It keeps me stable for days

July 14, 2008

It’s that time again–time for me to take my increasingly junky car and replace it with a somewhat less junky car.

The 98 Saturn SC1 is making me sad. It’s still got a relatively sound engine and there are no safety issues or anything. But it leaks when it rains, the driver’s window won’t open, the air conditioner doesn’t, only one of the four speakers works, the seat belts are a bear to pull out, it needs a quart of oil between changes, it’s got 110k miles on it, and now the muffler’s shot. Plus, I never really liked the car to begin with. It’s too low to the ground, and getting in and out is uncomfortable.

On the plus side, the gas milage has always been good, the CD deck is good, and the sun roof is fun to have. Fix the muffler on this puppy and you’ve got yourself a cool car for a high school student, or something to beat around town till she dies. Want it? Make me an offer.

Meanwhile, I have to get a car to replace it. Cheap. Here’s what I’m thinking.


No older than a 2000

Under 75k miles

Four doors

Manual preferred, but automatic okay

4-cylinder preferred

Reliable make/model

This last item is a bit vague, but what it really means is that I’m hoping to avoid American cars. I have owned several, and every one of them was complete junk mechanically (except the old Ford Festiva, which kept running and running, but was obviously designed by a sadistic midget with a death wish).


No comments yet

  1. Find yourself a Toyota Carolla. They’re KNOWN for their reliability.

  2. I should also point out 2 other things…

    1. Emalee’s SC1 is also a money pit
    2. I have a friend who is driving a 92 Honda Civic with 200,000+ miles on it.

  3. Yeah, but the problem with Toyotas and Hondas is that you have to pay $10k for one with 100+k miles on it. No thanks. One day when I buy a new car again I’ll go for one, but the used ones are a seller’s market.

    I’m currently eyeing up a 2003 Kia Rio Cinco wagon with 50k miles on it. They want about 4k for it and the reliability ratings seem decent.

  4. A woman I work with has a Kia Rio Cinco. She loves it and wholeheartedly recommends it, for whatever that’s worth from 1500 miles away.

    As to the make/model thing, I think you’re mostly right, but maybe the best and most reliable car I ever had (and I’ve had several Toyotas and I’m driving a Honda right now) was a 1992 Oldsmobile Achieva. I had it for almost 10 years and never did anything but basic maintenance. Great car. It kind of proves the point, in a way, though, because what did GM do? Stopped making Oldsmobiles.

  5. Ford Focus.

  6. Food for thought. You might consider Hyundai Elantras or Accents. They will never have the durability of the Honda or Toyota, but the price is right and it might still be under warranty.

    The in-laws owned Hyundais many years back, just long enough to conclude they were “cheap”. However, I have friends today with Elantras and they are satisfied with them, no mechanical problems, etc. They refer to their cars as the poor man’s Saab (not sure if that is a plus or minus). Eventually I’ll check out some consumer research for the latest in Hyundai ratings.

  7. I’ve given up on American cars after my 98 Olds SUV blew the transmission and took out the engine with 90K miles. I take care of my cars (frequent maintenance, synthetic oil, etc.) and have had problems with Fords, Jeeps and other GM’s I’ve owned.

    I now own a used Honda Pilot. I only considered a Honda or a Toyota when looking. I paid a little more over the American used SUVs, but it came with a certified 100K bumper to bumper warranty. If anything fails other than a lightbulb or fan belt, its covered.

    I also know people that have driven their Honda Civic over 200K miles with no major problems.

    The point is you may pay a little more upfront for a Honda or Toyota, but you will save money in the long run with reduced repairs.

    If you follow consumer reports, their statics confirm the consistently higher reliabilty each year. The only Ford with anywhere near the same ratings is the one built by Toyota.

    You are also a true photographic geek since you’ve spent about the same amount on your equipment as you plan to spend on your next car.

  8. I bought a new Ford Focus in 2001, it served me well. Kids got bigger, so had to switch to a minivan.

  9. Buying a Honda is probably a lot like buying an iMac–you aren’t going to get a bargain basement deal, but you will get a computer that’s going to work well and continuously for years without interruption.

    Yes, it’s sad that my photo kit costs as much as my car. šŸ™‚

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