In need of car advice for new USED automatic car!!

10-03-2013, 10:15 PM
Hello everyone :)

I am an individual who seems to have very bad luck with cars. A little background first - I'm a 21 year old full time college student who also works full time. I commute about 50-60 miles per day back and forth to my college. I am in desperate need of a car!

I live at home with my mom, who is disabled but I take care of her. She can drive, so she mostly drives me around in her car, which is a 2000 Chevy Impala. It has lasted us about 3 years and it's on its last legs. She bought it for about $1200 and had to replace the transmission right away, along with pretty much every single part in it. Now, about three years after she replaced the transmission, it is in need of ANOTHER. It also has a bunch of tiny things wrong with it, such as it won't turn back on if the engine is hot even if it's just really hot out. There's also no heat or AC, and tends to overheat.

As a 21 year old, it's very important to me that I have my OWN car. I USED to have a 1992 Toyota Corolla, which I loved dearly and my dad bought me as a graduation present for $999. It finally broke down when the timing belt broke on the highway one day. Among its other problems though, it stalled out whenever I was stopped in traffic or at a light, it had no AC - it had heat but no defrost so I had to drive with the heat on and the window open, it wouldn't start at all on cold days, three of the 4 doors wouldn't open, it failed inspection for emissions until we finally "cheat"ed it through with an old method a mechanic gave us, and it shook violently if you took it over 65 on the highway. That's all.

Recently, my grandma gave us $3,000 out of her savings to buy a car with. After hunting around, we finally found a Nissan Altima 2.5S 2002 and it was AMAZING. It was gorgeous inside and out, it ran like a pro, had decent gas mileage AND AC and heat! It was spectacular! We bought it directly from an owner who was the ONLY owner and somewhat wealthy - he had his own garage to keep it in, so we figured it was well taken care of. He said he kept up with oil changes and normal maintenance.

This was three weeks ago. The car is basically garbage now. The cat converter went, which we got replaced by our family mechanic for $1,000. Since we drove it while the cat converter was broken, it damaged the engine because apparently this model of car. (This isn't my thread but here's a better explanation of what happened: since most people tell me 'the cat converter can't possibly damage the engine'). Now the cost for an engine, with near 100k miles and from a junkyard no less is roughly TWO GRAND. Not including installation prices, and that's a quote from four or five mechanics in the area.

Here I am now, with approx. $2,000 from a school loan and a desperate need for a car. This website: belongs to a used car lot nearby and I'm looking to purchase a car for at LEAST $1,000. I have no idea what is the most reliable one there. I'm obviously going to look in person and take someone with me who is knowledgeable about cars.

I wanted to know if anyone could take a look at this list of available cars and possibly recommend which ones are the most reliable with the cheapest types of fixes? I have tried doing individual research on each car and I'm down to maybe the 92 Honda Accord or the 96 Saturn. If anyone can help I would appreciate it SO much. I am so fed up with car problems.

Edit: I cannot take out a car loan because I have no credit and neither does anyone in my family. I took out the maximum amount for a school loan which was $2k for me. I'm struggling to go to school and work at the same time so I can hopefully one day make above minimum wage. I appreciate all help!

10-09-2013, 08:55 AM
Sorry to hear about the bad luck you are having with the cars. Only advice I can offer you if you have not already purchased, is to buy something extremely common. Civic, Accord, Corolla and Escorts. There is a much bigger list, but I hope you get the idea, cars you see a lot of. The reason being parts tend to be cheaper for those vehicles. Engines are expensive no matter what vehicle you buy though. When you test drive a vehicle, don't just get in it and go down the street 3 blocks and bring it back. Put some gas in it and go TEST DRIVE the car. Drive it like you just robbed a bank and the cops are right on your tail, try to break it(do not be wreck-less get a ticket or cause an accident). Pedal to the floor starts and extremely hard braking. Turn on the air conditioning and turn off the radio and listen to the car. Listen for suspension problems, unusual noises on the engine, and watch the gauges. Best money you could spend is to get a pre-purchase inspection. Yes I know it costs money, but it's far cheaper than buying a junker and dealing with the issues you have now. Hope this is helpful, and good luck!

Oh yes and as a side not try and stay away from cars with timing belts.

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