[sigallery id=”UHQ8h3CySFsVcfe32GdD4L” title=”The Ski Bum’s Guide to Buying a Car” type=”sigallery”]

Here are the Top 5 Unofficial Ski Bum Cars Listed Under $5,000

Note: Prices are based on Kelly Blue Book Values of cars with 130,000 miles in excellent condition.

Cover Image From: Skiingthebackcountry.com

On Monday snow fell on Jackson Hole Mountain Resort as well as Lone Peak in Montana. With all the stoke beginning to swell it’s about that time for ski bums who’ve been crushing four summer jobs to step up from the public transportation game and find a jalopy to get around town.

However, buying a car is always a treacherous business that requires due diligence, some mechanical knowledge, and a big check. Most skids lack the first and last of these qualities. So in order to counter any lack of guidance, it’s my job to inform the ski bum on what to buy and when.

Here is the Ski Bum’s Guide to Buying a Car. 


This is your only option unless you’re one of those two weeks on, two-week off contractors with a fat wallet.

For the skids… Here are the targets. First and foremost, stay away from anything with more than 140,000 miles and rear-wheel drive. Best case scenario, a car with AWD and 100,000 miles is clutch. This is where it gets tricky and profiling your seller comes into play. Look for old couples who can no longer drive, people selling their house in the area, and ski bums who are about to acquire a real, 9-5 ski town job. These are all potential sellers whose mileage is reasonable.


Used car dealership? Don’t even waste the time. The best resource is a local newspaper’s classifieds section. Everything 10 years and older is a potential buy. Additional resources include neighboring metropolitan listings. Once these reputable resources are exhausted, go to Craigslist and pray. One day something will show up on one of these resources and the price will beat any used car dealership by at least $1k. Who wants to deal with a used car dealer anyway?

Due Diligence

The biggest part of buying a car is making sure it doesn’t fall apart after you sign the bill of sale. Get a Carfax and request an inspection at an independent mechanic’s shop with an itemized list of what was checked. The going rate for a car inspection is $129.

Often neglected from this process is inspecting the personality from whom the car is bought. People’s personalities usually translate into all aspects of their life, especially cars. If the guy selling the car is a junk show, chances are the car is a junkshow too.


Most ski bums can’t afford to go all out and buy a car on a bartender or ski tuner’s salary. Financing a used car on the other hand is totally doable. For a $5,000 car, Wells Fargo’s average rate is 7.58% APR for a 60 month payment plan at $100.38/month. Also, if you go with a local bank that knows you, the APR might fall a bit. Bottom line, go local.