First Car for 10k or Less?

arnoc

Member
Feb 16, 2012
54
1
0
I'll be the first to admit I don't know a thing about cars. And it's getting to be around time I purchase my first vehicle. My family has no practical advice that will be of any help in the search. My brother is a truck nut and won't ever consider anything that isn't "American Made" (Basically if it's not Dodge, Ford, or Chevy, he would tell me it's a P.O.S.). My father would be no help, as his only advice would be to pick out what I like and get it.

I'm currently driving around in my parent's 01 Dodge Durango (V8, 4WD). I pay for gas in it and it's killer on my wallet. Every week and half basically I have to pump at least forty into it. I could stretch it to a month as I barely travel, but my mother also uses the car, and leaves me footing the bill a majority of the time.

What I'm honestly looking for is: Something for Around 10,000 or less (Preferably something in the 6,000-8,000 range if possible), decent gas mileage, preferably above 20mpg), and around 80,000-100,000 miles or below, and will fit me comfortably (I'm 6'3", size 11.5 shoe).

I am young, so something with a bit of looks to it would be nice to attract some attention in, but not necessary.

What I've found in my search of my local area in a 25 mile radius has been three cars that have caught my attention:

1) A 2003 Mazda Protege5 with 93,081 miles for $7,000 from a dealer. 4 Speed Automatic.

2) A 1999 Mazda Miata Mx5 with 53,000 miles for $6,000 from a private seller. Also an Automatic.

3) A 2007 Dodge Caliber SXT with 135,388 miles for $5,795 from a dealer. Manual (I've never driven manual before.)
- Removed from Consideration

4) A 2003 Miata with 95,297 miles for $7,500 from a dealership.

There are some Camry's of various ages available, with differing miles. Most tend to be extremely high mileage (160k+ miles, most in 200k range) or extremeley low (10-30k).


You guys have any recommendations to keep an eye out on? I really want something reliable (Our Durango has had to have engine rebuilt and a new transmission) that'll last me for a good couple years.


UPDATE:
Due to suggestions from the topic, I've been focusing in on a few models.

1)2005 Toyota Camry LE: 4 Cylinder Automatic with 127,679 miles for $8,900. Hoping to talk dealer lower, as found a similar model for 6,500 out a dealer (within range of me, but much farther than I'd prefer to go, and I like the color less). Color is listed as: MINER GREEN. Wish I could find on in bright red or a dark color.

2)2007 Ford Fusion S: 4 Cylinder Manual with 87,687 miles for $8,378. Red. My grandpa really enjoys his, only drawback is I don't know how to drive manual (I understand the concept, and when I was really young used to drive a manual riding lawnmower, but it's been ages since I've done it).

3) A 2003 Mazda Protege5 with 93,081 miles for $7,000 from a dealer. 4 Speed Automatic. Low on my interest since it's so far away to grab, but still slightly interests me.
 
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manimal

Lifer
Mar 30, 2007
13,560
8
0
Please forget the caliber. Its the poopoo. Well its not horrible but I think it is.
 

LTC8K6

Lifer
Mar 10, 2004
28,520
1,575
126
I'm a Chrysler/Jeep fan and I advise you scratch the Caliber off your list with prejudice.
 

thedarkwolf

Diamond Member
Oct 13, 1999
9,000
110
106
I'm a miata whore but I doubt a miata is the right car for you and an automatic miata isn't the right car for anybody.

The Protege5 is probably the best car on that list but I hate the idea of spending $7k on a 10 year old economy car. Seems way over priced. Should be able to find an 03+ ford focus in good shape for $3-4k. I'm also a cheap bastard though.
 

arnoc

Member
Feb 16, 2012
54
1
0
Alrighty, I've scratched the Caliber off my list.

