By on September 28, 2015

 

grad dad

Riddle me this, GradDad…(photo courtesy: Honda)

TTAC Commentator Silent Ricochet writes:

After almost 6 years and 55,000 mostly reliable miles, the Cavalier must go.

I knew the car was aging and I thought it could make it another year. I recently graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree back in May and since then my Cavalier has been on a steep decline in terms of safety and reliability.

Within the last month alone, I’ve blown three brake lines, the first of which almost resulted in my death. Today, I got the car on a lift for the first time since perhaps last summer in an attempt to fix my third blown brake line (for the rear brakes) and what my two mechanic friends and I saw was horrifying.

The amount of frame rot was staggering. The two of them, with their eyes wide and mouths agape, looked at each other and then looked at me. “Why the f**k are you driving this thing?” One asked. The other said “You shouldn’t be. I’m surprised your parents let you, to be honest.” I thought they were exaggerating. They weren’t. The rust is unbelievably bad.

I’m not looking to spend any more than $16,000 after taxes and registration. Here’s my criteria for a new vehicle:

· Japanese and reliable;
· Front-wheel drive;
· Great on gas;
· Manual transmissions are fun but an automatic seems like a smarter purchase (albeit more expensive);
· A hint of sportiness. Driving a beige Toyota Corolla with an uninspiring >2-liter engine and slushomatic isn’t something that really piques my interest. A zippy car that handles corners at least in a decent manner is my target;
· A bit bigger and mature enough for me to be taken seriously. Not a rusted, black 2-door Cavalier with tints and a muffler;
· Certified Pre-Owned, so I’ll be purchasing from a dealership.

Everything about what I mentioned above seems to ring true in a new(er) Mazda 3 or 6. Four doors doesn’t bother me anymore. Neither does the thought of a 5-door Hatchback. I’ve test driven both a 2013 Mazda 6 and Mazda 3 (sedan) and liked them both. The steering feel was crisp and responsive, the interiors were on par with what I expected (compared to say, a Chevy Cruze), the engines were perky and the automatic transmission was snappy and didn’t seem to hunt for gears with every adjustment of the throttle. The gas mileage in the Skyactiv equipped cars is impressive. They’re also sharp looking vehicles, which is always a plus.

Sajeev answers:

Ditch the used/CPO car route, since credit and job history is a problem to lenders. Because it will be even more of a concern (i.e. bend over for that impending interest rate) on the used side than new. CPO vehicles sometimes sport low APR promotions, that isn’t a sure bet. What is? Easier credit with a new car, and likely a very similar monthly payment. Don’t forget that recent college grad rebate! 

But don’t get an automatic! Manual transmission vehicles at this price point are usually $1,000-ish cheaper, that’s a rather humongous percentage of the purchase price. If the OEM’s websites don’t lie, I’d get a stick shift Mazda 2/3, Honda Fit, Nissan Versa … and why aren’t you considering a row-it-your-own Hyundai Accent with their amazing warranty?

Steve writes:

Sajeev is 127.8 percent right when it comes to manual transmissions. You want cheap? Buy a stick and aim for a vehicle that doesn’t pump its sporty credentials.

I’m thinking more of a six- to eight-year-old sporty car with reasonable mileage, 100,000 miles or less, that comes from a part of the country where rust is relatively non-existent. Ebay is about to become your next best friend and I would only shop with sellers that have strong feedback ratings. I wouldn’t go full bore into a near-new car because your tastes and needs will likely change within the next five to seven years.

You’re starting out single and beginning to get financially established. I would opt for an older cream puff of a car that will easily make it through the second 100k. You should halve your budget and aim for a one way ticket to the sunny parts of the USA.

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128 Comments on “New or Used: A Used Car’s Silent Ricochet?...”


  • avatar
    Chan

    I’m with Sajeev and Steve.

    Toyota, Scion or Hyundai with a manual. These brands do not claim to have a sporty appeal, so people are not looking to snap up the sticks (this can be an issue with Mazda and Honda). Dealers will be more willing to deal, although less so for Scion. Toyota for the bulletproof legacy powertrains, Hyundai for the 10-year warranty.

    Some examples I would put my money on are the Scion xB or tC, find a CPO car and then throw on some of the OEM TRD lowering springs available at the dealer.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Soooo first its:

    “my Cavalier has been on a steep decline in terms of safety and reliability.

    Within the last month alone, I’ve blown three brake lines, the first of which almost resulted in my death. ”

    “I thought they were exaggerating. They weren’t. The rust is unbelievably bad.”

    But then later:

    “Everything about what I mentioned above seems to ring true in a new(er) Mazda 3 or 6. ”

    You sure you don’t have a Stockholm Syndrome thing going on with rust?

    As to suggestions:

    “Japanese and reliable” means expensive, Corolla anymore MSRPs for 16+ and if you think you’re gonna swing something decent “Japanese and reliable” used you’ve got another think coming. Here’s what’s happening in the C-segment: you can’t get it used. Period. You’re going to get the 18ish car with tax for 16 but its going to be worth around 12 in order for you to get it at 16 (otd I assume) and its going to have 50K miles or more. So pucker up for new tires, fluid changes, and other wearable maintenance items (i.e. timing belts and water pumps later) all to save literally two or three grand. In your case its time for the new Civic, Fit, or Subaru Impreza (which I think is still in stick) of your dreams (couldn’t pay me to go near Nissan, Mazda, Mitsu). Six hundred credit is qualifying for new cars for frack’s sake. In six months refinance at a credit union if you get stuck at 10%. You’ll thank me later.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Used Focus or Cruze with manual. Cheeeeeeeeeeeeap.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Ah but does not fit the “Japanese” prerequisite.

        Personally I’d look at a Volt.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          All I know is that Focus SEs with the manual transmission are going for $10K or less around here with well under 50K miles.

          • 0 avatar
            Slawek

            For $13k you’ll get new Focus.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            The cheapest I can find a 2015 Focus SE with the manual is between $16K and $17K. If you drop down to the S, you get around $15K. The Fiesta can absolutely be had for $13K. The Focus has an extremely good lease right now though. Not Nissan Sentra good, but still cheap.

          • 0 avatar
            Slawek

            Ford of Kirkand, WA. MSRP $20k is down to $13k with dealer discount and manufacture rebates.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @Slawek

            That’s a deal.

