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Unread 06-19-2011, 09:12 PM   #1
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Need a gas saver

Ok, here's the deal. I own a truck (2001 F150 V6, 5spd). I use the truck, as a truck (hauling and pulling) all Summer and quite often the rest of the year. However, from August to May, I teach high school, which requires a half hour drive every weekday morning. It's breaking me, getting 15-17mpg.

The problem is that my truck has very very little resale value. Due to 172k miles,some underbody rust, check engine light issues, and a severely screwed up Parking Break (it's a manual), I could get maybe $3500.

I would try to get a smaller truck instead, but the price of those have doubled in recent years, so I figure my cheapest option is to buy a used commuter vehicle just for gas mileage purposes. Super cheap, say under $3,000. Preferably closer to 2000. I've heard good things about Toyotas from the early 90s. Thoughts?

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Unread 06-20-2011, 09:31 AM   #2
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I just paid $2800 for a '90 Mazda Miata in excellent shape.
It gets upwards of 38mpg and is a serious kick to drive.
My other car is an '01 Dodge Neon w/ 140k miles and it has been the most reliable vehicle I've ever owned in almost 30 years of driving. Also gets 38mpg on the highway.

The key, to me, to buying anything used that's good is to try to limit it to a one-owner vehicle. A car that's changed hands a few times seems prone to being monkeyed with too much and may have a dubious service history.
Check craigslist, drive around your neighborhoods and check the Auto Trader (traderonline.com) for what's available in your market. Toyotas can be good and they can be bad, just like any other car. Always ask to see if the current owner has any maintenance history.
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Unread 06-20-2011, 11:37 AM   #3
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Dave's suggestions are both good. I would suspect that most vehicles with good mpg from that time are going to around the price you're looking or lower (Civic, Corolla, Neon should be around $3K with offerings from Chevy, Kia, Saturn and Hyundai probably being lower).
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Unread 06-20-2011, 05:44 PM   #4
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I
The key, to me, to buying anything used that's good is to try to limit it to a one-owner vehicle. A car that's changed hands a few times seems prone to being monkeyed with too much and may have a dubious service history.
Check craigslist, drive around your neighborhoods and check the Auto Trader (traderonline.com) for what's available in your market. Toyotas can be good and they can be bad, just like any other car. Always ask to see if the current owner has any maintenance history.
That's probably the best advice I've been given so far, to look for a one owner vehicle.
For the record, the Memphis area is infamous for having lousy craigslist ads and classifieds. Driving around neighborhoods is probably a better idea. Well, there are some neighborhoods in Memphis I wouldn't drive around, but anyway...

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Dave's suggestions are both good. I would suspect that most vehicles with good mpg from that time are going to around the price you're looking or lower (Civic, Corolla, Neon should be around $3K with offerings from Chevy, Kia, Saturn and Hyundai probably being lower).
The Civics I've seen for under $3K have over 300,000 miles on them. I know I'm asking a lot, but I'm really hesitant to buy a car with over 300K miles. Saturns have strange prices. It seems to confirm my suspicions that Saturn Owners are nuts. You will see virtually identical cars with virtually identical mileage priced two to three thousand dollars different around here.

I'm not seeing many Corollas, but a surprising number of Celicas from the early nineties, with the same 4 cyl engine.
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Unread 06-20-2011, 05:52 PM   #5
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The Civics I've seen for under $3K have over 300,000 miles on them. I know I'm asking a lot, but I'm really hesitant to buy a car with over 300K miles. Saturns have strange prices. It seems to confirm my suspicions that Saturn Owners are nuts. You will see virtually identical cars with virtually identical mileage priced two to three thousand dollars different around here.

