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  1. #1
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    looking for good 1st car

    looking to buy my first car. actually my parents are buying my first car, after feeling bad for moving me around a lot in the last 3 years. any suggestions. nothing more than 5 grand and preferably a truck.
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  2. #2
    RIS
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    If it weren't for the truck part, I'd recommend the simplest, newest Japanese-built Honda Civic (look for the "J" as the first digit world identifier in the VIN number) that passes a good pre-purchase inspection.

    Look for timing belt and cooling system service records- I only trust ink-on-paper receipts.

  3. #3
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    I agree with RIS. You can't beat the Honda Civic. I'm looking for another one right now since my daughter totaled hers in an accident 2 weeks ago. She had a 2000 Civic EX that I bought for her in '05 with 112K miles. Great gas mileage and bullet-proof. I liked the car better than she did! The car only lost $1500 in value in 4 years.

  4. #4
    RIS
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    Trucks are handy, but keep in mind the following point:

    Trucks don't have to pass crash standards.

    Take a look underneath a truck. You'll see that although the body of the truck is about 5-6 feet wide, the frame rails are only a few feet apart. If someone blows a stop sign and T-bones you, they'll get to your pelvis before they get to the frame.

  5. #5
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    My first vehicle was a truck ('76 Chevy LUV) that I purchased new for about $4500. I have always had a truck and currently drive an '03 Toy Prerunner 4 door. Trucks are very handy to have - it hauls your stuff without hassle. As a first vehicle, your insurance will be higher, and gas mileage will probably be less compared to a car. And maybe not as "safe" as RIS suggests. You just have to decide what works best for you.

  6. #6
    RIS
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    Quote Originally Posted by propguy
    You just have to decide what works best for you.
    Very True.

  7. #7
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    Toyota pick up with a manual trans.

  8. #8
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    any old toyota (car or truck) that has been taken care of. also, civics run forever.

  9. #9
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    when i need a good cheap car, i buy a honda civic. 88-91, 92-95, 96-00 depending how much you want to spend and which generation you like the best.
    you can get any in those 3 generations for $5k

    right now i have a 90 civic hatchback, i'll be selling it in a month or so and buying a 95-04 tacoma. i really need a truck, if i didn't need a truck i'd just keep the hatchback.
    oh and if the car didn't drive a minimum of 30k-40k miles a year i would get another 67-72 chevy pickup. had a 70 c10 that i loved, but the 10 mpg killed me.

    for you i'd recommend a 95-04 tacoma, should run forever, easy to fix, quite a few listed around $5k

    when i used to sell cars we had a saying that we would ask customers
    "is it a need or a want" or "is it a nice to have or a need to have"
    do you need a truck or do you want a truck
    do you need power windows or do you want power windows
    it would be nice to have a moon roof or it needs to have a moon roof

    sit down and figure out all your needs and all your wants, that will tell you which vehicle works best for you
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by propguy
    My first vehicle was a truck ('76 Chevy LUV) that I purchased new for about $4500. I have always had a truck and currently drive an '03 Toy Prerunner 4 door. Trucks are very handy to have - it hauls your stuff without hassle. As a first vehicle, your insurance will be higher, and gas mileage will probably be less compared to a car. And maybe not as "safe" as RIS suggests. You just have to decide what works best for you.
    my dad has a 04 4 door pre runner tacoma. he loves it. i do do but he wont hand it over
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  11. #11
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    Well I have 3 suggestions.
    1. Find the cleanest low millage Miata you can. They are UNBELIEVELY fun to drive. You can just [email protected]#ch slap them all over the road and they don't break. Yes you can say it's kinda a chick car. But any man manly enought to drive one has to be so manley he needs to shave his eyeballs.

