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Decided It's Time To Get A "Beater"...Used Car Shopping

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle, May 31, 2013.

  1. Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle

    Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle Minister of Fire

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    Yep, enough of driving the truck.

    Time to get a 4 cylinder what ever it is.

    Fire away. I've been looking, but not quite ready to take the plunge, hence this post ;)

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  2. wesessiah

    wesessiah Burning Hunk

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    honda civic. i've had a 95 civic for 7 years to compliment my 13-14 mpg mustang. i had a 99 civic before too. they're easy to work on, and cheap to buy parts for. the whole time i've had this one, the only repair i've made is replacing a fuel rail. which was actually a strange one, because i used to be a mechanic and never saw a broken fuel rail before, but it's a 15-20 minute fix that cost me $20. if you need to replace a motor (assuming 92-95, or 96-00 single overhead cam) it's only $500, and that would only get me a set of used factory heads and maybe an intake for the mustang. factory parts are easy to find since probably 75% of them get aftermarket parts installed, and those folks sell the factory parts. i paid $2000ish for it, and have put $20 into it, sans fuel, oil and tires... and i get 30+ mpg. mine is a dx, so nothing power in it, and it has 102 hp, so not something i go out of my way to pass anybody in. an ex would give you all power options, and 125-127 hp and a little more confidence in passing... 20 hp is noticeable in a 2500ish pound car.
    or, if you're looking newer, pretty much anything these days. i still prefer honda for my daily drivers (my wife has an acura, and wouldn't be caught dead in my old civic) and ford for trucks and go fast cars
  3. WES999

    WES999 Minister of Fire

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    I recently bought a Ford Fiesta from Hertz used cars
    https://www.hertzcarsales.com/vehicle/details/13854341
    Like this one, for about same price.
    Had it for about 6 mo.
    So far I am very happy with it, consistently gets over 40 MPG on the hwy.
    Cut my fuel cost about in half from the Ranger.
  4. TMonter

    TMonter Minister of Fire

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    I'd look at the following:

    Nissan Sentra
    Toyota Corolla
    Honda Civic

    All three are solid vehicles that have been around for 15+ years and have a record of reliability and good gas mileage.

    I'm on my second Corolla in 18 years and have no complaints. The last one went 220k+ miles before we sold it and bought a newer one.
  5. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    We're thinking about selling our Pontiac Vibe but could never get what it is worth. We've been looking at new cars for over 2 years now and still have not found what we want. One big thing is gas mileage. Our care is rated at 34 mph on the highway. We check every tank of gas and from the time it was new we've averaged between 36 and 37 mpg. I think our highest was 44 mpg and our lowest was 28 mpg. That low one was pulling a heavy trailer and (sadly) going too fast but it did well except for the mileage.
  6. Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle

    Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle Minister of Fire

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    2 G is about my limit right now.

    What is the range of engine mileage (before they crap out) would be acceptable, if I expect to get a year or 2 out of it?
  7. Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle

    Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle Minister of Fire

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    Dennis, any 4 cylinder is going to beat the 12 - 14 that the F250 gets right now. I've pretty much recuperated from Murph's surgery _gexpenses, but the truck is killing me in gas, and tacking on miles & wear & tear. Not good. I need it to last a while.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  8. wesessiah

    wesessiah Burning Hunk

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    mine has 196,000 miles on it. if they've kept oil in it then most of the possible issue is gone... this is the second honda i've had with high mileage... the other one got to about 220,000 miles before i gave it away. if you like straight drives then that makes it simpler for possible transmission maintenance. if you need to change a clutch all you'll need are basic hand tools, a jack and a couple jack stands, and a haynes repair manual if you haven't done it before. look to buy from an older person, try to find one that has a factory exhaust, and a stock airbox. those last two just give a better indication it wasn't abused. to be honest though, i've seen people abuse hondas terribly (running around with basically no oil... the oil light doesn't come on with the older ones till it's almost gone) and they still end up smelling like roses. if you find a non vtec model civic (dx, lx, vx) it's less likely to be abused since they made anywhere between 70 and 105 hp and less likely to be raced. even the sohc vtec in the ex is still a solid motor when driven by somebody trying to race it all the time though. i consider any of them with less than 150,000 miles to still be in their prime, of course, base it on the overall condition of the car though.
  9. Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle

    Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle Minister of Fire

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    Thank you for the info, very, very much.

