Buying a Used Car for $5,000

Can you actually buy a used car that is in good shape these days at a reasonable price? Even with a market where used cars are going for top dollar, the answer is, yes. You see, cars that are 10 to 20 years old are better built and last longer than vehicles did 30 years ago. Plus, if a car has had proper maintenance, even though it is out of warranty and may have high mileage, you can still find reliable transportation for five grand.

Buying a Used Car for Five Grand

When it comes to buying a used car on a budget, the key consideration is to do your research. Check reliability ratings on specific car brands and models that were leaders in their category when new. We have put together a Top 10 list of vehicles that have a great record for reliability and a low cost of ownership that make good candidates for $5K everyday drivers.
We looked at long term reports and reviews to determine this list of cars that can be had for $5,000 and all are available nationally. We focused on durability and maximum value in vehicles that still offer hassle-free transport. Though you may spend some money to maintain your $5K car over time, keep in mind that the cheapest new car you can buy is the 2022 Chevy Spark, which retails for $14,595 and that the average new car price today is over $47,000!

A Word About Used Car Mileage

How a used vehicle was maintained is more important than its age or mileage. As a vehicle ages, its component parts wear out and may need to be replaced. But that is not a problem with major name brand vehicles. Naturally, the more miles a car has, the more mechanical wear it has as components wear out. There was a time when a car that was 10 years old and had 100,000 miles on the odometer was thought to be worn out. Not anymore. Better manufacturing processes and space age materials mean that cars built 20 years ago that have over 150,000 miles on them, still have quite a bit of life left to give. It's not unheard of to keep a vehicle until it has over 300,000 miles on a powertrain.
Keep in mind that while the average mileage on American cars is 12,000 miles annually, lots of used cars have enjoyed far fewer miles per year. When purchasing a used car, ask for the maintenance records. If you find a car that is a serious contender, do a vehicle history check to find out if it has ever been in an accident and have it checked out by your mechanic before buying. If you don't have a relationship with ASE-certified technician, there are many mechanics and services that are available to perform a pre-purchase inspection for a few hundred dollars. It is money well spent.
While purchasing from a private party can sometimes get you a better buy for less, dealerships make getting into a used car easy. Lithia Motors has over 260 dealerships from coast-to-coast with thousands of reliable used cars to choose from.