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15 Beater Cars That Won’t Disappoint

Posted in Beater Cars, Old Cars by Ryan | November 12th, 2008 | 132 Responses |

So you’re looking for a vehicle for your daily commute, or maybe just for fun. Something that doesn’t cost very much but will put up with a lot of abuse that you don’t want on your primary vehicle. You also want it be fairly reliable so you don’t have to constantly pour more and more money into it. We have assembled here a list of 15 vehicles which can all be found for under $2500, and will all provide a variety of services. The most important part of looking for a beater vehicle is to talk to the owner and get an idea of how well it has been cared for. If maintained regularly, any of these cars should provide years more of service to you, but one wrong move and you could end up wasting money on a lemon. Overall condition of the exterior is somewhat correlated to the level of care taken by the (sometimes multiple) owner(s). Assuredly since you are looking for an extra vehicle you can take the time to look around and find a good deal, and this will surely pay off in the long run. The best beater however is a car you know the history of, one owned by family or friends you can count on to have kept serviced.

1. Fifth Generation (1991-1995) Honda Civic

Honda cars have long been known for their reliability and thrifty fuel economy, and the Civic line provides a variety of layouts to suit your specific beater needs. A small hatchback coupe for the person looking for ultimate fuel economy, and a 4 door sedan for those who might carpool on their commute. The best part of these cars is there have been so many made that almost anyone can work on them if you do need a little service here or there, and with many out there you can shop around.

2. First Generation (2000-2004) Kia Spectra

Kia makes a good quality vehicle for a low price, and this allows for the cars to qualify as a beater much sooner than other makes. In other words, you can buy a much newer Kia than other beater car for the same price. Since age and likelihood to breakdown go hand in hand, it seems obvious that a newer car may in fact offer less chance of breaking down, especially if the used car comes from any part of the country where roads are salted in the winter. Many parts breakdown as they rust, and by getting a newer car as your beater you reduce the chances of serious rust having formed in critical areas.

3. 1995-2000 Chevrolet Cavalier or Pontiac Sunfire

The sheer numbers of these cars sold in the United States along with the number of them left on the streets shows their usefulness as everyday drivers. As with most American cars, they have depreciated quickly and offer a value that is tough to beat. Another plus is the fact that since there have been so many sold and used through the years, if anything breaks on your beater there is a huge supply of used parts at your local salvage yard.

4. First Generation (1995-1999) Hyundai Accent

The Hyundai follows the same equation as the Kia, providing a low new cost which allows for the buyer to pick up a newer used car at a lower price. The Hyundai has proven itself to be a reliable car through the years, and will return great gas mileage due to its fuel-sipping engine.

5. Seventh Generation (1991-1995) Toyota Corolla

The Toyota Corolla has been a mainstay of people looking for a reliable, efficient small car for years, and so its showing on this list should come as no surprise. As with any of these other beater cars, if you can find a manual version you will definitely get better fuel mileage and will also most likely suffer less mechanical failures over the life of the car.

6. Geo/Chevrolet Metro (1995-2001)

This car is annoyingly efficient and will put up with tons and tons of abuse, and with its low curb weight and short wheelbase can also be a surprising bit of fun for something with such little power. Once you get this car moving, it can be a blast to maintain speed around corners with, and if you only need your beater for commutes you can’t beat the efficiency of a small hatchback with barely enough room for two adults.

7. First Generation (1989-1998) Suzuki Sidekick

This fun little “off-road” vehicle can provide a bit of weekend fun for a very low price, and still work as a good commuter vehicle. With decent luggage capacity you can use it for runs to the store and then beat it up around the backwoods on the weekends. This little vehicle has somewhat of a cult-like following for people who have owned one, and provides a unique take on the beater philosophy.

8. Third Generation (1992-1998) Volkswagen Golf

Yet another version of the small hatchback, but this time done up with German style. The golf provides a fun ride around country backroads while returning excellent fuel mileage. A bonus for this car is the TDI diesel variant, which boasts absolutely ludicrous fuel mileage along with the ability to use biodiesel or be converted for vegetable oil burning use, for you do-it-yourselfers. This puts the Golf on a whole different level of eco-friendliness, for those of you willing to play around with your beater.

9. Second Generation (1992-1995) Ford Taurus

While the Taurus may not boast the best mileage on our list, it makes up for this in amazing reliability. There is a reason why so many businesses have chosen this car for their fleets, and why many rental companies have done the same. The V6 in the Taurus has proven itself a rock solid motor for a car which can take day after day of abuse and keep going.

10. Eighth Generation (1992-1999) Pontiac Bonneville

The Bonneville falls in the same category as the Taurus, not remarkably efficient but built to last. The General Motors 3800 series of engines have been around for a very long time and are essentially bulletproof, which is why I have included the Bonneville on this alongside the Taurus. The 4 cylinder cars may get better mileage, but its tough to beat these solid sixes in the long run for overall reliability.

11. Volvo 240 Series (1986-1993)

Yet another beater which may not be the most efficient vehicle around, but taken care of properly will run forever. There are organizations which register high mileage Volvos and give out stickers for inclusion into 300k, 400k, and many more high mileage clubs. A quick look at one such club on Google yielded several 900k+ mile 240s, and many others among the varied lists. These cars can be passed down through several generations and still function properly as a daily beater.

12. Fourth Generation (1993-1997) Mazda 626

Mazda has gained a reputation for reliability and fun, and as the company behind the famous Miata, they prove their dedication to well-mannered driving cars. They have always tried to make all of their cars somewhat fun to drive, and for what it is, the 626 is no exception. The 626 is available at a good price and can make driving a sedan a little more fun.

13. First Generation (1995-1999) Dodge/Chrysler/Plymouth Neon

These little cars have also been a staple of the rental/business fleets since their introduction, and as such can be found at auctions and rental sales everywhere. Rental companies have to keep their cars fairly well maintained, as the cars are their business, and so buying one of these used cars will usually yield a decent value. The Neons, like the Cavaliers, have a large used part base available at your local salvage yard as well for the occasional fix.

14. Third Generation (1991-1994) Nissan Sentra

The Nissan Sentra provides decent reliability, some fun little features like the 90’s sliding automatic seatbelts, and good fuel economy to boot. The third generation has been regarded by some as better than the following 4th gen models, mostly due to its true independent rear suspension instead of the 4th gen torsion bar setup, but also due to overall reliability issues.

15. Chevrolet S-10 pickup (1987-1996)

While this does not qualify as a car, and does not fit the bill for a daily commuter, it will certainly make work around your house easier if you tend to be a do-it-yourselfer. From getting mulch to lumber to bringing home appliances, the S-10 can perform a variety of tasks, and even tow a small trailer if you need to. Being a truck, it can handle your abuse day in and day out, and if you get the 4 cylinder model you wont end up with bad gas mileage.

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132 Responses

  1. Suzanne Denbow says:

    I feel like I shouldn’t be so predictable in commending your selection of the Volvo 240…but fuck it, Volvo pride baby! whoops like Ric Flair

  2. Sofar says:

    I want to be in one of those high mileage Volvo clubs, but my odometer’s been stuck at 271,710 since 1999.

  3. Suzanne Denbow says:

    @Sofar – Well the club issues a sticker for every 100,000 miles, so you’d at least be able to score a 200k distinction. That sucks though, have you tinkered around to try and find out what’s wrong with it? Joining the high mileage club is one of the best parts about owning a Volvo, you gotta get that thing fixed.

