Poor college car

I’m a poor college student looking to buy my first car. I have about 5grand to out into it and it needs to be able to make a 300 mile trip to and from school reliably. Anyone have any suggestions what I should look for?

Whatever you get, spend 4 grand and keep a grand for maintenance and repairs. Good luck to you and keep it simple.

I agree about not spending the whole $5K on the car. Save a little. Most used cars need something within a month or two of purchase.

My favorite low-price car is the Geo Prizm. The Prizm is a Toyota Corolla sold by Chevrolet dealers. With decent care these little gems can go 300,000 miles and they are inexpensive to operate and maintain.

Another good choice would be a Mazda Protege.

See if you can find a copy of “Conumer Reports” annual car issue. They have recommendations for reliable used cars in just about every price range.

You can get a reliable car for less than $5K, you just have to shop around and be careful. I recommend having any car you’re thinking about buying checked by a mechanic before you buy it.

Spend the first $20 on a Consumer Reports Used Car Buyers’ Guide at the local bookstore. While it won’t go back as far as to the $5K cars, it’ll give you a good idea of what models have held up reliably over the years.

Spend the second $100 at an independently owned and operated local garage getting whatever you find thoroughly checked out…BEFORE signing any papers or putting any money down.

Spend another small chunk on a AAA membership.

These three small investments can save you thousands of dollars and untold levels of aggrevation.

And, yes, I agree that you should look in the $4K range and keep something for any unexpected surprizes.

How will you be using this car? Will you drive it to school and back once per semester and make a short trip every week to the grocery store? Are you planning on making that trip " to and from" every week? Is the 300 mile “to or from” or “to and from”? Do you need to haul a lot of stuff or will you be advertising for a passenger willing to share expenses?

A Prizm is a great choice, but you should not focus on a brand or model for car, but on one that is in excellent condition. Look for older people selling their car. If it appears to have been well cared for, it probably was. I know that I take better care of my cars than I used to 20 years ago.

First, I agree with others on holding back at least $1,000 for maintenance and repairs in the 1st year you own the car. Then budget from $500 to $1,000 per year after. Gas, insurance, and maintenance are you big car yearly car expenses. Don’t blow all you money on the car and find you are short cash when the other expenses come due.

As for cars, Hondas and Toyotas are good long lived choices; but they come at premium prices. To get a Civic for $4,000 you are looking at a car 10 years and older. Domestic cars can be had for $4,000 that are 5 - 6 years old if they have high mileage. High mileage cars are not a big deal if they got the mfg recommended maintenance on schedule.

Dodge Neon would be about right, but they are just not good cars. Small Chevy and GM cars are OK, as is a Ford Focus. These cars should be less expensive to insure as well.