Reliable car for $1500?

JEDI

Lifer
Sep 25, 2001
30,160
3,300
126
a former co-worker used to do this all the time:
buy a $1500 car
put in $500 in repairs
sell it 2 yrs later for $1500
rinse/repeat

so the only depreciation was the initial $500.

How can i test to see if the $1500 car is reliable?

and what websites do i look for $1500 cars?

thx
 

dug777

Lifer
Oct 13, 2004
24,778
4
0
There's no 'test' quite that simple ;)

Look for something with full service history, and get a mechanic to give it a once over before you buy (here the RAC will do a full point vehicle check and test drive for $100 AUD, which is a complete bargain).

Perhaps pick up one of those 'dog & lemon' used car guides, which can help you avoid vehicles that have aged particularly badly, and point you in the direction of stuff that has fared much better...


EDIT: & you'll get pretty sick of cars that aren't reliable (especially if you use it for work, and drive a lot), and that don't have all the creature comforts of your shiny little 3 ;)

EDIT2: & you've got to be some kind of sick masochist to want to deal with buying and selling cars in that price range every few years :p
 

thedarkwolf

Diamond Member
Oct 13, 1999
9,000
109
106
Very few people are going to have a full service records on a $1500 car. Helps if you are a somewhat decent mechanic yourself. Just because a car is old and cheap doesn't mean its going to be unreliable or lack the creature comforts. A lot of 90+ models come with you're normal power crap and a/c and are no problem finding in the $1500 range. I've never bothered taking any of the ones I've bought to a mechanic. I just look them over good and if they run good, no weird noises coming from the engine, trans works fine, and it rides fine its good enough for me. I've been lucky so far and have yet to have an unreliable beater and I've have had some really old ragged looking cheap cars. My current beater is an 89 dodge caravan that I bought for $800 6 years ago. It looks horrible but has power everything, good a/c, and everything still works on it and it has yet to leave me stranded anywhere.
 

MiataNC

Platinum Member
Dec 5, 2007
2,215
1
81
The simpler the vehicle the fewer the problems.

Look for something built in mass numbers.
Manual transmission
Ugly and not something a kid would want to "rice" or "hot rod".

Be prepared to cut your losses if it starts to become a money pit.

It's a dice roll, but it's not hard to do if you play it smart and go in knowing you may take a loss if you get a crap heap.
 

jagec

Lifer
Apr 30, 2004
24,442
6
81
It's tough to pull off unless you're a decent mechanic already.

That said, what I've paid for cars ranges from $500 all the way up to $2100, and with two exceptions they've all been pretty reliable.
 

sandorski

No Lifer
Oct 10, 1999
70,096
5,639
126
I knew a family that never spent more than $500 on a car. A lot of the cars didn't last very long, but every once in awhile they'd get 100k Miles out of one of their beaters. One of those gems cost them < $100!! This was back in the '80's though and they never had to worry about Emissions or Safety testing. Good thing too, because one of their 3 or 5 Ton trucks actually caught fire once!! :D:D I suspect they paid a few thousand for that though.
 

dug777

Lifer
Oct 13, 2004
24,778
4
0
Originally posted by: thedarkwolf
Very few people are going to have a full service records on a $1500 car. Helps if you are a somewhat decent mechanic yourself. Just because a car is old and cheap doesn't mean its going to be unreliable or lack the creature comforts. A lot of 90+ models come with you're normal power crap and a/c and are no problem finding in the $1500 range. I've never bothered taking any of the ones I've bought to a mechanic. I just look them over good and if they run good, no weird noises coming from the engine, trans works fine, and it rides fine its good enough for me. I've been lucky so far and have yet to have an unreliable beater and I've have had some really old ragged looking cheap cars. My current beater is an 89 dodge caravan that I bought for $800 6 years ago. It looks horrible but has power everything, good a/c, and everything still works on it and it has yet to leave me stranded anywhere.

It seems to me that if you've got an opportunity to get a trained mechanic to look over a car thoroughly for $100, even for a $1500 car it's still a damn good investment, in fact, especially for a $1500 car it's a damn good investment ;)

 

T2urtle

Diamond Member
Oct 18, 2004
3,432
3
81
with a $1500 car you have to learn to deal with certain things, rattles, things not working exactly right., noise, and etc.

madza 323 hatchbacks, madza 626 sedans come right to mind. Dodge shadows/spirits. old calviers. I've actually seen a couple fox body v6 for about $1500 as well.

those are the cars i would aim for. i would be expecting RUST and no AC on most of the cars tho.