I've got 12k. What USED car should I get?

Basically, I’ve got 12k to spend on a used car.

I don’t know where to start.
I want something sporty but something reliable. I want good gas mileage. I don’t care about leather, sunroof, stereo systems or anything like that. I would like a V6 but I don’t know if 12k will get me that.

Any suggestions? Anything to stay away from? Anything I should know?

Oh, and I’m buying the car in Florida.

Get a Toyota Camry. 12K would get you one from the latter nineties, reasonably appointed. They’re extremely reliable and hold their resale value well.

I have had friend buy cars from the major rental car places - Budget, Hertz, etc. and they had no problems. Those cars come with extended warranties and the only thing “wrong” is that some have quite a few miles on them.

Most of those major car rental places have regularly scheduled car sales. Call and find out the details…I would imagine a tourist state like Florida would have a whole lot of used rental cars for sale year round.

As far as which car to get - you might try going onto Kelly Blue Book and see what resale value is on a few brands. That should give you an idea of their worth. Also, Consumer Reports usually has some good info on car reliability - haven’t tried their website, but you might get some useful info there as well.

I’d have to say check out Saturn - I bought mine new in 93 for 12,064 and it lasted 7 years, and I put alot of miles on it, I loved mine, good car, maintenance good, can take a hit, mine was in 3 accidents and 1 was major, but they put it back together everytime.

You should be able to get a newer Saturn with good equipment for 12K. When I get rid of my Ford, I’ll go back to Saturn.

I have heard good things about Toyota. And we had a series of Escorts that served us well. Actually, my mom’s husband still has one, a '95. Dunno what he paid for it. It’s doing fine.

Three and a half years ago I got a 97 Saturn SL2 for about $12,000. It’s been worth every penny. I love this car. She’s my baby. And all mine! (On my first car, my grandma had to cosign on the loan. I felt much better when I signed those papers by myself!)

I’d look for a Nissan Maxima with about 50k miles on it, but that’s me.

How is your credit? If very good, then buy a new car- and a Saturn is good, but even a Hyundai isn’t crap. The “0.0%” financing they have now is like free money. You can get a new car for 12K.

Used Toyotas are good, but there is a premium on them. Whatever you do- do NOT buy one from a Toyota dealer.

I got a really nice used '01 honda civic with only 21,000 miles on it for 13,000 this past april. Good car. My sister’s honda accord is a '90 with over 150,000 miles on it and it runs beautifully.
However, there are some sore spots with hondas. the first thing that will need replacing is the radiator, the second thing will be the inside door handle. This is after about five years though.

Last year, I bought a 2000 Intrepid, V6, with 30,000 miles on it for $11,500. It picks up and really moves when I want it to, and I get about 26-30 mpg. And the family grocery-getter it ain’t. Mine is silver, has tinted windows and a spoiler on the back. I’ve had three offers to buy it since early this spring. No leather or power seats, but it does have a CD changer, and keyless entry, which is nice. And it’s got plenty of room. I don’t have anything against Honda or Toyota, I just really liked the look of this car, and after I drove it I fell in love with it.

Good advice, this. Thats what I was doing a while back, then stumbled across a BMW for the same $$.

Very happy with the way that turned out! :wink:

Nissan makes a high quality automobile and the used prices seem more reasonable than Toyota. For $12 large, you should be able to find a late 90’s or even an 00 Maxima with a V6 and nice features.

You should be able to find quite a few 3 series BMW’s and maybe even some 5 series too. Drive one. You will be impressed with the quality and craftsmanship of these vehicles.


She told me she loved me like a brother. She was from Arkansas, hence the Joy!

I’d stay away from any of the late 90’s Volkswagen Jettas. I’ve got one, and it’s the biggest piece of shit I’ve ever owned. And I got it new, too. The next major problem I have with it (I have about $600 worth in repairs done nearly every 3-4 mos., and I’ve still never been in an accident), I’m selling it to the dealer and getting a used Toyota.

I had a Toyota from the time I got my license until four years ago and never had a problem with it. I sold it to a friend. she’s still never had a problem with it, and the damn thing is nearly 12 years old.

I wish I could disagree with you, but I can’t. I have a '99.5 “new” Jetta, vr6 engine. It hasn’t cost me $600 quarterly, but it’s had a lot more problems than it should.

vr6 VW owners will be well familiar with the faulty coil packs. Mine have been replaced twice; once under warranty; once again not. Which was expensive… There have been other problems; this is just the most fresh in my mind.

