Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A white 2018 Toyota Camry is driving on a city street.

How to Find the Best Used Cars Around

Cheap cars have never been so easy to find. Really, with the internet nowadays, you can find a gem on every other page. If you are anything like me, working by day and searching for cheap cars near me by night, you will realize this to be true. The art of understanding a true deal takes time to perfect, but it can be expedited with a bit of information scraped from the internet. Strap in for further details on potential gems out there.

Mastering the Art of Buying Used

You may be well-versed in how to buy used, or you may just be curious, but it is important to establish the ground rules before discussing the easter egg hunt that is cheap car buying. Regardless of the model or manufacturer you have in mind, the information in this section is useful for buyers. You could use these tactics at a dealership or in a private sale, as it is universally important.

The first step of any good deal is to make sure that the title is in the seller’s name entirely. Before any money switches hands, you should see the title and make sure there are no liens placed on it. Also, keep an eye out for phrases such as “not for highway use” or “for salvage.”

The service records are also essential to review. By inspecting these records, you will come to find out if the vehicle has been kept up with over the years. While we are at it, you might want to take a peek at the windshield; is there an oil sticker there? The previous owner could have changed the oil on their own. If that’s the case, you may want to ask how often it was changed and with what type of oil.

It’s also important to know how long the previous owner had the car. If it was only a few months, you would be wise to get to the bottom of why that is the case. It may be a sign to pump the brakes, or it could be a simple explanation, such as moving to another state. The point is that you will never know without asking.

You could go through the above steps manually, of course, but websites like CARFAX compile a lot of that information for you. Such websites give summaries of all of the above information regarding used cars. If the information has been reported correctly, you can view the car’s history of repairs, collisions, and more all in one place. The mileage on any given car is also displayed, which is an essential piece of information when you are digging for gold in the used car market.

A blue 2018 Honda Civic is parked in front of a river and city.

Best Cheap International Cars to Buy

While you may want to go straight for the lowest price tag, it would be wiser to go for the lowest price tag on the best vehicles. If you buy a cheap car that will only last you another 20K miles, it may not be worth it compared to a slightly more expensive used vehicle that will get you another 200,000 miles.

If you are looking for a small car that gets good gas mileage, then one international car to consider would be the Toyota Corolla. It’s very unlikely this car will break down on you as long as you keep up with basic maintenance. Brake pads have to be replaced every so often, and oil needs to be changed regularly, but that is true with all cars. If you keep up with the Toyota Corolla, it will keep going for you. It is one of the world’s most popular cars for a reason, and you would be wise to consider it when searching for cheap cars near you.

Another respectable car to keep an eye out for would be a Toyota Camry. This mid-size model is slightly larger than the Corolla and just as dependable. The same way as with the Corolla, a Camry will keep running for you if you keep up with it. But unlike the Corolla, the Camry has a bit more power (including an available V6) and more room on the inside as well. And even with the V6, it still gets good gas mileage as well.

If you aren’t looking for a Toyota in particular, you could also scope out a Honda Civic. Almost just as reliable as the Toyota alternatives, the Civic is a somewhat sportier car that still gets good gas mileage. You may encounter a few small issues here and there, but it is still a commendable and popular vehicle to pick up if you see it for a reasonable price.

The Subaru Outback is a great option if you are looking for an all-wheel-drive vehicle that is a bit more utilitarian in nature. In the earlier years, they encountered head gasket problems, but any more modern Outback won’t encounter such issues. Subaru’s, in general, are very reliable cars, and the Outback is no different. While you won’t achieve the same great gas mileage as a Camry or Corolla, the Outback would be a great bad-weather option for a cheap used car.

Best Cheap Domestic Cars to Buy

An older cheap car near you, a red 2005 Chevy Cavalier is parked in front of a river.

In the small car category, a great option for a car to pick up on a budget would be a Chevy Cavalier ranging from 2000 to 2005, if possible. You could pick one of these puppies up for under $1,000 if you aren’t picky about vehicle condition, mileage, and options. This is because the model is very cheap and reliable. There aren’t many features that will break down on you like the gadgets and gizmos that you will find in newer vehicles nowadays. If you are looking for a reliable, cheap car that gets good gas mileage, this is the model for you.

In the large car category, you could keep an eye out for the Ford Crown Victoria from 1998 to 2012. There’s a reason why law enforcement used these cars – they just don’t die. They are comfortable, large, and get decent fuel economy. It’s not uncommon to see 250,000 miles on a used Crown Victoria. It’s also extremely cheap to fix this model since they were pumped out across the nation for years and parts are very easy to replace and repair.

One thing to note with this model is that while you may be tempted to pick up a used police car, this would not be a wise idea. Former police vehicles have been run hard and are often left running for hours on end. Even if the vehicle only has 100,000 miles on it, it will likely drive and operate as if it has 400,000 miles on it.

In the SUV category, you would be wise to keep an eye on the 2001 to 2003 Dodge Durango. This model is the first generation and houses a great V8 engine. The vehicle may not be the most powerful, but it is easy to work on and cheap to repair and maintain. If you are looking for a cheap SUV that is safe and reliable, this would be the vehicle for you.

The Final Lesson

At the end of the day, cheap cars are typically in need of some repairs and basic work. When searching for used cars near me, I always ensure that I am aware of the repair costs of the vehicle as well as the initial price. Hopefully, the information above has given you some cues and clues regarding how to spot a deal and act upon it. Reliable cars with low repair costs make for a true diamond in the rough wherever you search, and you can take that to the bank.

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