hello, very new and green to this site and process………I’m searching for a VERY reliable car for a 19 year old to drive back and forth to college. She had been driving a 2006 Mazda3, however, an accident has caused her to say goodbye to her beloved friend. She is responsible for her expenses so she is looking at $3800 to $4500 in cost. did I mention, it has to be RELIABLE, also, smaller, better on gas and an automatic only. All assistance is greatly appreciated. We are in Cincinnati Ohio and willing to go up to 30 miles for the appropriate car/deal.
Hey there – welcome to the community. And sorry to hear about the loss of the Mazda. Those are terrific cars. Sounds like it kept your daughter safe, though, which is great.
The key to buying a reliable older car is to find one that has been very well cared for throughout its life. That usually means not more than one or two owners, records for all services (on time) and repairs, little to no deferred maintenance (e.g. broken AC), no accident history, etc. In other words, you should be super picky, but in the end it will be worth the extra time and effort.
At this price point, I would also focus on private party sales since most dealerships aren’t going to have anything worth buying for less than $5000.
Here are a couple of options that look promising:
Of course, these would still need to be checked out thoroughly in person – and then, if they are as good as or better than expected, brought to a knowledgeable mechanic for a pre-purchase inspection, or PPI, which usually runs about $150 and is completely worth it for any car that you’re serious about. (Here’s a related article for reference: The First Step to Buying a Great Used Car is Finding a Great Mechanic.)
Let us know what you think about either of these – or if you find other cars that you may want to pursue – and we can help from there.
Mark is right, you’ll have to search private party. You’re not going to find anything good for that price at a dealership.
Another tip is that if you might have to be patient. Rushing into the wrong car can cost you thousands more in the long term. It might take a few weeks to find a good car.
Here is another option on Craigslist in Hamilton Ohio. 125k miles, clean other than the swipe by the door. Scions are made by Toyota, very good cars, I have owned an XB myself for the last 3 years and have had zero problems. The XD is a little smaller and gets better mileage.
Link is below the pic