Did I mention my transmission was replaced at 3,000 (yes, three thousand) miles? Pbbbt. At least it was under warranty.

So anyway, I don’t recommend it as a used car, at least not if you care about reliability. If you’re a fix-it-yourself type and you want an enjoyable car, sure. But a good reliable used car, it is not. I’m going to unload it for something Japanese in less than a year.

At the other extreme, my girlfriend’s '89 Maxima lasted 213,000 miles with remarkably little extra repair. Now -that’s- a reliable car!

I’ve long been a believer in three things:

NEVER buy a new car, you loose money as soon as you start her up

NEVER buy a foreign car, because I WANT people in Detroit to have jobs

NEVER buy anything less than luxury car, because I LIKE luxury

SO…I’m having a problem with the suspension on my sexy Lincoln Mark VIII and the shop wants $1500 to fix it. I get pissed. At the same time, the local Hyundai dealership sends me a promo. Come and test drive a Hyundai and get a whatever. So I go. I take a 2004 Sonata for a spin.

Imagine my horror. It’s smooth. It’s quiet. It’s the most comfortable ride I’ve had in years. Hm. It’s got leather, it’s got the sun roof, it’s got the CD-player. It’s got the tinted windows. It’s got the V6 engine. I’m starting to get DOUBTS.

My wife, who drives a late-model Continental, takes it for a spin. She LOVES it. Hm.

So I talk to the salesmoron. TEN YEAR bumper to bumper warranty. Hm. Sticker price is $20,000 but they have exceptional financing and he’ll give me $7,000 for my Mark VIII.

I’m starting to like this.

Bottom line, I got the Sonata and don’t regret it for a second. My car payment and my insurance went down significantly. So did my gas bill (the Sonata loves 89-octane).

Some people still say Hyundai is junk. I say, take her for a spin and see.

I figure I’ll drive it for a couple of years and then sell it (with an 8-year factory warranty bumper to bumper still on it) and get something else.

I DO miss the V8 a little bit, but all in all it was a great trade-off.

AND I managed to break three principles at one fell swoop.

  • PW

I’m looking at a Celica or a Civic. Maybe. I don’t know because I do not know anything about cars.

I only have 12k to spend and its looking like I can’t get anything really low mileage.

I just bought a 1 year old Toyota Echo for $11,000, and I’m very happy with it. It gets 30 miles to a gallon, it has Tardis-like qualities (the inside is bigger than the outside, both back seat and front, at least as humans experience space), the speedometer is in the middle of the dash (the newest fashion and totally useful), I can turn it around 360 degrees three times while an SUV is trying to make a left, and I can park it on the upturned edge of a razor blade.

On the other hand, you would probably want more acceleration.

I bought a 1999 V-6 Alero for under $9000…it’s been pretty good so far, pretty sporty, though the gaas mileage isn’t always the best.

Well I don’t drive everyday… I metro to work. My concern is at night when I go to school, I cross a very bad part of town. I am driving a 93 MX6 with 150k miles on it now. It is on its last legs.

A word of warning about Toyota’s “certified” used cars: make sure to get a copy of the service history. I bought a certified vehicle with 31K miles on it, and found out that the 30K service had not been done. (My mechanic clued me in–the factory puts different spark plugs on either side of the V6, and the transmission fluid was dirty, among other things)

When I called the dealer and asked them to do the $250 worth of work, they totally blew me off, and lied to me to boot. Not a huge deal, but something to watch out for.

Whenever I think of buying a new car, by new I also mean new to me, I remember some advice my uncle gave me. He worked for the state, an hourly job, and his wife was a grocery checker. He was in his fifties at the time and it was common knoledge in the family that they had over a million dollars saved. They were not especially frugal, travelled a lot had a nice home. I once asked how they did it he told me to never buy a new car just keep fixing the old one and put what would be a car payment aside to invest. The two cars that he has owned are a 48 plymouth and a 82 jeep wagoneer. Thus I still roll along in my old vw bus, to the dismay of my children. Just a thought. I know some people have to a very long commute or have to drive for their jobs and need a newer car.

Sorry about the run on sentances. Ispentmostofthesavedcarpaymentonreallystrongcoffee.