What car to buy?

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What are the 3 best economy cars? You emailed me, and I deleted it. My bad). I need to help my son with another car. I will say that his recent accident of a high speed double flip into a bank without a seatbelt went remarkably well! No one was killed or even hurt. The police were not impressed. The trauma team at the my hospital were VERY impressed! He will not be driving for a while………let’s say at least a year, probably more like 3. So now his fiance needs a car, since she will be the “wheels” in their family. We will look for another slightly used Versa, but if we can’t find one, what other cars are good?
Mother of dangerous drivers.

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  1. My son is 25……..and here comes the felony charge, so he will be in jail. But everyone is alive, and God is good. So he’ll take his licks, and move on. Then, we will look at cars. 🙂
    Thanks Eric!!

  2. The kind of budget you have after you lose your job/do some jail time/ and are uninsurable…..
    Features would be those slightly above Fred Flintstones.

    • Can you be a little more specific? $5,000? $3,000? $10,000?

      If you’re looking for something that’s inexpensive, incredibly reliable, cheap to insure and which gets good gas mileage, I’ll recommend a mid-late ’90s-vintage Toyota Corolla. You should be able to find one with reasonable mileage (less than 100k) for under $5,000. These cars never die provided they get decent treatment (regular oil changes, etc.) Look around and you’ll see them everywhere.

      The newer one are ok, too – but expect to pay more.

      • Price range would be 0-12,000 dollars, so we have to let the dust settle and get an idea of what fines, etc are heading my son’s way. I know you mentioned the Nissan Versa, and a Fiat, but I can’t remember the other car you had mentioned. I’ll keep the Corolla in mind. Thanks:) He wrecked a Versa, 2009 and it really held up well. He rolled it a few times, and the roof is not crushed at all!

        • Ok, given your son’s situation, and (I assume) budgetary concerns, I’d encourage him to get something older like the Corolla I mentioned. Ideally, something he can pay for in full at the time of purchase (no loan, no payment).

          In addition to the lower up-front costs, the cost to insure something like a $3,00-$5,000 Corolla (or equivalent) will be much lower, in two ways. One, the value of the car itself is much lower, and since the value of the car determines (to a great extent) the cost of the policy, your policy costs will be lower. Two, if it’s a paid-for older car you can buy the minimum-required, liability-only coverage – which will further keep insurance costs as low as possible.

          Finally, if you have a property tax in your area, the hit will be less with an older car such as I recommend vs. what you’d pay if you bought a new or nearly new vehicle.

          All the above is premised on my personal aversion to debt, especially when you’re not in a position to save much while servicing the debt.

          • We have no debt. That’s why I can help him with the premise that he remains sober. He will not be insurable for probably 5 yrs. His fiance will be the driver. I can pay the car off with the liquidation of some assets, depending on what the IRS does to us (which will be very bad this year).
            Given that, are there any other cars that you would recommend? We are very acutely aware of the current financial storm headed our way. This was an unexpected turn of events. But he’s alive. It could have been so much worse.

            • Well, I can tell you what I’d do in this situation: I’d buy the least expensive “basic transportation” car I could find. No more than $7,000 – which will buy a very decent (aesthetically presentable, completely functional/safe/reliable) car. You can spend more if you want to. But it’s not necessary to do so, in order to get a good, solid car. The Corolla’s a good choice; so is the Yaris (Dom, webmaster here, has one). A Nissan Sentra would be good, too. There’s also the Hyundai Accent, which is a very decent (if plain) little “a to b” car.

              The Versa is a great choice but it will likely be hard to find one for less than $7,000 because it’s a relatively new model and very popular.

              And – if there is any doubt at all about your son’s sobriety/ability to drink responsibly, I’d do everything I could to keep him from getting behind the wheel of anything. Especially if he is a minor and you could be held legally liable for any damage or injury he causes.

              The above’s not meant to be harsh or judgmental – just the advice I’d give based on the actions I’d take if this were my son.

    • Hi Susan,

      Can you give me a bit more information to work with? Specifically, what’s the budget for the car, does it matter whether it’s a coupe (two door) or sedan? Any “must have” features?


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