Old 01-21-02, 11:20 AM
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This is my first post, but I have been reading this forum for a long time and have come to the "EXPERTS" for my first problem.

Here is my problem.

My daughter has saved up $10,000 to buy a used car, she wants to pay cash with no payments. She has turned to me for advice. My only requirements are these:

6 cylinder
4 doors
Any year 85 to 01
No suv, van or pick up
Can be foreign or domestic.

She will be buying from a dealership. Any clues as to what she should buy? Any brand or line more reliable than others?

You moderators & posters are all experts on autos & repairs., what would you buy in my situation?

Leaning toward v-6 Olds Alero or Pontiac Bonneville? Good or bad?
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Old 01-21-02, 11:36 AM
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How long does she want to keep it? Insurance rates? She is how old? (insurance rates, I'm not asking for a

For probably a few ducats more she can get a Hyundai or a Honda brand new and not have to contend with much trouble. The Hyundai is warrantied on the powertrain for 10 years (not the whole thing, we're talking if you grenade a piston they will cover it, but the water pump is on you after 3 years more than likely). 10k is just about that thresshold level for a new car. My pick is neither because I would get a mint 1985 Delta 88 for her and pocket the other 5 grand, but that's me .

You don't state what year Bonneville you want. What does she want/expect in a car?

A Toyota Camry will do the job, but if she wants a "hot" car, a Camry rates up there in style with a Kenmore dishwasher for looks in my book. Does it get the job done? Sure does!

You have to ask her (or yourself):

1) What do I want in a car? Equipment? Value? A to B? Do I need/want power options.

2) Can I fix it myself or do any work myself? If not, might want to save for a new car and let the dealer worry about it, including the maintenance for 2 years, which is becoming popular on many cars.

3) What do I want or anticipate I will need in a car? My sister gets her 2002 Tahoe today. In 1999, when she got a Dodge Durango, my nephew Seaver wasn't born. In such case the Durango is not adequate anymore. The Tahoe is and expects to be.

Ok, I've talked here, but my opinions:

1) If it's foreign dollar for dollar a Toyota product is the easiest to service, maintain and overall the "cheapest" for parts. All foreign cars will soak you for parts as they get old. Hang on Nelley, it comes fast and hard when they need repair.

2) Anything front wheel drive rates up there with dishwashers to me. I'm the youngest 30 year old fossil you'll find out there. You said as far back as 1985. It would be a MINT rear wheel drive GM car for me. I'd invest the balance in mutual funds or go by a classic. I'm different though, I can fix my own stuff .

3) American: I only like GM because I feel that they are the world's #1 carmaker for a reason. I do not like their or any front wheel drive products.

4) I say Hyundai, Honda or something with a new car warranty because most folks can't or won't be bothered fixing things much anymore. That being said, let the dealer handle it and get a new car .

Need more information.....but this is a start and a very valid question.
Old 01-21-02, 11:38 AM
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Hi Confused, boy are you going to get a lot of opinions with THAT question! Well here's my 2 cents worth - Toyota Camry. My '95 has 120,000 miles on it and runs like it just came off the showroom floor. Only failure so far has been the ac compressor that gave up the ghost at about 105,000 miles and cv's at about 110,000. Still has original alternator, starter, power steering pump and water pump and the transmission has never had to be worked on. Uses no, repeat no oil. [Side note: It has the 4 cyl engine, which I find has plenty of get up and go, uses regular gas, and gets 25+ city/32+ hwy mileage].

If anyone wants to recommend another make/model with that kind of reliability, go for it. As for me, my next car will be another Camry.

For $10,000, you would be looking at probably a 97-ish model year [or you could buy my '95 and save several thousand $].

I could give you my top ten list of cars that we tow, but unfortunately it would not be of much help as you would have to balance the number against the number on the road. For instance we tow lots and lots of Grand Marquis and Crown Vic's, but those are VERY popular cars with the older population in this area so there are lots of them on the road. Can't remember the last time I towed a Peugot (which I'm sure I misspelled); but that doesn't mean it's a great car; when was the last time you even SAW one?