    2. Minivan. Billions of square feet of storage. The best (BEST) roadtrip car.

    3. Civic,Corrola, Sentra, the midsized Kias and Hyundais, etc.

    4. Ranger pickup. I had an 03 and it finaly put a rod through the block after 204,000 miles. And I was trying to kill it at the time so I'm sure it would have lasted longer.
    If you get the ranger stay away from this site.

    http://www.therangerstation.com/foru...ad.php?t=60102
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by chewymilk99
    2. Minivan. Billions of square feet of storage. The best (BEST) roadtrip car.
    +1

    I own and drive a 98 Civic 2DR but frequently pilot a minivan on bike club trips and it hauls everything, comfortably.

    That being said, you'd be surprised how much sh!t you can fit in a Civic...
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berkley
    +1

    I own and drive a 98 Civic 2DR but frequently pilot a minivan on bike club trips and it hauls everything, comfortably.

    That being said, you'd be surprised how much sh!t you can fit in a Civic...
    yeah i also have a 98 civic 2dr. it's not running at this time cause i blew up the motor when i used to drag race, but man you can fit a lot of stuff in a civic. just wish bikes fit inside them better.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by RIS
    Trucks are handy, but keep in mind the following point:

    Trucks don't have to pass crash standards.

    Take a look underneath a truck. You'll see that although the body of the truck is about 5-6 feet wide, the frame rails are only a few feet apart. If someone blows a stop sign and T-bones you, they'll get to your pelvis before they get to the frame.

    Disagree. I got T-boned by someone going 70-75mph. I was driving a 1999 GMC Jimmy. I was stopped crossing a highway and he came flying over a hill. Didn't seem him and I was halfway across when he hit my (drivers) side. Smack dab in the B column, halfway in the drivers door, halfway in the rear door. I walked away with little more than scratches, internal bruising and some residual soreness. I was in anything smaller (example 1999 civic, no side airbags standard 10 years ago) I would have been in a world of hurt, and probably not here today.

  15. #15
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    still....

    Quote Originally Posted by spazzy
    Disagree. I got T-boned by someone going 70-75mph. I was driving a 1999 GMC Jimmy. I was stopped crossing a highway and he came flying over a hill. Didn't seem him and I was halfway across when he hit my (drivers) side. Smack dab in the B column, halfway in the drivers door, halfway in the rear door. I walked away with little more than scratches, internal bruising and some residual soreness. I was in anything smaller (example 1999 civic, no side airbags standard 10 years ago) I would have been in a world of hurt, and probably not here today.
    ... doesn't change the fact that SUVs and light trucks have lower DOT and NTSB standards for passenger safety. Not to mention the Jimmy has about the highest rollover rate than just about everything out there.

  16. #16
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    I would 2nd the toyota pickup option. If you are looking at the prerunners, try to find one with the 2.7L 4 cyl. It's as durable as the 2.4, with a good bump in power if you ever need to pull a small utility trailer or do over 70 on the interstate.

  17. #17
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    1. Volvo 240D - cheap, lasts forever and has a quirky style.

    2. Jeep Wrangler - Girls love guys with Jeeps. Take the doors and top off = summer fun.

    3. Volkswagen Vanagon - lots of room for bike gear and other activities.

  18. #18
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    i will definitely find something pretty cool. maybe a volvo station wagon. a van would be cool. no mini van though.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by pimpbot
    ... doesn't change the fact that SUVs and light trucks have lower DOT and NTSB standards for passenger safety. Not to mention the Jimmy has about the highest rollover rate than just about everything out there.
    Full framed vehicles are always going to be safer/stronger than something with unibody construction. (excluding anything with side curtain airbags) More weight to dissipate and absorb the force = less energy getting to your body, its pure physics. On a newer car I would disagree, airbags are life savers for sure. But 2 vehicles, each 10 years old, each with only front airbags. One a small car, a civic or pontiac sunfire. The other a light truck chevy blazer, ford ranger ect. In a T-bone accident the truck will be better off. Check the Data.
    http://www.autobuyguide.com/2002/12-...sts/index.html
    http://www.internetautoguide.com/cra...vic/index.html

    I dont know about any lower standards, for trucks. I was under the impression a crash test is a crash test, especially when measuring the forces encountered in G's The civic is rated at 3/5 for both front and rear passengers in a side impact, the blazer 5/5. The pelvic deceleration, and thoracic trauma in the blazer are just about half of the civic. The body in the car would be experiencing almost twice the force in the civic as in the blazer

    As to the rollovers, my folks put me in a big heavy truck and it (possibly saved my life), but they also said, dont do anything stupid, aka drive beyond the limits the truck was designed for. That is the case of many rollovers especially with new (teenage) drivers thinking they can rule the world and drive like a maniac. I never was and never will be one of those people.

