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Is $3500 just not enough to get a decent used car??

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by John Ruiz, Sep 17, 2010.

  1. John Ruiz

    John Ruiz

    Oct 9, 2000
    Plano, Tx
    I've been car shopping for about a month now and I don't know if I'm looking in the wrong places (craigslist mostly), but I can't find anything that isn't beat to hell and w/high miles or just plain ugly for my budget.

    I have $3500 to spend in DFW and I'm not expecting a new Ferrari or anything. I'll deal with 100,000 miles - no problem. That is, as long as the car has been well taken care of and can pass a carfax report without having all kinds of crazy issues...

    Am I asking too much to want a decent looking 97-01 car along the lines of a Nissan Altima or Honda Accord with less than 120,000 miles and a clean history for $3500? I'd love to have a sports car, but I doubt that'll happen if I can't even find a decent grocery getter. I'd also love a nice Elky, but finding one in good enough condition to be a daily driver out of the box is usually more expensive than I can afford.

    UGH! This process is frustrating. I've come across some real gems so far - rolled back odometers, wrecks that were advertised, described and shown in pictures to be "like new," etc.

    Any advice? What should I be looking for and where? Any Dee Eff Dub TBers selling a decent ride and want it to go to a good home? ;)
  2. Cosmo420


    Sep 10, 2010
    Roanoke, VA
    Do you know anyone that is an auto dealer?

    We have a friend here who owns a used car lot. Every week he goes to an auto auction where he buys cars for his lot. He got my mom a Jeep Liberty a few years back. It was a year old and had 22k miles on it. All the options - leather, navigation, etc. - for $13k. My dad got a similar deal on a Suburban a couple years before that. I have bought a couple cars that way as well. We see all kinds of cars come through. From dealer demo cars to rental fleet cars to trade-ins. We saw a guy spend $1000 and buy 3 cars. All had high miles and needed minor work, but he said he'd take them back, put about $200 into fixing them up, and sell them for $2500 a piece. Said that's how he makes his living. He got a friend of mine a Z06 Corvette that was a couple years old for $23k. Blue book was almost $40k.

    He charges us $500 on top of the cost of the car, plus we pay the fee that the auction company charges (I think $120?), but we still save thousands.

    If you know anyone who is a dealer, it's definitely worth looking into.
  3. I bought my 02 Mazda protege for $3200, with about that mileage, last spring. It can be done.
  4. Keep looking. Personally I would be looking at some toyota corollas around 100,000 miles. My family has had 3 corollas one is at 165,000 miles , one 176,000 miles and mine is 166,000 miles and just got a used distributor for 40$ , most exspensive exspense i have paid for it , mine is old though '86.

    Of course there are ford escorts and focus that come cheap but i rather have a toyota, my friend got an escort last year for 3000$ with 58,000 miles on it.
  5. no it's not impossible man
  6. Tendril


    Sep 28, 2004
    Cleveland, Ohio
    Used Saturns. cheap cheap cheap, and if you mind the oil the SL2s will roll into 200K without a problem. Parts are cheap and they are dead easy to work on.

    Only issue is, they like to go through the oil. check the oil everytime you fill up, and you're good.

    Is it a Lamborghini? Nope. Just solid cheap transportation.
  7. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    You're not going to find a 10 year old car worth having for $3500...unless you're competent to do your own repairs.

    Make it a mid-90's model or boost your budget to $5,000.
  8. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    +1, kinda. Got myself a used 2004 Ion 2 for $7k. It doesnt really go through oil any differently than any other car Ive owned has. As I have a pretty lengthy commute to & from work I change my oil around 6-8000 miles.

    Why not put down $3500 on a decent used car from a dealership?
  9. brickerenator


    May 12, 2010
    How about a motorcycle?
  10. hartke20g


    Apr 12, 2006
    miami, FL
    Jeep Cherokees (both the XJ and the WJ) can usually be had for under $4000 and have the added bonus of being able to haul a lot of gear. the 4.0L engine is also basically a giant tinker toy- anyone can fix it with even simple hand tools. i've noticed a trend that many of them seem to be 2WD, but i'm not sure if you get any snow in Plano.

    but being able to do your own repair work makes the selection pool a whole lot bigger; ie. if the ad states the clutch is worn, for +/-$150, tools, and beer for your helping buddies, it can be replaced in under a day.

    good luck on your search

    edit: perfect example http://miami.craigslist.org/mdc/ctd/1959438516.html
    prices may vary in your region, but they're usually pretty cheap all around.
  11. Let It Fall

    Let It Fall Inactive

    Oct 15, 2009
    Baton Rouge
    Dude thats EASY!!

