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Old 26-10-2018, 09:51   #1
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Best low-maintenance auto to leave at boat?

I live in the central USA and travel frequently to my second home, my 44' Cutter in Northern WA. I need to buy and park a used car at the boat as a "get around" for when I fly in to visit her. I'd like to spend less than $8k, would like all wheel or four wheel drive, 5 seats, hatchback for gear. Paint can be ugly, who cares. Any thoughts or experiences on something that's reliable and easy to work on even though parked for awhile?
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Old 26-10-2018, 11:43   #2
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Re: Best low-maintenance auto to leave at boat?

You want what the firemen call a "beater". Looks like a POS that no one would bother to steal, but is solid mechanically. I'd suggest you forget about 4WD or AWD simply because they are generally more expensive and less reliable as you get into older cars. Take a look at Consumer Reports car annual to see what's suggested for reliability in that price range. If you want the AWD an old cheap Subaru might be the best bet--but also ask your insurer about theft rates to see which is the least desirable model, from that point of view. A car standing in a lot for months on end is a high theft target. (You might want to stick a tracker on it, and remove some easy ignition parts, before you leave it.)
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Old 26-10-2018, 13:23   #3
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Re: Best low-maintenance auto to leave at boat?

alacarte:

Yes, I agree - if you fly in, you need transport at the boat's marina. I don't think you need to spend $8K at all. Seven years ago I picked up a 1998 seven-seat AstoVan in excellent condition for Can$2.5K and put 80K miles on it before I blew it up last year by tearing down from Port Hardy to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island at a sustained 100 M/hr. My fault entirely - not the vans!

I calculated my ownership costs - depreciation to zero, minor repairs s.a. brakes and a major tune-up - for the period I had 'er. Roughly Can$100/month for the entire time. I think that is eminently reasonable!

The beauty of the AstroVan is that not only is it a comfortable "minibus" when that is called for, but with the rear passenger seats removed you have a most useful cargo-carrier that takes a full sheet of plywood laid flat. All the usual clobber that a cruising boat demands can be carried with room to spare, and while you are ashore, a long distance from the boat, a van is an effective "mini-storage" for things you don't want to clutter up the boat, particularly in the winter when clutter in the boat invites mould and other nast. Our marina has a locked compound for clients to leave their "local vehicles" in, no charge, while they are away, either cruising or "between cruises".

Cheers

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Old 26-10-2018, 14:14   #4
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Re: Best low-maintenance auto to leave at boat?

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Originally Posted by A la carte View Post
I live in the central USA and travel frequently to my second home, my 44' Cutter in Northern WA. I need to buy and park a used car at the boat as a "get around" for when I fly in to visit her. I'd like to spend less than $8k, would like all wheel or four wheel drive, 5 seats, hatchback for gear. Paint can be ugly, who cares. Any thoughts or experiences on something that's reliable and easy to work on even though parked for awhile?
For here something like a late 90's or early 2000's merc villager / nissan quest van they are plentiful and common enough to not draw attenfion of thieves. They are reliable and fairly cheap to maintain
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Old 26-10-2018, 14:24   #5
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Re: Best low-maintenance auto to leave at boat?

Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic.

Under 200k miles, more recent is better than trying to find low-miles older one.

Rust kills the body before the drivetrain gives out.
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Old 26-10-2018, 14:43   #6
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Re: Best low-maintenance auto to leave at boat?

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Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic.

Under 200k miles, more recent is better than trying to find low-miles older one.

Rust kills the body before the drivetrain gives out.
Here you can't hardly find one of either . ( to many college kids )
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Old 26-10-2018, 14:52   #7
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Re: Best low-maintenance auto to leave at boat?

The best low maintenance car for this is a taxi ... you can get a lot of taxi rides for 8k ... and when I'm on the boat I have enough boat maintenance to do, I don't need car maintenance too.

a bicycle covers 90% of the land trips I need, taxi the rest.
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Old 26-10-2018, 15:23   #8
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Re: Best low-maintenance auto to leave at boat?

I vote Toyota camry #1. Not 4wd, but cheap to buy and maintain and super reliable. For a true 4wd it's hard to beat a Toyota landcruiser in just about any condition. Probably debatable, but the xj Jeep Cherokee is also a cheap and relatively reliable vehicle. Whatever you buy, try and get a base model. All those tacked on bells and whistles of the upmarket versions are the things that will be most likely to fail.
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Old 26-10-2018, 15:28   #9
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Re: Best low-maintenance auto to leave at boat?

Uber or Lyft. $8000 is a lot of rides and picks you up right at the airport. Gets groceries, goes to West Marine, the bar, dinner and anywhere else.
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Old 26-10-2018, 16:36   #10
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Re: Best low-maintenance auto to leave at boat?

Quote:
Originally Posted by A la carte View Post
I live in the central USA and travel frequently to my second home, my 44' Cutter in Northern WA. I need to buy and park a used car at the boat as a "get around" for when I fly in to visit her. I'd like to spend less than $8k, would like all wheel or four wheel drive, 5 seats, hatchback for gear. Paint can be ugly, who cares. Any thoughts or experiences on something that's reliable and easy to work on even though parked for awhile?
question what marina are you in?
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Old 26-10-2018, 16:45   #11
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Re: Best low-maintenance auto to leave at boat?

Thank you all; very helpful. Uber and Taxi are not readily available at my location. Years back, my brother had an Astro Van and you triggered my memory; he loved it and it was AWD. American made so, parts should be available. I'll start looking around. I knew you all would have some good suggestion.
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Old 26-10-2018, 17:07   #12
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Re: Best low-maintenance auto to leave at boat?

I just went through this exact exercise this spring. My requirements were: <$10k, <100,000 miles, <12 years old, true 4WD (body on frame). CL Search centered on Philadelphia, I went out 200 miles, had about 35 possibles. I ended up with a 2008 Nissan Pathfinder, 62,000 miles, $8k. It passed PA inspection with no gigs found. This summer I put 14k on it. Averaged 19.8 mpg. I just replaced the brakes because it’s a lot cheaper in PA than it would be in Newfoundland. The interior was a bit tired and the paint job, well it had company logos they spray painted over. Cosmetics, it still looks better than me.

So far I’m tickled pink.
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Old 26-10-2018, 18:54   #13
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Re: Best low-maintenance auto to leave at boat?

One thing I found when leaving a car behind for use when visiting was that after a couple of years of such use I'd have to spend the first couple of days fixing things that had deteriorated whilst I was away. I got tired of that and our visits became less frequent, so we gave that car to one of the kids and either borrowed or rented when we needed a vehicle. Less agro, not all that expensive.

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Old 26-10-2018, 20:49   #14
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Re: Best low-maintenance auto to leave at boat?

With crappy gas these days make sure you add fuel stabilizer to the tank and drive it for a day before leaving it sit. Otherwise youll just have a non starter when you get back! Avoid carberated vehicles as they are now having major issues with the ethanol gas. Cheap mini van best bet for boat use ime,o.
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Old 27-10-2018, 08:45   #15
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Re: Best low-maintenance auto to leave at boat?

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Originally Posted by john61ct View Post
Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic.

Under 200k miles, more recent is better than trying to find low-miles older one.

Rust kills the body before the drivetrain gives out.


+5 for the Corolla, if that meets your needs. I had one for 110k miles, and the only money I ever put into it was a single pair of front brake pads, and gas at 35mpg. The back seats can fold down for larger items, but certainly not the space of a minivan. More room than you might think though, especially if you don't mind loading her up like the Beverly Hillbillies. No rust anywhere when I sold it. Mine was a stick shift, and actually fun to drive.
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