Tips for Finding the Elusive $5,000 Used Car

Everyone is looking for a place that sells used yet reliable vehicles. If I was given a dollar for every time I was asked where a reliable car was for $5,000, I could probably retire! Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy as it sounds to find a cheap, used car. Many used cars retain their value, so finding a used car for cheap isn’t as easy as it once was.

Many of the requests I get are generally around the same type-Someone is looking for a used car for their son or daughter who is turning 16 and they don’t want to pay more than $5,000 for it. They want one that has low mileage, has an automatic transmission and is clean and reliable. They don’t want to pay anything over $5,000 and many expect that there are dozens and dozens of cars waiting to be bought for this price. When I get these emails, and I do get them almost every day, it’s heartbreaking. I hate to be the one to tell people that their mission isn’t the most realistic one, but unfortunately, it is.

I currently work with more than 200 new car dealerships in over 30 markets in which the Car Prow Show airs. While there may be an exception here or there, these dealers will never sell you a car that is even close to the $5,000 range. Their vehicles go for much more than that. Why do you ask? Liability is the answer. A new car dealership will always be held to a higher standard than used car salesmen. Their customers expect and demand that the vehicle they buy from a new car dealership holds up, no matter what they are told when they buy it. Even when a vehicle is sold “as-is” and with little to no warranty, customers expect that it will be the perfect vehicle.

If you are still determined to find a vehicle for $5,000, looking for a private seller is the way to go. A private seller will likely work with you to get the car you want, and you will find more deals when you check out this avenue. Be prepared to have patience when you are looking for a used car through a private dealer. You’ll want to check out not only the car but the person selling it, as well.

I can provide you with a few tips that will help you find the car of your dreams when you have $5,000 to spend.

You will want to start out with realistic expectations. Sure, everyone wants to be able to buy that $5,000 Honda right off the bat, but you’ll do better when you find a domestic brand instead. Look for a nicer, lower mileage vehicle when you have $5,000 to drop on a used vehicle. The reason that a truck or SUV isn’t going to go for $5,000 or less is that they hold their value. It’s basically a waste of time to even entertain that option.

Remember, finding something simple is always better. You may think finding a BMW or Mercedes that is from the early 2000s is a good idea. Unfortunately, you could also be purchasing a lot of issues with an older car, regardless of the fact it’s a better model. Look at a 10-year old Ford or Chevy instead.

Everyone wants to have a great looking vehicle. But it is important to look more at the mechanical side of the vehicle you are coveting instead of the cosmetic side. A car that runs great and looks a little worn is an amazing find when the price is right. If the vehicle is mechanically stable, go for it. You can always fix it up bit by bit and end up with a vehicle you are happy with and proud of.

It may cost a little, but once you find the car you want to buy, pay to check the history report on it. It may save you money down the road to find out now if there is a problem with the car that you can’t see up front.

It is possible to find a $5,000 car when you have time and patience. Follow these tips and I wish you the best of luck!