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            @Slawek

            Ford and Hyundai or Kirkland are crooks — good luck actually buying that ad unit.

          • 0 avatar
            Slawek

            @APaGttH
            I don’t have experience with Ford or Hyundai.
            I bought in 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee from Jeep of Kirkland for advertised $8k off $32.5k MSRP.
            When I wanted to buy this year Cherokee in Kirkland for ad price, salesman told me that I have to pay for clearcoat or some other elbow grease $1.5k additionally. NW Jeep Portland sold me Cherokee for ad price.

        • 0 avatar
          fatalexception04

          But the last gen focus 2008-2011 had a 2.0l duratec which was a mazda engine I believe. So he could get a nicely depreciated model with the Japanese reliability. They aren’t as nice looking as the newer ones, but they don’t seem bad either.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            The new ones have an engine that is related to the previous 2.0L Duratec.

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            How about Volvo C-30 – isn’t that a Mazda 3 / Focus with a Volvo engine at it’s heart and soul?

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Yeah, they are all sort of related. The C30 is most closely related to the 2005-2010 Euro Focus that we didn’t get. That generation Focus ST and the C30 with the 2.5T 5 banger are pretty closely related.

      • 0 avatar
        Silent Ricochet

        It’s funny you mention the Focus. I wrote this letter a little over a month ago and that’s exactly what I chose a few weeks later. a 2013 Ford Focus SE 6-Spd Automatic with 28,000+ on the Odometer.

        I initially visited a Mazda Dealership and my experience was pretty damn annoying. The salesman had no idea what he was talking about, the pre-owned Mazda 3 I drove would never shift passed 4th gear (caused me to question whether it had a 4spd or 6spd in it because it was in that grey area for model years.. 2012 I think), and they all tried getting me to buy a white 2015 Mazda 3 leftover that had absolutely no options. Yes, it was a manual. I left and visited the Ford dealership down the street.

        Yes, it does not fit the “Japanese” prerequisite but it fit pretty much every other criteria I had. Automatic, nice ride, handles well, nice options, peppy 2.0 Liter engine, nice MPG. The only thing I can initially see people knocking the vehicle for is the Powershift transmission which has taken major strides (through software updates. new clutches) since the last time I drove one (drove a buddy’s Focus like two years ago with the same transmission).

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          Depreciation is your friend. Good choice.

        • 0 avatar
          MrGreenMan

          Congratulations on the new to you car. May you have many happy miles with it.

          I was in a pickle a couple years back and decided to play the field and test drive everything just when the new Focus came out; if I was a younger man, I would have purchased a Focus. I tried everything Mazda had, and I tried everything Honda had, and I really did like the Focus, although I periodically have to haul four large(r) people and so it was just a touch cramped.

        • 0 avatar
          watermeloncup

          The 2nd generation Mazda 3 (2010-2013) all had 5 or 6 speed automatics. Looks like the 1st generation also had a 5 speed automatic with the 2.3L engine. So unless the car you drove was an early one with the base 2.0L engine, it sounds like it might have had some sort of transmission problem and you may have avoided a whole heap of trouble.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          Nice pick, you got a Focus with the newer platform but without the current, rather moronic “Ford Fiesta” face.

          After a long used car hunt I found Mazdas to be a bit “finicky”, a bit too “rusty”, cheap interiors too, they’re Hyundais with semi-sporty suspensions.

          Hondas demand a premium that is rarely worth it, very delicate sheet metal.

          Toyotas are dated and dull combined with delicate metal. Odd, given that their “fat” models werent so dent-able. They are reliable, but then again bread and water are reliable snacks too.

          Like 28D I wouldnt bother with a Nissan-Mitsu, the former a bit too “French”, the latter a bit, errm frankly, VERY lethargic.

        • 0 avatar
          daviel

          Don’t worry about country of origin for the car. Its parts are from all over the world and it was assembled in Mexico.

        • 0 avatar
          threeer

          The Focus is actually on my short list of candidates to replace my Lancer Sportback Ralliart. For short money, I can get a five-door hatch mit Ganggetrieb! And (for me) a bonus of at least being screwed together in the US. Congrats and enjoy!

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Lol, “Oh man this rust is killing me. So I’ma get a Mazda.”

      HAHAHAAH

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      I don’t believe the Mazda = rust, really applies any longer, we get a decent amount of stuff sprayed on our roads every winter and 4/5 times we end up with a light rain. My dads 2010 Mazda 3 6 speed is now either pushing or passed 190,000 miles, it still looks good as new under his car.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        You haven’t been to the Midwest in awhile. Rusty Mazdas. Rusty Mazdas everywhere.

        The Tribute, CX-7/CX-9, and Flat Rock built Mazda6 tend to do the best. The Mazda5 and Mazda3 are the worst offenders.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I see 2010+ 3’s often with wheel arch/hood/gas cap area rust. Significant rust too, not just surface stuff. CX7 and CX9 seem alright, though I rarely see the CX9.

          Tribute is an ehh. I think it gets rust in the same places as the Escapes do (rocker panels and wheel arches) but those areas on the Tribute are covered up with plastic cladding, so you cannot see it as easily. Overall however, I do agree the Tributes age out better than equivalent Escapes.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            The first gen Escapes do get rust. That comes on in year 7-10. Compared to a Mazda3, it’s nothing. I saw a 2010+ 3 at the grocery store yesterday with both wheel wells almost rotted out. It had rust herpes. Made sure to keep my car away from it. $hit might be contagious.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Escapes are horrible rusters, as are the sibling Tributes. So horrible in fact, that there were some TSBs/recalls for very real structural issues. All of the earlier cars sans-cladding that I see now have swiss-cheesed front fenders and quarter panels.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Oh yeah. The early first gen Escapes can rust quite badly. Still, the Mazdas I seen have been worse. I see a ton of both. Lots of Ford employees drove Mazdas because they had a version of A-plan, and you could park a Mazda in any Ford lot without hassle.

            They become rusty much later than similar vintage Mazda3s, Proteges, etc. The later Escapes got much better. I don’t see refreshed 1st gen Escapes rusty like the original design.