    Craiglook.com and be willing to travel a pray the car makes it home..

    Has worked for me 4 times now.

    I would NOT be put off my a toyota with a butload of miles. They really keep going.

    I bought my 97 4runner for 4000 and my 98 land rover for 4000$
  12. Staccato

    Staccato Low End Advocate Supporting Member

    Aug 14, 2009
    If it has been well maintained for the life of the car. Used car dealers will not have the history, or if challenged, will NOT provide accurate, complete documentation, and a free warranty.

    Buy from an individual in this price range, and preferably a lower mileage vehicle!

    Honda makes a excellent auto, and assuming it has been well maintained...
  13. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    +1 again.

    We've done this twice, first a 99 (in 2003) with about 130,000 miles on it for about $3500 and then a 98 (in 2008), about 140,000 miles, for $2800. The 99 ran to 200,000 miles with no major trouble till then and the 98 is still running. We never really had much trouble with oil, or at least not that wasn't our fault (long story, but trust me, it wasn't the car's fault). Both were standards, by the way - part of why we could pick them up cheap was that no one seems to be able to handle a stick anymore. But you have to hunt around patiently and then jump on a car when it's available.
  14. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I've had a couple of hyundais and I love them. If you just up your cash a bit you can get a real nice one also. I got this exact car, power everything, sunroof, great stereo, in pretty much mint condition w 54000 miles on it for $5000 2 years ago. Craigslist.


    The people before me yanked all the hyundai emblems off it, and put some irish terrone something or other thingies in place of it. I catch people checking the car out all the time thinking it's some kinds of 100,000 exotic sports car. Kinda funny.

    Only thing with hyndais is some of them have transmission problems. Nothing hidden though. You can tell when you stop and go (it jumps), and on the highway (slips or won't go into 4th). If there's a problem you'll know with a test drive.
  15. Stinsok

    Stinsok Supporting Member

    Dec 16, 2002
    Central Alabama
    It is possible. Early 2000's Ford Taurus'ss'ss can be found cheap.
  16. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    Ive gotten decent used cars from private parties ranging from $2500 to $3000. So, no, not impossible.
  17. John Ruiz

    John Ruiz

    Oct 9, 2000
    Plano, Tx
    Thanks for the replies, guys. I'm hearing lots or Saturn talk. I hadn't really considered one because I read somewhere that they have a set of expensive and common problems which I can't recall at the moment. That and a friend of mine just got a used one a couple months ago and it already broke down. Cool to get another side of the story. I'll add em to the list but make sure they're well taken care of and maintained privately owned rides.

    I actually prefer a stick. I like the control, fuel economy and performance plus I just think it makes driving more fun. :hyper:

    I think I might try to just wait til I have 5K to spend if the shopping keeps going like it has.
  18. John Ruiz

    John Ruiz

    Oct 9, 2000
    Plano, Tx
    Oh, I should also throw this into the mix - I'm 6'6" and 275lbs - not fat just...big.

    edit: well...kinda fat. lol
  19. crucislancer

    crucislancer Supporting Member

    Dec 25, 2009
    Coeur d'Alene, ID

    I had an ’82 Corolla that I bought in 1996 for $500, it had 100,000 miles on it. I could have easily broken 200,000 miles if I had kept it, but I used it as a trade in for a slightly used ’97 Ford Ranger about a year later. The only reason I did that was because I couldn’t haul all my gear in the Corolla.

    Anyway, Toyotas seem to last forever. Keep up the maintenance schedule and you have a fantastic deal on your hands.

    It should be easy to find one for under $3000.
  20. It's definitely possible, but the most important thing to have when looking for a car is patience. There are plenty of cars you can get along those lines like a Honda Civic, Acura Integra, Toyota Corolla, Toyota Camry, Nissan Sentra, Nissan Maxima, Ford Focus ZX3, VW Golf. Hell, you can even get an older BMW for that price. Just gotta take your time and keep looking. Good luck!
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