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Student in miami-need to buy a used car one for under $2000.-I don't know what cars last-

-current car doesn’t have long, not worried about year,make or model-just curious about reliability of cars from 1999-2002-toyota Camry,ford Taurus, Honda civic ,Nissan maxima- all with mileage around 130,000. I would like to know if one is better than the other. The guy at the lot told me they’re all great.

If you could state your question in a complete, comprehensible sentence with a little more detail, perhaps someone can help you.

any recommendations would be great

For a student, I would go with the smallest engine/fewest cylinders, which I believe is the Civic. Four cylinders instead of six means less expensive maintenance and higher mpg. The Civic will probably be the highest mpg car in your list.

Have the car checked over carefully if possible by a reputable mechanic before you buy it. And don’t believe anything the salesman says. :wink:

I would choose reliability over mileage. you can always drive a little less to save a few bucks, the lump sum repairs are the killer. if there are a lot of a model still going strong with low occurrence of major repairs its a good indicator of reliability

Thank you

Honda Civic is probably also most reliable of the bunch…depending of course on condition.

I agree… Look for a civic, if you can find out the last time the timing belt was changed that would be good. If it is newer with a timing chain, even better.

If the Honda civic is on that list, I would suggest the last generation of Toyota Tercel with no power steering(wasn’t hard to steer and it’s good for upper body toning). It has a non-interference engine, distributorless ignition, and a great shifter. It was a minimalist commuter car, but it felt like every l detail was given its due attention.

I was test driving a bunch of cars for my unlicensed roommate. Amongst a bunch of boring Corollas, the Tercel was the best, if it didn’t have 200k+ on the odometer

You’re talking about buying a 12 to 15 year old used for under 2 grand. All bets are off when picking one over the other as to reliability.

The main factors are the car’s maintenance history, how it was driven, and where it spent most of its life. Those things are often very difficult or impossible to determine.

“The guy at the lot told me they’re all great…”. Salesmanship at its finest. :slight_smile:

Spend the money to get your final choice looked over by a mechanic. You may find you will soon be needing brakes, or they may find an issue or repairs or even unsafe circumstances. A friends teenage son bought a car a few months ago, it died, and the frame broke while getting it towed to the mechanic. The mechanic said he was surprised the engine stayed in the car as everything was severely rusted out.

When I bought “transportation” cars–cars that I could buy at a low price–I put a piece of tape over the odometer and put tape over the nameplate. In other words, forget about the make of the car with the caveat that I give below, and the number of miles on the odometer. In the “under $2000” price range, these things don’t matter.
On a college campus, look at the bulletin boards. There may be a professor going on leave or a student going on an international study program that has a car to sell. You may find a good car this way in your price range.
My one suggestion as far as the make of car is concerned is to stay away from the brands like Saab, BMW, Mercedes, Volvo as the parts and labor for repairs may be expensive. Back in the early 1960s when I was looking for a car, a mechanic friend advised me to stick to the Fords and Chevrolets because all mechanics at that time had experience with these cars and parts were more readily available. I don’t know what the common makes are today, but find out and try to stay with them.

You’re going to have an extremely hard time finding a car for under $2K in Miami that also “doesn’t have long”. And never believe one single utterance of any used car salesman. Never ever.

You’re a student in an all-year-around sunshine state. Do you really need a car?

Its takes 3 buses to get to school about 17 blocks walking in between from where i live from school to home-I’m renting a room in someones home I live across the state normally with my parents,& I have some evening classes that end at 9:30pm.

Avoid Honda and Toyota. Their reliability is legendary, and it is reflected in the price. You should look at a Chevrolet Cavalier from around 2000. A clean 2002 Cavalier LS sedan with auto trans and 130,000 miles is about $2000 in a private sale according to Edmunds. A similar 2002 Civic will cost about $3300. At this age, condition is everything and brand not so much. If you want to pay 60% more just because it’s a Honda, go ahead. But I would think seriously about the Cavalier. They had been around for 30 years by the early 2000s, and any problems had been solved by then. It is the definition of basic transportation.

How about a bicycle?
I’m sure your parents would be willing to drive out to get you those times you’re on break.

My own son rode a bike when he went to college in Boston.

Newflash–And don’t buy a car sight unseen off the internet. Sitting in front of my house right now is a woman who broke down in a 1998 Mercedes Benz 4-matic. She bought the car on e-bay and had it shipped up from Florida to the tune of $500. The car looked nice in the pictures and it does look nice. Now the reason it is broken down is, I think, a transmission line has broken and there is oil all over the street. However, this is the third time in less than a month she has had the car that it has broken down. The seller said that the car has new tires–well, the tries were new 11 years ago and have dry rot. I recommended my independent shop and said to have it towed on a flat bed so that there is no more damage.
Her only out is that she purchased the car through Pay-Pal and may get most of her money back.

Consumer Reports’ Used Car Guide will offer advice on all those models. Usually this book is at bookstores and public libraries. Also search this Car Talk website for an article by Tom and Ray titled something like “The 10 cars we hate the most”. Tom and Ray explain the reason these are “hated” by mechanics is because they are so reliable that they generate few boat payments.

There’s something to consider about Hondas

They like to have their valves adjusted on time

They’re not always so forgiving of tight valves, due to negligence

Reality check: do you have $2000 total budget, or $2000 for the acquisition of the car? If the $2000 is “all you got,” consider you still need to transfer title, register, plate it; pay sales tax, and deal with a few “gotcha!” gremlins that pop up in a “new to you” beater–meaning you have around $1000 to spend on the car itself. That’s awfully rough: “ugly but drivable” cars are around at $2k, but for $1k…they generally don’t move of their own accord (or stop, or turn, or something equally essential).

I also seem to recall plate fees are OUTRAGEOUS in the state of Fla…at least they are if you’ve never plated one there before. I mean like high three figures/low four figures high!

My story: a few years ago, I was living in an “extended stay” in Tampa, one week away from homelessness, without wheels and in dire need of finding the cheapest possible means of getting me+my tools out of state. While walking to lunch, I spied a '92 Cutlass Ciera Station Wagon in a used car lot that was in the process of going out of business. It had mis-matched plastic hub covers, a sagging headliner, and general “beater vibe”–all of which made me ecstatic, because the only way a working car was in my price range was if it was too ugly to be seen in during the daytime.

A test drive later, it was mine for $850, on account of the broken A/C. When I found out how much Fla wanted for a plate (it was more than the car cost, I remember that much), I drove on the paper tags until I could leave town.

But, that 3300 (de-stroked 3800) was a BEAST, and it got me and all my stuff up to PA! I kept it until the tranny went.