Looking For A Cheap Commuter Car; The $1000 Or Less Challenge.

  • Jonno11

    Posts: 181

    Mar 01, 2012 10:56 PM GMT
    So I have a truck, but its a bit of a pig on gas. I did some calculations, and by buying a USED, cheap Focus, Camry, Accord, Civic, Sunfire, etc econo box, I could save at least $1500 a year in fuel. I've been looking at older models, early 90's, that sort of thing, but really anything that's able to pass a safety without much work. Does anyone drive any of these cars, or other econo box's, and if so, what things should I be wary of with them? I mean, tranny's, engines, timing belt failure's, does the exhaust rust off easily? That sort of thing.
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    Mar 02, 2012 3:55 AM GMT
    For $1000, you're looking at cars that are over 10 years old. Normally I'd recommend a Civic or Integra or Accord, but it's hard to find a 90's Honda/Acura that hasn't been thrashed by those Fast and Furious wannabe kids. I guess if you're not picky, it's possible.

    Things to look for:

    - Rust if you're in snow region
    - Water pump and timing/serpentine belt replaced every 75K miles
    - Head gasket leaks
    - Oil pan.. check if the drain hole is leaking. Means that the threads are stripped. New oil pans can be pricey.
    - Check for collision damage of course. Or non matching paint.
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    Mar 02, 2012 3:57 AM GMT
    I've heard building your own from scratch is good, cheap and gets you the hardware and software you want!
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    Mar 02, 2012 4:42 AM GMT
    500x_IllegalSoapbox-500px-03.jpg

    hope your commute is comprised entirely of downhills both ways
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    Mar 02, 2012 4:54 AM GMT
    If you're going to buy an older used car I would recommend one that doesn't have a CPU so you know exactly what is wrong with it - less surprises.

    I had a '98 Honda Civic until it was totaled by a drunk driver 2 years ago, but that's another story. It was a great car that got good in city and highway miles. They hold their value pretty well so if you find one with low miles might be over a $2k. Going back to the 'less surprises', any car you buy or are thinking about buying I would suggest that you take it to a mechanic before hand - just make sure it's not Firestone. I brought my current car to them before I purchased it for a full diagnostic. I bought it on their recommendation and ended up putting 2k into it when it broke down a couple of weeks after I bought it. Needless to say, bummer of a car.

    Good luck!
  • LJay

    Posts: 11612

    Mar 02, 2012 5:25 AM GMT
    Any chance of getting into a carpool at $20 per week?
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    Mar 02, 2012 5:29 AM GMT
    Ariodante said500x_IllegalSoapbox-500px-03.jpg

    hope your commute is comprised entirely of downhills both ways


    Lol! I so misread the title every time. I read comPuter!
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    Mar 02, 2012 5:31 AM GMT
    Regarding saving money, when you say that you are looking for a commuter car does that mean that you are keeping the truck?
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    Mar 02, 2012 5:32 AM GMT
    Ariodante said500x_IllegalSoapbox-500px-03.jpg

    hope your commute is comprised entirely of downhills both ways
    Run a hose from the bottom of the seat to the rear of the "vehicle" and eats lots of Mexican food. Then it will run on "methane" gas.
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    Mar 02, 2012 5:32 AM GMT
    I gave $475 for my first car. It got 19-22mpg. If you re mechically inclined, i'd say inspect yourself. If not get one of your friends who is to do it for you. If the car goes into gear without trouble and runs good you should be good. If fuel economy is really important then you need to focus on those models which emphasize miserizum.
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    Mar 02, 2012 6:52 AM GMT
    get a toyota... those cars last 300,000+ miles without any major problems... esp the camry's and corollas. I have a 1998 toyota 4 runner, with 298,768 miles on it and the only stuff ive had to do: get new starter, get window engine fixed, and buy a new timing belt and i use this car EVERYDAY and go offroading at least 2-3 times a month and go HARD and it's still lasting me wonderfully
  • NYCAthlete

    Posts: 132

    Mar 02, 2012 7:02 AM GMT
    A $1000 car is going to eat the gas cost differential in upkeep.
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    Mar 02, 2012 7:03 AM GMT
    At that price, you're looking at Cavaliers and Neons. Cheap, no frills transportation.
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    Mar 02, 2012 7:41 AM GMT
    Hondas and Toyotas aren't cheap even with 200k miles but Saturns are . They have have spacious interiors and trunks and get 35 mpg.
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    Mar 02, 2012 8:36 AM GMT
    Volvo 240 stick shift. They get about 30mpg freeway and are cheap to insure. Also VERY SAFE. 91-93 had driver airbags.
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    Mar 02, 2012 2:46 PM GMT
    ncgardner1991 saidget a toyota... those cars last 300,000+ miles without any major problems... esp the camry's and corollas.


