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Which reliable first car should I buy for $6000?


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I am 17 years old and have just gotten a driver’s license and now I need a car to get to and from school. I have a limited time to find a car. I don’t have much money, at most 6,000 and I’m in a state that has high car prices and low paying jobs. How do I find a car that has good mpg, can find cheap parts for, is reliable, in good condition, and has newer accessories like a built in touch screen if possible? I’ve looked through countless car buying sites, I’ve been on Facebook marketplace for months and I’ve even looked at auction sites. I feel hopeless that I’m going to find a car that I won’t have any frustration with or that’s cheap.

3 Answers
Posted by: @ethanobryan

good mpg, can find cheap parts for, is reliable

Stick to looking at Toyota Corollas or Honda Civics. 

Posted by: @ethanobryan

in good condition

After you test drive a few vehicles, make a shortlist and pick a winner. Then take the winner from your shortlist to a professional mechanic to have them thoroughly inspect the vehicle, before purchase. 

Posted by: @ethanobryan

has newer accessories like a built in touch screen if possible?

Instal an aftermarket touchscreen audio system of your choice for $200-300. But don’t buy a vehicle based on which stereo the vehicle comes with. 

Look for something with cosmetic damage such as bashed in fenders or faded paint, but structurally sound. That way, you can negotiate heavily on price without having to worry about reliability of the engine/transmission. 

Whatever you buy, don’t buy a vehicle which has a salvage/rebuilt title or started to rust (especially if the rust is on/around the chassis). -

Find something like this -

If you’re open to hatchbacks, try to find one of these -

All the best and don’t forget to get that pre-purchase inspection!


How do I find a car that has good mpg, can find cheap parts for, is reliable, in good condition, and has newer accessories (...) ?

Reliability and aging overly complex electronic crap do not go hand in hand.

Personally, on my Corolla I just installed an after market android screen and it has been fine, so that might be the solution.

90% of OEM infotainment screens I've used were terrible - absolutely useless 10 year old cheap tablets stuck to the dash, especially the "renowned" Ford Sync. Personally when I look at cars I rather them not have an old infotainment screen, all you need is a phone holder to use Waze (/ whatever NAV app you use) and the car to have an AUX jack.

I need a car to get to and from school (...) at most 6,000

Generally, the cars you'd want for reliability and mpg are:

late 10th generation Corollas (2010-up)


early 11th generation Corollas in the L trim level with a 4 speed auto (NOT L eco)


Mazda3 made around 2014 or 2015 although these are very unlikely to go under 10.


If they have been serviced properly and not abused they can last a ridiculously long time, the lower the millage the better (often than maintenance quality that's the second factor)


If you can't find those, maybe try going for:

Euro Yaris


US market Yaris

It's built by Mazda, they have the same engine and transmission as some Miatas, really not bad at all.


But be warned, these tend to last less so I wouldn't recommend one with over 120k miles as after that they begin to deteriorate.


Any scion that is not equipped with any of the 2.4L variants and not 1.8 in the years those had issues (2008-2009)


@itwt has linked to some great recommendations. The Fit is decent for what it is (but don't overpay, especially not for the newer ones with CVTs) and the 1st generation Pontiac Vibe can be a good deal.


If the market is REALLY bad: 

A reasonably low millage manual Ford Fiesta with a naturally aspirated 4 cylinder isn't all that bad. about 95% of issues on that car are with the automatic or the 'ecoboom'.

Other cars that aren't great at all, but aren't too terrible are the Kia Rio and the Hyundai Accent (conventional automatic or manual only!) - they last 100k-125k miles (but usually not more) reasonably dependably and after that you discover where they cut costs and how built in planed obscene.

Maybe an old Toyota Echo, although those are cheap death traps that shouldn't be worth over $2,500 - if it's clean with 0 rust.


but definitely NOT Ford Focus automatics and NOT Chevies. 


Feel free to share more info on what cars you're looking at so that we'll be able to give more in-depth information on those.


Try looking into Honda Accords! I myself think im gonna go for a 2007 one, either the 2.0 or the 2.4

EDIT: I THOUGHT YOU WERE THE OP, disregard this.

I'll keep it on here because it might be useful to OP.


The 2007 model year is good, the ones built after that did have a lot more issues.
The 2.4L Honda tends to consume some oil, so make sure this doesn't affect the one you're looking at (don't trust the owners word, also check the tail pipe of grease),
Although I'm unaware of a 2.0 engine fitted to Accords in 2007, googling it seems to be the K20A (pretty much the same one as the CR-V, RSX, Civic, etc. of the time) and it doesn't have issues that I'm aware of new Accord/Civics still have a very similar K20C.
I've checked online about the gearbox and the things to look out for is a good service record (if possible check that the oil inside of the gearbox is reasonable clean) truthfully, you can only drain 1/3 of the oil using the drain plug so this gearbox does require frequent oil changes (30k-40k mile and more frequently when over 100k miles). And check for no humming and no shift-shock or strange behavior.
These automatics are decent, but constantly flooring it will cause it to go out prematurely.
It's a good idea to take it to a mechanic for a pre-purchase inspection, shouldn't be too expensive.
Just make sure to get one with reasonable millage, as you want it to still have some life left in it.
Around or less than 100k would be ideal, but the less the better (in the case of very low millage cars make sure the owner has proof that it's the real millage)
Good luck!