  20. #20
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    If this is your first car, you are likely pretty young (16?) so your chances of getting into an accident are statistically pretty high. I would not put my kid in an old civic or corolla.

    I would suggest a late model Crown Victoria or Grand Marquis. Surprisingly good mileage for such a large car, ultra safe, lots of room for friends and gear, luxurious, bombproof and they depreciate so badly you can get a $30K car for $5k that is stilll relatively new and with low miles.

  22. #22
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    Tacoma Prerunner

    Quote Originally Posted by Mighty Matt
    looking to buy my first car. actually my parents are buying my first car, after feeling bad for moving me around a lot in the last 3 years. any suggestions. nothing more than 5 grand and preferably a truck.
    with around 150K.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by canuckjgc
    If this is your first car, you are likely pretty young (16?) so your chances of getting into an accident are statistically pretty high. I would not put my kid in an old civic or corolla.

    I would suggest a late model Crown Victoria or Grand Marquis. Surprisingly good mileage for such a large car, ultra safe, lots of room for friends and gear, luxurious, bombproof and they depreciate so badly you can get a $30K car for $5k that is stilll relatively new and with low miles.
    +2 Id suggest a big car or little truck depending on which route you want to go. Car or Truck. Car i would also suggest a Crown Vic, Truck Chevy Blazer/GMC Jimmy or a toyota pickup

  24. #24
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    Trucks are awesome I must say, however when I started looking for my first car I found that most weren't in really good shape for that price. The problem is trucks for the most part are work vehicles, so they see a lot of miles and are used quite a bit. However if you can find one in good shape and you find that a truck appeals to you, go ahead and get one.

    As others have mentioned, Honda Civics are nice and reliable, as are minivans. That is why my first car was a 91 Toyota Previa. Did I get some laughs for driving one during high school? Yes, but man was it spacious. I was able to carry bikes inside and still have room for gear and passengers. I got a new car at the beginning of this year, but I still have the van, 320,000 miles and counting. +1 for a Toyota Previa!

  25. #25
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    I can't believe nobody has mentioned a subaru legacy or impreza wagon from around 2000. These are super safe, fun to drive, stable and make great road trip cars, too. With a roof rack, you can carry almost anything a pickup can....short of a cord of firewood.
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  26. #26
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    ^^^ I'd be willing to bet you could get a cord of firewood in a Legacy wagon if you tried hard enough. Make sure the head gaskets have already been replaced though. If not, they will need to be and that's not cheap.

    My recommendation is a ford ranger/mazda B-series or escape/tribute. They should be much easier to find in your price range and good condition than anything made by toyota.

    Keep in mind the kind of driving you will be doing though. You can get decent gas mileage out of a (4 cyl.) truck on the highway, but the mileage will be much worse in the city than a car due to all the extra weight.

  27. #27
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    ha ha, i was just gonna mention the head gaskets on it.
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  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by spazzy
    Full framed vehicles are always going to be safer/stronger than something with unibody construction. (excluding anything with side curtain airbags) More weight to dissipate and absorb the force = less energy getting to your body, its pure physics. On a newer car I would disagree, airbags are life savers for sure. But 2 vehicles, each 10 years old, each with only front airbags. One a small car, a civic or pontiac sunfire. The other a light truck chevy blazer, ford ranger ect. In a T-bone accident the truck will be better off. Check the Data.
    http://www.autobuyguide.com/2002/12-...sts/index.html
    http://www.internetautoguide.com/cra...vic/index.html

