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4 Door, 4 Cylinder, year 2000 or newer

The Right Car for Me:

This member has purchased a 2000 Nissan Altima.

wilfredtr

Toyota Camry, 4 cylinder , everything but gas mpg.

Car will be used for trips in and around Charlotte, as well as trips to New York, 4 times a year.
I may also use it ocassionally for a personal taxi, like Lyft or Uber

Car Needs: Family transporter / Errands about town / Long trips

Need minimum of 4 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 185000
Maximum age: 14 years

Maximum price: US $ 3500

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Response from mkaresh

4:59 pm November 22, 2014

In this price range with this many miles, there aren't many reliable options. Mostly the Accord and Camry. Maybe a Ford Fusion.

Do Lyft and Uber have any rules about the maximum age or miles on a car?

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Toyota Camry
Honda Accord
Ford Fusion

Response from wilfredtr

7:41 pm November 22, 2014

Thanks for the feedback. Honda Civic or Accord ....aren't in the running?

I have to check on the highest mileage limitation, thanks for asking that.

Lyft is year 2000, or newer, Uber is year 2004, Sidecar is year 2000

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Response from mkaresh

9:59 pm November 22, 2014

I listed the Accord. It sounded like you wanted a midsize car, so I didn't list the Civic. Those are also good. The hard part is finding a good car for the amount you want to pay.

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Response from mwcten

10:44 am November 24, 2014

I'm assuming you're putting a lot of miles on the car per year? In that case, a Prius is probably your best bet. Even if you've got to spend a little more for it up front, it will be worth it. If you're driving 20k per year, even at $3 a gallon gas, if you can get from 30mpg to 45mpg, that is going to save you almost $700 a year. So if I were in your shoes, I would stretch the budget a little and get an 04-05 Prius with 150k or so in the $4-5k range. They have better mpg's and reliability than the 00-03's, but if you can get a really good deal on a well maintained 00-03 I wouldn't necessarily exclude it. If you can't stretch the budget, a higher milage/older Prius would probably still be reliable enough for you. Just make sure you could afford the battery replacement should that become necessary.

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Toyota Prius

Response from wilfredtr

12:05 pm November 24, 2014

Thank you for such a comprehensive answer. I don't expect much more that 12-15k, and keeping within that budget number is critical. I currently own an Altima Hybrid, and I did extensive math before buying it, and consider it one of the best financial decisions I've ever made. Average MPG, over two year is 36 MPG!

Maybe I should ask this question. Which year/make/model car, that is typically considered a "best bet" might not be so in this price range?

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Response from mkaresh

5:10 pm November 24, 2014

We're beyond my personal knowledge here, as it's hard to measure reliability of cars with a lot of age and miles on them--how they were maintained becomes so important.

My gut tells me that any car this inexpensive is likely to require repairs, or it wouldn't be this inexpensive. So the question becomes how expensive these repairs tend to be. This generally rules out European cars unless you can do the work yourself.

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Response from mwcten

5:42 pm November 25, 2014

I think successfully purchasing a car in your price range is based on:
1. Get a model that is reliable and cheap to repair (per the user reported data on this site) for its price point. These are the "best bets" no matter anyone else's personal experience. Then maybe poke around the users group websites for the particular car models you're interested in to get more info on common problems; maybe you can fix them yourself for little money, etc.
2. Buy from a trustworthy seller that took care of the car. On Craigslist, avoid the auction car flippers, the two line descriptions, the little roadside car lots, etc. Buy from someone who had some pride of ownership in their car.
3. Have it checked out by a mechanic to look for random stuff that you might miss, like oil in the coolant, pending check engine codes, etc.

You'll have to be patient and a little flexible on car models to make these three factors line up for a car, but eventually it will happen.

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Response from wilfredtr

9:50 am December 7, 2014

I ended up buying a Nissan Altima 2000, 4 cyl with 125,000 miles, using the idea that I have to e flexable with car models. I paid an astonishing $2600 for it, and it only needed a tie rod end to pass inspection.

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Nissan Altima
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