I understand it. Sometimes, you're just done with dealing with a car that doesn't work, and by-gawd I'm willing to pay for one that I know will be reliable because it is new!
Depending on the loan amount, it may not be the most horrible thing in the world assuming she plans to keep it for 10 years or so. (And you highlighted it, she'll pay for food using the student loans)
Huh, that is funny coming from me. I just spent what I thought was an exorbitant amount of money on a 2006 Honda with 100k miles. But we'll have that for 3-5 years and we don't forsee losing a lot of money on it since (ignoring TTL) we paid about wholesale.
There ARE good+cheap+used cars. I've driven them all my life.
I've also had a car loan and limited income to pay for at the same time. What a numbskull idea (relative to my income level)!
My most recent used car purchase died one night as I pulled into the driveway - needed a fuel pump @ 155K miles.
My "funds limited" coworker seemed to be suspicious of that car when I purchased it b/c it was "too cheap to be good". When it died I got the "told you so" reaction.
We towed it to a mechanic friend of mine who has a lift (lousy weather for DIY driveway repairs). The tow was done with our other car that is nearing 300K miles and a tow rope. Nope, didn't need a $75 tow truck ride for 4 miles of country roads. We've done this before - DW & I. No sweat. Don't need a big car for a tow car either. Did it with our 2.0L four cylinder.
$250 for the part (lifetime warranty) plus $140 for labor and he was done by 9AM the next day.
Still, our used car broke down once. I suppose using typical consumerist logic I should give it to a dealer (trade-in) because it will forever be suspect.
I'll mention here that the coworker's car has needed repairs multiple times over the past year and cost 6-7 times when purchased compared to what we paid for our car.
Coworker's car is newer and "prettier" but cheap/good/paid for makes a car very, very pretty to me... ;)
Will likely buy another new car eventually but we keep cars forever and I look at new cars like new clothes or vacations. Something nice to have IF-IF-IF you can afford it - reference my statement above that I was poor and had a car payment in the past. Would never repeat that mistake.