  4. Woohoo! my 1993 Chev Lumina isn’t on the Beater List!!

    oh wait – that means – it *will* probably disappoint me .. but, so far it hasn’t :)

  5. […] Here’s a cool list of cars that are well known to have good endurance and long lives. […]

  6. I know I would like to get 200 k on my KIA. Of course I doubt if that will happen since I’ve already blown the engine. I don’t think I’ll have to worry about my
    odometer ever getting stuck either. Its always cool to dream though.

  7. ilbur says:

    My neon (96 2dr Sport) only managed 65,000 before it was take to the farm upstate.

  8. Lawrence says:


  9. Jessica says:

    I’ve had #1 – 93 Honda Civic, and #13 – 96 Dodge Neon.

    I am not surprised that the Civic is #1 – It was the best car I ever had! Finally sold it at 243,000 miles because I needed better back support, to a teenager who wanted to turn it into a tuner. Most reliable, and so cheap to fix!

    The Neon…why is it on this list? My old Neon was the second worst car I’ve ever had (the worst is the 89 Mistibushi Precis). It was always breaking down on me, would not move when the AC was on, and it had a check engine light that would not go away, no matter how many times it went to the shop. I sold it at around 60,000 miles. Since I’ve sold it, my husband occasionally sees it come in for an oil change – and it’s been years and the check engine light is always still on!

  10. TC says:

    Neon? First Gen head gasket blowing, paint flaking, breaking down all the time neon? The Neons were craptastic, a absolute crap pile on wheels.

  11. yarg says:

    BMW 325e.

  12. OhioRic says:

    I predict the Chevy Cobalt/Pontiac G5 as runner-ups for the next gen of great beaters

  13. Matt says:

    The Taurus pictured is 4th gen (2000-2007) NOT 2nd gen.

  14. cody says:

    first gen neon….

    I had to replace the head gasket then the fly wheel.

    cost more then the flippin car!

  15. Johnny says:

    The fourth or even the third generation Honda Civics are better in my opinion than the fifth. I’m driving a 1986 Civic Hatchback with well over 250k miles that still runs great. Cost me $1200 and has only netted a few hundred in repairs in the past 3 years. Highly recommended!

  16. yougotadui says:

    yeah my mazda 626 was a piece, so many problems, the check engine light was on for 3 years, dealership couldnt fix it.

    civic is good though, the old accords hold up nice as well.

  17. Scott says:

    The neon deserves its place on the list – the key with the Neon is maintenance. If they’ve been well maintained they will keep going. I ran my 96 to 130k without anything other than routine maintenance – ZERO breakdowns over the 8 years I owned it. That’s not too bad.
    That’s the reason this list suggests looking for a fleet vehicle – they’re likely to have seen the maintenance schedule adhered to.

  18. jake says:

    Thats not a 2nd gen taurus, thats a 4th gen taurus

  19. Krezer says:

    S-10’s are horrible trucks and definitely should not be on this list. If you want to look at Sixth and Seventh generation Toyota tacomas. The seventh generation was produced from 89-97 because it kicked so much ass.

  20. David says:

    First gen neon is garbage. Had to have the head gasket replaced twice in the 3 years I owned that car. I had bought it used when I was in college and it had also been replaced by the original owner as well.

    Worst car ever!
    and the windows would rattle to hell if they were ever half down when I closed my door.

    Plus the worst rainbow speckled upholstery I’ve ever seen

  21. Nick says:

    Just a caveat on the Volvos: They are annoyingly expensive to fix and, while they run forever, you have to fix them a lot. Kinda sucks to get a beater for $2500 and have to put half that back into the car if the heater ever quits, or the front end needs work.

  22. Skyler says:

    What about the 1987-1991 Honda Preludes? These are just as good as the Civics, if not better.

  23. Stupor says:

    Are you kidding? Neons? Sunfires? Cheap – yes. Reliable – not on your life. These were some of the worst offenders out there for blown head gaskets, defective brake parts, and autotranny bombs. And the geo metro – yeah, it will last, as long as it never sees a grain of salt. These things are hard to find anywhere north of ohio and in canada because they rotted out before you could even break them in.

  24. tellahoohooo says:

    O yes, the Volvo 240 DL, not a desiel, but that thing could take a beating, I got cut off on the highway bumped up against the concrete gaurd rail doin about 70mph, and nothin but a scratched bumper and two lost hubcaps. Hell I gave it to my little sister w/ 280k on it, she gave it up at 320k to my dads friend who gave it up to his dad at 400k, who I hear is still driving it as a daily car.

  25. twobuck40 says:

    umm – thats a 4th gen taurus not a 2nd

  26. Jeff says:

    This list is awful and poorly researched. First gen Hyundai Accents are widely regarded as one of the worst cars ever sold in terms of quality are reliability. Hyundai has come a long way since then, but that one is a dog.

    And the Neon was generally cheaper to replace than keep running.

  27. DJ says:

    Had to replace the transmission in my 626 and various other problems. That was NOT a cheap fix…

  28. Joey says:

    I really think Camry’s from 1991 to 1992 (this spans more than one generation) should be on this list. I’m over 220K miles on mine and its still going strong (and that here in Quebec where we get really bad winters that kill cars, I’ve seen some in California that look brand new). This car can go up to 500K miles with a little TLC. They are considered by many to be one of the best cars ever built.

    I also kind of disagree with the Neon and Cavalier. The people I know who have them always have problems with them.

  29. adam says:

    you forgot the legendary camry. especially mid 90’s – my 95 was a beast, even after i crashed it, and it always ran about 23mpg. that’s all with over 130k miles too.

  30. boosh says:

    The mazda 626 is total crap. A quick google search will show that the transmissions in this car are worthless and very expensive to replace or repair. Consider the civic the cream of the crop in this article.

  31. draelan says:

    slight correction on the Corolla model years listed for that generation….the last year(model year anyway) that the AE101 chassis was sold was 1996…

  32. Mike says:

    I second the older Hondas .. I had a 87 Accord that I bought for $500 and took it to 300k miles, only adding an alternator, brakes, and a fuel filter. After I wrecked it into a curb it lost 5th gear and no longer had power steering, but I sold it to a friend for $400 who delivered pizzas in it as it progressively lost more of the higher gears. By the time HE was done with it, it had 350k on the clock and he drove it to the junkyard in 2nd gear .. and still got $100 from them for it. If either of us cared enough, we could have replaced the rack and power steering pump along with the transmission for a few hundred bucks and a weekend (parts from the junkyard) .. but at that point, who cares, just get another one.

  33. kenny says:

    THought I’d throw my Volvo specs in the ring.

    Gave my 86 240DL to my maid when it was @500k that was 10 years ago.

    Replaced it with a ’90 240DL, and unfortunately the odometer broke @ 600k, so I drive around 25k a year, making this one around 850k….

  34. Ted says:

    You’re forgetting the ’86 toyota pickup, it’s the bullet proof car. Just watch the top gear on it and you’ll see.

  35. Ken says:

    The Geo Metro is a terrible choice!

    If you go over 60MPH regularly, be prepared for its lawnmower-like engine to seize.

    Happened to me. Happened to a friend.

    If you consider it a blast to drive, it’s probably because you have the constant fear that, at any moment, the nuts and bolts may loosen and you’ll find yourself coasting down the highway on a bare chassis.

