see the need to flush their brake fluid every 3 years or so. We also see people who think that changing the oil once each year is just fine and dandy, even if they typically drive just 3 miles or less before shutting off the engine.

Those behaviors inevitably lead to big repair bills, but if you also factor-in failure to rotate tires, or choosing to replace just one or two tires at a time on an AWD vehicle, then the probability of big repair bills builds exponentially, and as a result,
I don’t recommend the purchase of any used AWD vehicle.

1 Like

I second the motion .


I’d prefer an older low mileage car as long as it’s well maintained. If the seller doesn’t have receipts, an inspection by a mechanic you trust, and mentioned by @Barkydog, is even more important. You might not suffer sticker shock as much if you buy in a private sale instead of a dealer sale. Pro tip: pay close attention to private sales by senior citizens. By that age, they probably have learned that good maintenance pays off in lower repair bills and higher prices when the sell it.

1 Like

I’m wrong that certain Subaru engines are known to commonly have head gaskets fail?

No, you’re not wrong.
My first Outback–a '97 model–suffered the dreaded head gasket failure at ~115k miles.
The dealership charged me less than $400 for the replacement of both head gaskets.

I’m still unclear as to whether it was this country dealership or the mfr that treated me so well, but that excellent treatment led me to buy my second Outback, which had a total of one repair (evaporative emissions valve) in my 11 years of ownership, and that one repair was covered by warranty.

When I bought Outback #2, I passed the first one to a young relative who drove it for another 40k miles with the replacement of a rear suspension arm as its only repair.

Outback #2 was so reliable that I wound-up purchasing Outback #3 in late 2010, and its only repair after 11 years has been the replacement (under warranty) of the WW reservoir because the fluid level sensor failed.

So… the first Outback needed to have the head gaskets replaced at ~115k miles, but the second one had no such problem up through 110k miles, when I traded it in on the current one that now has ~112k miles on the odometer.

When the current microchip shortage runs its course, I will buy my next Subaru–with every bell and whistle–but I am willing to wait until pricing returns to a sane level before I buy that car.

As a side note, because of my near-flawless record with my Subarus, several months ago, my brother traded his Hyundai Santa Fe for a Subaru Outback Touring XT and he is very happy with it. More recently, my best friend dumped his oil-guzzling Toyota Rav-4 for a Subaru Forester, and he is also very happy with his purchase.

1 Like

Unless you know the detailed history of any car its all in the luck of the draw a higher miles car can go for many more miles or not the same for for lower mileage car all the others on here are giving you good advice to follow.

Your right about buying a used Subaru. I have owned a lot of them over the years and I currently have a 2005 Impreza outback sport that was my moms and now it’s my little runabout. We also have a 2018 outback 3.6. I’ve had great luck with all our Subaru’s, but they are costly to maintain and you just can’t cut corners on a Subaru.