            The CX-7/9 and Mazda6 fare better than the Tribute.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            My 13-year-old (geez, is it that much already) Tribute is getting spots of rust on the back rocker panels under the rear doors. That’s pretty good for a 13-year-old MN car and stellar for a Mazda. I attribute the condition to not storing it in an insulated garage where ice and snow would melt and settle in places where it shouldn’t.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Dr Zhivago,

            Spot on. My parents are prime examples of people who have cars rust out from underneath them due to the constant thawing of built up salt and slush in a heated garage. My dad’s 2007 Fit has tinges of orange in the inner wheelwells, I’m curious to see how it progresses. There is a salt mine not 50 miles up the lake from them, and they live in a hilly area. They are almost, but not quite, ground zero for crusty, rusty cars. Almost all of the issues we faced with our beloved 1998 MPV could be traced to corrosion. I fought losing battles both with the Mazda and with an old ’90 Civic, sanding down and repainting, bondoing, oil undercoating, etc.

            When I drive my Fluid-filmed and Ziebarted 4Runner in the winter, I make it a point to then keep it outside until a chance to spend a solid 10 minutes at the DIY carwash washing the undercarriage off. It’s been paying off so far.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        “I don’t believe the Mazda = rust, really applies any longer”

        I agree. I don’t think it is an issue any longer. But I live in the desert Southwest, so Mazda 626 and 929 sedans are still a common sight on the roads where I live.

        Just to underscore that, I still drive a 1989 Camry V6 that I bought from my best friend earlier this year for $100. Not a speck of rust on it, and it has been parked in his driveway for more than 25 years, exposed to the elements 24/7/365.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          The first week I moved to Arizona, I was amazed by the amount of old pristine cars. Especially early Japanese compact trucks. Those things evaporated in the Midwest.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Yeah, all true. And true car lovers know where to find these rolling gems so they come out to the Great Southwest and buy bodies, body parts and sometimes whole cars to restore them and sell them at a premium.

            My buddy told me how over the years several people have rung his doorbell to ask him if he would sell his 1989 Camry V6 (the one I drive now) and/or his 1993 Chevy S10 4.3L ExtCab Tahoe.

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            Oh, to live in a climate where wire harnesses rot before rocker panels!

            No, wait… it’d be HOT there.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Is there a place in the US which doesn’t really get tons of rain and thus snow, but is also not as hot as Arizona or some other desert?

            Is North Carolina this place?

            Tim Allen would have me believe it’s Michigan, but that’s lies.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            My grandma has a 1990 Camry that has somehow made it 25 years in Michigan. It only has 40K miles and she wouldn’t drive it if the weather was bad, so that has a lot to do with it. She has spent quite a bit of money replacing body panels over the years though. I’ve been driving it once in awhile over the last year. Whenever I park it someplace, I get offered cash money for it. People love the automatic seatbelts or something…

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Tim Allen wants you to believe there are only three seasons in Michigan. Those commercials should come with the following disclosure:

            “Pure Michigan only applies to the months of May, June, July, August September, and October prior to October 15th. Sometimes Pure Michigan will apply to the months of April and October after the 15th day of the month. Your experience may vary. Chances of the temperature being 30 degrees different than the day prior are high. All travel to Michigan between November and March is subject to snow. Side effects of travelling during peak travel months may include paralyzing construction, rain, snow, stabbings, Canadians, the Religious Right, and addiction to coney dogs. If your wait time for an ambulance is greater than 4 hours, go f#c% yourself.”

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Canadians, eh?

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            RideHeight and Corey, yes, it is HOT here, but we dress accordingly, often going Commando in shorts.

            But the air is clean, we have the mountains nearby (all through the West) so we can have four-season days if we so choose, depending on altitude.

            I’ve lived a lot of places, including the East (Sault Sainte Marie), the West Coast, the North (Minot AFB, ND) and now in the Southwest. Also overseas in Germany, Japan, South Korea, Guam, and the Philippines.

            By far, the Great American Southwest gets the grand prize by a long shot.

            The worst part of all this is that more and more people from both US coasts are also beginning to realize this and the population in the Southwest has grown exponentially as people leave the polluted high-tax states and seek the clean desert climes for their health and to live out the remainder of their lives.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            bbal, I believe the secret to mitigating rust is to wash the underside of the car after operating it in salted areas.

            When my best friend worked for the VA in snow country, he rigged up up a garden hose with one of those fancy jet-sprayers you can fill up with detergent to wash you car, house, driveway, etc, and he used to spray the underbody of the S10 he drove every night after coming home from work in winter.

            He still drives it today, and there is nary a speck of rust on it.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Yay coneys! I know this.

            Just this morning, Tim was trying to get me to drive up to the Irish Hills to watch leaves turn and walk some trails. And there’s a Dark Sky Park, which sounds vaguely drug related.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @Corey

            Just say no to Tim Allen. The first trip is always on him for a reason.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Michigan and Tim aren’t getting ANY of my money! I’m too suspicious now. I supported them enough via watching Home Improvement all those years.

          • 0 avatar
            MBella

            “Is there a place in the US which doesn’t really get tons of rain and thus snow, but is also not as hot as Arizona or some other desert?”

            The Pacific northwest has rain in the winter, but virtually no snow outside of the mountains. It is the region in the country that preserves cars better than any other. You don’t get the salt damage in the winter, and it’s not crazy hot in the summer. After living there for over a year, I will never buy a used car anywhere else. Even living back in Michigan now, I will fly out there for my next used car purchase.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            @MBella: Not to mention, it’s also the home of Curbside Classics. I need to get out there some time.

          • 0 avatar
            Sigivald

            “Is there a place in the US which doesn’t really get tons of rain and thus snow, but is also not as hot as Arizona or some other desert?”

            The Northwest gets rain, but *not* significant snow, in the places people actually live.

            Cars out in Oregon and Washington tend to accumulate moss more than serious rust.

          • 0 avatar
            Onus

            Cory,

            Just moved from New England to North Carolina. Cars don’t rust down here. But transplants such as myself bring rusty junk with them. Myself included. The mountains have some rusty cars as well.

            Poor people here are driving 90s Japanese stuff with out a spec of rust on them. They usually sport dents though. People can’t drive here.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @CoreyDL

            The Pacific Northwest is probably the best place to find a rot free car that is also not sun damaged to oblivion. It’s wet on the coast side, but no salt. On the other side of the mountains it’s a desert.

