I am in east Lansing Michigan for a summer internship and at the end of it i need to get home to Tucson for school. One option I am considering is buying a used car and driving it the 2000 or so miles back home. My requirements are: (A) gets 28+ mpg highway (B) has a lot of room in it, like full sized sedan or better © is known for reliability (D) could be found for under $4000 (E) routine maintenance does not cost an arm and a leg (F) is comfortable for traveling LONG DISTANCES (G) has cruise control. Age is unimportant to me as long as it runs well and is not a ticking time-bomb. I don’t Car where the car is from nor the type of fuel it uses. Suggestions at the types of cars to look at?
Get it at least a month before you drive back home, so that you can discover its problems and get them fixed. At sub-$4,000 it WILL have problems unless you’re just ridiculously lucky.
I wouldn’t recommend it. You’d be buying an older car from the Rust Belt in order to drive it back to a rust-free part of the country. I’d find another way to get home to Tucson, then buy a used vehicle down there that will be virtually rust-free.
jesmed has a point, but if you do find one in good condition, any Buick, Olds or Pontiac with a 3,8 engine or a Crown Vic/Marquis should do the trick. For the price you want to pay, you are looking at pre 2002 and 150k+ miles so you will want to drive it a little before embarking on this trip.
…but, if the road trip is the whole point of buying the car, well, it’s not a road trip without a car, so I might amend my advice not to buy one in Michigan.
But if you do, make sure the AC works well!
Another option is post on Craigslist offering to drive someone else’s car to Tucson, if you can find someone who needs a vehicle delivered. Or, offer to split expenses with someone else who is driving in that direction.
Yeah no kidden about the AC. unfortunately I don’t feel to comfortable about driving someone else’s car or driving with someone because (a) I am driving with my girl friend and (b) I have A LOT of stuff to bring with me including a cat.
An airplane ticket costs a lot less. And most people would look for a car from the Southwest to take back to Michigan. Wait until you get home and find a decent, older car. There should be a lot more in AZ than MI due to the climate.
If you really have a LOT of stuff, I would advise installing a trailer hitch and renting a U-Haul trailer for the trip. 2000 miles in any car, with your girlfriend, with your cat, with a LOT of stuff, all jammed into the car, is not a recipe for fun.
Put all your stuff in the trailer, and leave the cabin space freed up for yourselves and your cat.
Yeah, fly to AZ, purchase the car there, where you can find used cars that haven’t seen a ton of salt on the roads. And, having purchased a couple of used Toyota’s recently, there’s always something to shake out the first month or so.
Have you made any long road trips before? For me, the opportunity to see the country would be the deciding factor if you haven’t had the chance before. There are plenty of interesting and beautiful places between Michigan and Arizona.
As for the car, in your price range and size class, all you can hope to find is a car that will run fairly well. Used car prices are painfully high right now and $4000 isn’t going to buy you pretty or popular. Oh, the one absolute rule is: No European cars, no matter how tempting a Volvo wagon sounds. Your cat won’t like being stuck for a week in Kansas. And be realistic about how much stuff you have to bring with you and how much it weighs. Cars are not designed to be filled with books.