The VW Micro bus puzzler

I think the VW micro bus puzzler answer was crap. For one thing, I don’t think that a starter in that car would be strong enough to get the car up the driveway, and a good stick shift driver would be able to let out the clutch slowly enough to avoid the problem. Also, why would anyone come to a complete stop at the bottom of their driveway before climbing it, especially if you know anything about driving in the snow!

I think you’re being unrealistic in thinking you’re going to find what you’re looking for for under $1000. I think for a reliable, economica,l low-miles, well-maintained, and good looking car $10,000 might be a more realistic number.

I’m in agreement with asemaster. Your expectations for the money are not realistic.

For that kind of money, 16 years of age, no mechanical abilities, and a grand or less is going to lead you into doing something that you will likely regret very, very quickly.

My suggestion would be to take a deep breath, sock the grand away, do some part time jobs even if it’s mowing lawns, and add to the kitty for quite a while before considering a car purchase.

Since you’re bleeding pennies here have you priced insurance on anything that a 16 year old is going to be driving? Unless you have parents covering the tab you will find that’s going to be pricy.

I agree with the others. Although you could get lucky, a car in this price range is very likely to be on its last legs. I think you should save up until you can afford something around $4,000 to $5,000, with some additional money on hand for repairs.

The OP can count me as one more person who believes that the “wish list” is not realistic.

Yes, you can find cars that will cost less than $1,000, but they WILL have “a ton of miles” on them, and they will most likely require an expenditure of at least an additional $1,000-1,500 per year for repairs, just to stay in running order. Then, there are the expenses for regular maintenance and for insurance.

And, having a car that is “cool” is something that has to be a secondary consideration if the OP is going to get a car that is both affordable and reliable.

It is not unusual for adolescents to be unrealistic when it comes to car buying, but I think that it is important for the OP to listen to voices of experience, and the experienced people in this forum are–most likely–all going to tell you that your expectations are not realistic at this point.

My middle son bought a new car last year. We went looking. Wanted to find a small cheap reliable vehicle with not a lot of miles on it. The CHEAPEST vehicle that met that criteria was a 2010 Scion (40,000 miles) at cost $9k. We ended up buying a certified pre-owned 2012 Mazda 3 with 10k miles for $11,000.

$1000 is absurd. Decent set of tires cost that much. You need to add a ZERO for a more realistic view.

A low mileage Hyundai Accent can be had for very little. These cars new cost just over $10,000. Many were bought by seniors as second cars, and would have low mileage.

Stay away from complicated options that will be expensive to repair.

You Don’t Say…

You don’t say whether or not you live in a climate region where salt is applied to roads in winter time to control freezing moisture on road surfaces (Rust Belt Areas of the country).

Anyhow, don’t focus so much on finding a low miles car. Focus on the present condition of the vehicle, regardless of miles. I doubt you will put a ton of miles on this first car and I doubt you’ll have it for years to come, anyhow.

I would prefer a well-maintained higher mileage car over a poorly maintained one that has far fewer miles on it. Also, a low miles car that has significant rust will become a money pit and can be dangerous to drive. Rusty brake lines, fuel lines, strut towers, frame members, etcetera, can identify a car of that type.

I buy many pre-owned cars and I prefer to look for cars:
… Currently licensed and being driven (as opposed to parked, no plate(s), no insurance, etcetera).
… The owner has had the car for a fairly good amount of time and is familiar with its condition.
… The owner has some documented maintenance records showing the car was cared for and kept up in a reasonable fashion.
… The vehicle can start from stone cold, run well, and drive well on a rather lengthy road-test.

As others have said, finding a car for 1,000 bucks that is anything but a waste of money is a tough call. Finding a “Cool One” is probably not practical within your budget limits at this venture. The time to check the car out thoroughly is before it’s purchased, not after it’s purchased. If you don’t know much about cars, take an experienced person with you.

I’ve never owned a Ford, but know that the Escort/Focus models have a big fan club for econo-box type machines that are abundant and reasonably priced.


You can have cheap
You can have reliable
You can have cool

But you cannot have it all for $1000. For $1000 getting even one of those criteria met is going to be asking a lot. For $5000 you can probably get two of the three, for $10k, you can get all three.

The more plain and simple the potential car , THe more car you can get for less money.
A’‘cheap’’ used fancy car will be a money pit.

Wait until this 16 year old finds out much insurance will cost. There goes his 1000.00 plus some.

My suggestion is to let everyone in your family, including aunts, uncles, and grandparents, as well as everyone you go to school with and everyone you work with (if you have a job) that you’re searching. Most really good used cars for the prices you seek are hand-me-downs from relatives. You just might have an uncle with a car he no longer needs, or a cousin entering the military who needs to sell his/her car. If he/she doesn’t know you’re looking, you might miss an opportunity.

Good luck.

When I was 16, one could buy a really good car for $1000. One of my best friends bought a four year old Plymouth Grand Fury for that figure. Unfortunately those days are long long gone. For $1000 you MIGHT be able to find a 20 year old car, but will probably need a lot of help to be reliable.

I don’t know where you live. The cost of insurance varies A LOT by geographical area and population density. Talk to your folk’s insurance agent about your options. My last kid is no longer teenager, but when he was, we found that it didn’t matter what he drove, the cost of the LIABILITY insurance was the same. He drove a Toyota Corolla, a Pontiac Grand Prix, a Pontiac 350 5-speed Trans AM, and a Lexus SC300, and a BMW 328i before he finished college. All of them were virtually the same cost to insure. Now he’s on his own, and drives a Buick Lucerne. Probably the youngest Lucerne owner in the country.

If you finance a car, whoever loans you the money will demand that you carry FULL COVERAGE insurance. They have to be protected in case you total their car.

The brand and type of vehicle do matter now and the accident rate of the vehicle will effect even older drivers because the young crash the vehicle a lot. Full coverage on our 2004 LIA optima was not much less than our 2010 Volvo V70.

When I was 16, one could buy a really good car for $1000.

When I was 16 you could buy a brand new car for under $2,000.

First, I would like to commend you for posting your query on this board. The posters on this board put a great deal of thought and effort into their responses.
$1,000 sounds like a lot of money (and it is), but not in the car-buying world, not even in the crappy, used, high-mileage car-buying world.
Before you sink money into a car, check on the other expenses if you’re responsible for them. I would hate for you to buy a car that you can’t insure, can’t fill up the tank or can’t maintain. On the LOW end, I think you’re talking $1,000 per year for gas, $1,000 per year for insurance, and $1,000 per year for maintenance. I might be way off on insurance, but it will probably cost much, much more than you think it should. Insurers pay much, much more in claims on younger drivers, so the insurance cost has to stay up with those claims.
If the expenses are doable, I agree with an earlier post that you’re better off buying something from someone that you know and is on your side. They’ll give you a break on price and won’t knowingly sell you a piece of junk.
I wish you the best of luck. You will remember that car for the rest of your life.