  36. I genuinely can’t believe this article made it on digg.com! Dude, you must not have had half of these cars… I give props to the mention of Volvo, Honda, Toyota and the Golf & Hyundai… But the rest? Your fooling too many people here.. The rest are not capable of over 200,000k without problems. Not one of them. Taurus = Transmission & headgaskets. 2000-2005 kia timing belts, geo metro & sidekicks timing belts & headgaskets… NEONS! Wow, read consumer reviews buddy! Transmission leaks like crazy & yeah timing belts! Cavaliers? there may be tons around but with no mechanical experience… those transmissions & head gaskets are expensive All my mentions here are $800 – $1800 repairs before parts BEFORE 200,000k ever happens.

  37. ntopics says:

    These are cool beater cars and I would have
    to agree that they are fairly reliable and low cost.

    thanks from tony

  38. Billy says:

    Yes, my 1993 Corolla is on the list! Sure, it has its quirks but it’s still running well at 208k miles.

    One mistake: the seventh generation spanned model years 1993-1997, though.

  39. Walter says:

    I have a 98 Jetta with 200,000 miles and still going strong. It has only been in the shop once in the last 100,000 miles. But that bill was $3,000. Told them to fix any problem they found.

    Hope my next car does as well.

  40. Brandon S. says:

    I have a 1996 Mazda Protege, it was replaced by the 626. I love my Mazda. I got it for roughly $2195 and it’s great for a poor college kid like me. My check engine light is on but all it is is a fuel system problem. Runs like a dream and still fun to drive even with the AC on. Gas mileage is through the roof.

  41. four6three says:

    Where’s the 87 Nova? I was able to sell it at 12 years old and a few years later learned it had to be driven off a loading dock to reach EOL

  42. gxpfan says:

    I would toss the neon, every Neon I’ve seen pre 1999 had issues. I’m going to toss out the Ford Escort, My dad has had 2 of them the first was a 91 that died after 700k and the second is a 97 that just broke the 600k mark.

  43. Optimus Subprime says:

    Second-gen Taurus is reliable? We had a 93 Taurus, and it was the most unreliable P.O.S. we’ve ever owned. And we’ve had several other Ford cars in the past. We had problems within months of driving it off the lot. And I know (and have read of) quite a few other people who’ve had similar experiences.

    In contrast, the various Hondas we’ve had never had any problems, other than trivial ones. And the majority of Honda owners would probably agree.

    Luckily, I live in a densely-populated city with good public transportation, and no longer need to be enslaved to a car. (Funny how people equate car to “freedom”. But nothing like the feeling of absolute dread and terror when your car breaks down, and being totally dependent on it to get to work, buy groceries, get to the doctor, etc.).

    But if I did have the misfortune of needing a car once more, I most certainly will never waste money on a Ford again.

  44. bigyaz says:

    The Sidekick was well known as a fatal rollover accident waiting to happen. One of the most unsafe vehicles out there.

  45. Mr.D says:

    I was shocked to see the s10 on this list… but they are right. Mine is sitting at 208k and some change, runs like a top with a 120mi per day commute @ 24mpg. Love it.

  46. Jared says:

    Whatever, my 1999 Volvo is falling to pieces and its only at 120k miles. Did quality change or am I just an idiot?

  47. themadhapa says:

    My 1995 Mitsubishi Mirage gets 40 mpg and keeps soldering on. I even learned to drive in that car – a stick shift, no less. Only downside is: no cup holders.

  48. Cartman says:

    Have owned 5 different model Volvos. Loved every one.
    My 1969 was sold after 760,000 miles, never opened the engine!
    (I think its still running somewhere.)

    Not to mention- they are extremely solid and SAFE vehicles.

  49. Jared says:

    Second gen Toyota Camry (87-91) should be on here – those things run forever. Only problem with them is the valve guides need to be fixed every 180k or so on the 4cyl engine (only about a $300 repair) to fix a little puff of smoke on the startup. 200k miles down the road you can still pull over 40 mpg on the 4cyl engine and have compression within 5% or better of the original factory spec. The 6cyl engines are bulletproof.

  50. puskunk says:

    You say a second gen Taurus, but you show a 4th gen Taurus. Many of these beaters suck for long term, Neons are notorious for blowing head gaskets, as are the second gen Tauruses with the 3.8 and not the 3.0.

  51. Rachel says:

    I traded my 1994 Toyota Corolla for a new Volkswagen and I was really sad! RIP red rocket. You are probably making some 16 year old really happy right now!

  52. kavenien says:

    I can’t agree on the selection of any Taurus; I’ve know several people with several generations of the vehicle (it’s still pretty popular) and they always have transmission problems.

    The Geo Metro isn’t too bad and is fun to work on as 2-3 people can practically lift the 1-liter engine out by hand. Also, the engine compartment is not as cluttered as many vehicle and easy to navigate in. Of course, it doesn’t hold up in accidents well, as I learned when mine lost a fight with an Explorer; I pushed in his rear bumper about 2 inches and he pushed in my passenger-side front about 3 feet…

    I hear good things about S-10s, but mine threw a main bearing within months of owning it, so I don’t think I’d bother with it again.

    I have a ’98 Sidekick Sport now and it runs like a top. I’ve only had a belt snap and fixed a little bit of metal that’s defective on the clutch pedal (machine shop braced the weak metal’s angle with a bunch of weld for 10 USD) in the last 4 years and 60,000 miles (got it just under 100K).

  53. smoke me a kipper says:

    I have a 1997 Cav. It’s not the best car I’ve owned and it only has 195K Km on it, but it’s a beater. A $500 beater not a $2500. I would assume that $2500 was a maximum. The main problem I have with the Cav is the front end bushings. Mine still has the original exhaust system and I live in Canada and we love to salt the roads.

  54. Suzanne Denbow says:

    @Jared: Define “falling to pieces”? And keep in mind, Volvo’s will last forever, but only with a realistic amount of maintenance. Furthermore, there’s an ongoing debate in the Volvo community on whether the quality changed after Volvo was bought by Ford in ’99. Personally, I think any Volvo manufactured under the Ford umbrella is worthless, but you’ve got a ’99, so you slipped in right under the wire. If you’re having problems, it’s not because of inferior craftsmanship.

  55. Paula says:

    Amen to Krezer’s observation that S10s are the worst trucks ever! I inherited my Dad’s ’96 4-cylinder S10: he bought it new, it had 18,000 miles on it when I got it and less than a year later with 30,000 miles it blew a head gasket. Chevy refused to do anything since I wasn’t the original owner. The body was still pristine so I sold it to a friend and went back to my ’91 Toyota 4Runner: over 300,000 miles and going strong!

  56. xx says:

    try harder.

  57. Rotten1 says:

    The Taurus and 626 use the same tranny and it’s horrible. The mazda protege and RX7 should be here though, and the nissan stanza/240/pulsar.

  58. rick blank says:

    Is this an Onion article? Other than the Civic, the rest of these cars are highly suspect. Getting a good one is the needle in the haystack. I mean, seriously, Geo Metro?

  59. Justin says:

    My 91 Civic hatchback is approaching 250k. I paid $900 for it 3 years ago, and have only had dump a few hundred into it for repairs. It gets 35mpg. I’m not winning any drag races, but it still has some pep. Engine still purrs like a kitten, but the body’s got quite a bit of rust.

    Oh, and i’m pretty sure Honda’s 5th generation is 1992-1995. My 91 is in the 4th generation. (1988-1991)

  60. I8yourVtec says:

    1st gen neon. The best car ive owned. Yes there are alot of peice of junk ones but taking care if it is key. Ive owned 7 95-99 neons. Currently own a 05 srt-4 and 97 neon. I love them both. Zero problems, cheap parts, reliable as it gets.