For my driving test I did use a Camry, and I found it quite nice. Not a lot of pep to it though. I'm usually more of a cruiser listening to my tunes than a speedster, though I do at times with my friends need to keep up at a decent pace x)

Unfortunately in my area, the only 3k-ish Focus' are from a skeevy dealer I don't trust. Rest are at least 8k+
 

pcgeek11

Lifer
Jun 12, 2005
21,318
4,433
136
The high mileage Camry that has been maintained is much better than any low mileage Ford Chevy or Dodge. It may not be a speedy car but for reliability it is the best IMO.
 

kitatech

Senior member
Jan 7, 2013
484
3
81
Listen to PCgeek11...
Camry
...I got my 2005 Camry LE for its trade-in valuation because the dealer feared it wouldn't find another buyer of a stick here in south Florida where stick-shifters prefer Hondas/Mazdas and Camry owners are more the AT type.
...dead quiet interior, silky-smooth 4cyl engine, (same can be said of the clutch/manual tranny), tight suspension and body structure, 24+/34+ mpg and burns no oil....I got it last Oct. with 100k miles for $7K out the door....

campfe.jpg


mg2504rs.jpg


The 2005/2006 are among the best model years for the Camry
 

Fenixgoon

Lifer
Jun 30, 2003
31,570
9,941
136
ford fusion?

edit: if you are looking for feline companions, any number can be had for less than 10k ;)
 

arnoc

Member
Feb 16, 2012
54
1
0
ford fusion?

edit: if you are looking for feline companions, any number can be had for less than 10k ;)

Unfortunately, I'm highly allergic :whiste: Bad typo on my part.

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After looking at that interior, I may have driven one. It was quite lovely for how I like to drive.

Quick search on AutoTrader and Cars.com, found an 06 with 125,515miles on it for 6.6k. I may have to take a drive out to take a look at it. Any recommendations of what to look out for?
 
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thedarkwolf

Diamond Member
Oct 13, 1999
9,000
110
106
Unlike earlier Miatas, 2006 and newer Miatas actually are quite decent with auto transmission. .

No they aren't.

One more thought since people have such a hard on for toyotas.

Pontiac Vibe
It is the exact same car as the toyota matrix but with a pontiac badge on the front which lowers the resale value a lot. They are built on the same platform as the camry only with a station wagon body. I bought an 03 vibe earlier last year for $2200 granted it had 200k miles on it but still ran and drove great. It was a bore fest which is why I got rid of it but it was a good basic very practical car.
 

KentState

Diamond Member
Oct 19, 2001
8,397
393
126
Beyond something with better gas mileage, why do you want your own car? I would keep driving the Durango and pay for gas. There really isn't a way to save money by putting 8-10k in a vehicle as you only burn about 2k of gas a year.
 

Vdubchaos

Lifer
Nov 11, 2009
10,411
10
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#1 - condition. Check the paint/dents/tire and look at the interior. Interior is usually a good indicator how well the car has been taken care of.

#2 Service records - Make sure all the oil changes were done and usual maintenance (especially timing belt). Without this, DO NOT proceed

#3 Get something that's easy to work on, reliable and cheap. This usually means economy 4 cylinder. Honda Civic, Corrola or even Protege would be good choices. NOTE: Protege is NONE interference engine, this means if the timing belt breaks, your engine won't get ruined (in many cars, when the timing belt breaks.....your car is bye bye basically).

#4 go to how stuff works and learn how cars work. It's really not that complicated hard. I was in your position 15 years ago and I didn't know anything about cars. I started off with simple brake job...since then I saved WELL over 15k in labor and have done brake jobs at least 10 times+ (amongst anything from Exhuast/suspension/turbo swaps etc). There is TONS of knowledge on the internet. Just do it right!!! For example, don't get under the car with only the jack holding the car, put jack stands underneath (this is life or death). There is a reason they call jacks "widow makers".

#5 check insurance rates for the car you are about to purchase

#6 don't go with what you want, go with what makes sense. Many young people make this mistake and end up with a "nice car they wanted" but not exactly the one that's reliable, efficient etc.

#7 this is more of a post purchase. Your car will last long if you treat it right. If you do burn outs and abuse it etc, don't expect it to last. You will also be going thru tires like tooth picks. Make a budget for maintenance and repair, you are going to need it regardless if you treat it right and triple it if you treat it like shit.
 

nerp

Diamond Member
Dec 31, 2005
9,866
105
106
Look for a Buick owned by an old couple who died and is being sold by their children. Those 3800 engines are bulletproof and you might luck out and find one that was kept in a garage except for Sunday drives. Smoke a huge joint in it to get the old lady smell out and you're golden. I'm always looking for older Buicks with low miles and good interiors.
 

Vdubchaos

Lifer
Nov 11, 2009
10,411
10
0
Look for a Buick owned by an old couple who died and is being sold by their children. Those 3800 engines are bulletproof and you might luck out and find one that was kept in a garage except for Sunday drives. Smoke a huge joint in it to get the old lady smell out and you're golden. I'm always looking for older Buicks with low miles and good interiors.

