I am in need of a car. I am in Indiana for the holidays, and am looking to buy something here and drive it back to the east coast where I live. (I could also buy one on the east coast but registration/inspection would be much more expensive and once I start working again chasing down cars will be a pain.)
I am looking to spend up to $2500 cash with an absolute upper limit of $3000 if I found the perfect car. My credit is good and I could finance a car, but I really don't want to be locked into that payment. I have a couple questions:
-- What makes and models should I be looking for? I am pretty open to anything that looks like an okay deal for such a low price range, but have especially been keeping my eye out for late 90s Hondas and Toyotas with mileages in the 150k range and Fords with mileages up to 120k (Fords are what I was raised on, old habits die hard). There are a fair number of listings in these categories.
-- I have been looking on craigslist private seller listings and on little tiny used car lots whenever I pass one. Anywhere else I should look?
-- I plan to take anything to a mechanic to get it checked out first, and I know some things to look out for when I see the car. But what should I ask on the phone before I waste my time to go out and look at it? Initial questions, I guess.
Any other wisdom on the subject would be much appreciated! (I've seen this
question, but it was from 2006, so I wanted to get updated thoughts.)