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Inexpensive and reliable

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta


I am mainly looking for a vehicle that is reliable and inexpensive to buy and own. A hatch would be great but I can't find one that hasn't been mistreated or with a clean title. I also need an automatic and it doesn't matter if it is AWD/FWD. Last car was a maintenance nightmare and current one was just totaled because of an accident. Thanks for your suggestions.

Priorities: Reliability & durability / Fuel economy

Preferred Bodystyle(s): Sedan / Coupe / Hatch

Car Needs: Daily commuter / Long trips

Need minimum of 4 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 150000
Maximum age: 16 years

Maximum price: US $ 2500

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Response from mkaresh

12:24 pm March 22, 2016

It's not easy to find a reliable $2,500 car, because if people expected it to be reliable it would be worth more.

Your best bet is to find a car with complete records that suggest it has been thoroughly maintained and not too troublesome. And a seller that is just looking to sell an unneeded car without much hassle, for just a little more than a dealer would give them.

Newer is definitely better. Among older cars Hondas and Toyotas are easily the most reliable, but for this reason they're especially hard to find under $2,500.

You might be able to find the best deals on cars from brands that have either been discontinued or with weak images, like Pontiac, Mitsubishi, and Suzuki (but not the Forenza, Reno, or Verona). The Chevrolet Impala and Ford Taurus are two larger cars that tend to sell for low prices.


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Response from mwcten

9:05 pm March 22, 2016

I would look for Pontiac Vibe/Toyota Matrixes, which they started making in '03. Alternately, the Scion Xa/Xb/Xd could be options. Also, if you're in a southern state, maybe an '01-03 Mazda Protege hatch; they're too rust-prone for long lives in northern climates. And it's older than your criteria, but a mid-90's Corolla wagon could fit the bill if you can find one.


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Pontiac Vibe
Scion xA
Mazda Protege

Response from mkaresh

10:56 pm March 22, 2016

Those are good choices, but can they be found for $2,500? I sold a rusting 2003 Protege5 for over $4,000 last year.


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Response from jackgrewersr

6:29 pm May 5, 2016

Consider a Saab. My last car is 2002 Saab with 80k miles I paid 1800 bucks. Had it over a year now and no problems. I notice Saab cars are cheap to buy. Just an observation


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Response from nasowas

10:44 pm June 10, 2016

I like the idea of the Pontiac Vibe/Toyota Matrix. Look for a base Pontiac Vibe. It has all the Toyota technology/mechanics/built quality of the Matrix without the added price for the Toyota halo. Look for one that has been knocked up a little bit. Don't worry too much about a high mileage ont he odometer if you have evidence that the car has been maintained with the proper Toyota specific fluids. Look for a base model with automatic or a 6 speed manual. Some 2.4 L engines were plagued with high oil consumption. Still reliable though.
Other options are:
Ford Focus.
Saturn Ion.
Chevrolet Cobalt.

There are plenty of them around, they are fairly cheap to buy. What ever you buy in your price range you MUST have it checked by a mechanic prior to buying.


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Pontiac Vibe
Ford Focus
Saturn ION
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