MovieChat Forums > Automobiles and Transportation > Help my girlfriend pick a car

Help my girlfriend pick a car

I'm trying to help my girlfriend buy a vehicle. It's her first car and she's not looking for anything too expensive or too luxurious, but of course we want something reliable and sturdy for at least a few years before she has more money to buy a newer ride. She's paying the down payment and insurance, but I believe her father is paying monthly, and we aren't going any higher than $6000 unless it's a damn good deal, which one of the vehicles is. She's 21 and makes $13.50 an hour, but doesn't drive too far for work or college.

1. 2007 Toyota Yaris - $5500 - 123,000 miles - 34-40 mpg
2. 2008 Chevy Cobalt - $3870 - 149,000 miles - 25-36 mpg
3. 2006 Volvo S40 - $4500 - 161,000 miles - 25-36 mpg
4. 1997 Mercedes-Benz E320 - $7250 - 44,000 - 19-26 mpg
5. 2009 Kia Spectre - $4500 - 90,000 miles - 24-32
6. 2008 Chrysler Sebring - $5900 - 85,000 - 20-29
7. 2002 Lincoln Continental - $4900 - 134,000 miles - unknown
8. 2000 Mercedes-Benz SL500 - $6100 - 171,000 - 25-30 mpg

Anyone know what the best vehicle would be? I'm not too sure on this kind of stuff so please don't laugh.


All of those are WAY too expensive for a first car. Get something SIMPLE and CHEAP.

1994-2004 Taurus or Sable: $500.00, 150,000-200,000 miles.

I've had 'em both. They're easy to work on, if you have that idea, and they're cheap to have fixed, if you want somebody else to do the work. You've got enough of them in the junkyards that you could literally re-create one from used parts.

- Crazy. All crazy but I'm.


That low-mileage E320 might be a good choice. The newer fancier Mercs are liable to be expensive to fix, both parts and labour. But there were older diesel Mercedes models that have a reputation as real workhorses and often used as taxis.

But, like that other poster said, cheap and common are good things in used cars. If it turns out to be a lemon, sell it on as-is and get another. New and used parts will be easier to find.


Based on your list I would recommend the Toyota.

The American cars on your list simply have nowhere near the reliability of a Toyota.

The European models could be good bets, but repairs are insanely expensive and might leave her paying for a car she can neither drive nor afford to have repaired.

Of course individual results will vary and the car should be checked by a mechanic before purchase.

I've lived upon the edge of chance for 20 years or more...
Del Rio's Song


Honestly we can't even find a vehicle that cheap. Most of them are around $2000 or more, no matter how awful. We live in a pretty wealthy community and for something really really cheap, we'd have to drive about 50 miles in any given direction, which really don't have time to do given college and work. My first car, a 2004 Nissan Xterra, cost $5200, ran very poorly, had high insurance (even without tickets or citations), and constantly fell apart with 124,000 miles on it.

She's not a car person at all; in fact, she cant recognize any makes more models. She certainly isn't the type that would enjoy fixing a car, or having a "project" car. Unfortunately, she's quite picky on these sorts of things, and I've told her that she'll have to pick what she can get. On the flipside, she has a lot of money saved up and can go fairly well with her prices.


Actually, that price estimate of mine was pretty unrealistic. $2500-$3000 for a high-mileage, 10-year old Taurus would be more likely, around here. I've never bought a NEW car, but I'm told that you can actually get better financing on them than you can on a used car. Would she be able to put up a big enough 'down' on a new vehicle to get low payments? That would get you a better warranty than you'd be able to get on a used vehicle, also.

- Crazy. All crazy but I'm.


For 6 grand, and given your criteria, I'd get the most recent (or lowest mileage) Corolla I could find.

Yes, the damn thing is Nytol on wheels, but the "reliable and sturdy" part is pretty much a slam dunk.

They say genius skips a generation. Mom's a genius, so I guess I'm a genius too


Here's my opinion of each of the cars you mention.