            As to the question at hand. I’m with Sajev. Buy new, whatever has the most cash on the hood, unless you are a DIY type. You really can’t beat the Focus or Fiesta at the moment, Ford is selling them cheap, and while they may not be QUITE as reliable as a Corolla, they are a heck of a lot nicer. Getting a stick removes the #1 drawback of them anyway, the crappy autobox.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            My sister who used to live in Kent-Desmoines, WA, had tiny mushrooms growing inside the passenger compartment of her cars from all the moisture.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Sounds like lots of recs for the PNW, and one for NC. I was more considering places to move and live though, not just buy a used car – ha.

            I think PNW would offend me with the extreme pricing of real estate and goods in general. NC might be more my speed and in line with OH/IN/KY.

          • 0 avatar
            56BelAire

            @Corey……that place is northern Utah(Salt Lake valley). The Salt lake valley is roughly 500 sq. miles, has an elevation of 4,500 ft +/- and is surrounded by mountain ranges. Lots of great places to live; South Jordan, Riverton, Sandy, Draper to name a few. We do get some 100+ degree days in July & August but nothing like AZ. About 650 miles north of Phoenix.

            Elevation, very low humidity(dry) and little precip = climate cars love. Tons of old cars here and in great shape. Not unusual at all to see 25-40 year old cars as daily drivers. Large enthusiast, collector and custom market here.

            As far as sun damage, that’s what garages and car covers are for.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Utah sounds nice as well. I heard the mountain range there causes some odd weather patterns at SLC.

          • 0 avatar
            MBella

            Oregon is pretty affordable. Seattle is expensive, and the reason I don’t live there anymore.

      • 0 avatar
        mchan1

        Come visit New England.

        ALL cars’ undersides will have some amount of rust esp. older cars. It depends on how the owners take care of their vehicles.

        I’ve met people who washes the TOP of the vehicles after a snowstorm but do NOT pay for the underside wash. Do that after awhile and, over time, your vehicle WILL develop rust on its underside!

        Rock sale or any other brine solution on the road is not good for any vehicle!

        Imagine vehicles in other places like the upper Midwest?

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Hyundai Elantra, new.
    With a manual about $16,000 in Canada (plus taxes). Available 7 year, zero interest financing direct from the manufacturer.

    Despite the recall of Sonata’s and the thin Korean paint you get a brand new car, with a longterm warranty and zero financing cost.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    This makes universal adoption of yearly inspections look desirable. Or at least in salt belt states which must be this Cavalier’s provenance.

    OTOH, nothing frame-rots like a Chevy, not even Dodge.

    • 0 avatar
      Silent Ricochet

      I felt like my car was sprayed with some kinda rust catalyst. I see plenty of older Cavaliers on the road with much less rust than my 2002 Cavy did. Then again, I did attend college in Pennsylvania for 4 years where they just drop tons of salt and sand on the roads instead of plowing. Probably due to the uneven quality of the roads there.

  • avatar
    GermanReliabilityMyth

    Every dealership that peddles new and used Japanese marques should be sending the New GM Christmas cards and fruit baskets every year. They continue to get numerous referrals from people who drove the unmitigated pieces of shit churned out during their glory days under the guise of Old GM.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Being as this is TTAC, everyone and their brother is goig to sing the praises of the manual, but really I’d aim for an auto because you’re going to be pigeonholing yourself otherwise. Your average Toyota/Honda/etc dealer probably has 50 Corolivics on the lot, 2 of them MIGHT be manuals.

    As for the car itself, new is the way to go. If you want a Japanese car, its better to buy it new as they retain their values well enough to make them proportionatly much more expensive used. Should be plenty of good stuff out there with cash on the hood.

    I’d say consider a new Altima. Yes, it had a CVT. Yes, its not particularly sporty or the top of its class. But it is well rounded and a killer deal. A loaded up SL or whatever the one with leather/nav is runs about $18-20k. For what you get, that’s a tremendous value.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      Another Nissan option: the Versa hatch is a nice car, and they seem to run around $16k new. We had one as a service loaner and I grew to like it over a few days. It seemed to be a lot of car for the money.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Yeah, my first thought re. the OP was “have you actually *driven* a Corolla around a curve, spiritedly?”

      It’s no Lotus, but frankly you’re probably not a race driver; I know I’m not.

      It’ll take a curve just fine, and the engine actually puts out sufficient power if you push the pedal down*.

      (* I’m assuming; it’s the same drivetrain, in every meaningful respect, as my 2005, and that thing gets out of its own way just fine.)

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        The generation of Corolla the OP would’ve likely been looking at would be the generation after yours – it was a truly hateful, soft, decontented car whose sole virtues were reliability and thrift. Several years ago, I drove one back to back with the ’10 Civic I owned at the time, and the difference was huge – the Corolla just didn’t want to be driven. Maybe the current generation is better (the interior certainly is), but the beige Corolla isn’t an unfairly earned reputation.

    • 0 avatar
      mchan1

      I have a relative that bought a used 2012 Altima [S trim, IIRC] in relative fine running condition with less than 40,000 miles from a dealership and it cost them $10,000 after bargaining.

      Nice deal!

      Most people aren’t auto enthusiasts and just want a car that’s relatively reliable and roomy and, hopefully, fuel efficient.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    I agree with Sajeev, CPO at this price point doesn’t save you much when you can get almost-free financing from the manufacturer on a new car. If you want a manual, get a manual. If your local dealer “can’t” find one for you, do your own legwork.

  • avatar
    jimbob457

    After channeling Sa(n)jeev, I can now see that you have only one choice: a post-2003 model non-cop car Panther from a non-rust part of the country. In your terms it fails only in its mpg, but you will gain in every other area.

    • 0 avatar
      zamoti

      I can’t see how recommending a Panther in the place of a small sporty hatch works on any level.
      “Hey I want something small, efficient and sporty”
      “Here, drive this bloated dead whale, it meets NONE of your criteria”

      WTH

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Have you considered a restomod IH Scout with an LS V8?

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Didn’t Scouts come with the 345?

          Seems to me the grunty 392 would be the better choice over the free-spinning LS. Still widely available in junkyards, and still in use today in Harvesters, Combines, Reapers, Chafers, etc.

          Scouts get scary at speed.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Haha, no idea! A resident IH/AMC expert should be round shortly to clarify.

            I brought this up because it’s what someone suggested once when Jack was looking for a new, safe coupe for he and his son to ride in. To them, “new safe car with warranty” meant IH Scout.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Scoutdude!

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Yeah, he or Hummer might know. Or Vulpine perhaps.

          • 0 avatar
            matador

            You could get the Scout with a 345. My grandfather worked for IH at the time, and I know he owned one many years ago.