    Often overlooked is the GEO Prism. A Toyota Corolla re-badged.
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    Mar 02, 2012 2:52 PM GMT
    You are wasting money. A $1000 car will cost you at least another $500 to repair and insure. So in the end, you will only brake even and probably spend more than just putting gas in your truck.
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    Mar 02, 2012 2:55 PM GMT
    Ariodante said500x_IllegalSoapbox-500px-03.jpg

    hope your commute is comprised entirely of downhills both ways


    You're such a filthy bitch..........you need severe discipline.....and bacon cookehs.......
  • Jonno11

    Posts: 181

    Mar 02, 2012 4:07 PM GMT
    Ive been looking at Civics, as they would save me roughly 2500 a year on gas, as they are more than twice as efficient as my truck. Coupled with the fact I wouldnt insure my truck if I didnt have to, and that would save me another $300 per month, so short of the engine detonating It wouldnt be a big deal, and even then, id just go find another cheap civic and use the 1st for parts. Though a neighbour has a Plymouth Acclaim he said just needs shocks and a battery, and he'd give me the car because he just wants it gone, so I might go that route.
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    Mar 02, 2012 5:07 PM GMT
    Dallasfan824 saidYou are wasting money. A $1000 car will cost you at least another $500 to repair and insure. So in the end, you will only brake even and probably spend more than just putting gas in your truck.

    I was going to exactly say the same thing !!!:I don't see the purpose to buy another car , pay for insurance and maintenance , just to save 1000 dollars in gas every year ...
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    Mar 03, 2012 2:39 PM GMT
    Dallasfan824 saidYou are wasting money. A $1000 car will cost you at least another $500 to repair and insure. So in the end, you will only brake even and probably spend more than just putting gas in your truck.


    Not so.

    In my area right now are about 5 decent FSBO cars under $1200. One for sale @$900 even has new-ish tires, recent timing belt replacement, new clutch in the last 9 months and a recent road inspection sticker so with tax, title & transfer fee it could be on the road for $1,000 no repairs needed. Could be driven for at least a year until something major came up. No the AC doesn't work, but so what?

    And it being a Geo gets 35MPG on the highway. Moving into this car from his older with an avg 15MPG will get you an extra 20 MPG and gas is $3.80 today so 1000 miles/annually @ 15MPG or 35MPG? icon_rolleyes.gif

    NOTE: I'm not addressing the cost of insurance....there's several ways he could do it:1) put his old car/truck in"storage" insurance.
    2) a 2nd car where I live would only add about $100 annually(liability only)
    3) drop the insurance on the older car completely.
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    Mar 03, 2012 3:00 PM GMT
    Please pick up a Consumer Reports Guide 2012. In the book, there is a section on best used cars and used cars to avoid (Worst Used Cars).

    There's a section of used cars (old models) at the $4,000 and under.

    (Somewhere else, I heard you can get an old Miata for $1,000.)
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    Mar 03, 2012 3:29 PM GMT
    Jonno11 saidSo I have a truck, but its a bit of a pig on gas. I did some calculations, and by buying a USED, cheap Focus, Camry, Accord, Civic, Sunfire, etc econo box, I could save at least $1500 a year in fuel. I've been looking at older models, early 90's, that sort of thing, but really anything that's able to pass a safety without much work. Does anyone drive any of these cars, or other econo box's, and if so, what things should I be wary of with them? I mean, tranny's, engines, timing belt failure's, does the exhaust rust off easily? That sort of thing.


    If you're contemplating a Focus, look at ones with either the Zetec or Duratec engines. Any Focus older than 2005, make sure the recalls have been done. Like other cars (Civic, etc.), some of them have been mucked about with modifications. Timing belt on a Focus with a Zetec needs to be done every 100,000 miles. If you're looking at one, shoot me a message for stuff to look for.

    Is an older car worth it? It depends.

    Make sure you have a shop or garage look the car over before signing on the dotted line. Used cars are getting more expensive, just because the economy still isn't good and people are more tight with their money.

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    Mar 03, 2012 3:39 PM GMT
    I drive a 98 saturn sl1 and it is my dream car, seriously! all i ever want out of a car is good gas mileage and low cost to keep it running. this thing hasnt broken down on me, and the only things that have happened are routine. I would recommend a saturn, of course, and this one i got for $1500. good luck!

  • Jonno11

    Posts: 181

    Mar 04, 2012 2:25 PM GMT
    The insurance on my truck is quite expensive because I am under 25, and its new. Having just moved to this province, it's alot different than where I came from. The cost for an old car is alot less insurance wise, and requires less insurance. I can get Public Liability and Public Damage insurance and be road legal, and really, the car is cheap so if it's in an accident it would be written off anyways. And 17 MPG is the best mileage I have ever managed, driving 80 kph on a flat road, so real world is closer to 14 MPG. If I double my gas mileage, at the current price of gas being $1.12 per litre/ $4.25 per gallon, my truck will cost me $4500 in gas this year, and a 92 civic will cost me $1500. And since the plrice of gas will go up quite a bit more, the gap widens. Obviously I would have any vehicle I look at inspected, because it has to pass an inspection in order to be registered and allowed on the road.