Cheap cars can be found in many places — if you know where to look. Following are just some of the places you might find cheap cars:
Independent Used-Car Dealers – Independent used-car lots are a potential source of affordable cheap second hand cars. Many lots have older vehicles that can be real bargains, but might require a little work. You should take care to determine if the price is fair and that the vehicle has no hidden problems. Most used cars are sold “as-is” and come without any kind of warranty or return policy. Check out local used-car lots in your area but also consider large national or regional used-car dealers such as CarMax.
New-Car Dealer Used Car Lots – Many new-car dealers also sell pre-owned cars. Most new-car dealers only offer relatively late model used vehicles that have been taken in trade or are off-lease, and are in good condition — and are relatively expensive. But bargains can be found. Therefore, it doesn’t hurt to check out local new-car dealers but also look at other sources listed below. Some new-car dealers sell “certified” used cars — at a higher price. These cars have been inspected thoroughly and come with a short guarantee.
Buy-Here-Pay-Here (BHPH) Dealers – BHPH dealers are a different kind of used-car dealer that provides in-house financing, usually with no credit check, to people who are unable to get a conventional car loan. Most BHPH dealers are local and can be recognized by their “we finance anyone” or “no credit check” banners. Be aware that interest rates are usually very high and payment terms are strict. See “Should I Buy From a Buy-Here-Pay-Dealer Car Dealer” for more details.
Special Promtional Deals on New Cars– Don’t overlook this year’s (or last year’s) brand new cars as a potential source of good bargains. There are currently tons of heavy rebates, low interest rebates, bonuses, special leases, and other incentives being offered by car manufacturers, especially on American brands, and especially on last year’s models, that can often make certain new cars less expensive than used cars of the same make and model. See New Car Rebates and Incentives.
Used Cars Online – Although the Internet is potentially a good way to find cheap cars, take extra caution due to the possibility of getting scammed. If a deal seems to be too good to be true, it probably is. Craigslist and Autotrader are particularly frequented by scam artists. We recommend sticking with sites such eBay Motors, which has a buyer protection program (only for cars purchased through the eBay site) and UsedCars.com, the Internet’s largest used car buying service, with over a half a million used car listings.
If you find a car online that you like, be sure that it’s a car that you can go see, test drive, inspect, and talk to the seller face-to-face. Do no fall for scammers who promise to ship a car to you for free for your approval.
Lease a New Car – If your goal is simply to get low monthly car payments, leasing a new car can be 30% to 60% less expensive than buying the same car with a loan – cut your payments in half. This allows you to drive a brand new car for the same or less money than you might spend on a late model used car. However, be sure to read the free Lease Guide before you make a decision to lease. It’s cheap but may not right for everyone.
Take Over a Car Lease – Take over a cheap car lease from someone who needs to get out of their lease early. Online services such as Swapalease offer car lease takeovers at bargain prices. These are almost-new cars being offered by sellers who are often desperate to get out of their leases. These can be excellent deals. It is the cheapest way to drive a almost-new car.
Government Car Auctions – This is an often overlooked source of cheap cars and trucks. Local, state, and federal government and law enforcement agencies frequently auction surplus and seized vehicles. Outstanding bargains are possible. To participate, you have to know where and when the auctions take place, and how to bid. See Government Auto Auctions for more details.
Damaged and Salvage Cars – Cars that have been damaged or salvaged can be a good source of cheap cars. See Damaged Cars for Sale for more details. Salvage Auctions and Repossessed Car Auctions are other possible sources of cheap cars and project cars for sale. Obviously, a lot of caution must be taken to make sure you know exactly what you’re buying but, if done correctly, some great deals can be had this way.
Police Seized Property and Surplus Auctions – Law enforcement agencies seize and impound vehicles from law-breakers and sell them at public Police Impound Auctions, for bargain prices. Many are high-end late-model luxury vehicles in perfect condition. These agencies also sell Surplus Vehicles that are being replaced with newer vehicles. These auctions are conducted regularly and are open to the public.
Rebuildable Wrecked Cars – If you have mechanical skills, Buying and Rebuilding a Wrecked Car can be a way to a cheap ride. Cars that have been declared total losses by insurance companies can often be purchased as salvage vehicles and project cars for almost nothing. Many of these vehicles have little damage and can be rebuilt and restored to good running order for little money.
Unclaimed and Abandoned Car Auctions – Cities and towing companies pick up unclaimed abandoned vehicles every day from the sides of streets, highways, and parking lots. They try to find the owners, but if they can’t, the cars are sold at auction, often for almost nothing. The cars can range from junkers to almost-new vehicles. You can find towing companies in your area by searching on the Internet or in telephone Yellow Pages.
If you are looking for a good cheap car, start with the suggestions above and remember to take extra caution to make sure you don’t get scammed and that you get what you pay for. Used cars are sold “as-is” which means that you have no right to get your money back once the sale has been made. It’s always a good idea to have your car inspected by a qualified mechanic before you make the purchase.