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A good first car



  • icvciicvci Posts: 1,031
    In 1986 I bought a 1974 Ford Maverick with 13,000 miles on it.

    Hit a fire hydrant (long story). It cost me $50 to buy and weld a new bumber on it. Oh yeah, I lived to tell about it too. If I had had ABS, I wouldn't have hit the hydrant. Hmmmmm...
  • kevin2010kevin2010 Posts: 1
    we are shopping for a new car.

    saw couple of 2003 leftovers but their prices seems out of whack.

    here is the spec:

    2003 Nissan Sentra GXE with pwr locks, rear defroster, auto, intermittent wipers, 1.8L engine, floor mats, air, and micro filter.

    he listed MSRP as $16,290 and invoice as $14,969.

    i think the invoice price is higher than it should be.

    do you think i can get the car for $14,500?
  • I purchased a 2002 GXE with the Synergy package, lots of good stuff, look it up, with the 5 speed for $13,000. I love the car, super quiet and gets great mileage. If I had to do it over again I would do it over again.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Check out this dealer:

    They sell Nissans at no-haggle prices near DC, so you can get an idea what they cost. Those prices include freight.

    They have one for $12,110, probably a stripped one though. Most cost $14-15k or so.

  • icvciicvci Posts: 1,031 is a good way to go too. They partner with dealers everywhere in the country.
  • partyboye1partyboye1 Posts: 16
    People at my school drive old cars like fieros, '85 accords, and '90 nissan sentras. What are some good cheap, reliable, and old cars to consider (if i were to buy the car myself)?
  • boggseboggse Posts: 1,048
    I would look for a used Miata. Not much out there is more fun for the money. They get good fuel economy, are reliable, and it is hard to really get in over your head in one. Also, there are unnumerable ways to customize it if you like that sort of thing.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    a Miata for $2000 now - are the cheapest ones down to that price, that aren't totally junked out?

    You could get an early 90s Subaru Legacy with the 2.2 for $2000 these days. They are pretty reliable and many have AWD.

    You could get a 90-91 Integra for that price too, or thereabouts. Very reliable cars (if you find one that wasn't modded or raced)

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Just get service records, in any car with 80k miles or more that is critical.

    I bought a '93 Miata 3 years ago for $7800. It's still worth $6000 or more, because it only has 42k miles (26k when I bought it).

    Cons? It's tiny. No good if you're over 6 foot. Insurance may be high for a teen male. Blind spots with the top up. Small gas tank, little cargo room.

    Pros? Very reliable. It's now 11 years old and I've spent exactly $10.72 in repairs (on a clutch clave cylinder rebuild kit). Fun as anything. Cheap to run, about 27mpg.

    So get an insurance quote, if it's good they are cheap to run and maintain. has an excellent garage section if you like to do things yourself.

  • icvciicvci Posts: 1,031
    Low payments? Good mileage? Safety? 0-60? Gs? All-around fun? Reliability? Insurance? Environment?

    You almost never get all of it. Make a list and number it. Post it, and we'll give you some great choices.

    It's pretty hard to go wrong with older Mustangs and Civics. There is are quite a few mods and quite a few of vehicles available. Personally, I'd avoid turbos for insurance and maintenance issues.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Caveat: I'd avoid Mustangs because car insurance costs a fortune for that age group.

    Stick with a fun, economical car, not too powerful.

  • icvciicvci Posts: 1,031
    Yeah, I'd agree with the thought on Mustangs but, I personally don't really know how much more the insurance is.

    All I know is there were quite a few of them at my H.S..
  • partyboye1partyboye1 Posts: 16
    I saw this '89 sentra coupe and a '94 sentra sedan on Auto What do think about those two cars? I don't know about mileage.
  • icvciicvci Posts: 1,031
    I've never owned or driven one. The following is what CR has to say about used Sentras:

    Overview: Among the humdrum 1991-to-1994 Sentras, the SE-R version was a standout: a particularly good-performing, inexpensive sporty two-door. The Sentra was redesigned for 1995, and the coupe version renamed the 200SX. The Sentra series of that vintage were underpowered and the interior was cheaply made: overall a notch below the best small cars of the era.
  • lmp180psulmp180psu Posts: 393
    I have owned one (94 XE 2-door), and it was a very reliable car. It had only 105 hp, but given that I consider myself as having a "lead foot", it had enough power to keep up with traffic. It sounded refined and the structure was very strong.

    The interior was a beige/brown color that while a bit spartan with harder plastics, was very well constructed with no obvious rattles. I changed out the cassette player with a Pioneer CD player, and even with the stock speakers, the music I listen to(dance/hip-hop) had strong bass even with the OEM speakers.

    The only repairs made was a starter at around 105K, and a axle replacement( busted CV boot) at around 115K.

    I had to sell it in 2000 because it had to have $$ for college living expenses, but I still wish I was driving it today. It had enough for 4 moderately sized friends, so room is not as much of a problem as one would think considering its' compact exterior.

    I bet a Sentra of this generation (91-94) with reasonable miles could be had for 2K or so, if not less at auctions.

    For new cars, in your price range, my recommendation would go to the Elantra. My friend was going to get a GT hatchback last year before buying a used 99 Maxima for a similar price. I was impressed with the ride, quietness, and features of the Elantra, especially the GT. A GTcan be had for around 13-14 K after rebate before taxes. Plus it has a 5/60K bumper to bumper and 10/100K powertrain warranty. The only obvious negatives are higher insurance costs and the IIHS offset crash test rating ( although NHTSA ratings are very good, 4 & 5 stars). Good luck in your search.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Those are likely good cars. Really, they were made before the late 90s cost cutting, which you can blame Carlos "le cost cutter" Ghosn for.

