Can you really buy a cheap used car for just $2, or $3, in cash? Team Clarks Joel Larsgaard says the answer is clear.
There is a myth that has brainwashed the mind of many a consumer that I just cant abide any longer, Joel says. That fable is that good cars just cant be had for under $10, What a bunch of hooey!
Tips for Buying a Used Car With Cash
Joel was one of the pioneers of buying a cheap car on The Clark Howard Podcast. Back in , he bought a Nissan Altima with , miles on it. The price tag on that sweet ride? $3, — paid in cash.
In the spirit of Joel, here are seven rules you should follow if you want to buy a cheap used car:
1. Look for Cars That Have Uglied Out
Dents, nicks, peeling paint and hail damage are all your friends when buying a used car. The more scuffed up the exterior looks, the more you can haggle the seller down on price. Remember, exterior flaws wont impact whats under the hood.
One area to beware of though: tires. If the tires are bald, you could have to shell out several hundred dollars to replace them, so consider that when youre haggling about the price.
Should you find yourself in need of new tires, weve got a list of the Best Places to Buy Tires.
2. Follow the 10 Years/, Miles Rule
Ever heard of car manufacturers like Hyundai, Kia and Mitsubishi advertising their 10 year/, mile auto warranties?
Thats the inspiration for a different rule you should follow if you want to spend less than $5, on a used car: Look for cars that have at least , miles on them.
Are you thinking that , miles are too much and that a car with that many miles is probably near the end of its useful life? Think again.
Its entirely possible for vehicles made within the last 10 to 15 years to ride , miles or more if theyre properly maintained. For that reason, you may want to ask the seller for records of routine maintenance, especially oil changes.
3. Know Where to Look for Deals
When searching for cheap used cars online, check Carvana, Craigslist, Autotrader, iSeeCars and CarGurus.
That last site lets you put in your ZIP code and the make/model of the vehicle. The site will then comb through millions of listings on published databases, and it will rate the vehicles with notations like great deal, fair deal, high priced or overpriced.
4. Beware Those Beloved Nameplates
Honda and Toyota pretty routinely top the list for car reliability according to Consumer Reports, (subscription required), which means those brands have high resale values.
If youre looking to buy a cheap car, skip the Hondas and the Toyotas of the world. USA TODAY recommends you instead look at what are called second-tier Japanese brands like Mazda, Nissan or Mitsubishi.
Youll probably also want to take a pass on European models but for a different reason. Cars with German engineering, for example, are so finely tuned that they require a lot of upkeep. Thats extra money youll be spending in the shop.
A happy medium might be something like the Ford Focus, according to USA TODAY. That particular model from the U.S. automaker has a lot of proven reliability, which brings us to our next point:
5. Check Consumer Reports for Reliability
The annual Consumer Reports auto reliability survey is the most extensive survey of automotive reliability and one that Clark Howard himself relies on. The publication does a great job parsing the new models every year when they come out.
But heres the value in that for a used car buyer: The magazine also offers detailed reliability ratings going back several years on almost every possible make and model. These ratings are compiled from reports about 17 common trouble spots in more than a million cars on the road.
Talk about a great vantage point on long-term reliability!
6. Check the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) Before Buying
There are more ways than ever to get a free VIN check when you want to buy a cheap car, and this is something youll want to do to avoid buying a flood vehicle or one with a salvage title.
You can even geta VIN check on your current ride if you’re just curious about the vehicles history.
Weve got a guide to help get you started.
7. Get an Inspection by an Independent Mechanic Before Buying
We saved the best for last. This is probably the most important rule of them all.
One of the key things to know about buying a cheap used car is that you buy as is. Never rely on any representations that the salesperson makes about the car, be it a commissioned employee at a dealership or an independent seller.
If you want to protect yourself, you must get a used car inspected before you buy it.
Ideally, you want an ASE-certified (Automotive Service Excellence) mechanic to examine your potential purchase. Garages that participate in the Blue Seal program typically feature the most highly trained ASE-certified mechanics. Visit ASE.com to find one near you.
More Auto Stories on Clark.com
Be Smart, Check in Advance. CARFAX — Your Vehicle History.
CARFAX — Your Vehicle History Expert
Sometimes what you don't know can't hurt you, but that's not the case when buying a used car. As an independent vehicle history provider, at CARFAX we've made it our mission to tell you everything you need to know by uncovering as many events as possible from the previous life of a used car. Our primary goal is to help you get to know your next car from the inside out before deciding to make an investment that will be part of you and your family's everyday life. We believe your next car shouldn't be hiding anything from you.
CARFAX Vehicle History Reports contain over 28 billion historical records from 20 European countries, the US and Canada, which are updated daily with new information.
Even if you live in a country we don't collect vehicle data from, it's still always worth checking the Vehicle Identification Number without obligation. The used car import and export market is booming and many owners would be surprised to find out exactly what happened to their vehicle during its previous life abroad.
Privacy for Customers — Transparency over Vehicles
Let's be clear: Although we strive to find every detail of a vehicle's life so far, we are focused only on the vehicle's history, and do not collect any information on previous owners. The information we provide relates solely to the vehicle, its odometer reading, any accidents that have been covered up, where the vehicle comes from and much more — it never gets personal. We've uncovered irreparable damage several times in the past, but other times our vehicle history checks draw a blank — and sometimes that's actually a good thing.
Second Hand — Not Second Best
Did you know that considerably more used cars are sold than new cars? We think this second-hand system is nothing short of fantastic. However, it goes without saying that it gives rise to different methods and tactics: Some sellers will disguise a car that's been in an accident under a fresh coat of paint, tamper with the odometer or conceal theft. This is one of the less appealing aspects of buying second hand. Our goal is to establish trusting relationships between buyers and sellers, since this is the best way to help customers make the right decision. Your new car should be reliable and make you feel safe, as well as make you feel like you haven't paid too much.
