Whatz a "good" USED car under $6000?

looking to purchase a used car for my son, to get from college to part-time job, would like to cap at $6,000., any recommendations appreciated.

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I would check out old Pontiac Grand Ams. There’s a reason they’re ubiquitous.

I bought a '94 Grand Am when I got my license in 2000. So it was 6 years old then, tack on another five since I’ve had it, and it’s running great. A few minor problems here and there, but nothing major at all.

I drive a LOT and for longish distances as well. That car has been from east-central Illinois to Pittsburgh and back (8-9 hour drive each way), to St. Louis and back (three-four hour drive each way), to the southern tip of Illinois and back (four hour drive each way), to Indiana University and back countless times (two hours each way), to Indianapolis and back a few times (hour and a half each way), and to Chicago and back quite a few times (couple hours each way). Still running fine, though I’m sort of in the market for a new (used) one.

I swear by the Nissan Sentra (manual 5sp).

I’ve owned two in my life. BOTH of them already had over 100K miles on it when I bought them. I abused the HELL out of both of these cars (i.e. never changed the oil, spark plugs ect…) Aside from having to get the belts replaced on one of the cars, they never gave me any problems what so ever. (Well, there were alignment issues; but hey I could live with that.)

The only reason why I sold the first Sentra is becaused I wrecked it. (Not my fault btw.)

I say go with the manual trans because thats one less thing you have to worry about breaking down. It’s much cheaper to replace a clutch than it is to rebuild a trany.

This was back in the late 80’s early 90’s so take that for what it’s worth.

How about a Mercury Grand Marquis? That model has won awards as a Used Car Best Bet from Edmunds.com, they are cheap and plentiful, safe, and inexpensive to maintain and insure. Most of them were pre-owned by older folks who take good care of their vehicles and don’t drive much, so it’s easy to find clean ones with low mileage. I have seen lots of them advertised locally for under $6000.

Here’s the Edmunds review and pricing info on a 1998 Grand Marquis GS.

You should be able to find a Nissan 300zx for about 6K

It may not be the most practical car, but it’s elegant and it’ll getcha (superficial) chicks.

You should check auctions, held either by the police getting rid of seized vehicles, or banks and credit unions disposing of reposessions. I got my car in an auction in 1998, a '96 black Honda Civic hatchback for $6,200, and it’s still running strong today. You can get really amazing cars for a pittance from auctions, if you’re in the right place at the right time.

these are great suggestions! Surprised a 300zx (hot car!) could be in the price range… hmmmm, maybe I should consider it for myself! :slight_smile:

The auction idea is one i hadn’t thought of, I’m jumping on that idea asap!

Thanx everyone!

Thirding the 300ZX idea.

0-60 in under 6 seconds. 156 miles per hour (personally attested to). 30 miles per gallon at 90 miles per hour.

Very solid, reliable car. It’s just got the old Hardbody truck engine with a hot cam and (if you’re lucky) a pair of turbochargers. I could try to list reliability problems, but they’re different on each car and practically nonexistent anyway.

Sentras are decent, especially the old box SE-Rs.

Pontiac Grand Ams are bum cigars. Cross them off your list. The only reason someone would drive any compact GM car* is if they were desperately poor and didn’t give a damn about how a car actually drove.

The gigantic Fords and Mercurys are nice, reliable, easy-driving cars. Unfortunately, they’re big and heavy, so the suspension parts, brakes, and tires both wear out fast and are expensive. The gas mileage is no better than a Turbo 300ZX.

*A couple exceptions apply, as follows: Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais 442, Pontiac Sunbird S/E turbo, and REALLY old (60s) compacts sporting LT1s or LS1s.

For a bit of an off-beat suggestion, this actually sounds good. I haven’t tried it, so it isn’t too strongly recommended.

Get ahold of an old Honda Civic or CRX with a couple bum parts and a clean bodyshell. Then, hawk the drivetrain and suspension on eBay, and just build the rest of the car from the catalogs. You could probably end up with a car that’s as fast as the 300ZX and cheaper to run.


Or because they’re cheap and reliable?

Sometimes you don’t need a car that’ll do 0-60 in six seconds and 156 MPH, especially if, as the OP states, it’s for getting his son from college to a part-time job.

I’m also interested in finding an used car at about the same price range… how does one can find where the car auctions are?

Thanks for the suggestions, too!

standard answer…

for a small car, there’s a reason the Honda Civic and Toyota Corrolla are as common as they are, the things are practically indestructible, the odometer is essentially a meter used to time the times between oil changes

another idea would be a used “police package” cruiser (either the Chevy Caprice/Impala, or ford crown victoria) personally, i trust ford about as far as i could comfortably spit out a rat, so personally, i’d never get the ford

the police package includes heavy duty suspension, tranny, police-spec engine, calibrated speedometer, etc…

the downside(s) of the cruiser to me…

no manual tranny option
cars in front of you think you’re a cop and slow down below the speed limit until you pass them
horrible fuel mileage
reliability is a mixed bag, depends on how the car’s been treated while “on duty”

the upside;
repairs should be cheap, as these are mass-produced cars, and since the parts are stronger, there should be less repairs to speak of
much safer in a collision than an econobox
cruisers look intimidating, some may still even have the halogen spotlights on the doors

Honda Accord or Civic, any age, in decent repair. If oil and timing belts are changed, they last forever.

You got one of the few reliable ones. They come out with about 20% good ones and about 80% bad ones. These cars keep mechanics in business. There isn’t a single trustworthy component in them, from the 2200cc four-cylinder engines to the exploding heater cores.

Driving a 1990 Camry myself, I feel confident recommending it or the similar Corolla, provided it doesn’t have too much rust on it. Almost every Camry I see from the early nineties shows signs of rust in the fenders and some of the seams, though admittedly I live in a place with rather harsh winters.

In addition to auctions, you might try looking for smaller car lots that aren’t connected to major dealerships. When I bought my first car, I got a good deal from a guy whose lot specialized in foreign cars, eight years old and up.