Looking forward to the additional posts. Good luck.
Old 01-21-02, 11:39 AM
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Great minds think alike, Joe. Must have been typing those posts simultaneously. Somebody'll think we're shilling for Toyota!
Old 01-21-02, 01:44 PM
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She's 21, single and going to college 3 hours from home.
She was driving a 96 Chevy Corsica, that was very reliable but was rear ended and totaled about two weeks ago.

We are looking for a good reliable everyday car that she can keep for 5 or more years that has room, but is not too big. A mid size 4 door would be the ideal car, such as a Camry, Accord, Alero, Bonneville, Century, etc. I would prefer a v-6 over a 4 because I have had 2 cars with 4 cylinders that both blew head gaskets, one at 37K the other at 80K, both GM. Even though I am very picky about doing maintenance.

She loves the Olds Alero, but I am worried about parts & resale because GM is dumping Olds. I like the Camry, but it is hard to find a newer one with a V-6 in it at her price. At least in Chicago.

Any other thoughts?
Old 01-21-02, 06:47 PM
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Speaking from experience, I have never had a Toyota engine failure of any kind (head gasket, rod, bearings, whatever) and I've owned 6 diffferent ones - '74 Celica GT, '76 Corolla Liftback, '81 Pickup, '86 Corolla, '94 Pickup (current), and '95 Camry (current). I've never sold one that had less than 120,000 miles; the '95 Camry I currently own has 120,000 now and the '94 Pickup has 160,000. All of these were 4 cylinder; to say they were reliable would be an understatement. The '86 Corolla was sold to friends for their daughter; as far as I know she still drives it daily and mileage is pushing 200k. I made a statement once to someone about Toyota reliability that I had never had to change a starter or alternator on any of my Toyotas and that still holds.

Compare this to, for instance, a Mercury Sable. Check recent posts here and you'll see I just had to do a timing cover gasket on my brother's. This is a '93 with 52k miles on it and it has already previously had the following failures: Transmission (VERY expensive), engine mounts, and a/c compressor - and those are only the items I can remember hearing about right off the top of my head. I wouldn't condemn all four cylinders because of bad experiences with one make; the Sable is a 3.8L V-6.

I can't speak to the other makes/models you are considering, but I have yet to "wear out" a Toyota. Ok, will get off my soapbox now and wait for the check from Toyota, LOL.
Old 01-21-02, 07:16 PM
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You want old and reliable, get old rear wheel drive GM

Like TowGuy I can sing the praises of them. My current ride an 84 Oldsmobile Delta 88 with a 307 has been through two lead footed adults and four teenagers. It has 141k now.

It has hit modified duty with me as it gets regular maintenance under my guise. But, this car doesn't appeal to everyone .

My vote's for the 4 cylinder Camry, but it's ugly and bland and parts can get pricey (at least for what I'm used to). In the realm of foreign cars though, it's pretty unbeatable.

Rear wheel drive cars are far simpler and superior in every regard to me, but for the mass public, an appliance like a Camry is fine and will give reliable service in most cases.
Old 01-21-02, 07:25 PM
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I agree with you guys about toyota. They just keep going and going I also agree with Joe on the rear wheel drive GM. They are my favorite pick too, but to a 21 yr old college girl, it might not be the "in thing" to drive. Unless it's a sporty classic. The best advice I can give you is....STAY AWAY FROM FORD!!!! Ford is what keeps us mechanics in business. Good luck!
Old 01-21-02, 07:47 PM
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Somehow I knew Joe was going to ring in on rear wheel drive, LOL. But in a lot of respects he's right; a lot less complicated parts on the old beaters, i.e. electronic ignition, fuel injection, computerized emission control, electric everything. Like cheese says, might not be sporty or "in" enough for the college set. My Chevy W-4 with the 350 gas is pretty reliable, too, at 295,000 miles, but don't know too many college kids who would want to cruise campus in it. And by the way Joe, my wife says I'm bland and ugly, so i guess the Camry is a perfect match.
Old 01-21-02, 09:42 PM
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a few ideas

In terms of what model to buy that is a matter of taste. I would bank 1000 of that amount for maintainence before you even start.

