£500-£1500 first car wanted - mk124
My sister has just come back from uni after graduating and the household needs another car. It will be a first car for her in all intents and purperses, since she is a very new driver with few miles under her belt.

The main priorities are is that it has to have 'low insurance and be reliable' as my mum has said.

My mum wants the lowest insurance she can find, (I have not explained the acutal quote will depend on insurance company and the insurance group rating of the car).

My mum also wants the car to be reliable. I feel a car without all the gadgets like electric windows and power steering etc would be good in this respect, so the question regards machanical reliablilty - a car that won't let you down, always starts and will never leave you stranded. The only thing to note is that ABS would not be considered a liablity and somthing just to go wrong in this instance.

We are looking for a small car- I have thought about the clio, ka, micra, and fiesta. Any suggestions would be greatfully received. I have heard that the japanise do the most reliable cars, but is this true when you consider machanical reliablity?


Torque means nothing without RPM
£500-£1500 first car wanted - stokie
clio - have heard some horror stories, poorish electrics
ka - spark plugs can break off in the cylinder head
micra - good
fiesta - good

For cheap stress free motoring I'd consider a 1997-2000 Toyota Starlet.
My wife's 1992 Starlet has been very cheap to maintain.
Also they were a little pricey brand new so more likely to have been owned by careful middle-class people, rather than used as hire cars.
Hope that helps

£500-£1500 first car wanted - Xileno {P}
At this price level cost and ease of repairs is important. Can't really go wrong with a Corsa or Fiesta.
£500-£1500 first car wanted - jase1
At this price level cost and ease of repairs is important. Can't really go wrong
with a Corsa or Fiesta.

And more to the point condition.

We're currently looking into a sub-£500 car as a backup, shopping-cart type car after some plank drove in front of SWMBO, writing off our old Sunny as the repairs, although relatively minor, are more than the car is worth now.

If the right car comes along, and it's a Citroen, Skoda Felicia or old Suzuki Swift, then so be it. Any car can go wrong, you just need to be getting the one that doesn't look as if anything major is going to fail any time soon. Forget reliability, parts costs or any of that, since one reasonably serious defect and it's off to the scrapper no matter what it is.
£500-£1500 first car wanted - thomp1983
i you can live with the styling then a citroen zx diesel would be ideal, the turb diesel is a group 5 insurance and the non turbo is 4 if i remember, with regular oil changes there pretty much bomb proof, there's no fancy electrics and anyone with the most basic diy skills can service them and there's plenty to choose from with your budget

£500-£1500 first car wanted - Another John H
>>>>... more than the car is worth now.
If the right car comes along and it's a Citroen Skoda Felicia or old Suzuki
Swift then so be it. Any car can go wrong you just need to be
getting the one that doesn't look as if anything major is going to fail any
time soon. Forget reliability parts costs or any of that since one reasonably serious defect
and it's off to the scrapper no matter what it is.

Be aware that Felicias seem to have alternator and throttle body failure when they get around the 8 year old / 90K mark. The alternator on the "VW facelift versions" - '98 onwards, can be an expensive 80 amp Magneton job.

If you got both parts from a dealer you'd be 6 or 7 hundred down.

The sun roof will be leaky, and the headlamp adjusters will have failed too.

The first seven years was good...
£500-£1500 first car wanted - Another John H
Oh, yes - I forgot about the windscreen leak as well.

There really does come a point where it's just not worth it anymore.
£500-£1500 first car wanted - McP
My Mrs has had 2 Micras

A 1996 basic 1 litre model and a 1998 1 litre Twister with Aircon.
Both were nice to drive and reliable.
The 1998 facelift model felt more solid.
The pre 98 can suffer from water getting into the fusebox by the O/S headlight causing various problems. Post 98 the fusebox is inside the car.

Watch out for rust on the rear sills (easy fix if not too far gone) and the front panel underneath the car behind the front bumper (part £35, labour 2 verrry long weekends or £200-£300 in a bodyshop).

I would buy another post 98 Micra though.

For the insurance, see if your Sister can get on a 'second car in household' policy as offered by directline and probably others
My Mrs had no previous insurance got my full NCB and got to keep it after 1 year claim free

Search this site for 'Micra' or any other model you are considering.
Quite time consuming but good to know what to look for and to read others experiences.
£500-£1500 first car wanted - FotheringtonThomas
the household needs another car.

It doesn't matter what sort, if it is in a low insurance group, has a good long MOT, and does not look as if it's been taken to bits recently, just buy it. You can get a reliable car which looks reasonable and will last for nearly 12 months without going wrong for - oh, er - £300ish. If it goes wrong, scrap it and buy another. Work out the £/mile. If you buy something with OK tyres, which at this price are important, and that will go for 10K miles, you get the oil changed twice (once on purchase, once at 5K miles) for £40, that's 3 1/2p per mile in hardware, tax/insurance/pertol extra.
£500-£1500 first car wanted - Jase
If minimising cost is a criteria, remember that whatever you get, road tax is £115 for cars less than @1.5litre engine and £180 above that. This might preclude a 1.9diesel ZX.

I've just got a 1.2 Corsa ('98 R £800), which as a car is not a great drive at all, but is very mechanically simple and the car is sound. Simplicity hopefully means cheap to maintain. Also insurance is group 2. Things like this all help keep costs down.

If you get a Fiesta don't get a 1.3 endura engined model. This is the same as the Ka and therefore the rusty taper shaped spark plugs issue persists. Look for 1.25 and/or 16v badges all over it.

When I went round this loop a month ago, looking for cars under £1000 I mean, the most common suggestions were 205 (yes 205 - the old diesel apparently lasts forever although £180 tax..), 106, Saxo, Corsa and Micra. I bought the Corsa purely because one happened to come up from a known source at a good price. This was the other common theme in my thread - Consider buying whatever a reliable friend/family member happens to be selling at the time! This can be advantageous because you at least know the history of the vehicle and at £500 - £1000 basically you try to unearth a decent example of anything at all and take that!

Good luck

£500-£1500 first car wanted - DP
I agree with Jase and the others when they say at this price buy a suitable car, not a particular make or model. Body condition, mileage and service history (or evidence of basic maintenance at the very least) are everything.

You will find more Corsas and Fiestas because they sold the most, but a lot of them will be neglected dogs. In my experience, a lot of people don't bother servicing old Fords and Vauxhalls when they get older. That said, for parts and servicing costs, these will be the cheapest two to run, and both are very reliable if looked after. I've got a 100k Fiesta (bought at 80k with a full Ford history) that still runs sweetly and is a pleasure to drive. However, the other six we looked at were awful.

Another good idea to buy from someone you know or trust if possible. That way you know the history of the car.

Good hunting!

£500-£1500 first car wanted - local yokel
Don't forget the 1.4 Almera - loads in Granny/Grandpa's garage that have been well treated. Gp 4, but that may not make much difference. No image, so cheaper than Saxo, 106 etc.

Value my car