But more than anything else, we don't want you or your family unknowingly sitting behind the wheel of a vehicle that isn't % safe. This is why we strive to take these vehicles off the road, which not only makes the used car market safer but our streets safer too.
CARFAX — 35+ Years of Experience in Vehicle Histories
CARFAX was founded in the US in and expanded into Europe in Around team members spread across six European offices process vehicle information from 22 countries.
Fostering strategic partnerships with registration authorities, law enforcement agencies, government departments, insurance companies, inspection centers and numerous other leading companies around the world has enabled us to compile a unique international database for vehicle histories. We use this database to help make the used car market more transparent. We give everyone in the process of buying a used car access to what is currently the world's most comprehensive source for vehicle history reports, and is growing day by day.
We remain neutral and independent despite our partnerships — our sole purpose is help customers make an informed choice and ensure their safety and the safety of their family. This includes never collecting any personal details — we do not accept any PII from data sources amongst the information we provide about a vehicle. We ensure that data protection laws are observed at all times. Furthermore, we always collect our data in compliance with legal and regulatory frameworks — in all the countries in which we are active. We expressly distance ourselves from illegal activities such as data theft, scraping and hacking.
Cheap Cars For Sale Listings
Most of these car deals were manually chosen and added to the Autopten's database, not randomly or through data feeds scattered through the web. As we already have stated, our mission is to help people with low budget find the best cheap cars for sale in America, or at least giving them an idea of which are the US states or car dealers selling the cheapest ones. How we do it? we do it publishing the 10 cheapest cars available in the inventory of the used car dealers affiliated or promoted by us. Not all dealers meet the criteria to work with Autopten.com, only those who are really selling inexpensive cars, and when we delve into the meaning of inexpensive, we mean used cars priced mostly under $, $, and especially, for less than $ So if you own a small car dealer in your city or town, and most of your cars have a tag price below $ or between $ and $, join us and let us promote your business for free, and of course, your car inventory too.
There seem to be as many used car sites as there are types of used cars, buyers, and sellers. Nonetheless, AutoTrader stands out above the rest due to its long history of selling used cars online and advanced search tools that make it easy to find the perfect car.
For those looking for a simplified shopping experience, CarsDirect lets shoppers compare listings from local dealers without getting overwhelmed while Autolist offers the best mobile shopping experience. And when it comes to price, CarGurus’ unique deal rating helps shoppers find the best value for their money.
For classic car enthusiasts, Hemmings offers a bounty of classic car listings, car parts, car shows, and car talk to satisfy the most diehard vintage car fanatics. Those with an eye for unique cars from the 80s to today will love Cars & Bids’ fast and easy car auctions and reasonable listing and commission fees.
|Best Used Car Sites|
|Site||Why We Picked It||Notable Features|
|Autotrader||Best Overall||Most listings plus finance and insurance tools|
|CarsDirect||Best Basic Option||Useful buyers guides for car shoppers|
|Hemmings||Best for Classic Cars||Marketplace for classic car parts as well as classic cars|
|Autolist||Best for Mobile||Mobile-first shopping experience|
|CarGurus||Best for Cheap Cars||Value rating finds the best deals|
|AutoTempest||Best for Comparing Options||Listings from the largest number of sites|
|Cars & Bids||Best Auction Site||Quick listings and low fees|
How Do Used Car Sites Work?
Used car sites let people either buy or sell used vehicles online. Most offer robust search engines, car history reports, and buying guides to help buyers find exactly what they want.
Used car sites typically don’t get involved in the transaction of vehicles themselves and rely on connecting sellers and buyers who can make their own arrangements. Many sites also offer market guides and car reviews to help guide buyers and sellers and some even offer financing calculators and partnerships with lenders and insurance companies.
Do I Have To Pay for a Used Car Site?
Used car sites typically charge sellers who want to post an ad for their car. Our research shows that pricing can be as low as $25 for a basic ad that will run for a month with the cost increasing for additional photos, words, and other advertising boosts.
Due to the nature of the vehicles they sell, car sites that sell classic cars or cars from certain eras charge more, typically around $89 and higher. Auction sites will also take a commission fee which can start at % of the sales price.
Can I Trust a Used Car Site?
Used car sites that connect shoppers with private sellers can do little to offer a safe shopping experience. What they can do, however, is provide as much information as possible to help buyers make the most informed decision.
As a result, used car sites typically include CARFAX reports, information about how long a car has been on sale, and pricing comparison guides as well as search filters to help shoppers weed out the choices they don’t want. Sites that aggregate listings from many online marketplaces can typically do little to ensure that the listings they display are trustworthy, and buyers must always do their due diligence when shopping for a car.
How We Chose the Best Used Car Sites
We looked at over a dozen used car sites for this review and selected sites that either had built a lot of trust through a long history of selling cars or that created safe and personal experiences for shoppers looking for specialty vehicles.
Because buying a used car can be overwhelming, scary, and stressful, we also made sure to choose sites that offered detailed search engines to help shoppers compare the features they most wanted. Sites that offered comprehensive buyer guides and current car reviews topped our list since these resources can help shoppers make informed buying decisions.
Used cars cheap find
Cheap Used Cars. $1, or Less.
This is RealWe proved it
In , the founders of this site bought a car for $ from this website and drove it from San Diego to Miami to prove that this is real, and you CAN get a decent car for under a thousand bucks.
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