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Old 05-22-2010, 02:19 PM   #1 (permalink)
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3k or under suggestion

I'm tired of my 318ti. It's too small, can't put the kids in the backseat easily if needed. I sometimes need the family SUV to haul/tow/whatever, but feel bad leaving the wife with a temporary ride that is flat out torture to put kids in (2 and 6 months).

So.... Need some suggestions. Since it's a a to b car (I drive to/from work in it 99%) I don't need anything fancy. Getting out of debit is tough, but hopefully will be worth it (no more payments)

Cars I've thought about:

Sentra
Corolla
Civic (although finding an unmolested example in Atlanta is impossible)

Basically I need something I can drive back and forth on rainy days (motorbike otherwise), maybe have some fun with, and get at least 30 mpg out of. My auto 318ti gets 25mpg always .

Suggestions?

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Old 05-22-2010, 07:18 PM   #2 (permalink)
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So you want 4 doors and good gas mileage?
A friend of mine was in your shoes up until a few weeks ago, she ended up with a Saturn SL2, the SL1 gets better mileage but every single one we looked at had issues and their asking prices were still in the $3,000 range for a car that had issues!
I started asking around as to why cars were selling for so much and the answer everyone gave me was that cash for clunkers drove the price of a teenagers first car up and the people who need the money want top dollar, between these two things used cars are selling fast and for more then I've ever paid.
Your list is a good start.
I would buy or barrow the Consumers Guide Complete Guide To Used Cars, I just picked up the 2002 edition for about $4 online, it has values, gas mileage, recalls, reviews, rear seat leg room, repair costs for common repairs, in other words it has alot of info and it tends to go back 8-10 years.
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Old 05-22-2010, 07:31 PM   #3 (permalink)
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You could find a Tercel or maybe a cheap Echo
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Old 05-23-2010, 12:27 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:

Cars I've thought about:

Sentra
Corolla
Civic (although finding an unmolested example in Atlanta is impossible)

Basically I need something I can drive back and forth on rainy days (motorbike otherwise), maybe have some fun with, and get at least 30 mpg out of. My auto 318ti gets 25mpg always .

Suggestions?
Hard to go wrong with a Corolla. But in your price range it might be hard finding one that doesn't have a bajillion miles on it.

One of my cars is an old Mitsubishi Galant ('89). Lots of room inside, excellent acceleration, fun to drive, good FE, extremely dependable. Virtually nothing has gone wrong with it except the routine items (brakes, tires, etc.) that eventually wear out. And its 21 year old stainless steel exhaust is still all original, with the exception of the front most exhaust pipe.
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Old 05-23-2010, 12:39 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cracker Red View Post
I'm tired of my 318ti. It's too small, can't put the kids in the backseat easily if needed. I sometimes need the family SUV to haul/tow/whatever, but feel bad leaving the wife with a temporary ride that is flat out torture to put kids in (2 and 6 months).

So.... Need some suggestions. Since it's a a to b car (I drive to/from work in it 99%) I don't need anything fancy. Getting out of debit is tough, but hopefully will be worth it (no more payments)

Cars I've thought about:

Sentra
Corolla
Civic (although finding an unmolested example in Atlanta is impossible)

Basically I need something I can drive back and forth on rainy days (motorbike otherwise), maybe have some fun with, and get at least 30 mpg out of. My auto 318ti gets 25mpg always .

Suggestions?
Have some fun + 30 MPG + fit your kids in the back (since the 318ti is too small) + under $3k? Hmm.

What's causing the trouble with fitting the kids in the 318ti? The fact that it's 2 doors? Or is the back seat just too cramped?

And what does "have some fun" mean to you? Fast? Corners? Luxury?

Some immediate thoughts...

Infiniti G20
Acura Integra (sedan - run screaming from the coupes, naturally)
I'd suggest a 2003 Mini Cooper, if your budget was $6000 (I've seen them selling in that zone on cars.com). But that's a bit weak b/c it's a 2-dr coupe as well.
Chevy Cobalt (get a base model and upgrade it with SS suspension parts for better handling)
Ford Focus

Definitely agree with Saturn and Echo mentioned above.
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Old 05-23-2010, 01:03 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Pain in getting a car seat in the back, as the front seat doesn't move up enough.....The 2 year old climbs in no problem. That and the car sucks a ton, but what do you expect for 1k.

G20 is something else I found today...looks like I could almost find one of the newer body styles (2000+?) for that budget. Easily an older one.

I'll look around for SL1 or 2, but I've heard horror stories on maintenance.

6k for a mini? Wife might actually like that idea too...and I could stretch a bit for something fun.... hmmm....
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Old 05-23-2010, 02:49 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cracker Red View Post
Pain in getting a car seat in the back, as the front seat doesn't move up enough.....The 2 year old climbs in no problem. That and the car sucks a ton, but what do you expect for 1k.

G20 is something else I found today...looks like I could almost find one of the newer body styles (2000+?) for that budget. Easily an older one.

I'll look around for SL1 or 2, but I've heard horror stories on maintenance.

6k for a mini? Wife might actually like that idea too...and I could stretch a bit for something fun.... hmmm....
Maybe scratch the Mini - I did a quick search on cars.com, but it turns out the one that was selling for $5800 is damaged. (Unless you wanted to fix it.) I think the KBB price is more like around $7k or 8k for an '02. (There was also one that had like 150k miles.)

Think it'd be possible for you to wait until next year, when you have been able to save more cash? I've never really been happy with a car I spent less than ~$5,000 on.
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Old 05-23-2010, 03:56 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Take a little drive to tampa and you will find tons and tons of civics for sale and other cars cheaper then people are mentioning. Check out tampa craigslist!
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Old 05-23-2010, 08:55 PM   #9 (permalink)
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My wife had a 2001 sentra until last year. It was a great car, I think the big thing that we had to do to it was swap out a sensor on the catalytic converter. She had the automatic and seemed to get 32mpg no matter what. I am sure with some eco driving she could have been 35+ without a problem... get the manual, and who knows.
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Old 05-23-2010, 09:58 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Cracker Red -

I found this, but it has 133K miles, :

Cars for Sale: 2001 Saturn SL2 in Alpharetta, GA 30004: Sedan Details - 276249204 - AutoTrader.com

I picked S-Series (not coupes) + within 25 miles of Atlanta + manual tranny + $3K max.

If I allow automatics and 200 mile radius, the list goes up a lot. Here's a bare-bones with 79K miles for $2800 :

Cars for Sale: 1999 Saturn SL1 in Lithonia, GA 30038: Sedan Details - 279098312 - AutoTrader.com

CarloSW2

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