Decision Guide


Best garage finds everBest garage finds ever

Rare and expensive vehicles and the stories behind their discovery.



Jul 11, 2013 3:10PM

That's a pretty good list, but I have to take exception to some. When looking for an older, cheaper, high mileage, reliable car I advise people to stay away from anything made by Honda or Toyota. What? Am I crazy? No, I'm not crazy. Too many people believe Honda and Toyota products were designed and built by God himself, and will never break down. While we know that is not true, it keeps the resale value of old Honda and Toyota products so high that they are a TERRIBLE value on the older car market. You can get a much newer and lower mileage Mazda, Ford, Chevy, or Nissan for the same price. And the other brands are just as good when you compare cars with over 100K miles. Prior maintenance and overall condition are much more important than brand in that price and mileage class. Buy your Honda and Toyota products when they are new or near new. Avoid them when they are old and high mileage. They are simply overpriced in relation to the rest of the market. That's free advice from a guy who buys and sells older cars for a living.

Jul 11, 2013 6:29PM
Why would you put any vehicle on this list (for college students) that gets less than 30 mpg?!  Do you have any idea how expensive gas is when you're paying for school?!!
Jul 11, 2013 3:49PM
You cannot find a ford focus hatchback in decent condition under 100K for under $5,000. This article is full of it.
Jul 11, 2013 11:46AM
These vehicles are hard to find for the exception of the Focus 
Jul 10, 2013 1:24PM
2002 Focus ZX5- 190,000+ miles and no significant problems yet.
Jul 11, 2013 10:35AM
Awesome, I actually drove a '92 Nissan 240SX in college.  Unfortunately, that big tuning market cuts both ways.  There is large aftermarket support that not only make upgrades affordable but supplies a large amount of cheap OEM-quality repair parts.  It also means that it's difficult to find an example that hasn't been badly molested..

If you can find a stock or near-stock example in good condition, I strongly recommend one.  However they do have issues.  They have problems with oil consumption.  The worst is the front oil seal.  It's not a hard repair to do, and if the oil seal blows you will have problems in a hurry.  Early signs of problems with the front seal manifest itself as oil leaking from the car roughly in the center of the car in front of the wheels.  It will drip for a few minutes to an hour after driving it then stop dripping.  If you see oil puddles develop in this spot after running the car be ready to fix the front seal.  The front timing gasket also likes to leak if the RTV wasn't applied absolutely perfectly.  However, unlike the front seal unless the timing cover gasket is leaking massively it won't produce an oil puddle.  It will just make a black greasy mess on the front of the engine.  The KA24(D)E engine does feature a timing chain, but it isn't the best design in the world.  The chain, sprockets, and tensioners should be replaced periodically.  On the twin-cam engines (91+) there are actually two timing chains.  I don't remember the interval anymore, but an internet forum dedicated to Nissans or 240SX's should be able to point you in the right direction.  I seem to remember 120,000 to 150,000 miles, but don't quote me on that.

The engine is not very rev-happy, and I prefer rev-happy.  However, the KA24 engine has a giant stroke for a 4-cylinder engine and makes enormous amounts of midrange troque (at least by early 90's 4-cylinder gasoline engine standards).  It is a very good handling car with good brakes.  While I knock the engine on a few points, the chassis is simply amazing and the McPherson front suspension and multilink rear suspension are very well done.  The interior is made of the cheapest materials possible, but they came out of the factory meticulously assembled.  Again, if you want one and can find a stock one in acceptable condition, I recommend it.

Aug 13, 2013 12:25PM
really msn what the hell do you know about cars ? At the age of all those vehicles you better know how they were taken care of.  one major problem and your great investment just turned shi*ty.
Jul 11, 2013 12:02PM
Too bad they have a 96 to 2000 model civic pictured when they say its a 92 to 95. As good as Honda's are your better off with a 96 to 2000 and forget the 92 to 95 all together. I wish I could do these articles.
Jul 11, 2013 8:43PM

Not sure who wrote this , but I disagree regarding the Honda's.  I have had four each got me over 300,000 road miles.  They hold their value and is built to last longer than the payment book  I currently own a 2003 w/ 300,687 miles.  Looking to upgrade this year.  I think Honda stop making this one cause it was built to last forever

Students also need cars,with low payments but high repair  bills don't cut it

Ms Honda Satisfied

Jul 11, 2013 11:47AM

Focus?  Boring?  Not!  My 200 Focus zx-3 was the funnest car I've driven .

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