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Reliable car, under $1,000

The Right Car for Me | TrueDelta


I just want an inexpensive, reliable car that still has curb appeal. I'm tired of high insurance costs, paying high yearly Ad Velorum taxes, and exorbitant fuel costs. I'm looking for a quality 'disposable' car.

I want to thank those of you who have responded, and post a minor update. As I go along in my search...
1.) I've decided to wait to make a purchase until closer to the end of the month.
2.) I'm raising my price point to $1,500. Not a huge difference, but more and better cars seem to be in this range.
3.) It seems that cars.com has the best inventory, which includes the same cars I'm finding in other search sites.
4.) I intended to use the following:
##) Just buy the car, nothing else (no warranty, reconditiining fees, dealer fees, nothing.
##) All dealers have a carfax or a autocheck report. If they won't provide it. Don't do biz with them. At all, period! They are shady to begin with.
##) Always get an independent inspection.
##) Check with Consumer Reports, True Delta, and Long Term Quality Index.
5.) Honda+Toyota do NOT = better.
6.) Buicks have great expectancy! + Other 'Old People Specials'.
7.) Consider costs for:
##) Tires
##) Brakes
##) Oil leaks, burns/Electrical
##) Flood Damages! (Dirt in hard to clean places.)
8.) Car insurance:
##) Only get liability.
##) No collision or comprehensive. -- It's a disposable car, treat it like one.

I hope this helps!... And wish me luck!!

Priorities: Price or payments / Fuel economy / Reliability & durability

Need minimum of 4 seats

Will consider both new and used cars
Maximum mileage: 120000
Maximum age: 15 years

Maximum price: US $ 1000

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Response from Sea-Dan

4:58 pm September 21, 2017

Reliable car, curb appeal, under 15 yrs old, and under$1,000? That would be a real challenge here in Seattle!

Checking local Craigslist revealed a fairnumber of cars 15-20 yrs old under $1K, but most have >100,000K and some flaws such as dings, leaks, non working non essential parts such as AC, power windows... I'd be looking for a 4 door full or midsize car as these vehicles arehave relatively low resale value these days. Considermodels that don't have a lot of flash but a do have a quiet reputation for longevity. Ones likea Chev Malibu (or GM twin) Ford Contour or Escort(or Mercurytwin),Geo Prism (Toyota Corolla twin)... You may be able to find a Honda, Toyota, or Nissan in that price range if you don't mind a manual tranny.

Best case scenario is that with some patience and luck you might find a senior citizen's low mileage cream puff that
the family is trying to unload quickly and not real concernedabout gettingfullvalue for. Would love to hear what you endup with!


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Ford Contour

Response from mwcten

11:11 pm September 22, 2017

My take on your $1k car question is that, yeah, Craigslist and the Facebook marketplace are FULL of $1kish cars. Some of them don't even have any current problems. The big issue is REPAIRS. If you're taking your cars to a mechanic, most $1k cars will cost you more than $1k a year in repairs. You want a car that is cheap to repair; which generally means:
- Lots of them on the road, therefore lots of parts availability and used parts
- Easy to work on - fewer book hours for common repair jobs.
- Reliable
- A robust owners community, especially if you're going to do some repairs yourself (you can ask questions about repairs and seek the community's advice to minimize repair costs).
Honestly, if you're NOT going to do some of your own repairs, just spend more on your car up front ($2k-3k) and you will save money in the long run in not needing as many repairs. There's a big difference between an $2k car and a $1k car. You can make a $1k work for you, but it takes some elbow grease. And actual grease. And used car parts. Put in by you.
All that said, the models I'd look for for $1k are a Honda Civic, Toyota Echo/Scion Xa/Xb (the three are mechanically very similar), and a Toyota Corolla. You might have to go older than 15 years old, scratch and dent, and/or higher miles, but that's still worth it. All three are reliable with great owner communities, lots of parts out there, and are super easy to work on. Don't get just anything because it looks like its in nice shape.


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Honda Civic
Scion xA
Toyota Echo

Response from LectroFuel

5:46 pm October 1, 2017

Perhaps a Ford Crown Vic? The taxis run forever and I've heard many have more than 400k miles and still run. Cheap parts that are readily available at a junkyard probably. Very durable car, especially if you get the police interceptor which has heavy duty parts installed.

Japanese brands will likely be more reliable, but a little more expensive to fix compared to American brands. American cars will be the majority of the search results because they are cheap. I'd advise not getting a salvaged car. I bought a used Accord a long time ago and it turned out to be salvaged and the steering wheel would pull left even after alignment.

You may have to drive far to get a $1k car. There are zero $1k cars around me that still run.

A Civic or Corolla would be ideal, but they might be hard to find. The earlier two posts above were great. I'm interested in hearing what you get!


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Ford Crown Victoria
Toyota Corolla
Honda Civic
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