            The transmission had an IH-Specific bellhousing IIRC, so a swap could be hard. But, being a 727, you could probably get a transmission from a Dodge or AMC and have the driveshaft modified?

            440 swap, anyone?

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            Very few IH V8s were used in ag settings (except the trucks, of course). The 815 and 915 combines did have the 304 and 345 as an option. But even V8s don’t have enough low-end torque for tractor work. Every company tried a V8 tractor at once (IH had the 1468), and never did so again.

            A “harvester” and a “reaper” would be identical to a combine, and I don’t know what is meant by “chafer.”

          • 0 avatar
            matador

            Chevrolet 292’s weren’t too common either, but I’d think that there were more in use than there were 345s. The owner’s manual for our Gleaner F2 shows the 292 as an option, but all the ones I’ve seen had the Allis diesel.

            I’m still sticking with my 440 swap idea for ultimate insanity! Though an AMC 401 would also be fairly rare….

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            Do you know about the Uni-System? Minneapolis-Moline and later New Idea used it. The idea was that you would have a sort-of tractor (called a “mule”) that you could attach all sorts of implements to (a corn picker, corn sheller, bean combine, forage chopper, etc.)

            Anyway, some of the mules were powered by 292 Chevy engines. My father had one when he started out farming, partnering up with another guy and doing custom cornpicking. The 292 may have been reasonably fuel-efficient in a car or pickup context, but when pulling a heavy tractor/picker and a full wagon of corn, it was both anemic and gas-guzzling.

            At any rate, the Uni-System was a really cool idea and it’d be neat to see one in action.

          • 0 avatar
            matador

            I know a little about the Uni-System, but I didn’t know that Moline had it. Ignore the White Farm Equipment connection- my little research shows that New Idea bought the idea from Moline around 1965. I believe New Idea was owned by AVCO at this point. Our pull-type NI picker has the AVCO/New Idea logo on it, and it was a 70s machine. Allied bought New Idea in 1984, and White Motor Corporation in 1985 (WFE went bankrupt around 1980 IIRC), so the design kind of stayed in the family.

            All the Uni-Systems that I’ve seen (About 5) were set up with a corn head. I think they were basically a self-propelled corn picker when used like that. New Idea made a very, very good pull-type picker, so the Uni’s were likely a very good machine too, though they were prone to catch fire.

            I think they came with Continental engines in the earlier ones, and Perkins 354’s in the later ones, but I can’t say for sure on that. Some had the Allis-Chalmers 426 in them.

            I couldn’t see running a gasoline engine combine. Our old combine was a Deere 6600. I believe that they offered a gasoline engine on them, but ours has the 404, which was overkill for our 15′ grain head. We upgraded to a Gleaner F2, which has the Allis 433I (Intercooled Turbocharged 4-cylinder), which is plenty, and a lot cheaper to run that the big 404. I know that Gleaners offered the 292, among other equipment. The machines are almost free, but you have to float a loan to run them!

            ————

            Here’s a thread with more on the Uni-System, including a neat advert:

            http://www.allischalmers.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=41102&PN=1&title=unisystems-anyone-have-one-or-used-to

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            It was called the Uni-Tractor when it was a M-M. Most Uni-Tractors had the picker attachment, but some had the Harvestor and even the Balor (yes, that’s the correct spelling).

            The last Deere gas combine was the 7700, I think. My father would know exactly. And yes, his 292-powered Uni-Picker always ran hot, which is a bad thing to have in the middle of a dry cornfield with husks blowing around.

  • avatar
    gasser

    First, WTF??? Didn’t you notice the fatal rust out when the first two brake lines were changed??
    Second, buy a new car. Right now the “perfect market” theory of auto sales has failed (in my area at leats) and used cars cost a higher percentage of their original price, than they offer in percentage of useful life left in them. Plus I agree with the notes of lower interest rates on new vehicles and that college grad come on discount.
    The biggest problem in buying a new stick shift is that so few dealers stock them. The differences between brands in stick shift is much greater that with automatics. A great car in an auto may have a horrible rubbery shift and a miserable clutch. You must drive the stick in the model you choose. Do NOT buy a stick until you have driven that exact car!!
    Congratulations on your degree and remember your most valuable assest is YOU!!

    • 0 avatar
      Silent Ricochet

      The first two brake lines that blew were located near my front tires. I knew the rust was getting bad but not to that extent. The Cavalier I drove had those Plastic ground effects / skirts on the sides and what those basically did for over a decade was traces of water and accelerate rusting. After I got the car on the lift for the REAR brake line is when I saw the horrendous condition of the car. Looked as though If I had hit a speed bump too hard the car would crack in half.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        Seeing as you’re in NY, a competent shop should have caught rusty brakelines BEFORE they burst.

        Certainly after the first one burst, that probably should have warranted a thorough inspection of the rest of the brake lines on the car. But hey hindsight is 20/20, enjoy the Focus!

        • 0 avatar
          MBella

          The problem with brake lines is that they usually rust from the inside out. Light surface rust on the outside doesn’t mean much one way or another. Of course there are people who post here that insist against proper brake fluid changes. Here’s your proof.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            Hmm well in the NY area I can tell you the killer is external rust for sure. You can find even 6-7 year old cars with totally crusty brake lines. They will typically fail visual inspection and need to be replaced. My brother’s bread and butter down in rural PA is replacing all of the brake lines on middle-aged Chevy pickup trucks.

      • 0 avatar
        chuckrs

        How did the Cadaverlier ever pass NYS annual inspection? Glad you are still among the living – hope you enjoy your new-to-you car.

        • 0 avatar
          Silent Ricochet

          This sounds pretty stupid now that I’m thinking about it, but inspections on my Cavalier consisted of plugging it into a computer at a nearby shop and then leaving with a brand new sticker. In and out in 3 minutes without having spent anything as a favor from the guys who work there.

          In hindsight this is incredibly stupid (and illegal), considering inspections are like $20 and could’ve prevented these near-misses from happening in the first place.

          • 0 avatar
            pragmatic

            The cost of a NY safety inspection where I live (varies a little by region) are set at $21. The garage pays the state for the sticker (couple of bucks). So the garage is getting ~$18 to inspect the car. Now there are two ways to make this work. One plug the car in for the OBD emissions and slap the sticker on it. Or find some problems and make the money fixing them.