  61. chris says:


  62. Skylar says:

    the Chevy Cavalier is a pile of garbage and this list doesn’t even give a nod to Mazda who made some of the best beaters.

  63. Ben says:

    Wha? No Subaru’s? Practically anything made past 1988 by that company will run forever. I had a 1994 Legacy with 250,000+ miles on it that would. not. die. I wanted it to catistrophically fail so I could justify junking it and getting a new car and it wouldn’t, for 2 years. I finally sold it, and still see it driving around town.

  64. Lorenzo says:

    I’ve owned at least one neon since 1996 till present. Sometimes I had as many as 4 of them at one time. I’ve owned mostly 95’s one 1999 and currently have the 1999 and a 2003 SRT-4.

    I have to say keeping up with the maintainence is the key with keeping a neon a long time. Many of them had over 200k miles on them and still ran strong with the original motor. Little oil burning but ran good.

    The first gen neons did have a issue with the HG because it was a composite HG which was a horrible design. They since redesigned the HG now and it’s a MLS headgasket which works great. I have never had to replace a MLS headgasket on any of the neons I have owned and I have owned over 14 of them over the years. Mostly buy fix and sell cars. Since most of them are really easy fixes thus yeilded me good money over the years.

    Biggest problem with the HG changes is people not knowing how to do them properly and yes that includes the dealerships. Mechanics are paid flat rate which means faster they get done the more they make so they take shortcuts. They don’t have the head sent to a machine shop to mill it flat and remove the pitting the composite gasket caused. They also don’t clean the block surface perfectly to ensure a good seal. These 2 things are critical on a HG change.

    Other then that neons are reliable I drive them now still have 2 of them currently along with my Mazda CX7 and my Ford F150. They get great milage which is nice as well as the SRT-4 has great performance. In short if you don’t take care of it or don’t know how to work on your car it can get expensive when you start to neglect the simple problems. With the webforums out there to help people that own a specific car it’s very easy to learn how to do repairs and fix them thus making the neon a great car to have especially when it comes to repairs as they are very simple to work on and parts are extremely cheap! Nothing like the mazda we own which parts are outragiously expensive.

  65. Tawny Fan says:

    The Taurus pictured does not match the years in the description.

    Believe it or not, the taurus is actually a very good vehicle!

  66. adam says:

    Dodge Spirt! I’ve had my spirit for 7 years and its a ’93, still chugging along with only 110,000 miles it surprises me all the time, broke down once, mechanically, and I was able to drive off the highway to rescue with no problems. It ain’t pretty, but it sure fits well in this list!

  67. Phares says:

    Thats a 2000 – 2006 Taurus… The 92 – 95 Taurus looks pretty much the same as the 80’s ugly ass Taurus. The 3rd gen was 96 -99 with the weird round window finally ending up with this, general car looking car…

  68. Marshall says:

    I have to say my First generation Mercedes benz 190E or 190D belongs on this list. the first and the second generation are great. mine (1986 190E) has been going since 1986 on the same transmission and engine. not once has it broken down on the side of the road for 26 Years. in 26 years the only problem has been the compressor for the air conditioner , but that is not to bad at $400 for the repair and the motor is shot on the sun roof. other than that only small maintenance. The car has been in my family my whole life (I am 20). I have made sure to have tune ups every 30 or so thousand miles. my 190 E is 28X,XXX,XXX miles strong! and has a long way to go.

  69. Mathew says:

    I have a 98 Cavalier with 109,000 miles and the water pump blew in days after I bought it…cost me $1000 because of labor and and replacing the belts…ugh. Besides that I drives fine, but I just can’t agree with the list at all.

  70. zerothis says:

    Honda Civic – BS! Around here, if drive the road between town and the local community college you will see another broken down civic every day of the week.
    Hyundai Accent – “our customers feel safe in their car”. Whopteedoo, Hyundai asks customers to check a box if they “feel safe” and the majority of them checked it instead of finding a place to write on the survey “I bought this car because I feel like I’m in a soda can and want live in dread of that 18 wheeler flattening me like gum on a shoe because my tiny little car I fits so neatly into all his blind spots”. Honestly, how many customers are gonna buy a car that feels unsafe?; of course they’ll check the box. Real world data shows that pre 1999 Hyundai cars are crap for safety and toughness. But In all fairness, later models are vastly improved, especially since 2004.
    Suzuki Sidekick – Darn right! Why isn’t this nearer the top?
    Ford Taurus – Ok this one is TOUGH. Seriously, is the perfect getaway car (as in banks:). But, since the police drive slightly beefed up versions, its not advisable to actually rob banks. This is a popular car in drivers ed schools around here (although they limit the acceleration and horsepower electronically). So crashes don’t result in having to buy new cars.
    Volvo 240 Series – “taken care of properly will run forever” , “taken care of properly” being the important part. Once you let one of these go, it’ll be in the repair shop every month.
    Nissan?! I prefer my cars be made of METAL.
    Chevrolet S-10 pickup Why isn’t this at the top of the list? They have 3 and four door and 4 seaters of this also. Rear bench and side fold out options are cramped. But the larger cab options have more room than the back seat of a neon. The GMC Sonoma (NOT Sierra or S-15) is an equivelent truck (as in, nearly all parts are interchangeable), that saves about $1000 on the price tag. But, this price advantaged probably diminishes as the trucks get older and is sold used. Mine gets 18-26 mpg city depending on when I tuned it and aligned the wheels last. I’ve gotten 38 on flat highway in overdrive.
    For added toughness, get the Highrider/ZR2 version. No, this isn’t a ‘monster truck lift kit’, it does ride a bit higher of the ground but its still not near as tall as an F-series. Have a look:http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/68/ZR2a.jpg. Many sources claim you cannot have an extended cab, 4WD and a Highrider all in one. But, I have one so those sources must be wrong. It has a “Ladder Type Frame with Modified Mounting Points”. Or in plain English, is has a frame held together with bolts surrounded by rubber gaskets rather than welded frame. While the stress of an accident or series off-road abuse _will_ tear gaskets and bend bolts, these are much easier and cheaper to replace and much more reliable than re-welding. If you hear parts of your frame rattling around (it will be an obvious sound, it will noticeably effect the vehicles handling, and tire wear if left too long ) be sure to remind your mechanic he’s not looking for a broken weld, but a loose bolt (this type of frame is uncommon). My 1992 ‘highrider’ (the suspension package was not officially named until 1994), has been driven through floods and rivers deeper that the headlights, _under_ 23 feet of fresh snow, _drug_ a ceased-up Honda Civic off the previously mentioned road, traveled 24 miles on three wheels, jumped 95 feet (and numerous smaller jumps), pulled a 1-ton loaded utility trailer up a 150% grade (after going over a 10 straight drop, oops). Mind you, its not perfect. The skid plates that come with the package are antiquate for most drivers, myself, I added a 1/2 aluminum bumper to bumper plate after a perfectly sized rock put a dented my gearbox and damaged a gear. The muffler rusted out in 4 years and I replaced it with a Flowmaster mounted high into the frame protected by the skidplate. The shocks were shot in two years, stiffened till their was barely any give at all. I should be noted however, that the muffler and shock may have been meet an early end because the previous owner lost the truck in a flood and it had to be dug out from under silt where is was also under water overnight. I replaced the shocks with KYB gas one. The tires were darn tough, I used one of them for a year or so after driving on it flat for a mile. Replaced them with some recalled Firestones:) Finally I got some Dunlop Mud Rovers, they’ve lasted me 55000 miles. The 1992 model is one of the first to use microprocessor engine regulation. Its buggy, so expect the truck to preform strangely when changing climates and altitude for the first few days of driving. Also, I was told by a mechanic that if any moisture gets into the dashboard, it could ruin the chip (this include condensation). He made it sound as if leaving the windows down overnight could do it. I didn’t bother to mention the dash had been under water on at least two occasions I finally replaced mine with a switchable performance/economy chip which I have not had a chance to fully test yet. I have not had the truck tuned and initial results seem to be 18mpg in eco mode. Supposedly it stays in eco mode until I repeatedly rev and then switches back to economy if my RPMs remain steady for several minutes.
    Honorable mention, BW Beetle – Around here most of them have “$99″ or “$100″ written on the inside of the rear window and it never gets scraped off. Pay your hundred. Drive it till it quits. Sell it to a mechanic with 2 or three other beetles in his or her yard for $10-$50. Buy another. Repeat. 31mpg, up to 60mpg if properly striped and tuned. BTW, by VW Beetle, I mean a _real_ Beetle. not that “New Beetle” which is actually a shape shifted Volkswagen Golf and has a blasphemous front engine. The original beetle ceased production in 2003 (in Central/South America) so you can still get some newer ones. The Beetle is usually underpowered (a good reason to buy from a mechanic who’s souped it up), loud, rides like a wild horse, and seemingly non-essential parts have been known to fall off out on the road. Don’t worry, the beetle does not insulate the sound of metal hitting pavement very well, so these events will no go unnoticed. Bring the parts to you mechanic and he’ll let you know if they need to be put back in or just a bolt tightened somewhere else to compensate. At least it floats. Later models are improved and have front wheel drive. A mechanic can make four wheel drive car from and old and new one. But, the 2-wheel drive ones generally out preform other off-road vehicles anyhow, if not with forward gears then in reverse (seriously). A few owners have swapped out the engine in favor of one from a porsche. This is a typical looking VW in my area (minus the porsche engine and wheels): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mA9tPO5YaZA. I can guarantee gas mileage for porsche powered Beetles. If the door or hood is broke and will no longer shut (like the link above), or if its been chopped (dune buggy mod), it will no longer float. Oh, yes, the Beettle was a Nazi car, but that was a long time ago and they lost, so get over it. It spoils of war.

