Author Archive

Scott Oldham

Scott Oldham is an award-winning automotive journalist with over 25 years of experience. In addition to Klipnik, he has written for Car and Driver, Autoweek, Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds.com, Popular Mechanics, and Autoblog.

The 7 Best Used Luxury Cars for Less than $25,000

A great used luxury car for less than $25,000 may sound like a fantasy, but they’re as real as rain. You just need to know what cars to shop.

Luxury cars are notorious for shedding value, which makes them great used car buys, and there are millions of nearly new, fun-to-drive, leather-lined sedans and coupes out there from BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Lexus, and other luxury brands just waiting for their next owners.

What’s the Best Cheap Porsche 911? We Pick 5 Affordable Options

Automotive historians and car experts will tell you that Porsche has offered a good number of entry-level models since the 1970s. They’ll produce a list of relatively affordable sports cars from the German automaker, a list that includes models like the 914, 924, 944, and the current Boxster, which has been the brand’s least expensive thrill maker since 1997.

Porschefiles, however, know better. They’ll tell you that the best entry-level Porsche over the last 50 years has always been a used 911. And it still is.

Buyer’s Guide: Pontiac Trans Am (1970-1981)

Originally the Pontiac Trans Am was a flop. Launched in 1969, just 697 were sold that year.

But the highly stylized and high-performance version of the Pontiac Firebird would soon become the automotive icon of the following decade and a bona fide favorite of car collectors all over the world.

Named for the Sports Car Club of America’s popular “Trans Am” racing series, the model cost Pontiac a $5.00 royalty for every Trans Am it sold. It didn’t add up to much at first, but in 1970, Pontiac redesigned the Firebird, along with the Trans Am, and its second generation would go on to sell in huge numbers.

Best known for its massive “Screaming Chicken” hood decal, the second gen Trans Am was produced for more than a decade, making it one of the most successful American muscle cars ever. And today, after several decades of middling interest, their values are on the rise.

Here’s everything you need to know before you buy yours.

Which Toyota Land Cruiser Should I Buy? Series 60 vs. 80 vs. 100

Toyota has been building the Land Cruiser since the 1950s, and it has changed quite a bit over the decades. There are many different generations of the SUV, from the original FJ40, which was first imported into the United States in the mid-1960s, to the latest version of the 200 Series, a model that’s still available at your local Toyota dealer.

With so many different versions to choose from, there’s quite a bit to consider before you purchase a secondhand Land Cruiser.

Subaru Outback: Model History and Buyer’s Guide

One of the most popular crossover SUVs in America is actually a station wagon. Well, sort of. Defining the Subaru Outback has never been easy. Is it a wagon? Or an SUV? The answer has always depended on who you ask. Its appeal, however, is undeniable.

Today, after nearly 30 years of sales success, the Outback seems like a no brainer. But it was a radical idea at the beginning. Back then, most SUVs were trucks. Car-like crossovers — which combined the cool rugged image of an SUV with the more refined road manners of a sedan — weren’t commonplace. The original Subaru Outback helped invent the genre, and it remains one of Subaru’s best selling models five generations later.

The 6 Best Used SUVs for Less than $20,000

The popularity of used crossovers and SUVs is gaining steam. They’re not just the choice of families anymore. Young Americans are buying them in record numbers, too. Small crossovers are now extremely popular, while sales of midsize SUVs and those with three-rows of seating continue to climb.

To help you find the best used SUV for less than $20,000, we’ve created this list of six models. According to the data, these SUVs offer above-average reliability, and they’ve received exceptional safety ratings from both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). They’re also fun to drive and fuel-efficient. Our list includes two compacts, a larger five-passenger model, and three with seating for seven, so there’s something here for everyone.

What’s the Best Cheap Muscle Car? Mustang vs. Camaro vs. Firebird

The recipe for a successful American muscle car has always been simple. One part thunderous V8 engine. One part rear-wheel drive. Add a dash of attitude. Sprinkle in a low price. Stir vigorously until tires fry.

Although the flavors have evolved over the decades, gaining sophistication and complexity, that recipe hasn’t changed much since the 1960s, and our appetite for this unique American style of automotive cuisine is as voracious as ever.

Detroit keeps whipping up tasty dishes, delighting our taste buds with cars like the sweet and spicy Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat and Ford’s new Shelby Mustang GT500. But have you checked the prices on the menu lately? Wow, they’ve gotten expensive. Excuse me waiter, there’s a fly in my soup.

Fortunately there are still affordable American muscle cars out there. You just need to know where to look. Used muscle cars have always stretched the enthusiast’s performance dollar the furthest. And back in the 1990s, Ford, Chevy, and Pontiac were grilling up V8-powered Mustangs, Camaros, and Firebirds with plenty of power and attitude.

