General Question

bkburbo's avatar

What is the best, most reliable used car for under $3,500?

Asked by bkburbo (238 points ) September 16th, 2008

Not looking for style or 4WD. For general getting around use, not for commuting per se. Reliability and value are top priorities.

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28 Answers

boxing's avatar

Can’t go wrong with a Honda Civic.

boxing's avatar

but you might not be able to get one later than 1999.

RandomMrdan's avatar

I had an 86 Honda Civic CRX that was fine even after driving 260k miles on it…still was fine until my friend bought it and was then in a wreck, which totaled it.

go civic

RandomMrdan's avatar

oh I bought mine for like 300 dollars too

tedibear's avatar

I’d go for a Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic.

Nimis's avatar

Honda Accord or Toyota Corolla.

jballou's avatar

I’ve had really good luck with older BMWs and Mercedes Benz. They’re a little more expensive on upkeep, but they are generally very reliable.

autumn43's avatar

Can’t go wrong with Honda or Toyota.

My son has a 1994 Civic with 168K miles on it and my husband’s Accord is a 1997 with 224K on it. My husband had a Toyota Corolla with 253,000 miles on it and was still able to sell it for $1,500 even though it was over 10 years old.

tedibear's avatar

My Camry has 126,000 miles on it and I fully expect it to go to at least 200,000 if it doesn’t rust out first.

syz's avatar

I sold my Civic with 220,000 miles on it – that was 6 years ago and I still see it around town.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

Look for an older Honda Civic, Toyota Corrola/Tercel, Nissan Altima, or Mazda 323, preferably with a manual transmission.

asmonet's avatar

I bought my 1996 Mazda Protege for $3,000. It’s quirky, mostly cause I rammed it into a curb once….twice. (Thus, the squealing noise when I start it) But other than the usual wear and tear it’s fantastic.

bkburbo's avatar

What are the main differences between a Toyota Camry and a Honda Civic?

boxing's avatar

Camry is bigger, and the average driver of Camry is much older.

Salty's avatar

I had great luck with a Mazda 626. Standard. It was in the 80’s, but it never died on me and when I sold it, everything still worked on it. If I need another car, I would go for a Mazda again in a lark.

bkburbo's avatar

What are the principal differences between a Honda Civic and a Toyota Corolla?

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

@bkburbo, the Civic is more powerful, as well as being a bit larger, than the Corolla. I think it’s a slightly more solid car, but it’s hard to go wrong with either. You can probably get a ‘99 Civic in your price range; read about it here:

http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/coupes/112_0109_1999_honda_civic/index.html

boxing's avatar

As used car, Civic is usually priced higher than Corolla, and yes, Civic is a better car overall. Later Corolla models are actually bigger than Civic though. Most younger folks I know prefer Civic over Corolla, not that there is anything wrong with the other choice…

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

The Civic is also available in more models and form factors. A Corolla is a Corolla. Toyota introduced an S trim line for it a few years back, but you can’t get it in a coupe or hatchback.

boxing's avatar

Also the performance aftermarket for Civic is dominating, other cars don’t even come close.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

I just bought my daughter a 1997 Honda Accord with 92,000 miles on it for $3,500. I had to put $1,500 of maintenance things in it—timing belt, gaskets, tires, etc. but I expect it to chug along for a long time. Our other car is a 1997 Honda as well. In 28 years of marriage, I’ve driven 3 cars—the Toyota my husband had in college, a 1983 Honda Accord (purchased new) and a 1997 Honda Accord (also purchased new).

Hondas are great. Change the oil and fluids, and follow the maintenance schedule, and they run dependably forever.

baterpark91's avatar

I would look into getting either a honda civic, or a saturn.
I recently (as in a week ago), baught a 202 saturn sl1 for just over 4k

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john65pennington's avatar

No matter how you cut it, you cannot beat a Honda or Toyota, even a used one. either ones engine will give you at least 250,000 miles, providing you change the oil and basic preventive maintenance. i have a Toyota Solara with 238,000 miles on it and it runs as a brand new one. take care of your car and your car will take care of you, if its a honda or toyota.

siperbowl's avatar

All the above listed cars are great and last forever if well maintained. I would also really take a look at the late 90 and early 2000 Satruns. I bought a used 99 Saturn SC1 four years ago with 136,000 miles on it for $1,500. The car was mint with the exception of a small hole in one of the quarter pannels. An easy epoxy-fiberglass repair and some touch up paint fixed it. I now have 185,000 miles on it and it still runs strong as ever. Absolutely no mechanical problems!. I just keep the oil changed with synthetic oil when due. Satrun is a winning bet! I still love mine! Also….don’t forget about the Geo-Chevy Prizm’s.

siperbowl's avatar

What doe’s everyone think about the Mitzubishi line? The Eclipse and Gallant’s in particular?

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