Recommend me a reliable, economical car - under 5k

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472
Location
Cleveland, GA
Got a 2003 Corolla. Had it for 2 years and has 155k miles. Its going today to go into tranny shop again. It's a 5 speed, and the input shaft bearing in these cars are prone to failure. Thinking about selling when it's fixed and getting something different. I'd like something reliable and that gets 30+ mpg. Needs to be 4 door, I like 5 speeds...but reliable wins. I've had Corolla's and a Civic. Either of those 2 newer than 12 years old is over $5k with under 200k miles around here. Open to suggestions. Thanks
 
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9,799
Location
Ontario, Canada
2nd gen regular Neon? You could get an R/T with leather and a sunroof for under $5k too but I think the normal motor is geared for better mileage. 4 banger Sebring must be pretty cheap and owned by lots of little old ladies who took car of their cars by the book.
 
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8,859
Location
Texas
I'll be honest- this is a car segment I know almost nothing about (never had any interest in economy cars) so I won't even try to make a recommendation. But I'll pose a different question: in GENERAL, aren't Toyota Corollas pretty highly regarded (yes, this is from someone who hates Toyotas and admits it, but bear with me...)? SO if the only significant issue is an input bearing problem AND you're going to have it fixed anyway... I'd find out what the tranny shop can do in the way of upgraded parts or assembly technique to FIX the input bearing weakness and just keep the Corolla.
 
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40,846
Location
Great Lakes
Originally Posted By: 440Magnum
But I'll pose a different question: in GENERAL, aren't Toyota Corollas pretty highly regarded (yes, this is from someone who hates Toyotas and admits it, but bear with me...)? SO if the only significant issue is an input bearing problem AND you're going to have it fixed anyway... I'd find out what the tranny shop can do in the way of upgraded parts or assembly technique to FIX the input bearing weakness and just keep the Corolla.
That's kind of what I thought, too. Why trade one old car for another? At least it sounds like this one will be fixed up and you know its history fairly well. Unless he's just bored of it and wants to try something different...
 
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1,489
Location
Vermont
It's hard to beat a Corolla for long term reliability. If the car is sound then your best bet is to fix it and drive it.
 
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5,628
Location
London, ON, Canada
Why is it prone to failure? Maybe you just need to change trans fluid more often or use some Amsoil or something? Also as 440 said, maybe there is an upgraded bearing you can have installed, as well as possibly more preventative maintenance. I changed the manual trans fluid in my new Honda at 1K miles to Amsoil. I've no doubts the trans will last a long time especially now.
 
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16,290
Location
N.H, U.S.A.
Scooby U R sort of reposting as you were looking at a saturn last week maybe? I would stick with the "devil you know" as the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence. That said, a grandma car like a mid-late 2004-2007 Kia Amanti with low miles might be good. I havent researched this car though. Think out of the box. Repair costs will swamp a few MPG improvement in short order.Maybe look through local obits and see if a local family has a panther for estate sale on the cheap. Thats a good car. I got this unfortunate situation right now right here at work with a mercury and a caddy needing to go. I'll take the Mercury over a DTS smile
 
Last edited:

Scooby

Thread starter
Messages
472
Location
Cleveland, GA
Originally Posted By: Quattro Pete
Originally Posted By: 440Magnum
But I'll pose a different question: in GENERAL, aren't Toyota Corollas pretty highly regarded (yes, this is from someone who hates Toyotas and admits it, but bear with me...)? SO if the only significant issue is an input bearing problem AND you're going to have it fixed anyway... I'd find out what the tranny shop can do in the way of upgraded parts or assembly technique to FIX the input bearing weakness and just keep the Corolla.
That's kind of what I thought, too. Why trade one old car for another? At least it sounds like this one will be fixed up and you know its history fairly well. Unless he's just bored of it and wants to try something different...
I'm not bored with the car. I bought this car for a daily driver, and it does a good job of it delivering 30-34mpg. This is the 2nd repair in 2 years on the trans. AFTER I bought the car, I have found that the C59 transmissions basically eat the input shaft bearing. I've scoured the internet for some sort of upgraded part, but none is available. My only "upgrade" option is the buy a C60 6 speed that has had the ratio changed to match my 1ZZ motor. Only problem...$2800. This car has 155k miles, and would be more than happy to keep it for another 155k miles. I change the manual lube every 15k miles with either Motul or Redline...but it seems to make no difference.
 
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3,323
Location
Richmond, VA
I am very happy with my 04 Ion. Got it for $4200 and it had 106K on it. Runs like a champ, the best 4 cyl GM ever put into a car. It has decent power and still gets 32-34 MPG with very very very easy driving 80% hwy miles. My 5 spd was kinda difficult to get into 1st gear when I got it but I put Amsoil atf in and it now is a great shifter. Plenty of room, 4 doors, the only problems so far are that the engine fan has quit on me but since I do almost all hwy driving I'm not concerned and the darn windshield wipers had a crummy design and mine are broken. So if you see an Ion driving in a downpour stay away from them lol
 
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24,727
Location
Dallas,Tx USA
Originally Posted By: bigdreama
It's hard to beat a Corolla for long term reliability. If the car is sound then your best bet is to fix it and drive it.
^^2nd.
 

JOD

Messages
3,577
Location
PNW/WA
Originally Posted By: css9450
Surprised no one has mentioned a gently-used Crown Victoria yet.
No one is averaging 30+mph in a Crown Vic, which was one of his requirements. When I saw the title of this thread, I immediately thought "mid 200X Prizm or Corolla". So, fixing the input shaft and keeping the car really seems to be the most sensible decision. It's reliable and cheap to run. If you don't want sensible though, there are certainly options out there. But I can't really imagine anything else beating the existing car on practicality.
 
Messages
1,715
Location
VA
Originally Posted By: Scooby
This is the 2nd repair in 2 years on the trans. AFTER I bought the car, I have found that the C59 transmissions basically eat the input shaft bearing. I've scoured the internet for some sort of upgraded part, but none is available. My only "upgrade" option is the buy a C60 6 speed that has had the ratio changed to match my 1ZZ motor. Only problem...$2800. This car has 155k miles, and would be more than happy to keep it for another 155k miles. I change the manual lube every 15k miles with either Motul or Redline...but it seems to make no difference.
It sounds like you've done your research,but is the shop going to rebuild the same trans they fixed last time? I wonder if you might have better luck with a rebuilt unit from Toyota. What is the cost to repair the current trans vs getting the 6-speed or a factory rebuild?
 
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8,576
Location
Ohio
I think it's kind of funny even though the car wears out input bearing people keep suggesting the Corolla is most reliable. It might have reliability in many other areas but transmission failure is pretty major and knocks reliability way down.
 
Messages
8,859
Location
Texas
Originally Posted By: JOD
Originally Posted By: css9450
Surprised no one has mentioned a gently-used Crown Victoria yet.
No one is averaging 30+mph in a Crown Vic, which was one of his requirements..
Which is the exact same thing that kept me from recommending a gently used (or heavily used for that matter) Cherokee. ;-)
 
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