    Trust me, this Cow Girl isn't changing a clutch ;) , car has got to be automatic (not that I can't drive a stick, but battling Lyme, and it's in my knees, so shifting & clutching is a witch!!)
  10. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Check with your county and town to see how they get rid of their old cars. Most school divisions and social services departments have a bazillion little cars.
  11. Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle

    Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle Minister of Fire

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    I gotta watch it.........Hurricane Sandy cars are all over the place :mad:
    Hearth Mistress likes this.
  12. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    For two grand you ain't gonna be watching much. >> Thing with the gov cars is they have the maintenance history. And the employees are scared to get caught hurting them by the ever watchful citizens.

    I know. I used to have one have one assigned to me. Park at Walmart and it is in the newspaper the next day. ;lol
  13. Ehouse

    Ehouse Minister of Fire

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    A Ford Escort wagon, (35 + mpg) is now my pickup truck. Got a 1998 with 89,000 mi for 28 hundred bucks. I can load a 10' 2x4 and close the hatch. Trailer hitch for it and the wife's CRV. Good to go.
  14. vinny11950

    vinny11950 Minister of Fire

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    I found my 1996 Jeep on Craigslist. Only 75,000 miles on it. I paid $2,500. It was a good deal but I still had to drop another $1,500 in maintenance (tires, hoses, filters, and belts).

    My strategy was to search for a car in the rich neighborhoods on Craigslist. Wealthy people get rid of stuff that still has a lot of good life in it just because they upgraded to something new.

    It takes a lot of searching though, as you will find a lot of shady deals out there. But the text message in the ad will tell you if they are genuine or just auto auction flippers.

    Good luck.
  15. basod

    basod Minister of Fire

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    You might want to see if you can get into an auction nearby.
    Most trade ins with 80k+ can be had for under $2500 - used dealers sweep them up detail them and tack on 4k
  16. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    I've had a beater car for a number of years . . . have to since I live 33 miles from work and the price of gas in a V-8 pick up would soon drive me to the poor house.

    For years I ran a Toyota Celica (even though I found out after buying it that it was a "girl's car" according to my buddy . . . thing is . . . I would still buy one of these today since it was near bullet-proof, fun to drive and had great gas mileage) . . . ended up picking it up from a guy who was moving . . . sold it when the rust started to reach the point where it was beyond my repair expertise.

    Picked up a Honda Accord coupe . . . gets about the same gas mileage, maybe a dite less than the Celica . . . but also fun to drive and quite reliable . . . I think I'm up to 172K and it's still going strong with nothing other than oil changes, tires, etc. changed out so far.
  17. Bocefus78

    Bocefus78 Minister of Fire

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    The beater I am rolling is an old 97 Ford escort 4 door. 30+ MPG, not enough power to hurt itself, and it has a mazda motor and tranny. AC, PW, PL work and all. I paid $1200. Foreign reliability without the foreign price. In my area, foreign beaters are going for double what american ones are. All I have done to it is oil changes, tires, and brakes. H3ll, the AC is still colder than my 2005 Chevy truck!
  18. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Be careful now, I've done the math and the extra gas that you would put into the truck is cheap compared to all of the extra costs associated with the small second car. For my 8 mile commute I save money by driving an F350 crew cab 4x4.