    I dont know about any lower standards, for trucks. I was under the impression a crash test is a crash test, especially when measuring the forces encountered in G's The civic is rated at 3/5 for both front and rear passengers in a side impact, the blazer 5/5. The pelvic deceleration, and thoracic trauma in the blazer are just about half of the civic. The body in the car would be experiencing almost twice the force in the civic as in the blazer

    As to the rollovers, my folks put me in a big heavy truck and it (possibly saved my life), but they also said, dont do anything stupid, aka drive beyond the limits the truck was designed for. That is the case of many rollovers especially with new (teenage) drivers thinking they can rule the world and drive like a maniac. I never was and never will be one of those people.
    This is a very misinformed statement. First off, bigger is not always safer, and FOB is not always safer than unibody. Many pickup trucks have terrible crash test ratings. Here's a couple examples:

    07-09 GMC Sierra got a "POOR" rating for side impact:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jkOrT8_vXO0

    F-150 got terrible front crash test ratings, not sure of the exact rating, but watch the video and you be the judge:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCIBOYxzqko

    Here's an article on autoblog about how poorly some pull size pickups did in crash tests:
    http://www.autoblog.com/2009/02/11/3...in-iihs-tests/

    Don't go saying full size trucks and FOB is safer because you had a "safe" experience in one, the data says otherwise. And as far as driving safe to avoid flipping over? Emergency maneuvers are a possibility no matter how safely you drive. If I'm driving next to you in a passenger car and you're in a full size truck, there's an accident in front of us, who has a better chance of avoiding the accident completely? Clearly the car does. It's called accident avoidance, cars will almost always do better than trucks.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Straz85
    This is a very misinformed statement. First off, bigger is not always safer, and FOB is not always safer than unibody. Many pickup trucks have terrible crash test ratings. Here's a couple examples:

    07-09 GMC Sierra got a "POOR" rating for side impact:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jkOrT8_vXO0

    F-150 got terrible front crash test ratings, not sure of the exact rating, but watch the video and you be the judge:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCIBOYxzqko

    Here's an article on autoblog about how poorly some pull size pickups did in crash tests:
    http://www.autoblog.com/2009/02/11/3...in-iihs-tests/

    Don't go saying full size trucks and FOB is safer because you had a "safe" experience in one, the data says otherwise. And as far as driving safe to avoid flipping over? Emergency maneuvers are a possibility no matter how safely you drive. If I'm driving next to you in a passenger car and you're in a full size truck, there's an accident in front of us, who has a better chance of avoiding the accident completely? Clearly the car does. It's called accident avoidance, cars will almost always do better than trucks.
    I was just comparing my personal experience, 1999-2004 GMC Jimmy/Chevy Blazer compared to the same year Honda Civic with no side impact air bags. The truck has a higher crash test rating in a side impact accident (T-bone style). And I never meant to say/never said full size is better, just full framed in that case. And the Blazer/Jimmy isnt all that big, about the length of a large car/wagon. Full framed is most certainly not always better, especially in the last 3 or 4 years, side air bags have become standard (or maybe close to it??) on many models. So I take back/reword my statement about full framed being better, in that case yes...in all cases no.

    I would like to see ALL vehicles having to get 5/5 in a crash test rating for front and side impact to be sold, but I know that isn't going to happen. I also would like to see breathalyser interface's standard to start the car, and that is even LESS likely to be implemented. Both would save lives for sure, but neither will happen, at least any time soon.

  30. #30
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    I didn't read all the replies. I can offer you this. If you're really bent on a truck, look at the 98-99 Tahoes and Yukons. That body is now two styles old, but people usually took great care of them and some don't have crazy mileage on em. I have a 98 with 244,000 miles that is still my main mode of transportation for a few more months til I get a new one. They're simple and very easy to take care of. I'm a professional mechanic and I actually enjoy doing stuff on mine because it's a well thought out design.

