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Still struggling

I am really struggling with this. I don’t have the money to take every car I think I’ve4 found to a mechanic to check out. I don’t know what a “curbstoner” is. Just tell me what to look at for $3000. I do need FWD due to snow here. Otherwise, all I want is structurally sound and mechanically stable. Tell me why I shouldn’t look at a '99 Beetle with clean carfax, certified one owner that seems well-maintained from a reputable dealer where I would be a repeat customer. It has 127K and they’re asking 2994. Thanks, guys. I’m just a poor middle-aged shlub who needs basic transportation.

Well, u should have a car inspected. U will spend 3k but won’t spend $75 to have mechanic look at it? U admit ur not too technical so u REALLY should have a mechanic check it out.

Does the dealer offers a warranty ?
You’re a regular there so it sounds like you trust their business acccumen so…
it almost sounds as good as it gets there.

A 99 Beetle does not have the reliability reputation I would want if $3000 was all I had to spend. I would spend my time looking at Toyotas and Hondas. Yes, they will have higher mileage for the price you pay, but in my expience a well maintained Corolla at 127k miles has historically had many more reliable miles left then a well maintained VW or the same year and miles. I have had 3 Corollas and 5 toyota trucks and family members have bought assorted used Hondas with over 100k miles and my money is on these cars over a VW.
Regardless, as @stoveguy suggests, have any $3k car checked by an independent mechanic you can trust and not some one who will profit from the sale.

The issue with having a mechanic look at a car is that I can’t take every car I’m remotely interested in to have checked. 5 cars @$100 a pop (which is what my most trusted mechanic charges and is about average here) is more than I have.

Then, IMO, I I would go with the more reliable brands from dealers you feel you can trust…still recomend Toyota/Honda is now MORE in play. If you can’t afford to have them looked at, you can’t afford too many break downs.

If I was in your situation, Murphygal, I would narrow down my list of potential purchases by eliminating any that don’t come with full maintenance records. Then, take the time to compare those maintenance records to the mfrs maintenance schedule that should be sitting in the glove box (either w/in the Owner’s Manual, or in a separate booklet with an appropriate title).

No maintenance records, or maintenance that proves to be substandard, is the best possible reason to eliminate a car from consideration for purchase. In case you were not aware of it, a “clean carfax” assures you of almost nothing, due to the information that is frequently missing from those reports. Documentation of proper maintenance, followed up by an inspection, is the better way of locating a reliable car.

The percentage of people who don’t maintain their cars properly is…incredibly high…and the one who pays the price for the inevitable repairs is usually the person who buys it from the irresponsible owner. Yes, my method will reduce the number of cars available for purchase, but it will reduce them in the most positive way that is possible. Then, the one or two cars that are left on your list can be inspected by your mechanic.