I'm not seeing many Corollas, but a surprising number of Celicas from the early nineties, with the same 4 cyl engine.
As a saturn owner, watch it.... Hehe
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Unread 06-20-2011, 06:53 PM   #6
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As a saturn owner, watch it.... Hehe
My parents were Saturn owners; they owned 2 different SL2s, an LS200 and an LW300.
Hardly trouble-free, they did get their money's worth from the factory warranty. I drove the LW300 for a short while after my mom passed away and it was by all accounts a very nice car for what it was.
The 3.0 dohc engine was a beast, imho.

Classic Honda and Toyota reliability have caused their resale values to be stupid expensive, imho. Subaru, otoh, still fly below most people's radar and when we were shopping for our Forester I saw a lot of Imprezas with just over 100k miles sell for sub-$4k.
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Unread 06-20-2011, 07:11 PM   #7
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Classic Honda and Toyota reliability have caused their resale values to be stupid expensive, imho. Subaru, otoh, still fly below most people's radar and when we were shopping for our Forester I saw a lot of Imprezas with just over 100k miles sell for sub-$4k.
How's the gas mileage on an Impreza? Anyone here own one? I've ridden in a few Subarus, with no real complaints.
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Unread 06-20-2011, 07:32 PM   #8
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From what I understand from when I was car-shopping and looking at Imprezas, it depends on the engine and which model you get (hatchback vs. non-), but you're probably looking at a minimum of mid-20s?
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Unread 06-20-2011, 07:56 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fandrew View Post
The Civics I've seen for under $3K have over 300,000 miles on them. I know I'm asking a lot, but I'm really hesitant to buy a car with over 300K miles. Saturns have strange prices. It seems to confirm my suspicions that Saturn Owners are nuts. You will see virtually identical cars with virtually identical mileage priced two to three thousand dollars different around here.

I'm not seeing many Corollas, but a surprising number of Celicas from the early nineties, with the same 4 cyl engine.
That's a bummer. I wonder if that's a big regional thing.
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Unread 06-20-2011, 08:51 PM   #10
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I have a 1998 Mazda 121 that I bought in excellent shape for $3500 Australian (which is about as low as you can expect to pay for a usable car here). I'm not sure what the US equivalent model would be but it's given me absolutely no problems in the 18 months I've had it and it's amazingly good on fuel. I bought it from a lady who had bought it from its only owner. She'd only had it for 6 months and had barely driven it, because she'd bought it for her son to learn in but ended up needing the money.
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Unread 06-20-2011, 08:58 PM   #11
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I have a 1998 Mazda 121 that I bought in excellent shape for $3500 Australian (which is about as low as you can expect to pay for a usable car here). I'm not sure what the US equivalent model would be but it's given me absolutely no problems in the 18 months I've had it and it's amazingly good on fuel. I bought it from a lady who had bought it from its only owner. She'd only had it for 6 months and had barely driven it, because she'd bought it for her son to learn in but ended up needing the money.
Closest thing I found on Wikipedia to a Mazda 121 was a Ford Festiva, which I'm not sure I've ever heard of.
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Unread 06-20-2011, 09:04 PM   #12
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How's the gas mileage on an Impreza? Anyone here own one? I've ridden in a few Subarus, with no real complaints.
We get 22 to 27 out of our Forester.
An Impreza is a bit lighter and bit more aero, so mid-20s to 30+ highway should be the norm on a non-turbo model.
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Unread 06-30-2011, 06:57 PM   #13
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Closest thing I found on Wikipedia to a Mazda 121 was a Ford Festiva, which I'm not sure I've ever heard of.
A Ford Feista is close to a Geo Metro. At least they were in the older years. Two of my uncles each had one. They were small and very compact, but they got good gas mileage.
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Unread 06-30-2011, 08:14 PM   #14
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Motorcycle?
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Unread 07-04-2011, 06:22 PM   #15
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Closest thing I found on Wikipedia to a Mazda 121 was a Ford Festiva, which I'm not sure I've ever heard of.
It was sold as the Ford Aspire name in the North American market (AFAIK, no Mazda badged version was sold in the US).
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