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Good, Cheap Beater Cars & Inexpensive Commuter Cars - how to find one?



  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,141
    Personally, I don't see the added expense of parts on a euro car that people talk about. The brakes on our Honda cost just as much as my volvo. The tune-up on my mazda cost just as much as my bimmer. Etc. Etc.

    well... ok, the bimmer was a tad more expensive, but that was due to 2 extra cylinders, so 2 more wires and 2 more plugs. But you get my meanings. When it comes to brake pads, wires, plugs, fuel filters, air filters, shocks, struts, rubber bushings, or what have you, I have not found the make of the car matters 95% of the time.

    Now, the other 5% of the time can be a killer. $100 a pop for the shocks and struts on my Alfa is a bit out of line. But that applies to alot of parts on the Alfa. The Bimmer is downright cheap in comparison.

    '13 Stang GT; '86 Benz 300E; '98 Volvo S70; '12 Leaf; '14 Town&Country

  • The Audi dealership I used to frequent (my ex-girlfriend's father was GSM at Tom Williams Porsche/Audi in Birmingham) had MUCH higher prices than Honda did; that will vary dealer-by-dealer though. (And, Audi IS a VW = $$$ in repairs!!).

    I'd steer clear of ANY VW at all costs!
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,141
    oh well heck, of course dealership costs are higher. that ain't the car's fault, though. ;b

    For me, the parts have similar costs and the jobs take me about the same amount of time, so I am assuming a good indy shop will charge you the same for both cars for similar repairs.

    '13 Stang GT; '86 Benz 300E; '98 Volvo S70; '12 Leaf; '14 Town&Country

  • Oh you can't compare Audi parts prices to BMW or Merc prices. Audi doesn't support a car after they are more then about 5-7 years old so the part prices go up at a near exponential rate.

    My wife had a Audi 100 years ago before we were married. The expansion tank tarted to leak where the return hose came in. The audi dealer wanted 800 something bucks plus tax for the tank. I couldn't find the part anywhere else so I repaired the tank using a bit of PVC pipe and the highest temp epoxy I could find.

    I got some PVC pipe that was just a bit narrower then the entrance for the return tube in the tank and epoxied it in place. Worked like a charm and only cost about 15 bucks plus a couple of hours of labor.
  • 2doorpost2doorpost Posts: 74
    My favorite beater cars- 2002-2008

    5) 1978 Monte Carlo (traderonline) 135k miles Ran and drove Southern Car 700 bucks

    4) 1974 Nova Coupe (Local Paper) 70k miles Ran and drove 500 bucks

    3) 1977 Pontiac Grand Prix (traderonline) 101k miles Ran and drove 300 bucks

    2) 1964 Impala 2 door (sitting down the street in yard) Ran and drove 800 bucks

    1) 1974 Nova Hatchback (on line ad ) Runs and drives currently 300 bucks
  • Hope this is the right forum for this,

    I recently hit a deer and it pretty much totalled the front of my car. I have bought replacement parts at the junkyard for $125 (hood, bumper, grill, condensor, headlite assy, turn signal assy, hood latch assy) and a new radiator ($150). I put the new radiator in and refilled the fluids with 1/2 water and 1/2 anti-freeze and started the car. Once running, I noticed a fountain of water coming from a little silver valve mounted on top of the manifold on the passenger side of the engine. It's right next to the fuel pressure line and i don't know why its spewing water. Any suggestions on what it could be? :confuse:
  • Cancel my previous posting, it seems the fountain is gas coming from the top of the fuel filter going towards the manifold. I turn the key and the gas starts flowing out the relief valve. Now I have to figure out how to stop the valve from leaking gas!
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,810
    Head over to our Maintenance & Repair board. Lots of knowledgeable members hang out there and might be able to help you.

    Need help navigating? - or send a private message by clicking on my name.
    Share your vehicle reviews

  • fezofezo Posts: 9,326
    Nothing simple like just a cracked fuel filter, huh? Deer hits can be nasty.
  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    I just had a little scare with my 'newest' beater (1988 BMW 528e automatic, 150k miles, bought ~3 months ago for $800): transmission was slipping badly (not when I bought it, but after about a month). Checked fluid, it was full but looked nasty (thin/brown); clearly, if it needed a new trans, it was going away. Had the fluid, filter and gasket changed instead ($120) and not it's fine. Snoopy dance.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,141
    1988 BMW 528e automatic, 150k miles, bought ~3 months ago for $800

    Good buy!

