Buying a used European car for $5k or less after a car-less decade: y/n?
July 12, 2014 11:05 AM Subscribe
Used car filter: after a decade without owning a car, I'd like to get back into the game. I'd prefer to spend $5k or less. I understand this means older cars/higher miles. I find myself drawn to early 2000s VW Golfs/GTIs, late-90s BMW 300 series, '90s Saabs, early '00s Volvos. Are any of these types going to be substantially more reliable or cheaper to maintain than others?
posted by toomuchkatherine to Travel & Transportation (38 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I know that for the ultimate in reliability, I should probably just get a Honda Civic. But that's the last car I had, and while I really liked it, I also like the idea of getting something fun and slightly fancy (but old). Leather seats and all that. I've heard that BMWs are "expensive to maintain": what does that really mean? I've heard similar things about VW. Does buying a European car necessarily mean making good friends with my dealer (or learning to DIY)? I don't mind the idea of 'taking good care of a car,' but I will be pissed if I am regularly having to spend multiple hundreds of dollars on things that break. Also, are there scheduled-maintenance things on BMWs that don't apply to other cars? Are they spendy?
I don't commute by car; this vehicle will be more for fun and for occasional out-of-town trips in the 2-3 hour-drive range. I'd also like to cross the country with it exactly once. Am open to make/model suggestions beyond the ones I've named. I seek a fun, fuel-efficient 2- or 4-door hatchback, coupe, or small sedan; bonus points if it has enough tire clearance to handle my parents' long, gravelly country driveway without too much trouble. Thanks.