    Mine is only worth about 2400 dollars as a trade in, so I'm gonna keep it as a station car, but I'd bet you could find a clean one with less than 100,000 on it for your budget.
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  31. #31
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    for 5K i'd say either a corolla or civic. both cars will have high mileage for that price but you will find less mileage on the corolla compared to the civic. civic's are rock solid and the corolla is also reliable.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by canuckjgc
    If this is your first car, you are likely pretty young (16?) so your chances of getting into an accident are statistically pretty high. I would not put my kid in an old civic or corolla.

    I would suggest a late model Crown Victoria or Grand Marquis. Surprisingly good mileage for such a large car, ultra safe, lots of room for friends and gear, luxurious, bombproof and they depreciate so badly you can get a $30K car for $5k that is stilll relatively new and with low miles.
    So since he's MORE likely to get into an accident, you want to put him into something that has roughly twice the killing power?

  33. #33
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    Although size definitely matters (any girl who tells you otherwise is just trying not to hurt your feelings), there is a huge difference between a vehicle that passes crash standards and one that doesn't:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xwYB...eature=related

  34. #34
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    Wow, I was really tired when I made my above post. I said FOB twice instead of BOF :-)

  35. #35
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    For $5,000, I'd look into the following:
    -Toyota Tacoma 1998-2004
    -Ford Ranger or Mazda B series
    -Honda Civic 2000-2005
    -Subaru Imprezza 2000-2004
    -Jeep Wrangler 1998-2004 or 2005

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by keylay
    For $5,000, I'd look into the following:
    -Toyota Tacoma 1998-2004
    -Ford Ranger or Mazda B series
    -Honda Civic 2000-2005
    -Subaru Imprezza 2000-2004
    -Jeep Wrangler 1998-2004 or 2005
    why do you list the 2000 civic but not the 99 or the 98,97,96?
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  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by RIS
    So since he's MORE likely to get into an accident, you want to put him into something that has roughly twice the killing power?

    12345

    How does a young driver have more of a chance of getting hit then a older driver? If anything he would be doing the hitting...

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by spazzy
    Full framed vehicles are always going to be safer/stronger than something with unibody construction. (excluding anything with side curtain airbags) More weight to dissipate and absorb the force = less energy getting to your body, its pure physics.
    So wrong I am almost amazed. Pound for pound frame vehicles are much weaker than uni-body vehicles. More weight does not equal more strength. Just look at any truss bridge in the World for proof.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by pro
    12345

    How does a young driver have more of a chance of getting hit then a older driver? If anything he would be doing the hitting...
    Exactly. Younger drivers are more likely to be the cause of a crash than whoever they run into. Wanting to equip your youth with a more effective way to kill innocent people is wrong thinking.

  40. #40
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    A Hunting We Will Go

    Quote Originally Posted by RIS
    Exactly. Younger drivers are more likely to be the cause of a crash than whoever they run into. Wanting to equip your youth with a more effective way to kill innocent people is wrong thinking.
    As someone who recently had a car accident, I have only one thing to say:



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  41. #41
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    An F150 hitting an F150 might be worse than a Corolla vs Corolla. An F150 into a wall could possibly be worse than a Corolla into a wall. But an F150 even with it's worse crash safety rating is going fair much better in an F150 vs Corolla contest.

    Each frame type has it's advantages but the H frame doesn't have as much R&D put into crash safety as the unibody does. However, look at what type of frame heavy vehicles that tow use.

    Someone mentioned that pound for pound the unibody is stronger. It may be in certain areas but not all. Torsional rigidity goes to the unibody. However I would not want to tow 7,000lbs with a 600ft/lb diesel up front in a unibody car. It would tear the poor thing in half.