    My '91 190E 2.6 with 158k cost me $1500 about 2 months ago. And I thought that was a pretty good deal.... till now. :blush:

    '13 Stang GT; '86 Benz 300E; '98 Volvo S70; '12 Leaf; '14 Town&Country

  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    ....I think before I bought it I posted pics but I can't find has rust holes in the bottom of the front fenders, and the driver's seat is torn. The glovebox door was ripped off, but I fixed that (bought the door on eBay for $25, IIRC). Other than that, it's pretty good cosmetically (red leather otherwise fine w/normal patina, body has no dents, all glass good, a few scratches on original paint, dings here and there, but quite presentable for 22 years old). Also, pretty much everything (heat, a/c, seats, locks, sunroof, 3 windows, sometimes 4) work, and it has a decent Alpine CD stereo. I also like that I never see them any more, it's a tank, replacement tires are 14s, thus cheap, it gets decent mileage and isn't as slow as I thought it would be (though I have little to compare it to). So far, I feel like I did OK.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 27,613
    Now, you'll have to look around for the upgraded model... '88 535i with a stick!

    Prices Paid, Lease Questions, SUVs

  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,141
    Now that you say all that, I think I do remember when you bought this. I thought it was a good deal then, too.

    '13 Stang GT; '86 Benz 300E; '98 Volvo S70; '12 Leaf; '14 Town&Country

  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    nah....I wasn't looking for a BMW when I bought this car, but it was there and under $1000 (this was my main criteria); I do this every couple years: have a beater, then it dies, then I do carless for a while (I live in the city, partner has a car, plenty of public trans), then I get another one. A little strange, I know. I saw this car and was more happy about the prospect of this than, say, a 92 Cavalier or a completely clapped out Camry or something. We'll see how it goes.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,141
    I'm trying that method myself at the moment ... although I don't live in the city. I drive about 18k/year. :surprise:

    '13 Stang GT; '86 Benz 300E; '98 Volvo S70; '12 Leaf; '14 Town&Country

  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 27,613
    15K/yr, here...

    I've thought about it.. chicken... :surprise:

    Prices Paid, Lease Questions, SUVs

  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    ....but I'm pretty sure there's no way I'll put more than about 6k/year on this thing, and that's stretching it (I think I've put on about 2000 since the end of July when it was purchased). I may occasionally drive down to mom's (~200 miles), but that's about as far as I'd be comfortable travelling in a 20+ year-old car. Basically, it's just an errand-mobile, and gets me to my bartending gig (4 miles away, two nights a week).
  • holsonholson Posts: 4
    my favorite beaters

    * 1995 ford escort lx sport - mint low miler previously owned by a doctor. extremely cheap to run. Anything that broke was extremely cheap to fix even at a shop. Everybody will think you are absolutely broke though, better be OK with that

    * 1995 jeep cherokee 2 dr 4x4 - this was a cool truck, really simple, good looking and everyone loves it.
    Lots of stuff to add/modify and things that broke were reasonably cheap to fix.

    worst beaters:
    * 86 porsche 944 turbo - blown turbo, bad brakes, shuddering clutch, etc etc etc. It sure was cool when it ran though...
    * 91 190e 2,6 - way too sluggish. MB gears these things for highway cruising - not moderate stop and go. I also love old MBs so I kept fixing things and things arent cheap to fix

    i love beater cars
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,141
    edited July 2010
    I recently sold my 2nd 190e 2.6 beater. I wouldn't call it sluggish, as it would still outrun alot of modern econoboxes, at least, but you are right that its a great highway cruiser.

    On that 2nd one, I bought it for $1500 with 163k miles. Drove it for 6k miles over about 6 months. Put maybe $300 into fixing things and tuning it up, then sold it for $2k. Not bad.

    '13 Stang GT; '86 Benz 300E; '98 Volvo S70; '12 Leaf; '14 Town&Country

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