Everyone’s been there, you’re a college student coming home from work and suddenly you hear a loud cracking from the front of the car followed by a sound resembling a massive accident.
Now you’re stuck on the side of I-70 North during rush hour traffic with semi-trucks plowing past you doing three and half times the speed of sound with your transmission sitting on the ground after it decided to detach itself from the rest of the vehicle.
Meanwhile, you are on the phone with AAA listening to someone say it will be 3 hours until a tow truck is available. It’s an extremely common issue.
As a result, you now think you need a new mode of transportation, allow me to be of some assistance, as I have some experience navigating this kind of scenario. A couple of things you will need to look for: cost, reliability, practicality, and how much you actually want to own the thing.
A prime example would be this 2001 Toyota Camry XLE for $1,250, yes, it has well over 200,000 miles on the clock, and yes, the interior probably smells of bodily fluids, but it’s an old Toyota, so mechanically at least, it will probably last longer than most of us will be alive. Plus, you are getting a car for less than a semester meal plan.
If you are looking to spend a bit more, which is something I would recommend, this 2002 Honda Accord EX-L for $4,985 would be a much better option.
Hondas are not quite as reliable as old Toyotas so this will probably conk out around the time we apply for retirement. In addition, it was the top of the line model in its day, with the big V-6 engine, and the coupe body, it will surely be a rather entertaining drive as well.
Another great buy would be this 2012 Ford Fiesta SES hatchback for $5,855. This was another top trim level of a relatively cheap car, something you will find a lot of in your search. It is small, light, and good looking; all you really need to have a great time behind the wheel.
The gas mileage is excellent, and it will be cheap to insure. It’s not nearly as reliable as the first two, but you are getting something that’s a whole decade newer, which means a better interior and more up-to-date technology.
This last option is a real hit or miss. In some ways it’s fantastic; it has less than 70,000 miles, it’s a 2017 model year, and it’s only $6,500. There is just one catch, it’s a base model Chevrolet Spark LS. A car that is not at all famous for being cheap, both in good and bad ways.
Objectively speaking, this is your best all-around bet, you are essentially getting a somewhat brand new car for a – relatively speaking – minuscule amount of money. The downside is that it will have a worse sense of humor and less interior space than a dishwasher.