            Me I make sure my lights, wiper, horn and tires all look good and work. I leave the car with keys at the garage in the morning with a note saying I need an inspection and pick it up when I get off the train at night. Not sure what he looks at on a 16 year old Lincoln with a manual trans but if I ever got a list of things he wanted me to fix I’d find another shop.

  • avatar
    Mikein08

    Get a low mileage Honda Accord with a 4 cylinder and manual tranny.
    They’re reliable and somewhat sporty if you push them a bit. Downside:
    the 105k mile service can be pricy, and you absolutely cannot skimp on
    doing it. Or, for even more sporty and more fun, look for an Accord
    with a v6 and a 6 speed manual – that’s a fun car!

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Wouldn’t a low mileage Accord be priced so high vs. new that it’s not really worth the trouble?

      • 0 avatar
        87 Morgan

        From what I have seen, 4 mil accord coupe with the 5MT Has the lowest resale of the Honda line up.

        I picked up an 07 in March for 8k with 77k in th odo cloth interior with a sunroof. If the author is truly just out of college one would think this would work just fine. Economic, fun to drive realatively problem free. For this type of ride the pric premium is probably worth it.

        It can take patience and perseverance to scour the inter webs for the right unit. Based in the authors admission that he/she got under their car and found dangerous amounts of rust and was shocked….I am fairly certain attention to detail is not there thing and will buy whatever comes along quickest with little research as to what is available within 1000k miles of the closest metropolitan airport to them that has el cheapo airlines like spirit or frontier etal to get a one way ticket for $80 to buy a car out of the rust belt and drive it back into it.

  • avatar
    vvk

    Recommending a Mazda to someone who has had rust issues is not smart, given how Mazdas tend to rust after only 2-3 salty winters.

    The obvious answer here is Toyota Prius C.

    Me, I would go with a German Ford like the excellent Fiesta SE Ecoboost. Or the Focus version.

    • 0 avatar
      Silent Ricochet

      I suppose I did not do enough research about Mazda when concerning their affinity for rotting away like my Cavalier. I live in New York where it pretty much snows weekly for 4 months out of the year. I’m surprised at Mazda’s reputation for Rusting almost immediately.

      It also makes me glad that so many people have mentioned the Ford Focus SE, which is what I decided on.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    I would almost never advise buying a new car, but in your case, I perceive a long term owner, so go for it. The subvented interest will save you money, and the warranty will be your backup even when just on the powertrain with a deductible. Besides, you get to pick out what you want from the get go with very few compromises. You’ve earned it by finishing your schooling and may never be in such a disposable income situation when car shopping again. And, to quote every salesman,”that handling and tech pack is only $40 a month more payment”. Why not? You’re only young once.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      “I would almost never advise buying a new car, ” Interesting, since I am exactly the opposite.

      I have never had a good experience with buying a used car, and I bought several of them when I was a young and poor two-striper in the Air Force. Couldn’t afford anything else.

      IMO, used cars are ALWAYS someone’s discards because if people are happy with their cars, they would keep them until the wheels fall off.

      So from my perspective, if you buy used, you buy someone else’s problems.

      I advise people to buy a less expensive brand new car they can afford with a new-car OEM warranty, rather than buying anything used. It may not be as big, as luxurious, or as plush as that used car, but at least they are covered in case everything goes to hell in a handbag.

      • 0 avatar
        IHateCars

        “IMO, used cars are ALWAYS someone’s discards because if people are happy with their cars, they would keep them until the wheels fall off.”

        Nah…that may have been true before widespread leasing but it’s pretty easy to find an off-lease creampuff with extended warranty for a fraction of the price of new.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          Most likely you are right, as it applies to cars these days.

          But my bad experiences go back to the days when I was young and poor and didn’t have a lot of money as a married two-striper in the Air Force.

          It wasn’t until I got my fourth stripe after 3 and 1/2 years of active duty service that I was elevated from second-class citizen status so I was able to get a car loan and buy a new car.

          I did send each of my kids off into the real world with a used car I had bought for them but that was in the days when I still did my own tooling and wrenching on cars and trucks.

          A lot of people today don’t have the time and place to tool and wrench on their own cars to keep them running.

          You can keep any car running as long as you replace the worn or broken parts. That’s what people in the Great Southwest of America do, because there is no rust here.

          • 0 avatar
            mchan1

            “You can keep any car running as long as you replace the worn or broken parts. That’s what people in the Great Southwest of America do, because there is no rust here.”

            At least people in the SW don’t have to put up with the rock salt or whatever brine solution is used on the roads in the NE or Upper Midwest during the winter.

            Depending on the area in the SW, isn’t there rain?
            Parts of the SW is also in the tornado region.
            Not enough wet conditions to cause rust underneath or other parts of the vehicles?

            Lived in Texas (Houston/Dallas) for a short time and it’s more like heat than any wet conditions except the occasional storms coming up the Gulf, not enough to cause rust compared to northern cars.

          • 0 avatar
            olddavid

            Since my retirement I have had to adjust to a world w/o company cars. My method has been to buy late model luxury cars that have been garaged and pampered all their lives. I usually stick to under $10k and have been able to enjoy many trouble free miles and some not trouble free. I always learn something by having to research whatever gremlin arises, and find its fun for me to have the satisfaction of a well done successful fix. Since I seem to have the same poor taste in metal Sajeev has, I have been able to bypass the real biggies and also been the beneficiary of some great advice. To me, that is the fun – getting someone’s neglected after thought, giving it a thorough recon and then driving it for a couple of years and letting someone else enjoy my good work. I have been able to have a couple of Merc SL’s a Jag XJR several Mustang GT’s and MarkVIII’s. All perfect for my freeway flying. Provided I stay on budget and not track grease or brake fluid into the house, my wife gives me wide latitude. And, yes we live in a no rust zone. Works for me, and the wife is fine with it. What more could I want?

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            mchan1, the desert Southwest I live in is 90 miles NE of El Paso, TX. We have a monsoon season, usually July and Aug, but rarely any rain after that.

            There’s plenty of snow and ice at the higher elevations of this outstretch of the Rocky Mountains, locally called the Sacramento Mountains. We have four-season days and nights, depending on elevation.

            But overall it is an arid place.

            *********************************************

            olddavid, I know what you mean about tracking dirt, grease or automotive fluids into the house.