However some things to check on regardless of whether it is from a dealer or not. If you know what you are looking at ask to have the dealer put the car on the lift and personally check

Brakes: condition of rotors and pads.

CV joints (FWD) check inner and outer boots for tears, also check seals at transmission for leaks.

tires: good condition? If they are new find out whether the car has been aligned as well

exhaust: is it in good condition. Ask to have cat. converter tapped to listen for loose material. It should sound solid not loose inside.

fuel and brake lines: check for corrosion. a used car will have a little but you do not want obvious rot happening.

Timing Belt: most timing belts are changed in the 60,000 mile range. so if you are in or close to any multiple of that, make sure it has been done. Many also drive the water pump now so if it was done make sure they changed the pump at the same time.

Overall look of the motor: Are there oil leaks underneath, from the valve covers, etc

Serpentine belt: this belt drives all the accessories so make sure it is not dry rotted in the ribs.

Hope this helps
Old 01-22-02, 05:42 AM
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Jason brings up some good points. You can take the 1000 bucks you save by bargaining, bank it in a liquid bank account and tell her that is for car maintenance. Good idea.

Us guys in the "trade" (I'm not really in the trade like some of the folks here, but you get the idea) can usually bank for parts if anything, because the labor is ours alone.

TowGuy: What a hot car you've got there. Wohoo!

With any car you buy:

1) Get a report from It will show the past history of the vehicle and is well worth the 15 bucks or so they charge. If you find the previous owners, call them up and talk to them. You'll learn a lot. I sure did with my 1979 Trans Am when I found the former owner. He filled in a great deal of information for me.

2) Buy from reputable dealers. Check your local Better Business Bureau for known complaints against the dealer you are considering. If too many, go elsewhere. Complaints are not good.

3) Get any and all warranties in writing. Do not trust word of mouth. That salesperson may be gone when you go back the next time.

4) As for the Alero, GM has stated they are committed to parts and service for Oldsmobiles. Most parts on the Alero are shared with its sister N bodied Grand Am and N body Chevy Malibu. So, mechanical parts aren't a problem. In 5+ years, if it's still reliable, continue to drive it until it starts to soak you and then pitch it for something else. My 84 Olds 88 was only supposed to last me from 1997 to 1999 when I was in school for my MBA, but it's still going strong 3+ years later, so I continue to maintain it and keep it up. I do all the basics it ever needs, and some extras to keep any power goodies working. I have a very nice luxury car that cost me zero in 1996 when I obtained it. I probably have put less into it in 5 years than most folks put in a year.....but guys like TowGuy, Cheese and I are not the norm. Sorry, guys.! Lol

5) As for the V6 Camry, you said you were worried about expense and head gaskets. Newsflash: You can blow a gasket on a V6 Camry the same way as on a 2.2 4 cylinder. Overheating an aluminum engine is a big no-no and that's what happened in your case. As long as you maintain your cooling system (that means 60k timing belt and water pump replacement on the Camry) you should be fine. As with any car, regular maintenance is very key.

My vote is still for the fully loaded 1985 Delta 88 Royale Brougham Coupe, 307 with all the bells and whistles and with low mileage. Put a grand into that car and it will run to 300k without a sweat. Lol.
Old 01-23-02, 03:58 AM
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Totota is the way to go for her

My 2 cents again I would get a Toyota mine has 180000 miles on it and is an 86 I really like it good on gas have had no problems besides the normal stuff like one alternator change and one timing belt change.with 180000 miles still uses NO oil and pulls strong it is no race car but it gets me from point A to point B.If you cant get a Camry how about a new Corrolla they are pretty nice I am not sure if they have a v6 but I am sure the 4 will do the trick.I wish the American auto makers would take note and make them like Toyota.How about a Certified used Toyota that is an option.I bought a 97 Camry that way(to bad my wife got it in my divorce).
Old 01-23-02, 09:55 AM
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Side note:

The 98 to present Corolla comes with only a 1.8 engine.

The 93 to 97 models were either 1.6 or 1.8 depending on the model.

A new Corolla Type S is pretty snazzy (my neighbor has one) but is out of her price range.

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