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-   -   Choosong a car- what are "live with it"s/deal breakers? (

Wallaby 04-03-2012 09:19 PM

Choosong a car- what are "live with it"s/deal breakers?
So It's becoming more and more apparent that I desperately need my own car. I've been using one my parents own for the last few years but now my brother drives and has basically taken the car over as "his" (when I pay for everything, don't ask).

In any case, my car budget is not going to be a large one (I'm a college student) and with that, I'm expecting that this car is going to have some issues. I'm just not sure, in looking at car ads, what are issues that are going to break the bank and what are issues that are just annoying. The car I was driving has a transmission leak so I'm used to buying and putting in transmission fluid on a regular basis, that's the kind of "annoying" issue I mean.

My dad is of the opinion that I shouldn't settle for anything less than perfect BUT he's not going to help me pay the extra money for something perfect, so perfect isn't gonna happen unless I get really really lucky.

I basically just need it to be able to handle 15 miles a day, more would be nice since it'd be great to drive to church instead of riding the train every week (45 minute freeway drive, one way) but as long as it'll get me to school, I'm happy.

Anyway, I'm sure people selling cars, like people selling horses, have "code words" for certain things, what are things to look out for?
What are issues that are ok for a car to have?
What do I run away from?

Also, any specific kind of car that I should look for?

Thank you! :)

94broncoxlt 04-05-2012 12:07 AM

If you have a small budget and dont want to fool with costly repairs, I hate to say it but you may want to look into older Asian cars. Honda, Toyota, Subaru. Before you buy you need to check this to aviod footing an unforseen bill:
Look inside radiator when its cool, see if its got what looks like mud in it.
Check the tires, are they worn funny or evenly, are they bald?
Look under the car and see if its leaking and what. Put the fluid its leaking on the back of your hand to see the color. If its clear and makes your skin dry - its brake fluid and you need to walk away (because brake lines are actually cheap but to get a shop to repair it is $$), if its leaking PINK tranny fluid, they have run it too long, it has broken down and the tranny may need work at some point. Rear main engine seals leak often but just mean you have to top off often, unless it is gushing out. Look under the rear of the car, this can tell you a lot. If there's oil kicked up on the axle or floor pans, this thing has been leaking a lot of something lately. Is the power steering leaking? ETC.
When you drive a vehicle you may buy, make sure the brake pedal feels good, the emergency brake works, the wipers, flashers, signals, head/tail lights, horn work. These will all help you pass inspection. Listen for funny noises. Funny noises often mean BAD things when people are trying to sell you a car.
If you have any questions feel free to message me! Good luck. I bought my 94 Bronco when I was 15 and still have it six years later. Sure, its been though a lot, but it was a great buy.

waresbear 04-05-2012 12:22 AM

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has to have a keyless entry and seat heat and a/c. And a good warranty.

tasunke 06-06-2012 12:43 PM

Did you find a car?

Honda are considered sport cars and insurance is expensive. We had a Ford Focus for 5 years, did wonderful on gas. My two suggestions is Chevy or Ford.

Things to look at:

1) Will the car pass inspection/emissions (not sure if Oregon requires it).
2) Does it run
3) Does the AC/Heat work
4) Any rust
5) How many miles

Delfina 06-06-2012 12:52 PM


Originally Posted by waresbear (Post 1439461)
has to have a keyless entry and seat heat and a/c. And a good warranty.

You might get the AC but the rest of those aren't going to happen on a tiny budget!

MN Tigerstripes 06-06-2012 01:22 PM

Look into the older Chevy Impalas. Rockstar vehicles, known for their durability and low cost maintenance. I have a 2001 Impala, bought it with 70,000 miles for $7700 or something. It has 287,000 miles on it right now and still runs really well, it is just now getting to the relatively expensive problem stage. I have never had a big fix with this vehicle and haven't paid over $200 to fix anything. Make sure you get an older (2000 - 2005 I believe) and the 3800 series (3.8L engine), they are nice vehicles. Nothing special or fancy, but they'll get the job done.

The biggest problem with the older asian cars (toyota, honda, subaru) is the cost to fix anything is usually harder and more expensive.

Don't worry about frills, you don't need AC (believe me mine went out 3 years ago and I've survived just fine), keyless entry, seat heat or anything else. Swallow your pride (if you have any in this type of stuff) and look at the vehicles with hail damage, dings, surface rust, etc. Again looks don't matter, durability and easy of maintaining, you want something that is cheap to own.

BarrelWannabe 06-06-2012 01:32 PM

Ford Rangers! They are cheap, good on gas, good with insurance, parts are readily available and they resell well.

They're easier to work on that foriegn cars. Keep in mind though, you'll more than likely come across a standard more than you will an automatic. But they're still out there!
I've had two rangers. My first was a '97 that I put about 40,000 miles on it in a year. I drove that thing to the moon and back. The only reason why I don't have that one is because I totaled it, and even then it had 250,000+ miles on it. My current ranger is a '92 and just as tough. I've put about 15,000 on it so far since I got it in December. I've worked on it once in that time to replace my slave cylinder line. That was because someone band-aided it.

Rangers are great. Their tough, reliable, and an all together great vehicle. Both of mine start(ed) everyday, anyday.

Here are some ideas:

I don't know your budget but these are good. Sorry if I'm being a little too intrusive.

churumbeque 06-07-2012 08:39 PM

You didn't say what your budget is but have a trusted mechanic look it over before you buy anything. Not much could mean 500.00 or 5000.00 or a monthly payment of 200.00 Too vague

Skyseternalangel 06-07-2012 08:48 PM

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Okay before I even read your OP. The BIGGEST deal breaker is a car that breaks down on you and leaves you stranded in the middle of nowhere.

Happened to me.. sheesh 6 times? One time it was WHILE I was on the highway... thank GOD it wasn't earlier in the day or I would have died. It was around 11:45 at night or something. But so scary :(

I think the best place to look for good cars at affordable prices is on-military-base. Most of those guys are deploying and want to get rid of their cars. If you DO go for a used dealership, make sure that every issue of the car is disclosed.

Since you're going into summer, AC is important. I went without it one summer and nearly passed out at the wheel with windows down and light clothing. For winter, that wouldn't matter but yeah.. it can be bad for summer.

Check the car's history so you can figure out if it has been in any accidents.

Transmission failure history sucks.. transmission is SO expensive to replace in both cars and trucks.

BarrelWannabe 06-07-2012 09:05 PM

And a word of advice, you start the car. If you show up with the car started or recently(within the last few hours) GET BACK IN THE CAR.

You should be the one to get in the vehicle and start it. After that, just sit and listen. Listen and feel for anything that is abnormal. Watch your RPM's when you start. If it rises and falls below 500rpm, the O2 sensors will more than likely need to be changed. They're fairly inexpensive but they a pain in the @$$ to change. Make sure the exhaust doesn't leak or make any funny noises.
If you happen upon a standard, check the clutch fluid, shift it before starting, during, and after. If it's stiff, you have are in there and you'll have to have it bled.

And older vehicles aren't perfect. They're not going to sound silky smooth like a Jaguar and drive like BMW. They all have flaws that come with age and wear.

My must have's for a vehicle are good tires, brakes, fluids topped off and maintained, shifts easy into all gears whether it be a standard or automatic, cold starts, idles well, no funny sounds, leaks are dismissable if it's the Rear Main seal and minimal, lights work, and last but not least, the tag isn't out! A/c, radio, cosmetic interior and exterior are secondary to running condition as they can be address later on.

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