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Teen needs a (really) cheap car. Ideas?


Jenny in Florida
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Auction. If there are auctions in your area, there may be people who specialize in buying cars from them for people like you. Ask around. I don't know that people like you (and me) should buy at auction without a car person to help. The car I know that went to auction needed a new transmission and didn't run.

 

 

Seconding this. There are car mechanics that go to car auctions. If you hire one to find you a car, it's already been looked over, and auctions can be cheaper than dealerships.

 

How does one find someone trustworthy who does this? 

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We are looking for something similar, and craigslist seems to be the place with cars in that range. 

 

And hugs. I don't blame him one bit for the accident, if it was on I-4 that road is a mess. Just saw an article that it is the most dangerous road in America right now. 

 

And I agree the bus isn't a valid option here. 

 

Yep, I-4, downtown, rush hour, in the midst of that construction mess.

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The used car my son is driving came from a state surplus auction.  Basically the state, city, county vehicles that are being replaced will go up on an auction site that's run by one of the state universities.  My husband thinks that the car we bought... a Ford Escape...  was probably driven around by a building inspector, so not hard use.  We got a huge file of all the maintenance records, and it was very thoroughly maintained.  We paid $2,000 for it, and then bought two new tires and a new battery.  So far so good!  Maybe do some googling and try to find out how your state deals with their surplus vehicles?

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I would expect to spend about $1800-2000 for something decent, that's just been our experience.  Ask around, post on FB for sale boards if you are on FB.  A car around $1000 either doesn't run well and is in good shape or runs well and is crappy shape.  We looked at a LOT of vehicles, plus a car in that price range is going to need work at some point sooner, probably rather than later.

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Our insurance company has told us that any adult old enough to have a license must be included on our insurance. In fact, there was a period of time when my husband didn't even have a license because he had let it expire while he was having health issues that made it difficult for him to drive. I still had to cover him on my insurance, because the idea was that, in an emergency or something he might drive my car.

 

Wow, I'd be comparing insurance companies, lol. When we asked about an increase should dd ever get her actual license, they said no increase if she is away at college without her own car. They said that would even go for the summer when she is home, as long as we do not buy a 3rd car.  

Scooters have a pretty limited use given our weather here.  

 

I would think Florida would be great scooter weather? Or do you mean the afternoon thunderstorms in summer? 

 

Tossing out some ideas, excuse any repeats: 

 

We are not car people, either. With our lack of knowledge, I would personally just toss the idea of a super-cheap used car. If good friends have an old Honda to sell cheap, maybe, but I wouldn't be scouring ads. 

 

He's going back to university next semester, yes? I'd be surprised if he couldn't find students willing to drive him around for less than Uber amounts, particularly if they're going somewhere fairly close to where ds needs to be. That might mean he is there 2 hours early, but hey, what great study time! And he knows a ton of people already, surely some of them have a car and need some pocket money?

 

Has he double- and triple-checked the math on Uber? The cost of individual rides makes me gasp sometimes, but you have to literally sit down and add it up, and then add up the cost of a car, maintenance, repairs, insurance, gas, and tolls. Compare the actual numbers, don't just say, gee, Uber is expensive. Of course, you know this, and he 'knows' it, but has he actually sat down and done it? 

 

Given the situation, I think he probably needs a combination of strategies that do not involve buying a car right now. He needs to buy a good bike and helmet so he can use the bus even when it doesn't get him in walking distance. He needs to ask his friends - he can make a social media post that gives schedules, locations, and possible payment, and see if he gets a bite. Sometimes he will need to Uber. He probably needs to accept that he is not going to net much money on his jobs for a while, or be able to save money, and that transportation is going to be a time suck. Long-term, he can look into ways of solving this, which is likely going to involve shifting his jobs and activities on or near campus. Buying a cheap car is a quick fix; it's probably going to break down or die relatively soon, and the whole thing starts all over again. 

 

I would not be signing for him to get any additional debt. I would not in a million years help a teenager get a car lease, lol. 

 

 

I would expect to spend about $1800-2000 for something decent, that's just been our experience.   

 

I would expect to spend a lot more! My sister's friend sold a Honda with 100k miles on it for $3,000 and we were sooo tempted to buy it, even though we had no immediate need for a 3rd car. It was a great deal and we knew it hadn't been flooded and so on. 

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How does one find someone trustworthy who does this? 

 

You either know somebody that you trust or you don't.  The state surplus auction seems like the best advice, IF it's not too far.  USUALLY the descriptions are accurate, and you can bid with confidence sight unseen, so you only have to go if you win the auction.  I'm not in FL though...

