Buying a used car for $2,500 or less

xX_Fried_Rice_XxxX_Fried_Rice_Xx MinnestoaMember Posts: 1
edited December 2016 in General
Please read last paragraph first if you just came here to tell me all cars under $2,500 are crap. Thanks dudes!

I want something that is fun to drive and reliable. Im not going to be racing it, but something that is relativity fast (0-60 under 10?). First Ill just list the basics of what Im looking for then Ill list some cars that have caught my attention.
BASICS:
- 175,xxx miles or less
- 1990 or newer
- preferably manual
- preferably 6 cylinders (wants something that is fun to drive)
- Reliable and able to take a beating. Im from MN and winters can be tough on cars.

SPECIFIC CARS:
Ive looked into a few of these. Let me know if they are good options or if I should steer clear.
- VW golf or jetta with a vr6 engine
- BMW 3 series (I like the look of the e30 325i the most)
- VW golf or jetta with a 1.8t engine
- Mazda Miata

I just started looking so thats all I have so far. Opinions? I mainly want a VW vr6, from what I ve heard they have bullet proof engines and are still fast and fun to drive. I also like the look of most BMW s but everyone on craigslist seems to drastically over value their BMWs (200xxx+ miles for $2500).

Hey just a quick heads up cause I posted this elsewhere and got a bunch of crap. I KNOW A CAR UNDER $2,500 ISN'T GOING TO BE PERFECT!!! However, with that being said, that's all the money I have right now and I need a car. In addition, I've blught used cars in the past. My last car, a 2001 saturn sl2, I bought for $1200 with 150,xxx+ miles on it and it ran without a single problem for another 50k miles before I got hit by another driver and it was totaled. Both my sisters have bought cars for under $3,000 and they've lasted for several years and are still kicking. I know what to look for in a car and seller and I know to back down if anything is suspicious. So please dont come on here to tell me that every car I buy for under $2,500 is gonna be complete crap, cause I know from experience that is not true. Thanks!!! :)

Comments

  • graphicguygraphicguy Edmunds Poster EmeritusMember Posts: 13,564
    Some of us specialize in finding cars that fit your criteria. Couple of issues, though. First, finding one with a manual transmission AND a 6 cyl.

    175K miles won't be difficult. The ones you're looking at will take quite a few greenbacks to keep on the road, though. You may want to rethink those choices.

    While pricing will fluctuate wildly depending on the mileage and condition of the car, I'd stick to an Accord Coupe or maybe a Toyota Solara. They're likely to go well into 200K mileage territory and probably won't be a money pit (that's not a guarantee, though). They're sporty enough, I would think.

    Again, 6 cyl with a manual trans is going to be hard to find...kind of like a unicorn car.

    Good luck!
    2022 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring
  • nyccarguynyccarguy Stamford, CTMember Posts: 15,533

    Please read last paragraph first if you just came here to tell me all cars under $2,500 are crap. Thanks dudes!

    I want something that is fun to drive and reliable. Im not going to be racing it, but something that is relativity fast (0-60 under 10?). First Ill just list the basics of what Im looking for then Ill list some cars that have caught my attention.
    BASICS:
    - 175,xxx miles or less
    - 1990 or newer
    - preferably manual
    - preferably 6 cylinders (wants something that is fun to drive)
    - Reliable and able to take a beating. Im from MN and winters can be tough on cars.

    SPECIFIC CARS:
    Ive looked into a few of these. Let me know if they are good options or if I should steer clear.
    - VW golf or jetta with a vr6 engine
    - BMW 3 series (I like the look of the e30 325i the most)
    - VW golf or jetta with a 1.8t engine
    - Mazda Miata

    I just started looking so thats all I have so far. Opinions? I mainly want a VW vr6, from what I ve heard they have bullet proof engines and are still fast and fun to drive. I also like the look of most BMW s but everyone on craigslist seems to drastically over value their BMWs (200xxx+ miles for $2500).

    Hey just a quick heads up cause I posted this elsewhere and got a bunch of crap. I KNOW A CAR UNDER $2,500 ISN'T GOING TO BE PERFECT!!! However, with that being said, that's all the money I have right now and I need a car. In addition, I've blught used cars in the past. My last car, a 2001 saturn sl2, I bought for $1200 with 150,xxx+ miles on it and it ran without a single problem for another 50k miles before I got hit by another driver and it was totaled. Both my sisters have bought cars for under $3,000 and they've lasted for several years and are still kicking. I know what to look for in a car and seller and I know to back down if anything is suspicious. So please dont come on here to tell me that every car I buy for under $2,500 is gonna be complete crap, cause I know from experience that is not true. Thanks!!! :)

    Hi & welcome to the forum. With the price point and mileage you are looking at, it is hard to generalize. Can you post ads or links to add with specific cars so we can help you evaluate?

    2001 Prelude Type SH, 2022 Highlander XLE AWD, 2022 Wrangler Unlimited 4Xe

  • graphicguygraphicguy Edmunds Poster EmeritusMember Posts: 13,564
    One other thing, if you've bought cars like this before, you know where to find them. Buy Here/Pay Here lots, Craig's list, regional newspapers are all a good starting point.
    2022 Honda Accord Hybrid Touring
  • qbrozenqbrozen incurable addictMember Posts: 31,376
    E30s have become relatively collectible, so you won't find a good one in your range. Since you mention a Miata, I am assuming you know what I will say next, which is a 6-cyl isn't necessary for fun. My personal go-to is a 2002 and up Protege ES. That will give you the 2.0 engine. A very very fun car. For the VW, I'd suggest a well cared for 1.8T over the VR6. More tossable and more tunable. Both engines are susceptible to sludge issues, hence my well cared for comment. Synthetic oil every 5k miles is pretty necessary in those. You may also find the generally unloved 2002-2003 Civic Si hatch pretty cheap. Possibly an SVT Focus. Miata is certainly a great choice. Gonna be a tough search to find one that doesn't have needs at that price though. 

    '94 Pajero 2.8TD, '08 Charger R/T Daytona; '67 Coronet R/T; '13 Fiat 500c, '21 WRX, '20 S90 T6, '92 Nissan Gloria 3.0; '22 MB Sprinter 2500 4x4 diesel. 65-car history and counting! '97 Suzuki R Wagon, '97 Alto Works on the way; Wagoneer L on order; and in queue for Lucid Air Pure, Blazer EV, and Fisker Ocean.

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    I think you have to view this quest not only in terms of what you pay for the car, but what you'll be paying in parts and repairs.

    Given that "second part of the equation", only the Miata offers you a decent chance to come out of this alive (from your list of choices I mean).

    I agree with Qbrozen---you should expand your search to include cars with greater reliability and less punishing repair and maintenance costs.
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