  71. ditr says:

    ford taurus, get real. not very economical, disposable car. early hundai accent, notorius for cylinder head problems. the sentra, not as fuel effecient as you would think. geo metro is a great minimalist vehicle. the older volvo’s very dependable, but kind of heavy. don’t know enough about the others to give an informed opinion.

  72. Jack Meoff says:

    You left out the Crown Vic. Mileage is around ok, but these cars run for 200K miles.

  73. Seth Thompson says:

    Two cars I have owned are on the list! I miss my Metro, but I killed that around 100k. Some parts fell off, and I just didn’t bother to get it repaired. My Cavalier on the other hand is 10 years old, just needs a little minor work.

  74. Guildwood says:

    no 93 ford tempo? i have been running mine down to the ground for like 4-5 years, and it is still going strong.

  75. T Scott says:

    Have to agree with Ted, above. Any Toyota pickup with a 22R (or 22RE) engine is incredible. I’ve had two and they just won’t quit. Plus they’ve got awesome utility. The four wheel drive ones, particularly.

  76. NickKo says:

    As far as Neons go: There are both very unhappy owners, and also really happy owners.
    My own 1995 Neon has 189,000+ miles on it, and does not burn a drop of oil. (Yes, I maintain it religiously.)

    I know a guy who purchased a used ’95 with 300,000+ miles on the odometer…. and sold it a year later, with 375,000+ !!

    They CAN be very stout cars. Fortunately, the car is *usually* easy to repair…..

  77. Heath says:

    I can testify to the indestructability of the ’86 to ’91 Toyota Camrys, in my experience, the automotive epitome of ‘peace of mind’.

    I always liked my cars cheap and able to take a beating with minimal maintenance. Change the oil, keep the coolant mix correct, and off I go. My $1500(6 yrs ago) 200k ’90 Camry was driven 200-300 miles/week for over 3 years. Since I can change CV joints and O2 sensors (which aren’t very difficult) the total cost of repairing the car was $150 in parts, no lie, never even had to change the tires except for road hazards. After three years and 30k miles it still sounded and ran as well as any newer car I’ve ever owned. Because I ended up selling the car for $500 less than I paid (could’ve got the 1500 if I wanted the bother), the car ended up costing me less than $700 to own for three years of reliable service.

    On top of all that, Ruby was no cream puff to begin with! A queen among beaters! I miss that car more than my dead cat.

    I’ve also owned 4 Hondas: an ’84 Prelude, 2 ’85 Accords, and an ’89 Accord. All were excellent cars, each requiring a little more maintenance than the Camry. I switched from Honda to Toyota mainly because I’m cheap and the Accords cost more to buy for less impressive condition. I will be honest, the Hondas were more fun to drive… WARNING: do not buy a beater Honda with an automatic transmission. ATs seemed to be the only car science Honda hadn’t mastered. I knew about them and avoided them. All of my five-speeds were hassle-free, and the gearbox (tranny) was light enough that when I did have to change a clutch disc, I could do it on my own in a couple hours.

    Honorable mentions:

    Nissan pickups before ’98; they may still make good pickups, I’ve just no experience with them. Their trucks before ’98 practically deserve the reputation that Toyota’s trucks get. If maintained, and sometimes even if not, these trucks last forever for less money.

    Pre ’03 Corollas; They really are all they’re cracked up to be… The late 80s Chevy Novas, and the Geo Prisms throughout the 90s are all rebadged Corollas; cheaper, apparently due to this fact not being common knowledge. I personally think the mid 90s Prism, with its slightly more American styling, is sharper than its sister Corolla, for less money!

    Only because I feel obliged to include a fully American model (even though most of the rice burners have been built stateside for years now) I’ll agree with the selection of the S-10 as a reliable beater. I’ve had good experience with its Ford counterpart, the Ranger, although I’ve heard stories.

    Also, the Chevy Lumina can be a very reliable car, but again, there are stories.

    Avoid Chrysler/Dodge beaters like the plague… It’s cool that they’re coming out with lifetime warranties now; we’ll see how that works out for them.

  78. thermador says:

    My Volvo 240 had over 500k on it before I sold it, and it was barely broken in.

    Odd that the Volvo is the ONLY car on this list with a 5 star safety rating. It’s hilarious that you’ve got the car with the worst safety record (Suzuki Sidekick in its day was the car with the most fatalities per owner) vs the Volvo 240, which had one of the lowest fatality rates. Apparently safety is not an issue here?

    With car wrecks being the leading cause of death in the USA for anyone under the age of 44, you would think people would want to buy the safest car they could afford ???

  79. Matt says:

    Just wanted to let you know that 5th gen civics are 92-95, not 91-95 as you posted…


  80. Carrie says:

    A Ford Taurus? Are you even being serious with that shit?! Those things were notorious for their crappy automatic transmissions in the 90s.

  81. Brian says:

    The Bonneville is almost the quintessential beater, it’s reliable, it gets good mileage for it’s size(huge), and it’s one of the toughest FWD cars out there.
    They’re also pretty quick and very fun to drive.

    Believe it or not, the one in the picture used to belong to a friend of mine. He beat the stuffing out of it, modified it, tore ass around Idaho like a maniac in it, and it never let him down. He even got rear-ended in it, and came out with a sore back from a hit that would have obliterated a Camry or Accord. The car was barely hurt, and he still drove it for awhile afterward.

