: Daily driver, low cost of ownership. Ideas?



EcSTSatic
01-04-08, 12:41 PM
I need a different daily driver. My Aerostar only gets about 17 mpg average but I need to keep it alive for my towing and hauling needs. My old '77 Dodge van has outlived it's usefulness. My wife refuses to drive it. I spend almost as much on liability insurance as I do for gas in a year, but I like to drive it when a hailstorm is in the forecast and I need to get to work. Oddly enough it has no hail dings! It has virtually no maintenance issues but I feel bad driving a vehicle that gets about 12mpg.

What I would like to do is sell the Dodge van and buy something that gets more like 25-30 mpg so I can pretty much garage my Aero. It has to be cheap to buy and cheap to maintain. A small wagon or hatchback would be adequate like a Ford Escort. These have interference engines so I would need to change the rubber band right away.

What other cars would you suggest that fit the criteria? I don't want to spend more than $1K up front. Do I have to buy an import? I usually equate foreign with expensive parts. My Ford and Dodge parts are dirt cheap. I hope I don't have to be embarrassed to drive my next DD !

Night Wolf
01-04-08, 12:58 PM
For $1k? any 4 banger car that runs and drives.... lol....

I was gonna reccomend any GM 3800 car until I read the $1k part.... but even then, you can find a late 80's/early 90's 3800 Park Ave/Eighty Eight for $1k, if it was like my '89. $1k would actually get one in nice shape.... 23mpg town 32mpg highway on regular gas in Summer with A/C cranking and driving with a heavy foot.... kinda GM's little kept mileage secret, Series I 3800 both standard and TPI, got amazing mileage figures for what they were.

because of the stigma that anything Japaneese is obviously better then American, you'll have a hard time finding a decent Civic/Corolla for $1k that isn't junk, that money would go a whole lot further with an Escort or Cavilier.... also Neons can be a good deal, but IIRC the 1.8 or 2.0 is prone to head gasket failure.

Heck, you'd be surprised what $1k would get you from the Koreans, I'm willing to bet you can find a late 90's Kia/Hyundai with atleast A/C for that price.

I'd make sure what ever it is, is a manual, if it was avalible.... far more rewarding, better gas mileage, cheaper, more useable power and a clutch is cheaper then a trans rebuild.

EcSTSatic
01-04-08, 01:19 PM
Thanks Rick. A stick would be fine, even preferred. The wife learned to drive in one. As long as it's simple i.e. the fewer bells and whistles, the less to go wrong. A/C would be real handy in Oz where it regularly gets over 100 in the summer. The heat doesn't bother me as much as it does the admiral. I cycle a lot in the summer.

EcSTSatic
01-04-08, 04:15 PM
This is an interesting read:
57 mpg? That's so 20 years ago (http://money.cnn.com/2007/12/17/autos/honda_civic_hf/)

AMGoff
01-04-08, 04:25 PM
Does it have to be a wagon/hatch?

Personally... I'd go for a Buick... with the exception of the wagon/hatch, a Buick fits your criteria perfectl - little old people don't drive them around for no reason you know. Get an old LeSabre or a Century, hell even an old Park Ave or an old Rivi if you can find one... it'll end up lasting longer than you do!

EcSTSatic
01-04-08, 04:43 PM
Does it have to be a wagon/hatch?

Personally... I'd go for a Buick... with the exception of the wagon/hatch, a Buick fits your criteria perfectl - little old people don't drive them around for no reason you know. Get an old LeSabre or a Century, hell even an old Park Ave or an old Rivi if you can find one... it'll end up lasting longer than you do!

Mileage is my top criteria. Maintenance costs would be second. It doesn't have to be a hatch or wagon but it would be nice to be able to take some gear out to the sailboat. I keep the boat slipped at the marina in the summer.

I love the older Rivs. I still regret not going thru with buying a new one back in '81

96Fleetwood
01-04-08, 05:31 PM
Spend a little more and buy a Roadmaster wagon. TBI 350 or LT1, doesn't matter..both are extremely reliable.

dkozloski
01-04-08, 05:56 PM
Ford pickup.

Rolex
01-04-08, 06:00 PM
I bought my FIL a very decent Nissan Sentra with about 60k on the clock for $3k. He averages 30+ mpg on highway trips and high 20s in the city. His was a loaded model with power everything so you could probably get the less loaded model for much cheaper. No matter what he does to that thing it keeps running.

c5 rv
01-04-08, 09:59 PM
I have six kids, all adults now, and I bought / helped buy / helped maintain cars for 5 of them. (My oldest is 28, relies on his girlfriend to drive, doesn't own a car, doesn't want a license, and walks to work.) From worst to best (for your situation):

- Worst car had to have been a low mileage 85 Town Car one son bought for about $2500 and I paid for repairs. I spent more. I think AAA put me on the "Do not resuscitate list."

