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A good first car



  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    I had a 6 year old Mustang Ghia, but dad helped pay for that heap.

    Later I got a Datsun 210 coupe, it was 8 years old or so when I bought it for $800. Drove it for a year and sold it for the same amount.

    I got lucky, though, it needed a new clutch right after I sold it.

  • boredbored Member Posts: 300
    I've been driving for over a year now, and I have yet to hit someone.

    By the way...

    A first car should be a beater, I agree, but a GOOD beater, if there is one. I say a car more in the 3k-4k range, that is reliable, and cheap to fix. More in the way of a 5 year old midsize american sedan. Or, fir the SUV crowd, a Jeep. FUN to drive, and if it breaks, it's easy and cheap to fix.

    Did you know that a Jeep Wrangler is on the top ten cheapest to insure list?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    That's surprising.

    Gas mileage is poor, though.

    Parts are cheap, and it should be easy to work on. That might offset the fuel costs.

  • revkarevka Member Posts: 1,750
    Does anyone here have some feedback to offer Snakerbill in our Best Hot Hatch (post 648) discussion? He's like some suggestions/ideas on what kind of car to buy. Thanks for your help.

    And now, back to the subject of the A good first car! ;-)

    Hatchbacks & Wagons Boards
  • mxyzptlkmxyzptlk Member Posts: 6
    Im also getting my first car soon. I'm gonna get a used car and was

    thinking of a 99 or 2000 Sentra GXE. Is that a good Choice&? any
    other recommendations?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Should be reliable wheels, just don't expect too much fun out of it. I read once those were near the bottom of JD Powers APEAL studies.

  • dudkadudka Member Posts: 451
    I got on MY OWN an 83 Cevy celebrity in 1994, for $675. Paid MY OWN insurance on it, after a year and ALMOST few accidents I was ready to graduate, but not to a new car. got an 85 Civic wagon DX on a trade and $500. A year later traded the civic for 89 Accord LXi (my first car with power everything). Later my sister inherited the accord and I bought a 91 Jetta GL. Jetta was the most expecncive car by far, it cost me $2000.
    5 years after I started driving I was ready to get a brand new car. By that time, I already had some knowledge of cars, what to look for, and how to drive them in most situations. That is when I got my brand new 99 Civic coupe EX.
    I still think there are great cars for under $1000 out there, you have to look for them. Insurance on it will be less than $1000/year, whereas a 2-4 year old car, if financed, will have to have full coverage, which will cost over $1500 for someone under 25 (depending where you live).
  • rivertownrivertown Member Posts: 928
    The 1st car I bought cost more to insure than to buy; so, I sold it within a week - deciding to risk life and limb on a motorcycle. Worked for me, though I walked away from wrecks that should have killed me.

    I'm not a good enough mechanic (my enduring take on me) to buy used; so, the first new car was at age 23, and the 1st two were base model strippers. Worked for me, too; kept the 1st one 15+ years. If it'd had AC, I'd still own it.
  • rainbowfarmrainbowfarm Member Posts: 59
    We are considering a Sentra 1.8S for a first car, too. It would be a 2004, maybe an '03, if they throw an excellent deal at us.

    We eliminated Hyundai (maybe it is true that they are no longer POS, but... recent APA mystery shopper report is pretty bad). There are more unadvertised costs tacked onto a Hyundai, according to the report (, than any other of the cars they mystery-shopped.

    We eliminated Honda, simply because the ground clearance is somewhere around 3 inches underground... we are not Honda fans, even though they make great cars that keep their value.

    Echo hatchback or otherwise: no A/C, good cheap car (maybe), but no appeal here, and Toyota dealers are starting to act like Volvo dealers.

    Corolla. We prefer the Sentra. No special reason (see Echo).

    We love our Nissan dealer and everything else about Nissan: pricing, disclosure, service, etc.

    Protege 5: I like it. The person who will drive the car would maybe like the Protege sedan. We may go check that out.

    Audi A4: too expensive.
  • mxyzptlkmxyzptlk Member Posts: 6
    I decided to get a used car and I'm trying to decide between a Sentra GXE, Protege, and Hyundai Elantra. Just wanted to get some opinions and suggestions on my choices.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    You mentioned Echo and that reminds me of the Scion xB. It's based on the Echo, but it's well equipped (A/C, even stability control standard) and costs about $14k for starters.

