Should I buy this car?

Hello friends,

I am planning to buy a car within the lower 3000 bracket. I am a student and would use the car for not more than 4years from now. I stay in Chico and will be travelling to the Bay Are frequently. That’s roughly 300miles on the highway. I saw this car online on Craig’s and would love to have your suggestions about the same.

I am an international student and I really don’t understand much about cars. Please keep your description simple.


I don’t know anything about Hyundais but the best you can do is spend $100 and have checked over by a mechanic first. They’ll tell you what condition everything is in such as brakes, tires, engine, etc. Then you’ll know. Its a lot of miles but might be ok if you don’t drive it much.

The other thing is you have to be very careful of Craigslist. Its full of scammers so you would want to go to the motor vehicle office together and have it transferred. Just because he says he has clear title and has been inspected, doesn’t mean it actually is true.

The only thing I will add to Bing’s advice is that you need to find out when, if ever, the timing belt was serviced.
Unless there is paper proving this was done it’s an expense that needs to be done NOW.

Claims of it having been done and no paper to back the claims up should be taken to mean that it hasn’t been done.
I would at least want some knocked off the asking price if the T-belt job is needed.

Yes. the timing belt job is at least $700 and that should be in the negotiating process.

Doesn’t timing belt jobs vary with the car? I remember some guy at work saying he had his replaced on his ford for $60 (around 2001).

Yes, the cost varies by car, and many cars use chains instead of belts eliminating the cost.

Pick up a Consumer Reports Used Car Buyers’ Guide at the local bookstore. It’ll be an excellent reference when considering a purchase. Combine that with a good checkup by an independent mechanic, and with patience and persistence, and you’'ll greatly improve your chances of getting something decent.

But realize that in your cost range whatever you buy will probably have some hidden needed work, so save some cash to have whatever needs doing done.

Being a student, you might also want to ask yourself whether you really need a car. If you live in the south, and it’s a typical college town, perhaps a scooter… or even a bicycle… is all you really need.

@Tom777 The belt itself is cheap, $60 is probably right. That $60 on a Ford was likely the drive belt outside the engine driving the alternator and other accessories. That belt on my Toyota cost $43 to replace last year. The timing belt is INSIDE the engine and also requires an tensioner and often a water pump replacement as well. These come as a kit.The real cost is the labor. Hyundais vary from $500 or so to over $900. So please budget $700 if the belt has not been changed yet.

@AdiJo, if you are really interested in the car, arrange to meet the owner in a public area, like a grocery store or WalMart parking lot. Take a friend with you, and don’t take money to buy the car. You need to close look at everything: under the hood, inside the trunk, interior, even under the car. If you still like it, take it for a test drive with your friend. If you are still interested, get it inspected for $100 or so. If the owner can’t produce a printed receipt for a timing belt change, assume it needs to be done. Add up the cost of all repairs needed and adjust the offer down to account for the repairs. You will need to know fair market value for this car in clean condition, and you can get that at a car site like Good luck!

Those Hyundai’s are nicely appointed, but they don’t seem to be quite as reliable as they age, as say a Honda Civic/Fit or a Toyota Corolla/Yaris. But for $3200, seems a fair price, so it seems definitely worth considering, provided there aren’t any similar Corollas or Civics in that price range available. Before writing any checks

  • take the time to visit the DMV, get an appointment first, tell them you plan to buy a used car, tell them the make and model you intend to buy, and ask them what you’ll need from the seller to effect a clean registration transfer, especially with respect to the title and the emissions testing. (Bring the car’s license plate number and most recent renewal date.)

  • once you know the above information, if you decide to go ahead, make the offer contingent on a “pre-purchase” inspection. That will be at your expense, usually around $100. The $100 is excellent insurance to protect you against vehicle problems which aren’t apparent to you, but are obvious to an experienced mechanic.

That car will be sold before you get an appointment with the DMV. Buying, selling and registration requirement information is available online.

Unless there are maintenance records proving otherwise, I would assume the automatic transmission has never been serviced

And, as @db4690 said, when you have that transmission service done, it should be done with Hyundai specific branded fluid. Don’t accept Iffy Lube’s crap with an additive. Come to think of it, don’t accept ANYTHING Iffy Lube suggests. Avoid them, even at cheap cost. Definitely have a qualified mechanic inspect it.

As for craigslist scams, I’ve bought and sold LOTS of stuff that way, and have never had ANY issues with scams or robberies. I’m not saying it can’t happen, but I think it’s far more rare than some folks believe. Perhaps it’s a regional thing, or perhaps it’s perceived as risky because it makes the news when it happens. Sort if like small plane crashes making the news 1000 miles away. They’re so rare, some talking head thinks they’re newsworthy. If you’re afraid, do the deal at your bank. That way you won’t have to carry any cash.