  82. Andre Juneau says:

    What are you guys thinking?

    Cavalier? I had 4 buddies with them Brakes ever 15~20k; All burn 1 qt/1000 miles at 100,000 miles; terrible interior build quality.

    Suziki Sidekick? The good news on this one is the buyers will be dead due to roll-overs and will not be able to complain.

    Gen 2 Taurus? The Transmissions were CRAP I have yet to see one with 60,000 miles per transmission re-build. Also WAY to many head gaskets go bad on these things.

    Gen 1 neon? Head gaskets Head Gaskets Head Gaskets

  83. Polaris says:

    The Ford Taurus would depend on the engine. If it had the 3.0L Vulcan it was probably decently reliable. The Ford 3.8L was the unreliable engine that needs a rebuild every 60k or so.

    The Buick 3.8L in the Pontiac Bonneville there is a great motor. I’ve had and still have a ’93 Bonneville. Great car! The 3800 is nearly bullet proof. Truly a remarkable engine. It definitely has some power when you need it, especially the supercharged versions. It will definitely surprise you what that car can do being the heavy huge sedan that it is. And it still gets better mileage than some of today’s new “efficient” cars 26-32mpg (City/Hwy) is respectable for a V6 and car that age. They have some really awesome options as well. Heads Up display (Displays the vehicle speed up on the windshield), 9-way power seats that have been some of the most comfortable seats I have ever sat in. Also had an Electronic Leveling control which was neat. It’s not uncommon for the 3800 to reach 200-250k and even 300k as long as you maintain oil changes etc.

    I don’t doubt the 2000-2005 Bonneville being on this list in another 5-10 years. They have the same Series II 3800 that the ’96+ Bonnevilles had. I also have a 2001 Supercharged Bonneville that gets about the same if not better mileage than the ’93 does. The only thing to watch for with the Series II 3800 is the intake gaskets from the factory, which is an easy job to replace, as long as they are the aluminum gaskets you’ll be good to go.

  84. I would think that the 1996 era Maximas (and I-30s) should be on the list, as I know these were very well built and can last a long time.

  85. Bruce Gray says:

    Wow, to think I own THREE cars on the beater list! A 98 Sable (Taurus) Wagon I picked up alomost two years ago for next to nothing with 100,000 KM on it! A 99 Sunfire GT I just got for $700 and a 93 Civic Si for a grand seven years ago. ‘Course the Civic is now a race car and the Sunflower is the winter car, saving the Truck (tow vehicle) and humugous gas bills! All three have been reliable and even interesting to drive. The Sable is the quad cam 3L and even has the factory faux dual exhaust. SHO suspension bolts right on……. Civic, great car (still has the orignial block and head, everything else replaced). The surprise has been the Sunflower GT with the quad four. It is actually quick and nice to drive. The seating position leaves something to be desired, but now I know why all the kids in town look like they are recling while driving, that’s just the way the seat is!!!

  86. Tired of junk products says:

    late 1980’s Volvos SUCK because of the junk wiring harness that have shit insulation that falls off the wire conductor as the car gets a few years old. 1990’s Meredes products have the same problem with shit insulation on harnesses! same for Ford Contour, Who makes this junk? should be run out of business!!!!! Dont any of You car Hacks ever talk to any Technicians that have to fix this CRAP!

  87. Tired of Fixing Junk Products says:

    Beware of the plastic intake manifols ( More junk parts made in China, thanks to Traitor co’s like GM, Gosh! are they going Broke??? ) on late 1990’s GM 3800 V6 equiped cars . they start losing coolant without any obvious external leaks because they warp around the mating surfaces with the block and heads and will start leaking coolant iinternaly into the intake and eventually FRY the motor! A new manifold from Autozone is less than 200 dollars . so change it at as soon as you get one of these TURDS!

  88. Ben says:

    This is a very good list, I must note #4 the Hyundai Accent- that would be the winter beater for Winterbeater.org not only economical but a lot of fun to drive.

  89. steve says:

    dude i so had a geo tracker until last week when it was impounded….that thing was the 2 wheel drive and it was rear wheel drive it did the fucking craziest brakestands i could lay down tread anywere and i use to bring that thing off roading it was the champ my friend has a jacked up 83 bronco and he got stuck in the mud when he was using 4 wheel drive i made it through np with two wheel drive!!! and i towed his ass out. best car i ever bought for 100 bucks and it only had 111xxx miles on it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  90. pat says:

    Crown Victoria. Models 1997-2007. There is your list.

  91. 1991 Dodge Shadow Highline convertible says:

    Any K-car with a 4 banger. 1991 Dodge Shadow Highline convertible ran tops until I plowed into an old lady in a Dodge Intrepid. Swung her car around, mine still straight, crack on head light, air bag deployment totaled me out. Wated 1000s since

  92. Charli says:

    I noticed someone else has a 93 chevy lumina-me too! FYI mine is dying as of this month. It has 144k miles though!

  93. Mark says:

    Hey one of the best cars of all time, 1974-78 Datsun B210 hatchback. That car had NO power but got over 40 miles to the gallon on the highway with 1970’s technology. Just very reliable car, I miss her.

  94. Jim says:

    03-05 Cavalier with the 5 speed is the econo beater of the decade. Good for 200k. Automatics are ok, but don’t deliver the gas miliage.

    GM messed up when they went to the Cobalt, as some of the earlier models had problems with the chassis electrical.

    Go with the 2 door- the sedans are too stodgy.

  95. Pat says:

    This list is poorly researched.
    The neon is Grabage they don’t last past 160k Two relatives had theirs grenade under that mileage.

    The 92 accord was the best Honda ever, possibly the best passenger vehicle ever, yet isn’t on the list. I know of Numerous high mile examples.

    The toyota Camry is not on it I had three 88’s 480k,350k and 213k…
    A 96 Acura integra 420k, and currently run a 99 accord with 260k
    that drives better than a new domestic.
    The above cars had nothing but regular maintenance!
    and a good daily flogging.


    Any of the above Hi Mile japanese cars will go until corrosion gets the body.


  96. Scott Lawson says:

    (until 1997) Buick Century, Cutlass Ciera, Chevy Celebrity – These cars need to be on that list, but the key was rustproofing them first. I still have an ’87 Cutlass Ciera Wagon, and only a trace of rust on the bottom of the doors has started. It has a 3.8 V6 with only 120K, and has been babied for it’s entire life.

    (Non-Grand) Jeep Cherokee 4.0 V6 – Those who own one know of their reliable engines. Mine has 250K on it.

  97. Scott Lawson says:

    also Ford Escorts 1990-2001 are great deals. Basically Mazdas underneath, but the bodies hold up pretty well, and they get 40MPG. Mine started and ran everyday, even after it was crushed by a tree one stormy morning.

  98. nocarb says:

    I’d agree with the Ford Escort for late 90’s. I bought mine at 80,000 miles and abused it like hell in the past 8 yrs i.e. left it in outdoor lots until the battery died, didn’t maintain it constantly, drove it hard in traffic. It’s at 130,000 and still runs. Maneuverable for traffic driving.

  99. Alan Moore says:

    I agree with some, not all, of the cars you’ve got on here. The Mazda 626 has got to go. They really drive nice, but they are too expensive to fix. Get a 5-speed 4-cylinder and live without AC and you might be ok. I would swap that out for the extremely boring yet reliable 91-94 and 95-98 Protege, and those are mechanically similar to 91-96 and 97-02 Escorts and Tracers.