    Pound for pound strength is nice but like I said, a new Corolla is going to have issues hitting an F-350 Superduty.
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  42. #42
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    I was in this same boat last weekend. I ended up getting my 16 year old daughter a 97 Toyota 4Runner 4X4 with 130,000 miles on the clock. I paid 5k. During my search, I found that craigslist was the best up to date source for used vehicles. Autotrader had vehicles that were still listed for sale, even though they had been sold weeks before.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vader
    I was in this same boat last weekend. I ended up getting my 16 year old daughter a 97 Toyota 4Runner 4X4 with 130,000 miles on the clock. I paid 5k. During my search, I found that craigslist was the best up to date source for used vehicles. Autotrader had vehicles that were still listed for sale, even though they had been sold weeks before.
    +1

    The 96-02 Yota 4Runners are beasts and pretty damn reliable (though you will want to make sure that the V6 head gasket issue was solved for whatever year you're looking at). I would also recommend the 96-00 Nissan Pathfinder if you're looking for a more upright seating position and slightly better handling. I have had a 99.5 (updated sheetmetal but old engine) since new and it has never had any reliability issues through 132,000 miles. The 3.5L engine in the 01-04 Pathfinder is a lot more powerful and fun, but hasn't been as reliable as the older 3.3L engine from what I've read.

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by GiddyHitch
    +1

    I would also recommend the 96-00 Nissan Pathfinder if you're looking for a more upright seating position and slightly better handling. I have had a 99.5 (updated sheetmetal but old engine) since new and it has never had any reliability issues through 132,000 miles. The 3.5L engine in the 01-04 Pathfinder is a lot more powerful and fun, but hasn't been as reliable as the older 3.3L engine from what I've read.
    Price a Pathfinder timing belt job.

    When you have emotionally recovered from that, price a Pathfinder exhaust manifold job (it helps if you sit down and breathe into a paper bag afterwards). I've never seen a Pathfinder go 132,000 miles without the dreaded "tick-tick-tick" of an under-hood exhaust leak on cold start-up. Since the leak is ahead of the converter and close to the climate control intake, you're subjecting yourself and your family to carbon monoxide poisoning as you drive. Red in the face, nauseous, hostile, sleepy, confused, sound like anybody that rides in your car?

    Settling the tab on a rear main seal job, an HLA concern, a climate control issue, or a fuel injection repair can invoke similar responses.

    16 year olds do not need a four door 4WD SUV with power windows, power door locks, a fuel-injected V6 engine, AC, ABS, and an automatic overdrive lockup transmission consisting of over one thousand parts. 16 year olds need four wheels and a place to sit.

    These old hooptys are for sale for a reason, and it's probably not because someone took excellent care of it, kept it current on the maintenance for over 100,000 miles, fixed everything that needed to be fixed, and then decided to unload it because YOU desire a feature-filled and reliable, yet inexpensive car.

    They are most likely being sold because the previous owner beat the crap out of it as either a ski car or a shopping mall taxi cab, blew their vehicle upkeep budget on weed or Starbucks, put off some obscenely expensive repair needs (as well as proper maintenance), pushed their luck for a really long time, and then decided to unload it because they are afraid to push their luck any longer, and they'd rather stick the next owner with it before it pukes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RIS
    Price a Pathfinder timing belt job.

    When you have emotionally recovered from that, price a Pathfinder exhaust manifold job (it helps if you sit down and breathe into a paper bag afterwards). I've never seen a Pathfinder go 132,000 miles without the dreaded "tick-tick-tick" of an under-hood exhaust leak on cold start-up. Since the leak is ahead of the converter and close to the climate control intake, you're subjecting yourself and your family to carbon monoxide poisoning as you drive. Red in the face, nauseous, hostile, sleepy, confused, sound like anybody that rides in your car?
    Timing belt job including water pump was ~$750 if I remember correctly. Pretty average for a Japanese car in my experience. You plan for it and put away a little money each month so that your bank account doesn't have a stroke when the bill comes due.

    That's a good point - I think the 96 and maybe the 97 had a tendency to crack manifold studs and create exhaust leaks, but Nissan covered this under an extended 100k mile warranty. Rest assured that my Pathy doesn't tick under hood, but it does suck due to the cone intake I've got on there.

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    And then Nissan got the bright idea to go from 8mm exhaust manifold studs to 10mm exhaust manifold studs, and now they break exhaust manifolds instead of studs.

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