Idea's for commuter car

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472
Location
Cleveland, GA
Ok guys, got another question. I did a search because I thought this subject came up before, but couldn't find it. Anyway, the 1994 Geo Prizm I found got sold before I could make the 200 mile trip to get it. What I'm looking for: 1992+ small car Gas mileage - minimum 30+ 5 speed RELIABLE Miles - less than 150k (lower the better of course) Price - Less than $2500, really need it at $2k Any ideas for something that matches my requirements? I'm racking miles on my 2004 Taco and gas is hurtin. Gotta keep the Taco to pull the boat though. Thing is, I know how good Toyota and Honda is, but not real familiar with other vehicles. I remember someone talking about Ford Aspire, but none in trader here. If anyone knows of a good vehicle for sale in Georgia, let me know.
 
Messages
10,898
Location
Nokesville, VA
Well, I recently sold a 1997 Ford Escort 5-speed with 88K miles on it for $2000. Fair market value according to Edmund's. That's with a recent emissions and safety inspection, too. Pretty reliable car, didn't need much work other than a clutch in the time my mom had it, and the clutch was primarily due to the way she drove it. Engine used very little oil, at 4500 miles it was slightly down on the dipstick, I always thought it was 1/4 quart low at that point but I just changed it then so who knows for sure. I'd almost guarantee it would've made it to 150K and beyond if maintained (you know..oil changes..coolant flushes..that's about all it needs).
 

Scooby

Thread starter
Messages
472
Location
Cleveland, GA
quote:
Originally posted by JohnBrowning: Corolla!! YOu can find them all day long in nice shape for $2000 and all of them should easily get 30MPG!!
Not many. I have been looking because that's what I really want (1993-1997). There are none in that price range. Also, there isn't a single one for less than $4500 that isn't an automatic. I'm gonna try to keep myself from rushing in and try to wait on something good. The 94 Prizm was a gem, just couldn't get away from work to make the trip.
 
Messages
1,294
Location
Western Washington
I guy I deliver pizzas with had a '95 Subaru Impreza wagon, and it's in great shape. Everyone I've known who drove a Subaru said it was reliable, and Autooninfo.net lists them as quite reliable. I can't recommend any specific models, but you could consider cars of that brand.
 
Messages
441
Location
Toronto, Canada
quote:
Originally posted by Scooby:
quote:
Originally posted by JohnBrowning: Corolla!! YOu can find them all day long in nice shape for $2000 and all of them should easily get 30MPG!!
Not many. I have been looking because that's what I really want (1993-1997). There are none in that price range. Also, there isn't a single one for less than $4500 that isn't an automatic.

I agree that it would probably be optimistic to find a Corolla of that vintage in your price range. However, have you driven the mid 90s corolla? I had a 1996. You could have powered an auxilliary power system off the body roll. Also felt like it would come apart above 120 Km/H. Build quality was great. Best AirConditioning on a small car I have seen. My maintenance for 4 years consisted of gas and oil. But if you wanted an example of why Toyota gets a rep as a producer of passionless cars... Of course here in Canada that is a compliment. I would take the comparable Honda or Mazda product over the Toyota in a heartbeat. I am less keen on the Nissan Sentra of the period for quality reasons
 
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2,841
Location
St. Louis
I have a 93 Sentra XE. Not as reliable as a Toyota, but fairly good. Has a timing chain. Mine has needed alternator, starter, front main seal, and other things. The front main seal is a common problem. With a 5 speed you could get 35 to 40 mpg. I think much depends on how car was used and maintained. Mine was one of the last models made in Japan. It has 170,000 miles and still running strong. Once they made them here, they were not as good IMHO. Not sure how easy they are to find. I have an automatic. I have heard that the clutch is weak on these cars.
 
Messages
429
Location
US
Im int he same boat, I needed a truck to pull with and haul.But i have a nice commutter, almost to nice 98 honda accord. I want an older one and looked a few old geos but they want way to much.
 
