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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: drudgep on August 15, 2018, 06:33:42 AM

Title: Buy a sub 2K car?
Post by: drudgep on August 15, 2018, 06:33:42 AM

We are a family of 4 that have had one car. That car is paid off, and works great for our family.

I have been thinking of getting a second car, since I am at work most all day, and need my car for work. It is difficult to take kids to Dr. Appts, groceries, errands, etc.

However, I am really debating the cost of a second car in upkeep and maintenance. You essentially add 4K to your yearly budget for ongoing costs.

I also have been considering whether or not to buy a 2K car off of Craigslist- that might be a bit older or have high mileage, and just use that as my beater for work since I do drive quite a bit. However, am I being too cheap with my safety buying that car? Or do I deserve a facepunch for thinking of a second family car?

Title: Re: Buy a sub 2K car?
Post by: ShoulderThingThatGoesUp on August 15, 2018, 07:32:33 AM
If the point is to have something you can rely on to get to work, I donít think most $2,000 cars will work. Can you take the bus to work?

How about a used EV like a Leaf or 500e? Those will have much lower maintenance and fuel costs and will be much safer than any $2000 car. But not as easy and inexpensive as a bus or bike, if those are feasible.
Title: Re: Buy a sub 2K car?
Post by: Spiffy on August 15, 2018, 08:30:10 AM
We recently bought a 2003 Chevy Malibu with 140 thousand miles on it for $2000. It is for our 16 year old to drive. I guess it matters less if it breaks down, because we have others cars to use if we need to. It should be economical to repair when the time comes. We were a one car family until our third child was born and our oldest was starting kindergarten and I just couldn't manage it anymore. I would have loved a beater to use during those years!
Title: Re: Buy a sub 2K car?
Post by: lbmustache on August 15, 2018, 11:12:26 AM
Possibly too cheap with safety, but also realize that a $2k car will usually need a fair bit of work either immediately, or very soon. You can get lucky every so often like Spiffy.

I would say $5k is about the sweet spot for a decent car that should have most major maintenance done (exceptions apply here, like an SUV in the $5k range may not have major maintenance done).
Title: Re: Buy a sub 2K car?
Post by: Ecky on August 15, 2018, 11:57:25 AM
In the south you can find older Geos and whatnot for $1000-1500 that run well, but are just so old and rattly nobody wants them. In Vermont, anything less than maybe $4-5,000 is going to have serious rust issues, so for my last vehicle purchase I went down to the Carolinas and bought a used Fit for ~$3,000, which needed nothing but a plate.

Electric bicycle? Maybe a scooter? Small motorcycle, even? These won't have the same registration and insurance costs, but would have additional safety concerns.
Title: Re: Buy a sub 2K car?
Post by: ketchup on August 15, 2018, 12:32:08 PM
$2k is the most I've ever spent on a car.  If you buy right, you can get at least 2 years / 50k miles out of them (often more) with maybe only one or two semi-big ticket repairs (clutch, exhaust, etc.).  We currently drive a 2001 Volvo V70 (bought at 140k for $1800, currently at 171k) and a 2005 Kia Spectra5 (bought at 113k for $2000, currently at 120k).  Cheapest car was a 1992 Buick with 158k miles for $700.  We drove it just over two years and 42,000 miles and the engine gave out just past the big 200k.

The only help-I'm-stranded breakdowns we've had on this plan since about 2012 were either not the car's fault (something blowing a hole in the fuel tank and spilling 18 gallons of gas onto I-94, flat tires due to running something over, broken aftermarket key in the ignition, etc), or the car giving up completely and dying.  Only other breakdown instance I can think of was the serpentine belt pulley cracking off on the aforementioned 1992 Buick (that was fun).

You do have to be patient, know what to look for, be willing to wade through a bunch of garbage on Craigslist (lots of bad cars out there for cheap along with the good ones), know the quirks with a given model, and be willing to do a little work yourself (though it could still pencil out without DIY work if needed), but it's very doable.