            I like cars and I have bought a bunch of used ones from departing GIs, usually for resale. But in view of my own experiences earlier in my life, I would not recommend buying a used car as someone’s primary transportation.

            At one time I had over 20 cars and trucks parked on my property in the desert. But after buying my 2011 Tundra my wife urged me to sell them all, and I did.

            Most of them I sold to illegal aliens looking to buy transportation to get out of New Mexico on their voyage East to the Blue States.

            The cars and trucks I sold them were old, but they all ran.

  • avatar
    sco

    Was just in the $6000-11,000 market recently. Agreed, skip the CPO and the manual, the availability is just too small. I looked at the used Honda Fit, Ford Focus, Mazda 2, and Mazda 3. Fit was nice but in this price range you’ll be getting a 2008 or older with 100K plus miles. I’d buy new if I wanted a Fit. Drove a 2013 Focus with 80K miles- nice but the True Delta reliability ratings only so-so. Mazda 2 was sporty and fun but for the price differential a Mazda 3 was a much better car. Settled on a 2012 Mazda 3 Skyactive hatchback, 70K miles, great mileage, great reliability record, no timing belt, $11K plus you can shift it yourself if you want. Happy so far, don’t know or care about rust as I’m in No Cal.

  • avatar
    redliner

    I second the recommendation for Chevy Volt. It’s efficient, very safe, and generally feels more like a $35k car than $25k car. Used car prices are in the low to mid teens depending on equipment level.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “I’d get a stick shift Mazda 2/3, Honda Fit, Nissan Versa”

    Sajeev, he wants bigger and mature. None of those are any of that! He’s right about ditching CPO though. You don’t need none of that with today’s cars.

    So:
    · Japanese, reliable
    · FWD (why?)
    · Good MPG
    · Manual transmission
    · Hint of sport
    · Bit bigger
    and $16k

    You’re in an econobox. Good luck getting people to take you seriously. I’d relax the FWD and/or MPG requirements, and let a little fun into my life. Efficient, FWD, $16k things are cheap and small.

    V6, RWD/AWD – IS, GS, G35.

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      The guy’s in NY, depending on where in the state he is, RWD is a no-go (snow tires yada yada I know). All of the above cars get a) significantly worse fuel economy than a fwd compact b)more expensive upkeep/maintenance/parts. $16k buys a brand new or very fresh compact with warranty left, that same money might buy you a ‘cat in the bag’ of an entry level luxury sedan that’s been through the ringer.

      A new Focus is a huge upgrade from some rusted out rattle trap Cavalier.

      Image goes both ways for young people. A new Focus/Cruze/Elantra/Corolla doesn’t make a strong statement either way, worst case “boring” maybe. Driving a Lexus might get you labeled as a try hard.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Yeah, I saw more clues after I posted this. And he went with the Focus, so all these discussions are moot anyway as the article was not timely! Focus is a solid choice though, and I realized nobody recommended the Soul, which surprises me. It’s hard for me to be concerned with fuel economy as a rule – I do not gravitate towards cars because of it, and it’s not even in my top five of “things to bother with” when car shopping. So, I end up recommending thirsty things.

        “Driving a Lexus might get you labeled as a try hard.”

        Interesting idea. I think this could be regional perhaps. I have never had this problem.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          I think that to non-car people, even if you have an older (but well kept) car with a premium badge, they go “wow must be nice to afford a _____!”

          I remember giving a bunch of my gf’s friends a ride in my old MPV (kbb was about $3500 at best, 160k miles), and I was getting some flack when I mentioned it was a hand me down. “Wow leather seats and all, that’s some hand-me-down!” If I didn’t keep the thing spotless with conditioned leather and instead treated it like a dumpster like most college kids’ cars I doubt I would have gotten that response.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Yeah, there’s a common “XX badge, worth a lot” thing. But that doesn’t translate to a try hard! I’d view someone in a leased X1 BMW or a CLA as a try hard, but that’s just because I know about those cars. I dunno if generally people would.

            In high school, I parked up in my pearl 90S (it was a 93, this was around 02), and the principal is standing there as I get out. He looks at me and goes, “Wow, it must be nice, your parents let you drive their car to school!”

            At the time I was much more timid than now, so I think I just smiled. But internally I was shouting – “OR, I paid for this car myself, asswipe.”

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            ” even if you have an older (but well kept) car with a premium badge, they go “wow must be nice to afford a _____!”

            Maybe it all boils down to “carlove”. A long time friend and fellow AF retiree bought an M-B S500 from a dealer for some outrageous sum of money.

            It was well-kept, and well-maintained. Clean!

            Within the first year the nit-noy stuff started failing and/or breaking on him.

            But he didn’t mind. It was his hobby-car. He’d tinker on it every chance he got, and still drives it to this day.

            I don’t think that people envy him driving such an old-style car. I think most would be happier with a brand new car.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Your requirements mirror my own about 3 years ago, uncannily so. I test drove a bunch of cars including A Cruze Eco 6spd, Cobalt XFE 5spd, Corolla LE (auto, new), Jetta S 2.0 5spd, ex-rental Sentra (CVT, the older Megane based one), Kia Soul (base,6spd). At the end of it all I bought a one year old Civic LX sedan with 11k miles, with a stick, for $14,9k. That was the best price in all of upstate NY at the time. Been very pleased with it, not the sportiest handler, that’s been revised for 13+ cars, along with improved NVH control. Doesn’t scratch the sporty itch quite like a 3 I suppose, but the smooth shifter, willing engine, and 2650lb curb weight make it fun to run it up and down the gears and throw it around on ramps. The nice thing is that the resale is simply stupendous, 2012s are listed locally in the $13-14k range still. Try that with a Focus or Cruze. No issues to speak of in 45k miles, my current mixed highway/traffic/side streets commutes is yielding 38mpg, that’s with the A/C running and driving in the faster portion of traffic flow.

  • avatar
    gasser

    Congrats on the Focus. Its a very solid choice

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    I just bought a 2013 xB manual with 25k miles for $12000 out the door last week. Didn’t like the color (silver) but couldn’t pass up the deal. Scion is a good way to get a Japanese built Toyota for a cut rate price. I was emailing and calling dealers as far as 200 miles away when the car I was looking for was 10 minutes from my house all along. It just wasn’t listed on the websites I was using.

    The tC would meet your criteria but it’s one of the most expensive cars to insure, for some reason. Consider also a Kia Koup or the unicorn Elantra coupe as well. The Koup SX is a nice affordable alternative to a Civic Si.

