long-winded "what car?"question...

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So the gf's parents are looking to replace their 2 beaters with 1 car,that is reliable, and fuel thrifty. Problem is their teeny tiny budget. (They were interested in my dads freestyle, but couldn't come up with the $5,000.) Any suggestions? My gut reaction is a crown vic(i know the mpgs arent stellar, but also not terrible) or a pontiac vibe, but finding one in good nick is gonna well outside their budget...
 
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need more info.how"teeny" is the budget?what class of vehicle? compact, mid size, full size, suv ... .there's a big difference between a freestyle, a vibe, and a crown vic.
 
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I worked at an auto auction for few years in my younger days, typically "older" cars owned/driven by retired folks tend to be well maintained, free of accident related damages/neglect, and have clean title. There're plenty of good choices for $5000, so don't get discouraged. But one must do his home work & research to find that diamond in the rough. On top of the basic mechanical inspections, I must emphasize that "Vehicle History" is critical, undisclosed accidents, frame damage, tampered odometer, failure to pass smog check, flood dmg etc. will all bring surprises down the road. Some insurance company don't touch cars with Salvaged Title which can be caused by a variety of reason from frame dmg related collision to theft. Make sure VIN numbers match up on all panels of the car, if there's VIN number stamped on driver's frt quarter panel under the hood but not on passenger side, then you know it has been hit & replaced. Inspect the bolt & nuts on door hinges for tool marks, it will reveal whether the bolts have been "turned", a sign that door has been replaced. In my state seller is responsible for smog check a vehicle in private party sales, I'd make sure the seller do the smog & not you. Do not ever get stuck w/ a car that can not pass smog. Keep in mind, most folks do not want to deal w/ the hassle associated w/ private sales, instead they take the path of least resistance & trade-in at dealers or sell it to CarMax. But they seldom get what they wish for at a dealer, a $7000 car could be worth only $5000 as a trade-in, consequently they are back to square one, sell it privately on Auto Trader, local paper or Craiglist etc. They are out there.
 
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earlyre

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Early 90's plymouth acclaim/ dodge aries, that leaks/drinks atf(add at least 1 qt/wk), late 90's ford...the model they had between the escort and contour...forget the name... w/ salvage title. Dunno what all is wrong with both for sure... Her dad has just reached his breaking poi.t with them both. Day after he fixed the brakes on his truck, the mufflers fell off both the beaters.
 
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Well, this is going to sound a little biased & perhaps none patriotic. But my experience from auto auction in past has pretty much convinced me the best new cars will make better "used" cars, and Chrysler products are not one of those, neither are many GM & Ford products. Look for a old Toyota/Honda/Nissan if possible. But stay away from Honda Civic Coupes (sedans are ok), just look at who is driving them. I've seen MANY Mitsubishi Eclipses, Civic Coupes, Acura Integras, Dodge Neons (list goes on) that look decent from outside, once you lift the hood & look underneath they all have been raced & abused, modified, wrecked w/ replacement panels etc.
 
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Vibe, matrix..or even corolla. Corollas alot easier to find than vibes and matrix's. Great on gas and low maintenance..2003-2007 were good years..not exactly fun..but cheap and reliable. Honda fit, civic, accord..many options exist.
 
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Originally Posted By: Rolla07
Vibe, matrix..or even corolla. Corollas alot easier to find than vibes and matrix's. Great on gas and low maintenance..2003-2007 were good years..not exactly fun..but cheap and reliable. Honda fit, civic, accord..many options exist.
None of those would be available fr $5000; if they did they'd have VERY high mileage and/or problems. to the OP - tricky situation: they'd have to decide how much money their CURRENT beaters need invested to keep them going at a decent level, and if it's less than $5000, they should just keep them...
 
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It wouldn't hurt to expand your search options such as eBay motors to search inventories from your neighboring states. I recall we use to see used car dealers from out of state bidding on old California/West Coast cars because rust is not a problem here. Consequently a 10 year old rust free car will turn a sizable profit in East Coast.
 
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Remember: A $1000 beater isn't going to be worth $2000 just because one spent a thousand dollars fixing it. Fixing an old beater would only make sense if repairs are minor, or maintenance related wear & tear items. Once major components are involved & cost of replacement approaching 40-50% value of the car IMO the repair no longer makes any financial sense especially the "longevity" and "reliability" of the vehicle is already in question. Eventually one will end up getting rid of a beater with a bunch of "new" parts in it. Not a good situation to be in.
 
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I think I agree on the keeping the beaters going. At the very least, one can circle the shop while the other still keeps them on the road. And then they can swap places. Assuming of course that the beaters aren't done for. I dunno. If it was me, I'd have a bit of a problem replacing one problem car with a new problem car, which is what vehicles for less than 5k can be. Big gamble. Question: are they planning on keeping one of the beaters, at least short term, while making sure this new(er) vehicle is great and all?
 
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Chevrolaewoo Aveo! As long as you keep up on the timing belts they are pretty indestructible cars. Crummy, but indestructible. And cheap.
 
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Reliable and fuel thrifty? If the Acclaim has an A413, they already have it. Spend the money that they would have spent on another beater fixing the trans leak. New timing belt, cap, rotor, plugs, wires, shocks, struts, cv boots, and tires and they can probably double the miles currently on the odometer. All of it is pretty easy to do on a 2.2/2.5
 
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For less than $5000 I'm going with the cleanest, best running thing I can find... can't be picky.
 
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I bought my 2000 MGM from a local used car dealer for $3500...only needed a few relatively minor things and it's been an excellent car. 23 MPG on the highway.
 
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Hyundai Elantra or Kia Spectra GT/hatchbacks are a bonus for utility and had upgraded suspensions. 2001+ were/are pretty darn reliable. Bummer that they have timing belts, and not chains, though. Depreciate big time. Maybe a Saturn also for same reasons.
 

earlyre

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Originally Posted By: Bandito440
that's not a bad find actually, b/c as i'm sure we all know, just like the Vibe is a Matrix Cosplaying as a Pontaic, that Prizm is really a Corolla, wearing Chevy Badges. here's the bottom line of what they are looking for: >$4000. NO VANS.(otherwise, my brother-in-law has an either '01, or '03 Windstar to sell, that has close to 200k mi, but everything works, minimal rust, to sell for around $1200) decent fuel econ. something you'd/they'd be comfortable driving 3 hrs from home(so they can visit their son in Cincinnati area), without constant fear of getting stranded. which the 2 beaters are...ok around town, but nothing you'd wanna take out on the highway.
 
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