    The Corolla years are wrong, the generation you’re talking about is 93-97, and 98-02 is the same just looks different outside. Geo Prizm from 93-97 and Chevy Prizm from 98-02 are also the same car.

    The Metros are too hard to find and I’m sorry but a 95-01 Metro with 4-cylinder and automatic gets 30mpg or less, it’s not worth dealing with that size of car for that poor of mileage. Either get a 3-cylinder 5-speed or buy a larger car.

    95-99 Accents are nice and 00-02 models can be had cheaply today as well.

    00-04 Spectras have the same transmission issues as the 98-01 Sephias. Pass. Rios are garbage also. Go for the Accent instead, or spend a little more for a Corolla/Prizm.

    I don’t like Honda Civics. I had an ’80 that threw a timing belt at 98K after it was changed at 75K. I had an ’86 that blew a head gasket in 20 degree weather with snow falling. But I do like the 96-00 Civics and I think they are much more reliable. The 92-95 I don’t have experience with but they seem simple enough.

    Get the Neon out of here. Keep the Cavalier/Sunfire but call it 97-02 to avoid head gasket failures. The Trackers are fine, but keep in mind soft top models carry extreme insurance premiums.

    Add in most GM products with the 3100 engine (Skylark/Grand Am/Acheiva, Malibu/Cutlass, Century/Lumina/Grand Prix/Cutlass Supreme, and older A-body Century/Cieras).

    As far as Tauruses go, the 3.8 engine is garbage, the 3.0 Vulcan is wonderful, and if you want to avoid transmission problems, get under it and see what it says on the pan. AX4N is junk. AX4S is fine. All 3.0 24V Tauruses have the AX4N but those engines are suspect. AX4N transmissions and Vulcans come together but mostly on newer 00-07 models. You CAN buy a 00-03 Taurus for $2500 easy these days.

  100. Alan Moore says:

    I screwed that up. The AX4N transmission is the one to look for. It is hydraulically superior to the AX4S. the 24V models and SHO’s all have the AX4N. Some Vulcans have the AX4N, some have the AX4S. Find out which before you buy, it’s a major difference. See taurusclub.com for more information.

  101. SHO 4 Sho! says:

    Uhhhh, That IS a second gen Taurus not fourth!

  102. Bob says:

    The pic sure looks like a gen 2 ford taurus to me…

    I own a 93 & a 95 both with the vulcan engine. Got a 194K miles on the 93 and a 135K miles on the 95. The vulcan has a simple pushrod, non-inteference engine. And the block & heads are both cast iron. Adequate horsepower and easy to work on for a FWD.

    Never had any trans problems. I think I have the AXOD-Metric

    One of the criteria for a good beater ought to be how easy it is for the diy guys to work on.

  103. Dana says:

    my 90 camry isnt on the beater list, mines got 235k

  104. Bill Eilert says:

    Anything with a small block Chevy, any transmission but a 200 Metric and a straight rear axle is a good beater. Two barrel Rochester carb is best. Fuel mileage not the best but gas is the cheapest thing you put in a car and is paid for only when used.

  105. steve brown says:

    My money is on the toyota camry.

  106. Andeez says:

    They forgot to mention any ford with a 300 straight 6 in it. My 93 F150, 376k miles, purchased for $400 at 199k miles.

  107. max says:

    S-10 , best little truck out their, Toyota is problematic , espessially tacoma. Had fuel problems and poor fuel ecomomy. Ranger is pretty good also. I know there will JJ fans but buy jap scrap and keep fixing.

  108. gold94corolla says:

    umm, this list is dumb… it’s obvious you don’t know what you are talking about because you can’t even get the years of the Civic (92-95) or Corolla (93-97) right, or the Taurus picture

  109. Blix says:

    I drove 2 ’93 Tauruses, just like the one in the pic (one was even the same color). My family still has the wagon but we sold the sedan last year. Both have always been reliable to a fault. The only problem I ever had was with the sedan after I tried to race a Corvette in it when I was 16. Go figure… :P But can’t blame the car for my idiotic teenage behavior. I’ll always have a soft spot for the 2nd gen Taurus.

  110. truegrubby says:

    Are you serious? These aren’t beater cars, these are later model shitboxes. And I thought they weren’t supposed to dissapoint, but the neon (breeze or whatever) were problem junk-machine lemons the day they rolled off the assembly line. You want some true beaters that will actually get you to work everyday and to your relatives that live across the country on the odd long weekend? How about any of the 78-86 toyotas, specifically the Camry, 400 thousand KM is nothing to these cars. The ford Taurus is garbage, the Tempo was way better, but the (1978) Fairmont/Zephyr is another 400K contender. Also by Ford, anything with the 300ci 6cyl and a manual trans is near indestrucible, these trucks were made for jumps! Chevy really sucks these days, but once apon a time they were number one, you will never, EVER, go wrong with a chev small block. Also by Chev the S10 is very tough, you see these things looking in mint condition with 350 thou on the odometer. There really are good old cars out there, ones that will give you WAY less hassle and problems than a brand spanking new one. I work at a new car dealership, and I see these new cars coming in with problems at under 10 thousand kilometers, take it from me, don’t buy this new garbage. They build them to break so they can make money off of YOU when you bring it in to get it fixed. Old is the only way to go, research before you buy (car reviews), and you can shut your stupid mouths about any little repairs (starter, alternator, brakes, tierod ends, and any other consumable part) that you had to do to your ’81 Hyundai Pony. Piece.

  111. Jordan says:

    Dangit, This list is right. I got a 92 Bonneville as a hand-me-down first car and I tried to kill it in hopes of persuading my parents to buy me a new car since I was basically the family taxi service. It didn’t work.

    I raced it constantly.
    I averaged 15,000 miles between oil changes.
    I hit 2 mailboxes, 1 tree, and 1 truck.
    I only refilled the gas tank when it refused to start.
    I learned how to fix cars by experimenting with it.
    I fixed every part with a hammer, pliers, and a screwdriver.
    I learned how to take out the dashboard, but not how to put it back in.
    I didn’t change the tires until one of them shredded.
    I left it in an ocean beach parking lot while we went on vacation.
    I figured out how to fold the back seats down, they don’t.
    I practiced lock picking with a screwdriver and mallot.

    The car never died. I got it in good condition at 135,000 miles and it made it to 325,000 miles, even though I was trying to kill it the whole time. Now I feel cruel, because I’m either going to hand it down to my sister, or get the $200 the junk yard will give me for it.

  112. Spuffler says:

    S-10s? Sidekick? Why does the title say “car”? Oh well, honorable mentions?

    I really DO miss my 93 Metro: 52 MPG like clockwork, 1.0 liter injected with attitude, lotsa fun, but VERY thin metal – I dented the hood when I pushed the car backwards a foot so I could fetch a dropped wrench.

    As for the Ford Taurus, skip those which have automatic trannies – the trannies like to fall out.

  113. Chad says:

    What about the MK2 VWs? I had a ’90 Jetta Gli that had 345,000 on the clock, barely any of them easy miles. I bought it from an old friend who was notoriously hard on cars. I bought it with 189,000 miles on it and proceeded to dump the clutch at 3,000 rpm nearly every day before the trans finally went.