 

You're never going to find what you want at a dealer.  Probably won't find your "favorite" car either.  The Hondas and Toyotas are typically overpriced for what they are on the low end of the price range.  You're more likely to find a decent car for $2000 that's a Lincoln town car than a toyota corolla. If you prefer better mileage of a small car for a commuter, look at Korean or American brands.

 

Also, everything Katilac said X2.

Edited by barnwife
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How does one find someone trustworthy who does this?

I've used one that was a "friend of a friend", many years ago.

 

Nowadays? Facebook if you have a neighborhood/sub community where you live (like not Orlando but subcommunity or city near you). I'd ask on there. Who knows? There may even be a google search for a website.

 

Another thought: some small mechanics may have cars for sale, that were abandoned by owners who didn't pay their bills. Usually they're just asking a bottom price.

 

I'll also second the smaller car lots. Again, I'd Facebook around for recommendations, but small lots can sell mid range cars and do financing, especially with a down payment.

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From autoauctionguy's site:    "* MIN YEAR 2009 * MAX MILES 70K * ....2009/70K MAX.... *
I will look at SOME VEHICLES a BIT LOWER than $10k but not by much...
OLDER/HIGHER MILEAGE/CHEAPER VEHICLES WILL BE CRAP/AS-IS. I WILL NOT BUY AS-IS CRAP!"

 

He guarantees the cars he buys, nobody will guarantee a cheap used car for nothing, unless it's guaranteeing that it needs work.  Cheap used cars are risky, that's why they're cheap.  If you want somebody to take the risk out of it, it won't be cheap.  Somebody who is going to buy a used car at an auction for you is going to be doing you a favor, and won't do that for somebody they don't trust to hold up their end of the deal.  Or are you planning to give your auction friend the cash ahead of time and trust he'll get a vehicle you want?

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From autoauctionguy's site: "* MIN YEAR 2009 * MAX MILES 70K * ....2009/70K MAX.... *

I will look at SOME VEHICLES a BIT LOWER than $10k but not by much...

OLDER/HIGHER MILEAGE/CHEAPER VEHICLES WILL BE CRAP/AS-IS. I WILL NOT BUY AS-IS CRAP!"

 

He guarantees the cars he buys, nobody will guarantee a cheap used car for nothing, unless it's guaranteeing that it needs work. Cheap used cars are risky, that's why they're cheap. If you want somebody to take the risk out of it, it won't be cheap. Somebody who is going to buy a used car at an auction for you is going to be doing you a favor, and won't do that for somebody they don't trust to hold up their end of the deal. Or are you planning to give your auction friend the cash ahead of time and trust he'll get a vehicle you want?

Well, sounds like it would be too $$. Bummer

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Didn't have a chance to read through all the comments, but are you a member of your local Facebook: Buy, Sell or Trade page? 

 

We've been considering a cheap car purchase and several have shown up on our local page in the $3000 OBO range this weekend. We may go look at one this afternoon.

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The long term best use of funds is likely going to be towards a newer more reliable but more expensive car.

 

I’d either have them use my car and I’d get a newer vehicle or they could directly use their own funds for a newer car themselves. They could get a very reliable much newer car for $150 or less a month. The monthly payment might be well worth the peace of mind it buys.

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How does one find someone trustworthy who does this? 

 

We know someone at our church who has a side business buying cars for friends at auto auctions.   I would just start calling everyone you know to let them know of your need - your church, your mechanic, business contacts, or anyone else who might have connections - friends of friends.    I've been told that to buy at an auction, the agent charges a flat fee, but you save 15-25% over what you'd pay for the same vehicle at a dealership.   You could also ask friends for recommendations on small, independently owned dealerships, then call around and ask them if they ever get cars in your price range, and whether they would be willing to find something for you.

 

I'd call the mechanic you've been using and ask him if he has any contacts that he could share for auctions, or if he knows any private sellers.   I think your best bet is going to be a private seller, but finding the right car will take time.

 

Yep, I-4, downtown, rush hour, in the midst of that construction mess.

 

I grew up just north of Orlando and I-4 has always been horrible.   Now, it's a nightmare.   I haven't driven on I-4 through downtown since Christmas last year because it's been so bad.   There's no way you could walk, ride a bike, or use a bus as a reliable form of transportation in most parts of Florida.   

 

Is there any chance your DS could get some rides from friends temporarily until he gets a car?

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I am kind of in a rush so just skimmed the other responses so sorry if this is a repeat:

 

Have you checked whether car prices are lower in other states nearby?

 

If you can't find anything better and if you can at all afford it I would probably give him a small loan in this case as he really seems to need the transportation.

This.

 

I am on a fb page for cars for sale in GA, and I regularly see cars for less than $3K

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