- I co-signed with one son on a new 02 regular cab S-10. He's 6'3". I tried to talk him into at a Silverado or at least an extended cab. No, he didn't want to spend more than $15K. I only made a few payments until he entered the Marines. The truck was fine until about 70K and then plenty of stuff started going wrong. He traded it in for a used 04 Impala SS that he's having good luck with.

- My daughter, who is the mother of four of our lovely grandchildren, recently had a dying GM dustbuster minivan. My son with the Impala SS and I went in together this fall to help her buy a low mileage, former US Govt fleet, 2000 Dodge caravan for about $7K. So far, so good.

- As another son was nearing driving age, I wanted to find him something with a manual transmission. I found a 95 or 96 Honda Del Sol with 60K miles for $6K that was literally owned by a grandmother who had to sell it when she had her second granddaughter to ferry around. Since I was vetteless at the time, my wife and I spent the summer tooling around town in the Del Sol with the top off. It was a great car until my son slid the right rear quarter and rear suspension into a tree on ice.

- Replacing the Del Sol, my son bought a 98 Monte Carlo for about $3K. The car has needed the normal GM work for a 100K car, but nothing too awful yet. This is the haunted car that spins up the heater fan for a few seconds at random times when the car is turned off. It was banned from my garage when he lived here.

- The best car was for my other daughter. It was a 95 Geo Prizm that I bought about 6-7 years ago for about $3K. She drove this car for a number of years with no problems until one of her friends borrowed it, wiped out, and impaled multiple parts of it onto a wooden fence. Thankfully, no one was in the passenger seat when a fence rail went through the windshield and out the back window. Another fence rail went through the radiator, but didn't do any other damage. She got the car pieced back together and drove it for another couple years until she started sharing a car with her roomate.

Another car to consider, if you are handy or have access to a good MB mechanic, is an 81-85 Mercedes 300D. Anything under 250K miles that has been maintained still has at least half its life in it. The prices on these used to be in the $1-3K range, but the car has grown popular with tree-huggers who want to burn french fry oil in them, pushing the prices up.

hueterm
01-04-08, 10:01 PM
That late '80s to like 1991 Bonneville/88/98/LeSabre/Park Avenue idea was a pretty good one. I think I'd pick the Bonneville out of all of them just for the seats if nothing else. The other ones that have the bench seats have headrests that barely clear my shoulders...but the biggest drawback of any GM car from that time period is those masochistic door mounted seatbelts that are just waiting to fling you out of the car in a wreck. (So other than that... :-0 )

The Grand Prix/Regal/Cutlass Supreme/Lumina from that era might not be bad either.

Not sure about the fuel economy on them specifically, but my '92 Toro got great mileage and it had the 3800 Series 1. Low/mid 20s in town and almost 30 on the hwy.

hueterm
01-04-08, 10:04 PM
The prices on these used to be in the $1-3K range, but the car has grown popular with tree-huggers who want to burn french fry oil in them, pushing the prices up.


:histeric:

pimpin88
01-04-08, 10:42 PM
Saturn s-series! I know people ripped on me for getting one, but $24 fill-ups are awesome. Mine has 156k on it, and they have a timing chain instead of a belt, so just make sure you dont here any noise near the timing chain cover and you should be good for a while. With 156k I average about 40mpg. Best I've gotten is 45 mpg, worst 37 mpg. I have a 5 speed, and the clutch just went, but I'm replacing it myself and the parts are only $120. Overall there isnt too much to go wrong with them. And the body doesnt rust out since they are all plastic, and the underside is undercoated pretty well, so just check the subframe in the front for rust. Mine is a 96 and I paid $1200 including, tax title and license.

Night Wolf
01-05-08, 02:35 AM
Saturn s-series! I know people ripped on me for getting one, but $24 fill-ups are awesome. Mine has 156k on it, and they have a timing chain instead of a belt, so just make sure you dont here any noise near the timing chain cover and you should be good for a while. With 156k I average about 40mpg. Best I've gotten is 45 mpg, worst 37 mpg. I have a 5 speed, and the clutch just went, but I'm replacing it myself and the parts are only $120. Overall there isnt too much to go wrong with them. And the body doesnt rust out since they are all plastic, and the underside is undercoated pretty well, so just check the subframe in the front for rust. Mine is a 96 and I paid $1200 including, tax title and license.

Yup, forgot about the little Saturns that could.... look kinda sorta sportyish too.

GM did something right with them, the transmission filter was a screw on type, similar to an oil filter, external from the pan.... why that isn't the norm, I dunno.

dkozloski
01-05-08, 03:00 AM
Yup, forgot about the little Saturns that could.... look kinda sorta sportyish too.

GM did something right with them, the transmission filter was a screw on type, similar to an oil filter, external from the pan.... why that isn't the norm, I dunno.
I remember seeing some forklifts and tugs with screw on transmission filters.