    It draws lots of attention and it IS the box that it came in, but if you like it, that's cheap wheels for ya. They've had a great launch and they're popular so far.

    Alex: of those 3, I like the Protege best. The Sentra's rear suspension is not fully independent, sample the ride on a bumpy road to see. Hyundai's big negative is dismal resale value, and while they're improving, perception lags reality by several years, and that's your money.

    The Mazda is being replaced soon by the 3, so look for close-out deals.

  • csandstecsandste Member Posts: 1,866
    Two years ago I was given a last generation Sentra for a week while my newly purchased Elantra had slight hail repair. I found it to be quite crude and uncomfortable compared to the Elantra--certainly a lot smaller. I'm sure it's a durable piece of equipment, however. The last generation Elantra wagon I drove was quite a bit more comfortable than the Sentra-- although resale is improving four year old Elantras can be had quite cheaply. As I stated on the Elantra board, however, watch Elantra and Accent abuse carefully however. Lots of rich little girls were given these cars for their sixteenth birthday present never to change the oil again.
  • partyboye1partyboye1 Member Posts: 16
    Yo, we are checking out the same exact type of cars. look at the 1st message
  • partyboye1partyboye1 Member Posts: 16
    What about the 1994-1997 626. A friend of my family has one and it still runs like new.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    They're OK, just avoid the 4 cylinder/automatic combination AT ALL COSTS. That Ford CD4E fails with amazing regularity.

    Get a manual tranny or the V6 if you must get an automatic, that was a Mazda unit.

  • partyboye1partyboye1 Member Posts: 16
    What do you think about the 2000 mazda 626?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    They kept saying the tranny was improved, yet they kept failing.

    I had a '95 V6 5 speed, but read the 626 threads regularly. I swear every 3 days someone would report a tranny failure, and it was always the CD4E. V6 autos were fine. All the 5 speeds were fine, even clutches would last.

    Seriously, you could not GIVE me one of those cars with a 4 cylinder automatic. At a minimum budget $2-3 grand for a tranny rebuild every couple of years. I'm totally serious.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    As another source, my wife has a cousin that runs a used car dealership in Texas. Last time I saw him we still had the 626, so I asked about it.

    He finances the car loans himself, and covers cars under warranty as long as owners are still making payments. He had to fix so many of those trannies that he just stopped selling 626s. He was losing money doing so many rebuilds.

    Finally, the nail in the coffin, if you will, is that Mazda switched to JATCO to supply the trannies for the new Mazda 6.


    PS I still own a Mazda, a Miata, and have nothing against Mazda.
  • partyboye1partyboye1 Member Posts: 16
    I am the biggest mazda fan!!!!! The ford tranny does suck but mazdas have the best personality.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Just get a 5 speed manual tranny if you get the 626.

    My Miata has been excellent. I bought it when it was 8 years old. It's now 11 years old. Besides schedule maintenance, I've spent a whopping $10.74 on repairs.

    I'd sell it, but why? No good reason to get rid of it, it runs fine.

  • gregoryc1gregoryc1 Member Posts: 766
    I purchased my first car when I graduated from high school in 1960. I paid $1.00 for the vehicle. It was a 1952 Cadillac two door. White hard top and a powder blue body. During high school, it was my part-time job to wash and wax this vehicle for the owner on a weekly basis. When he purchased a 1960 Buick convertible, he gave me the car for $1.00. This individual is no longer part of this world, but I still have good memories of him and that car. I wish I had that car today. ----Greg
  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Good guy, I'm sure St. Peter let him right in. :o)

  • rshollandrsholland Member Posts: 19,788 - - - 6D00.shtml

    I've been saying this for years. That's what we bought our son when he got his license. Funny that CR didn't mention AWD as a safety reason... That's my main selling point.

  • ateixeiraateixeira Member Posts: 72,587
    Hmm, need to use MakeAShorterLink.

    I'm not surprised. You give a novice a little extra safety margin with AWD.

  • mazdafunmazdafun Member Posts: 2,329
    Actually, all but the Tribute and Truck are well above average in reliabilty, at least according to CR's statistics.

    There are lots of good choices to be had amongst used cars for $12,500, and few new cars.
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