Messages
894
Location
Sudbury, Ontario
A 1992 VW Diesel (nonturbo @ 52hp is cheaper to maintain than turbo) would be the last year you could get for that price. After that VW gave up on the US diesel market until they had the TDI. I'm getting about 40 MPG delivering pizza with mine. I put 1000 km a week on my car and it is doing okay. I paid 1700CDN for it (377000km)and put in another 1500CDN over the last 15000 km. That includes a repair manual, glow plugs, ball joint, coolant lines, winter tires and wheels, rear hatch pistons, climate controls, full exhaust, and a bit more. To cut to the chase, there is always something to fiddle with on my car but it never brakes down. If you don't mind spending an hour a week (1000 km) fixing stupid things you'll be happy with a VW diesel. Now that I've put 15000 km on the car it looks like I've got things under control so I won't have to do anything more than change the oil and drive. My brother has an 89 VW diesel with 300000km that is doing just as well. If something brakes on his car I know it is bound to fail on my car too and vice versa. Steve
 
Messages
36,461
Location
ME
Saturn S-series. Yup, they burn a little oil, but if you can find the dipstick you're good for many troublefree miles at 40+MPG from the SOHC. They have that great CCOT AC which means you don't feel the clutch cycling while you drive. The car just gets slower and slower. [Big Grin] 5 speeds make them very fun. The DOHC does too at a small penalty in MPG but used prices are higher on Sx2s.
 

pbm

Messages
8,889
Location
New York
I think you should keep looking for a Prism since it is basically a Corolla at a better price. For $2500 you can find a pretty good one.
 
Messages
1,983
Location
New Brunswick
I'll second the Geo Metro recommendation. I had a 93 4 door hatchback Metro, 3 cylinder with the 5 speed. I got mid 30's around town, mid 40's on the highway. My engine was badly worn, so if I had an engine in good shape my mpg would have been higher. Don't believe all the crap about ride-on lawnmowers being faster than a Geo, around town, my 5 speed Metro was easily able to keep up with traffic. On the highway it was slow but not abnormally so. Parts are cheap and easy to find and these cars are a breese to fix, a blind monkey could fix them! As for the Aspire, they're good cars, but I'd rather recommend a Festiva. The Aspire uses the exact same engine and transmission as the Festiva, but the Aspire carries a few hundred more pounds of weight than the Festiva, so obviously performance and economy would suffer a bit, but then again an Aspire would be quite a few years newer than a Festiva.
 
Messages
699
Location
Texas
'92 Honda Civic (either hatch, coupe, sedan). The prices are overrated on the West Coast (Ricers), but you should be able to find a decent one where you are. I got a sedan for only 3k ('94 though). 35 mpg--Like I mentioned earlier, the hatches/coupe may cost more, but Ricers don't like 4 drs. Still gets great mileage! Also don't be afraid of mileage...mine had 120K! Also Hondas are extremely reliable/parts are cheap (92-95 use same parts). So go for a higher mileage (let's you talk down the price) and pick up some A-RX! [Big Grin] [Edited to add mileage comment...] [ February 21, 2005, 12:02 PM: Message edited by: uconn1150 ]
 

Scooby

Thread starter
Messages
472
Location
Cleveland, GA
Also, how are the mid 90's Ford Escorts? I had a 1990 automatic back in 1995 for about a year. It was ok, never had any major problems. Don't really know the first thing about them though. Are the motors reliable for the long term? Also, what about Dodge Neon's? My wife had a 1995 when we first met. She traded it with 55k miles after the third head gasket job. Other than that, the car was pretty decent. Got 37-40mpg on highway. I think the multiple head jobs were because of the dealer. If they had been doing it right the first time it would have been ok. We probably should have kept it after the third time. It got a BRAND NEW motor that time. We were out looking at cars when it started running rough and running hot (just like the other two times). It pi**ed us off pretty good so we drove down to the area of the dealer and never shut it off. Car/motor locked up about 200 yards from dealer. Again, thanks guys.
 
Messages
11,284
Location
Spring HIll
Toyota Corolla or Celica. These things seem to run forever. Saturn SL1 or base SL, both are SOHC models. IIRC, 1998 models are rated at 39MPG on the highway with the 5 speed (1999 and newer are rated at 40MPG). I prefer the base model, even without power steering as I find the seats more comfortable than the SL1. All Saturns get top ratings for crash safety.
 
Messages
1,983
Location
New Brunswick
Steer clear of Neons, or for that matter, any Chrysler small to mid size car. If you want more reason to avoid a Neon, consider this. The Neon powerplant is a derivative of the ol' 2.2. That do it for ya? As far as the mid 90's Escort, I think they're a solid little car. They used the powertrain from the Mazda 323/Protege, so you know they've got good reliability.
 
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