I had a quick search and got some info, but...
Young Aussie couple living in Vancouver for another 8 months, looking to do a roadtrip around Canada and bits of the USA, probably 2 months in length.
I would like some advice on used cars:
- Budget up to CAN$5000, but prefer $2000-$3000
- Something we can sleep in occasionally
As I really don't know much, I was just looking for some pointers on good, cheap, reliable models. I was thinking a station-wagon of some kind, space is good.
Any advice appreciated,
Welcome to the RTA Forum!
There are certainly brands, like Toyota and Honda, that have built solid reputations for having solid reliable cars. However, that repuation also brings much higher prices for those cars, with your budget, you really will be at the mercy of the previous owners no matter what model you end up with.
$4k (US$) is usually about the lowest amount of money I recommend spending for a car that will be used on a major roadtrip. At the upper end of your budget you should be able to find an average 7-10 year old car with about 100k miles on the odometer. If you start spending much less than that, you start getting into the age of a car where the cost of repairs can become a losing proposition.
As far as models go, I think your best bet will be to look for a minivan. There are very few station wagons around, simply because so few automakers make them for the North American market. A minivan also will give you reasonably good fuel economy.
Regardless of what car you decide on, make sure you take it to a trustworth mechanic before you finalize your purchase. It could save you some major headaches down the road.
Check out Consumer's Reports
Check out the annual car buyer's guide from Consumer's Reports magazine. There are several other competitor ranking of used cars around, but they're pretty much the gold standard for used auto histories in general. Most public libraries have archive copies -- this issue is very popular. I seem to recall they used to list recommended models and years for different price ranges of used cars.
But as noted elsewhere, any car can be a peach or a lemon even if the model, year and brand are considered good. You need to have a used car checked out by a reputable mechanic if you possibly can.
And the other half of reliability is service I think. If you buy a reasonable used car, you'll need to put some money into it for maintenance as well -- oil, filters, etc at a minimum. Possibly tires, belts, battery, hoses, etc depending upon how they wear and how you use the car. I'm a bug about preventative maintenance on my car(s) which does cost some money -- but the reliablity has been excellent.
Thanks for the tips, I'll check out the car buyer's guide and get the car checked out properly.
A minivan sounds good.