Reliable Transportation Under $3K?


#1

I’m looking for something small for myself - Civic or smaller with good city mileage. I probably will drive it 1K/month and hope to be in a position to afford a nicer/newer car in 6 months.



1. Safety - bags, anti-lock breaks, side curtain?

2. Mileage - city 22+? highway 30+?

3. Reliability - mostly thinking of Honda/Toyota/Nissan/Hyundai or US twins

4. Resale - looking to buy cheap and selling for not much less than buying in 6 months

5. Auto or stick OK





Also if you have advice on how to select a dealer in Houston area for this kind of purchase, that would be appreciated.



New to this Forum, so forgive me if this has been done before. I did a search and didn’t see anything.




#2

Guess I should have also asked, what can I expect in terms of year/model/make for under $3,000?


#3

I’m looking for something small for myself - Civic or smaller with good city mileage. I probably will drive it 1K/month and hope to be in a position to afford a nicer/newer car in 6 months.

  1. Safety - bags, anti-lock breaks, side curtain?
  2. Mileage - city 22+? highway 30+?
  3. Reliability - mostly thinking of Honda/Toyota/Nissan/Hyundai or US twins
  4. Resale - looking to buy cheap and selling for not much less than buying in 6 months
  5. Auto or stick OK

I think you’re being unrealistic. The more goodies you pile on the more a car costs, and you want a japanimport with side-curtain airbags? No way unless you get something with a salvage title I think. Either raise your price or lower your expectations.

With your budget, frankly, I’d be looking for a 4th or 5th gen Civic. They’re the most reliable car you’re going to get for your budget, and they hold their value incredibly well assuming you don’t beat them up.


#4

If you are going to dunp the car in 6 months, then there is no need to be particularly fussy. You might do well with a late 1990s American (Ford or Chev) compact. Cavalier, for example, has had plenty of time to get the bugs our. Buy what conventional knowledges tells you not to and you can slip underneath the wire. A standard trans compact car will give you great fuel mileage.


#5

For $3K, forget about all the “safety” nonsense and buy the best condition compact car you can find. You will be looking at a 5+ year old domestic/ricer, don’t worry about the make/model just find something in decent condition because you are going to dump it in 6 months anyway. You will probably find a better deal with a private purchase, and if your lucky it will still be in good condition when you sell it so you can get your money back.


#6

At the 3K range you should not rule out small domestics like a Mazda based Ford Escort Wagon.


#7

My experience has been that new car dealers don’t keep older vehicles in the $3000 price range around. These vehicles go to an auction house where used car dealers pick them up. These dealers would probably ask twice as much for a car that meets your specifications. My recommendation is to comb the classified ads in the newspapers. In my area in the midwest, there are publications that are free at gracery stores that list vehicles for sale by the owners. Check bulletin boards at any colleges in your area and even check the bulletin boards out in laundramats.

I really don’t think you can be too choosy in this price range. My criteria for a low priced used car was the following:

  1. Don’t ask if it burns oil–the real question is “how much oil does it burn?”

  2. Don’t ask if the car has been in an accident–the real question is “how bad was the accident?”

I think your best strategy would be to set back $500-1000 and find a vehicle with an engine that doesn’t put out oil smoke. A few dents in the body are acceptable as is faded paint, but reject a rusted out vehicle or one with frame damage. Be certain that the transmission shifts correctly and on a manual transmission, that the clutch doesn’t slip. If a couple of tires are needed or the exhaust system needs work, negotiate down the price. The money you set back may be necessary for some repairs–e.g. a new battery, new wiper blades, etc.


#8

Look for a Ford Taurus as the market is flooded with them so many choices. They can be found in your price range with most of your criteria.