The fourth-generations of the Ford Mustang, Chevy Camaro, and Pontiac Firebird are now more than 20 years old, and they’re quickly making the transition from used cars to desirable classics. Their values have inched up over the last few years, as the teenagers of the era begin to buy the cars they wanted in high school. But they remain cheap. Dirt cheap in some cases, with prices ranging from about $5,000 for those that have led a hard life, to around $25,000 for well-preserved and rare examples.

Is a 1990s American muscle car right for you? To help you cut through the clouds of tire smoke, we’ve created this buying guide. We’ll cover the similarities between the three models as well as their differences. Each has its own appeal, but buyers should be aware of their unique trouble spots, pros and cons, and current values.

The Best Way to Sell Your Car: Trade In vs. Carmax vs. Craigslist

Selling a used car can be stressful. But it doesn’t have to be. Used cars are more popular than ever. Americans bought about 40,000,000 used vehicles last year, and according to the Wall Street Journal used cars values are on the rise.

This increased demand has also expanded the options when it’s time to sell your car. Used cars are big business, and the industry has responded with a new batch of online used car superstores like Carvana and Vroom.

But what’s the best way to sell a used car? What steps should you take to minimize your time investment and maximize your selling price?

Here we’ll discuss the pros and cons of a few popular options: trading the car in, selling it to a used car dealer like Carmax, selling it privately through a site like craigslist, as well as donating the car to charity. We’ll explain how each works as well as how to set a price for your vehicle.

How to Read a Vehicle History Report from CARFAX or Autocheck

Every car buying expert will tell you the same thing. Don’t buy a used car without reading its vehicle history report thoroughly and carefully.

It’s good advice. Unless the used car in question has always belonged to your uncle Harry, a vehicle history report is the only way for you to learn about the life it has led.

The 10 Best Used Convertibles for Less than $15,000

Buying a convertible certainly seems like the very definition of frivolity. But that’s only if you buy one new. Used convertibles shed their values almost as quickly as they drop their tops. Combine that with the fact that their owners tend to drive them only occasionally, keeping the miles low, and it makes convertibles a terrific used car bargain.

In fact, you can have that perfect open air experience for less than $15,000. There’s no shortage of makes and models to choose from, even at that modest budget, so to help you start your search we’ve assembled this list of ten that offer what we feel to be the best mix of style, performance, and overall desirability. Some even have the potential to increase in value over the course of your ownership.

The 6 Best Used Cars for Less than $20,000

So you want to buy a good used car. And your budget is modest. You need to keep the price under $20,000, and you don’t want anything that’s more than five years old. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Twenty large isn’t going to get you a Bentley, but it’ll buy you something even better: a safe, reliable, and fuel-efficient ride. One that won’t leave you by the side of the road or bankrupt by repair bills, and more importantly, one that will properly protect you and your family in an accident.

Which Jeep Should I Buy? Wrangler YJ vs. TJ vs. JK

From hardcore off-road enthusiasts looking to tackle the next trail to LA’s high school kids cruising Santa Monica, the popularity of the Jeep Wrangler is wide ranging. Sales for the 4×4 continue to climb. Last year, Jeep sold about 240,000 units, and over 90 percent of them were the 4-door Unlimited model that debuted over a decade ago (2007).

The Wrangler is so popular most of its rivals have ceased production. Over the decades, the Jeep has driven trucks like the Nissan Xterra, Isuzu Amigo, and Chevy Tracker right out of business. And Jeep doesn’t just sit back and collect the cash. It continues to invest in its iconic 4×4, launching the latest generation of the Wrangler, the JL, in 2018.

Other brands that abandoned this market decades ago want back in, badly. Ford is bringing back the Bronco after several years of hype, and sales of the new, more authentic Land Rover Defender are about to kick off.

Meanwhile, the prices of used Jeep Wranglers are flat, and they remain affordable. Very affordable. Buyers have three generations to choose from: YJ, TJ, and JK, which were sold from 1987 to 2018. Collectively, they’re some of the most off-road capable SUVs ever made.

But which used Wrangler is right for you? Yes, there are many similarities between them. They all have four-wheel drive with a low range transfer case, and they all feature a removable roof. But each generation of Wrangler is quite different than the other. Each version of the iconic SUV has its own appeal, and buyers should be aware of their unique trouble spots.

To help you climb this rocky trail, we’ve created this Jeep Wrangler buyer’s guide. We’ll cover the pros and cons of each as well as their current values.

Buying a Car Out of State: When It Makes Sense and How to Do It

Even with today’s powerful online car shopping resources, which can bring up listings from Anchorage to Atlanta with the tap of a finger, most new and used car purchases are still made within ten miles from home.

But traveling further in pursuit of the perfect car or the best deal is becoming increasingly common.

According to Automotive News, a leading industry trade publication, “The average distance that a buyer travels has risen steadily since the Internet became an important tool for many shoppers.” And the phenomenon is causing a growing number of people to cross state lines to find the right car, truck, or SUV — especially rare and hard-to-find models.

However, there are many things to know before buying a car, new or used, out of state. Here we’ll cover the pros and cons of such a transaction and help you avoid making some common mistakes.