I've never bought a car in any real capacity. I need advice! I've bought from neighbors who were selling their teenager's old car, and the car I wrecked was a graduation gift from my parents.

I know basic things: buy the best car you can afford and drive it until it's dead. I'll be able to pay up front if I stay within my magic number, so no car note or financing. My priorities are mostly about reliability and gas mileage. My preference is a small SUV crossover or something of a similar nature (1- storage/hauling artwork, 2- up off the ground in a street flood, which has been helpful to me in the past, and 3- potholes everywhere!).

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Any Jalopnik frequenters? Do any of you have advice? Horror stories and/or great recommendations? I don't know my magic number yet, but my low guess is that it will be around $10,000.

Advice from my father: I'm not helping you.

Advice from my mother: Bring Mr. HML so that they don't try to take advantage of you (ugh, Mr. HML knows nothing about cars).

Do you have a car you hated or a car you loved?