This is a great advice right here.

You can get them dirt cheap. 3800 is a great engine, just don't get any other one cause they have issues.
 

arnoc

Member
Feb 16, 2012
54
1
0
Beyond something with better gas mileage, why do you want your own car? I would keep driving the Durango and pay for gas. There really isn't a way to save money by putting 8-10k in a vehicle as you only burn about 2k of gas a year.

Part of the reason is pride, really. I don't like being dependent on my parents for things as much as possible, and using their vehicle is always just that, using their vehicle. My parents bought my brother his truck (05 Dodge Dakota), and to me that isn't owning a vehicle. It's not YOUR vehicle. It's your parents. To me that's not acceptable. I want to be able to say "This is MY vehicle. I paid for it."

I'll also admit it's a care thing. I don't take care of that Durango near as well as I should. I mean I keep up with everything on it for the most part, but the interior ends up looking like junk, as I tend not to clean it out. When I know I have a financial backing into something, I'm looking to protect my investment.


I may not of mentioned this, but it seems to be using more gas for the same distances as I've always traveled. It may just be a perception thing, but what used to barely move my gas needle and could travel back and forth two or three times before using a quarter of a tank or so, now one trip seems to do that.


And lastly, while I have a decent amount saved up at the moment, at work, my hours have been getting cut lately, so I'm not making as much as I used to. There is a possibility of me getting laid off. If so, I do have another job lined up, it pays a lot less initially, and is a further commute for me. And forty bucks a week, potentially more as gas prices keep rising, is really cutting into my budget for the week when you factor in food and other expenses I have. While it may be a harsh initial cutback, if I can drop my gas budget from near a 100 bucks a month (Almost 20% of my earnings for an entire month) to perhaps down to somewhere like 40 bucks (Which would be around 8%) That's roughly an extra $720 in my pocket I can keep each year.

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Side question about the Camry: How well is it suited for carrying stuff on the roof? In the warmer months I like to kayak. While I have no need to transport the kayak from my home to local watering hole, as it is stored at the local watering hole, I do have occasion to have to transport it from one spot to another a good half mile down the road. This is part of the reason why I was really considering the Protege5. I normally haul around in the Durango at all times my kayak paddles and llife jacket, as well as a tent. Granted they don't take up a lot of room and fit into trunk of most vehicles, but transporting that kayak can be a feat sometimes.
 
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Vdubchaos

Lifer
Nov 11, 2009
10,411
10
0
Part of the reason is pride, really. I don't like being dependent on my parents for things as much as possible, and using their vehicle is always just that, using their vehicle. My parents bought my brother his truck (05 Dodge Dakota), and to me that isn't owning a vehicle. It's not YOUR vehicle. It's your parents. To me that's not acceptable. I want to be able to say "This is MY vehicle. I paid for it."

Smart

I'll also admit it's a care thing. I don't take care of that Durango near as well as I should. I mean I keep up with everything on it for the most part, but the interior ends up looking like junk, as I tend not to clean it out. When I know I have a financial backing into something, I'm looking to protect my investment.

Correct, I don't care how good of person one might be. If something is given to you, you can NEVER EVER appreciate it the same way as if you worked for it/it was yours.

This is simply human nature. And that's why I don't believe in donations hehe


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Side question about the Camry: How well is it suited for carrying stuff on the roof? In the warmer months I like to kayak. While I have no need to transport the kayak from my home to local watering hole, as it is stored at the local watering hole, I do have occasion to have to transport it from one spot to another a good half mile down the road. This is part of the reason why I was really considering the Protege5. I normally haul around in the Durango at all times my kayak paddles and llife jacket, as well as a tent. Granted they don't take up a lot of room and fit into trunk of most vehicles, but transporting that kayak can be a feat sometimes.

You will need a roof rack and it will be fine. Just get a universal one that you can switch in the future for other cars.
 

arnoc

Member
Feb 16, 2012
54
1
0
This is a great advice right here.

You can get them dirt cheap. 3800 is a great engine, just don't get any other one cause they have issues.

And what Buicks would have the 3800 engine?

As well, what would you say is the average maintence costs for a Camry? On the cheaper side / average / can be expensive?