  • ghoragghorag Posts: 8
    I am looking at buying my first new car - and considering Honda Civic. Ideally I wouldnt want to spend too much over 15000. I would also like to have a car with a sunroof. The best offer on Civic EX I've got is 15.9 K (the car is the base ex model, nothing extra, 5 speed) - Is this a good price?

    Second, in this price bracket what would be some other cars, that would be comparable/better in terms of reliability, comfort & value for money?
  • mattpdxmattpdx Posts: 41
    i said in another thread that you can't get it for much below that price... i was quote 15880

    and believe me, i've TRIED lol
  • icvciicvci Posts: 1,031
    You are getting a whole lot of car for $15,900. Think about it, the 2003 Civic has done very well in all the comparos I've read, it has excellent crash test scores, it gets fantastic mileage and it is one of the more reliable vehicles on the road. Especially now that this is the third year of production. Honda has a way of fixing early problems so later vehicles are very good.

    Off the lot, it won't be the car that's most fun to drive. But, if you're interested in fun-to-drive, there are a TON of aftermarket items (exhaust, suspension, wheels, tires, air intake) that can be had relatively inexpensively that'll make her fun.

    $15,900? Do it.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I agree, go for it. Gas mileage is best-in-class, and resale is excellent. If you like the car, and it sounds like you do, then overall operating costs will be the same (even lower) than other cars in that class. Compacts can hit $18-20k nowadays.

    Even if it does cost more, you like it, it's worth paying a little more to be happy.

  • dudkadudka Posts: 451
    Someone posted on the "other Si" board, that he offered $13.8K for a 2002 left over Si, and the dealer took it.
    If you don't mind a hatchback loaded to the gills (A/C, sunroof, power windows and locks, remote keyless entry, am/fm/cd with 6 speakers, Recarro seats, rally style shifter, 160 hp i-VTEC, Alloy wheels, Electric power steering ala BMW 7 series, Electronic brake force distribution (the closest to traction control in a civic), 4 wheel disk ABS brakes, 0-60 in 7.5 seconds, built-in roll cage, and versatility of a hatch) go for a left over 2002 Si, there are quite a few of them out there. They are usually tucked away in the back of dealer lots. They still offer 3 year/36000 mile warranty from the day of purchase. These left over ones are actually cheaper than used civic's with more miles. Honda also offers 1.9% financing on them as well.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    That would be a good deal, look around. Hatchbacks are very versatile.

  • sozersozer Posts: 12
    If you are still considering buying the new 2003 Civic as your first car, i cannot say one bad thing about the car. The Civic has classic Honda reliablitly, and power. My family has owned Honda's since they introdued the accord in 1975. That car lasted till 1987, and we bought another one right away. After that we waited till 2000 bought another, and in 2001 another for a new family driver. We have been completly satisfied with all of our purchases. They all have been excellent cars to us and in the future we will stick with Honda. So personnaly i would stick with the Civic. But if you are disappointed with that, another optiion would be the 2003 Corolla S or LE!!!!! sorry if i ran off topic!
  • carpeoplecarpeople Posts: 36
    It all depends on your preferences. Since it seems you sort of are looking for a fun first car, maybe a little ricey even, a Sentra best preference.

    Don't go for Corolla if you want performance. It is just a box on wheels. There is nothing special about it to seperate it from the rest of the croud. All you will get with it is a comfy chair to sit on with absolutely no feedback from the car, its almost like its dead.

    The Civic might be praised, but anyone who has gotten near the new gen knows how much it rattles. It makes too much noise for the supposedly quiet Honda. Also, very small with a small engine, not sporty at all. Even the Si IMO is not good first car, it has high insurance, no torque and not quite comfy.

    BTW, I am impressed by how much $$$ you have saved, but why are you spending all on car? How old are you again? You should save for other things, too, for a car is not everything.

    All in all, it depends on what you are into, sportiness, comfort, luxury, or economy. make your choice based off of that.
  • kumitkumit Posts: 3
    I personally think a good car to buy would be an 2.5RS or the Spec V. But if you want a Turbocharged.. the Mazdaspeed is good and yeah there's always the SRT-4. All which are good under $20k. and has exceptional HP....

    RP Cali
  • partyboye1partyboye1 Posts: 16
    I didn't save any money. My mom is probably going to cough up the cash.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    In that case, go easy on her check book. ;-)

    But seriously, I think a beater is always a good idea as a first car. Pick something reliable, but not beautiful.

  • michaellnomichaellno Posts: 4,300 we go again. Every few months, someone pops up on one of these boards looking for a good first car. Everyone and their brother starts flinging opinions around like spitwads. Nobody agrees with what somebody else suggests. Arguments ensue; name calling commences; the host intervenes.

    The only thing I will agree with that's been posted is the comment about ranking what's important - utility, gas mileage, safety, fun-to-drive factor, cost of ownership, insurance. Only then will we get an idea of what's important to the buyer. We have an idea of the budget - $13.5K. Who's footing the insurance bill? Gas? Maintenance? Without this information, we can speculate, argue, suggest and cajole all we want without coming to a conclusion.

    So, how about it, partyboye1? What's *really* immporant to you?
  • partyboye1partyboye1 Posts: 16
    Reliability, Affordability, Fun to drive, easy enough to fit three people, and comfortable is important to me in a car. A good, neat interior is a major priority.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    If you had said 2 instead of 3, I would have recommended a motorcycle. ;-)

    Still, "fun" is subjective. A Miata is fun, but so is a Jeep, and they are polar opposites.

    Try a place like CarMax, which carries several brands. Even if you drive used samples, they'll give you a pretty good indication of who you like them (and how they hold up).

    Try the cars mentioned above, spend a day and narrow it down to your 2-3 favorites. Then drive new samples of those cars.

This discussion has been closed.