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There's a list of how tos in 1000 answered questions - the FAQ section and at the top of the forum. There's a buyer/new owner checklist inside, that should answer some questions.

I would say buy the best condition car you can afford and leave $1000-1500 for maintenance.
 

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At this point, why not buy a $2000 used 90s civic and then drive it until it needs major maintenance? If you are on a tight budget, buying a $10,000 car and then spending money on mods (probably once the bug bites you), is not the way to save money.

But if you can afford a $10,000 car and it's what you want, then go for it.
 

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I think the best year for the car it's got to be the 2003 ALH, because it already comes with 100K Timing belt and all, the newer PD cars, have been having problems with the cam lobes, i klnow not all of them but I have been reading a lot about these problems and also the PD and newer car average lower fuel mileage than an ALH .
 
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