  114. paul kelchner says:

    I will take my 83 toyota celica over any of that trash you mentioned.has 200,000 miles plus,a/c still cold,and it is still comfortable

  115. jason says:

    i had alot of cavaliers and sunfires they are good cars people just dont know how to take care of them i had a 1996 cavalier with over 324000 kms and the only thing it needed done was the breaks and the floor is still mint in the car not very much rust on the car eaither,

    now the civic on the other hand they are a very good car to, just like the honda accord is a good and fast car

    Dodge Neon i wouldn’t take one of those if it was givin to me off the lot, i just about bust when i read the one about the neon, pile of junk never buy one

  116. Tommy says:

    The 91-94 sentra is an AMAZING car, my mom had one and it did 396k miles before it was in a head on wreck …the engine STILL started after the wreck…in the 14 years she had the car she only put like 800bucks into fixing stuff (just a tuneup done by nissan and a alternator/battery or two) ..I have one aswell, 130k miles ..my only issues have been a alternator battery cruise control not working A/C and the tranny doesnt like 2nd gear ..shifts reallly rough from 1rst to 2nd or 2nd to 1rst ..it still runs tho :D

  117. Angie says:

    Who wrote this crazy list ? Most of them are imports which are shitboxes and the few American ones that are on there are garbage the the totally unreliable taurus. Someone needs to go back and get an education before making such foolish lists.

  118. Jane says:

    And then we have some crackpot telling the tales of the great toyotas, hello people they have already killed almost 100 people in the US on the last set of recalls, call toyota and tell them where to shove their cars !

    • Kurt says:

      Jane, not sure where you’re getting your numbers from but the “death toll” from Toyota crashes is nowhere near 100. Sticking pedal and floor mat entrapment aside, the other crashes were attributed to driver error; in other words, the driver simply mistook the gas pedal for the brake.

      And just so you know, prior to the whole “unintended acceleration” debacle, Toyota was third in complaints of UA. VW/Audi had the highest number, followed by Ford/Lincoln/Mercury, followed by Toyota. The truth is this: no one builds a bad car today, but driver education (and driver retraining) in this country is laughably bad. Until we do something to address this, it’s just a matter of time before another manufacturer has their turn in the hot seat.

  119. Chris says:

    Ehhh… Some of the cars on their are good, but I would pass on a lot of them. Sunfire/Cavalier, sidekick, and honda would be best. Good milage and they last forever. No point in getting a cheap beater if its a pig on gas and maintainance like the volvo.

  120. Josh says:

    I like the s10 and Honda civic kk email me with price

  121. SNP500 says:

    The LEXUS SC400 or LEXUS LS400 should definitely be on this list. Similar to the VOLVO, you have many of these cars exceeding 300k on regular maintenance.



  122. Christina Clark says:

    I’m looking for a cheap reliable car that would either cost me under 1,000 dollars or that I could make monthly cheap payments on without a down payment.

  123. […] 15 Beater Cars That Won't Disappoint Seventh Generation (1991-1995) Toyota Corolla. The Toyota Corolla has been a mainstay of people looking for a reliable, efficient small car for years, and so its showing on this list should come as no surprise. As with any of these other beater …… It's hilarious that you've got the car with the worst safety record (Suzuki Sidekick in its day was the car with the most fatalities per owner) vs the Volvo 240, which had one of the lowest fatality rates. … […]

  124. Lenny says:

    Thanks for info, no Honda! I was interested in gas mileage but your list was a good one.



  125. harriet anderson says:

    jest passing threw..I have a vw golf ‘III gen’. I blew the head gasket on it, and am just barely making it to work and back…BUT ITS STILL GOING!!! Great womans car, everything is so easy to reach! It goes to the shop on tues…

  126. Vangaurd says:

    As they mentioned this is their version of the most dependable cars, but, as an avid vehicle monitor, I do agree with some of their choices. As someone whom scans used cars, trucks and vans on a regular basis, I feel based on mileage and body conditions of used vehicles over the past several years, these would have to be the top 15 choices I would select for most durable and longest lasting vehicles on the road.

    1. Chevy nova, Toyota corolla 1985 forward.
    These cars are often seen with upward of 500-700 thousand miles still running.
    2. Chevy Astro, GMC safari 1985-1994.
    These vans are often seen with upward of 300-600 thousand miles still running.
    3. Toyota camry 1986 forward.
    These cars are often seen with upward of 300-500 thousand miles still running.
    4. Chevy silverado, GMC sierra 1980 forward.
    These trucks are often seen with upward of 300-500 thousand miles still running.
    5. Honda accord 1985 forward.
    These cars are often seen with upward of 300-500 thousand miles still running.
    6. Honda civic 1985 forward.
    These cars are often seen with upward of 300-500 thousand miles still running.
    7. Buick century, Oldsmobile cutlass ciera 1986 forward.
    These cars are often seen with upward of 250-400 thousand miles still running.
    8. Chevy express, GMC savanna 1995 forward.
    These vans are often seen with upward of 250-500 thousand miles still running.
    9. Honda odessy 1997 forward.
    These vans are often seen with upward of 250-400 thousand miles still running.
    10. Buick lesabre, Pontiac bonneville, Oldsmobile 88 1986-1998.
    These cars are often seen with upward of 250-400 thousand miles still running.
    11. Mercury villager, Nissan quest 1993-1998.
    These vans are often seen with upward of 200-350 thousand miles still running.
    12. Buick regal, Oldsmobile cutlass supreme, Pontiac grand prix, Chevy beretta 1988-1997.
    These cars are often seen with upward of 250-350 thousand miles still running.
    13. Ford crown Victoria, Mercury grand Marquis 1990 forward.
    These cars are often seen with upward of 250-300 thousand miles still running.
    14 Honda CRV 1996 forward.
    These SUVs are often seen with upward of 250-300 thousand miles still running.
    15. Toyota Avalon, Lexus LS400 1990 forward.
    These cars are often seen with upward of 250-350 thousand miles still running.

    These figures are based on basic observations and reaserching over several years. Although there are several other noteworthy vehicles that are not mentioned, these are the vehicles that are found with this level of longetivity more often. Good luck on your searches.

  127. Blair Parker says:

    Some of these cars should not be on this list. The Taurus is listed as reliable? What a joke. The transmissions usually don’t make it to 100,000 mikes. The neon is just a failure waiting to happen. It burns and leaks more oil than an old Harley. (I love by old Pan by the way, not trying to insult here, just sayin’) Hyudais and Kias of that era are prone to timing belts breaking. If you want a good beater stick to the Honda, Toyota, or Nissan.

  128. Aaron says:

    This is a good list for someone who isn’t materialistic about cars, either. I have driven junkers for years that I barely paid 1K for. Sure, they look like crap and might have a lot of dents, but they run forever, and if either the transmission or engine goes bad, I drop them off at a scrapyard and go hunt for another one.

    The best buy is from a private seller, someone with the car sitting in their front yard. I take it for a test drive, then pay cash. Insurance is cheap as hell, I currently pay $250 a year on my Taurus wagon. To me, a car is like a dishwasher, just an appliance to be used. I don’t waste money on washing it or anything.

  129. Chance says:

    In the last 16 months I have had 19 cars, 7 of which are on this list. After 4 civics all blowing their coolant lines and frying the engine, I’ll never buy honda again. As for the rest of the list, the only worthwhile car is the volvo.

  130. Hassan says:

    I’m sorry, but a Neon won’t make it past 120k. We’ve owned one that made it to 80k before it started giving mechanical problems. My cousin had one until 120k (miraculously) and it caught on fire on the highway. Another friend of mine had one that died at 90k and another friend of mine had one with a whopping 300k – however, he had the engine rebuilt 4 times and every part on it replaced various times. It’s a complete POS. Never buy one.