But before you buy ANY car, take your final choice to a local dealership and get a FULL inspection of the vehicle - have them go over the car from nose to tail with a magnifying glass and give you a report of everything they see that is wrong with it. It should cost you about $150 but it is well worth that money to not buy the wrong car.

Also, before you buy a car, find out whether it has a timing belt and, if so, how much does THE DEALER (don't go to independents for a timing belt change) charge to change it.

You also want the seller to show you proof of the last change and, if they can't, deduct the cost of that service from the price you're willing to pay for the car.

1. Boring but solid choice. Fine as a "city car" (i.e. short distances at less than freeway speeds) but rubbish for long drives.

2. Another decent choice. Probably better for long Don't listen to people whining about American car reliability. Like any other car companies in the world, some models are better than others. If the Cobalt was a bad car, rental car companies wouldn't use so many of them.

3. I've never owned a Volvo but I would be worried about the cost of replacement parts. I don't know if it is true but I've heard people say that Volvo cars don't often go wrong but when they do the cost of buying replacement parts is quite high. Still, the 2006 S40 is from the time when Ford owned Volvo and it based on the Ford Focus platform. If they used lots of Ford parts then they shouldn't be too expensive.

4. There's an old saying that there's no car as expensive as a cheap Ferrari. In the real world, the closest regular people are likely to get is a cheap Mercedes. I see cheap Mercs everywhere. I used to own one. One of the most expensive cars I've ever had. I paid $10k for a beautiful 450SL convertible and then spend almost half that in a year keeping the damn thing on the road. I let it go when it developed a problem with the engine that turned out to require a replacement. I sold it to a mechanic friend who was willing and able to undertake the job.

5. Anything built by Kia or Hyundai in the last ten years is probably a safe bet in terms of reliability and fuel economy.

6. Probably would be more comfortable for long drives than anything you've listed so far - if that's a concern for you. But if that is a big deal, I would go for what's next.

7. If you want reliability and cheap repairs... you can't go wrong with a Continental. It is based on the Ford Crown Victoria and there's a reason why those cars were the nearly unanimous choice of cops and cabbies over pretty much its entire history. Simple design and bulletproof reliability. I used to work with a guy who had 400,000 miles on his Crown Vic and swore he was going to take it to a million. However, the 4.6 liter V8 isn't going to be very frugal with gas.

8. No. Just no. See my comments for #4. Unless you know the car was well-cared for and unless it has a *full* service history with every scheduled service performed at the dealer... don't even bother looking at a Mercedes SL. Plus, if you think you're going to get 30mpg from a fifteen year-old convertible that weighs more than two tons, has the aerodynamics of a brick and a five liter V8... you are sadly mistaken. You'd be lucky to get 20mpg.

If your girlfriend wants a convertible, tell her to look for a used Mazda MX5. The best used convertible for anything less than ten times the price. Plus, because they're so common (there's a reason they are the bestselling convertible in history), the prices are low. Parts are cheap and plentiful and there is no shortage of people who know how to work on them. They're as reliable as anything on the road and the first two generations had cast-iron engines so it isn't uncommon to see them with 200,000 miles on them and still running strong. Even better, since your girlfriend probably wants an automatic transmission, you'll get a better deal on a used Miata... Sellers of used Miatas with automatic transmissions are terrified that nobody will want to buy them because they'll want a manual. Don't let on that you want an automatic (even if you do) and beat the guy down on a price a bit.

Also, look into a used Subaru. They're tough as nails, usually quite cheap and most of them have all-wheel drive which gives more confidence in slippery conditions. Plus, most of their engines don't use rubber timing-belts so they're more reliable in long term use. I'd rather buy a Subaru with 200,000 miles on it than a Honda or Toyota with 100,000 miles on it.

-I don't watch Fox 'News' for the same reason I don't eat out of the toilet


Toyota, for sure.