    • 0 avatar
      Silent Ricochet

      I considered a Scion for a second or two. This may seem a bit immature but the biggest factor that played into me not pursuing it further (besides insurance rates, like you mentioned) was the fact that many, MANY people consider it a feminine car.

      I also briefly considered Hyundai and Kia. Their warranties are insane and I haven’t really heard too many complaints about them other than the interiors being sub-par. I decided that Kias were a bit more handsome looking so I took a trip to the nearby Kia dealer. I found it difficult to really get what I wanted out of a Kia without exceeding my budget. I test drove a decently loaded Kia Optima hatchback. Overall, it was good it just wasn’t great. It still somehow felt cheap. The interior, the acceleration, ride quality, etc. I just wasn’t happy with it. I really liked the Optima’s styling better but it was too expensive. The dealership somehow didn’t have any Koups, which after further research was out anyways due to its poor crash ratings.

      • 0 avatar
        Sam Hell Jr

        In your circumstances in 2011, coming out of grad school, I got a new tC. I can share with you that complete strangers compliment me on its looks, to my utter bewilderment, that the Toyota 2.5L I4 for $20k is much more motor than the 2.0s you usually get at that price point, and that there was sufficient room in the hatch for me to woo the future Mrs. Hell. Re: masculinity, it ain’t the arrow, it’s the indian.

        It wouldn’t have been a bad choice for you. Frankly if I had it to do over again, I’d probably have sprung for a Camry. That way my car-seat capable ride would be paid off in time for me to shop for a house.

        Oh the years, they do go by.

      • 0 avatar
        kvndoom

        Hm, never heard the tC considered a chick car before, but at 44 I’m in a different social circle. :)

        I was very impressed by the 2.5’s spunk and the car’s ergonomics considering my height. Still may get one someday.

        When I posted I hadn’t read that you already got a car. Congrats on that, as well as school.

        • 0 avatar
          Sam Hell Jr

          Doom, the previous-gen tC was a bit of a sorority girl special, although the Soul occupies that space these days. And the tC has always been a target of the ire of the kind of dude who thinks Honda hasn’t made a real Civic since 1999.

          If you do look into one, drive it at freeway speeds on a hot day, and take it down broken pavement with the sunroof cracked. The chassis has a lot of holes in it and they’re susceptible to creaks. Otherwise it’s been a faithful companion. Insurance for me (at 31) is about $200 more per year than my fiance pays on her Cruze.

  • avatar
    01 Deville

    CPO TSX based on your original criteria. Or if you could stretch your budget a little bit a KIA Optima can be had in midwest for about 18K with 0%APR for 66 months. Both sharp looking cars with decent power ride and handling.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Can’t recommend the Cruze after driving one for 1,084 miles as a rental. It isn’t the “car” as much as it is the layout of the interior and seat comfort.

    You say Japanese but the data shows the quality gap between the top to the bottom is pretty narrow.

    You also want a modicum of fun to drive, so the Corolla is likely out in your book.

    You have a car that rusted out, so forget Mazda my friend if you want “quality” and Japanese and don’t need to worry about rust issues. Subbie has a history of getting the tin worm, however that may be more to the fact that a lot of them live in areas where the tin worm is very hungry.

    That leaves on your list of requirements a Civic – and now you’ll have a hard time finding one at your price point.

    You want something with more credibility than a clapped out Cavilier, so that eliminates most of the B-segment offerings.

    I’d say look at a manual Focus or, pretty surprised I have yet to read, look at Bark M’s love, lust, obsession, and genuflection for the FiST. You can probably find an off lease one in your price range.

  • avatar
    George B

    Congratulations on your new Focus Silent Ricochet. Now that you have a car without rust issues, seems to me that your next step is applying rustproofing to the Focus to protect it. Ask many people with rust-free older cars what they did to keep their cars that way. This is definitely a case where knowledge specific to your part of New York is more valuable than suggestions from people living in a different climate or dealing with different local shops.

    • 0 avatar
      Silent Ricochet

      Thank you. And solid advice. I’ll be reading up and talking to people when I can to know what I can do to prevent her from getting beat up from the impending winter.

  • avatar
    wibigdog

    This pains me when I read about rotted Cavaliers from the last 20 years. Out of desperation, when my ’96 Ford Contour blew its engine after only 122k miles of service after only 5 years, I bought a brand new 2002 Cavalier base on August 3, 2002, with 43 miles on the odometer. Over the next 14 years, and maybe 28 underbody car washes (if that [Im a cheap bastard]), I sold the car to a high school kid with 199,900+ miles on it. Two years later the doors are rusted but the underside (as I’ve personally seen when it’s up on the hoist), is still in decent shape at 217k miles. Oh, & we live in Northeastern Wisconsin, where salt is our best friend November through April.

    • 0 avatar
      Silent Ricochet

      Great to hear. I don’t care what anyone says, Cavaliers are solid vehicles and damn reliable if you stay on top of their maintenance. I sold my 2002 Cavalier Z24 with 176,000 on the odometer and it ran like the day I bought it. But it was the small things breaking left and right that were annoying me, plus the appearance (tints, muffler, etc) and constantly looming threat of something stupid going wrong on my way to work that had me worried. I absolutely loved my car. I owned it for like 5 or 6 years and some of the experiences I had in the car, driving or in the back seat, will stay with me for the rest of my life. Sold it for $640 to some kid from Long Island. I’m surprised I didn’t cry when it drove away.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I felt the same way when my ’92 was wrecked in March 2002. I went and saw it at the body shop the night I learned it would be totaled, and I said I was sorry to it. I removed the bowtie from the cracked plastic grille and put it in my safe deposit box along will all of my other worthless but valuable trinkets.

  • avatar
    BrunoT

    Mazda6 touring with manual. It should be about that budget, and skip the CPO. It’s still going to have some decent warranty on it and shouldn’t have major problems for years. The price premium for certified cars could be $2,000 in that price range, a huge percentage of your budget. It’s a marketing device on non-European cars.

  • avatar
    jonnyanalog

    congrats on the new ride Silent Ricochet! I recently had a 2015 Focus SE as a rental and it was a really nice car. I like the hatch better but overall, I was impressed with the interior quality, how quiet it was, and how good the ride/handling was. If I decide to replace my Escape I’d consider the Focus SE hatch.

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