    You have to drive a lot of miles daily to make the small car pencil out.
    Joful likes this.
  19. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

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    I think early-mid 90's Geo Prizms are sporting Toyota powertrains used in the Corolla. They can be had for cheap because, honestly, who wants to drive a Geo?
  20. TMonter

    TMonter Minister of Fire

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    Geo Prizms were available from I believe 1989 through 2002 and they are exactly the same as a Corolla minus a few minor body panel differences. They are inexpensive to drive and bulletproof like the Corolla in terms of longevity.
  21. Ehouse

    Ehouse Minister of Fire

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    Yep, had a 1990. Around 39 MPG.
  22. mithesaint

    mithesaint Feeling the Heat

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    Really? Even when accounting for the cheaper costs of maintaining the small car? Even when factoring in the cost of having to replace the F350 that much sooner because of the miles?

    I ask because I'm about 8 miles from work and would eventually like to have a beater car for work and a decent truck for weekends and bad weather, and thought it would probably save a few bucks over the long run vs driving a expensive truck every day.

    Apologies for the partial thread derailing.
  23. TMonter

    TMonter Minister of Fire

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    50 weeks a year * 5 days = 250 days * 16 miles = 4000 miles per year (roughly)

    Multiply that by the cost per mile to operate the vehicle including original cost and I would bet it's pretty high for the truck. I'm betting $0.35 per mile at least.

    So with gas and maintenance it costs $1400/year. If you figure a decent car cost of 2500-3k I would bet overall you would be more than break even in 3 years.
  24. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Yes really, if you have to have a truck anyways then with a short commute it is a loser to own a second commuter car.

    It is a myth that maintenance costs are significantly higher on a per mile basis for pickups vs. small cars. Any additional "truck" maintenance costs are more than offset by the depreciation of the car and the need for similar maintenance on the car. I don't know if you have a gas or diesel truck but I have been surprised how cheap it is to maintain my diesel truck.

    4000 miles per year from commuting will not affect truck life. The years will destroy the pickup much faster than the miles at that rate. Expect more than 200,000 miles from a modern pickup (mine is at 171,000) and you know that not many trucks are 50 years old.

    You have to insure and register both vehicles whether you use them or not. What's your cost on that? I asked around and folks seem to pay about 80$ per month. Okay so you need to save at least 80$ per month in fuel to even cover the dang cost of having both vehicles in your driveway, not to mention purchase price or maintenance of the car. This month is June, in June there are 20 work days. You had better be saving 4$ per day in fuel alone just to break even.

    With me so far?

    15 mpg in the truck with a 16 mile commute and diesel at 4$ per gallon means I pay 4$ per day in fuel. You can stop now because you know that the car will use at least a little gas.

    Let's cripple the truck farther and say I only get 12 mpg which is what I get when towing my 8000lb trailer. I log this stuff. So 16 miles is 1.3 gallons which is 5.20$ each day in fuel.

    The car gets 30 mpg. That is optimistic since you aren't purchasing a new car and since this is a short commute. Today's gas price is 3.90 per gallon so that costs you 0.533 gallons which is 2.08$ per day. Uh oh, do some subtraction and you are only saving 3.12$ per day.

    Bummer, you won't even cover insurance and tabs. Then you have to buy the car (which results in a monthly depreciation cost). The car is a loser.

    I also put a value on driving the truck to work. I value the comfort and safety of a large vehicle. People in a one ton truck have a pretty good chance of surviving a wreck with most other vehicles on the road.

    Now I also ride and race off-road motorcycles so I happen to own a street legal dirt bike. When it is sunny, I ride it to work. It get's 60 mpg. Since I already own the bike for recreation the fuel mileage benefit is all gravy and I am saving money when I commute with it.
  25. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    In my own case it made economic sense to buy a commuter car . . . then again I have a 66 mile round trip every work day . . . and the Titan only averages 14 mpg (the reason it is mostly used for hauling toys and wood.)

    The other benefit is living out in the country it is nice to have a "second" vehicle in case one of the vehicles ends up in the garage for a day or two . . . or more.

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