You need transportation but your money is tight. If this is your situation, try not to feel bad as many Americans are in a similar situation. If you do indeed need inexpensive transportation, let’s focus on ‘what you can do!’
What type of car can you really get for $1,000 or less? It will be an older model with relatively high mileage. But won’t such a vehicle need expensive repairs? I will not lie to you; such vehicles will likely need some repairs. However, we are going to chose vehicles that have a lower probability of repairs. The key is trying to choose the right cars, the ones that have had regular maintenance, and that have been owned by the same person for at least 5 years or preferably longer.
The more basic the model the better, as less equipment such as power accessories helps to reduce potential repair costs.
One of your biggest concerns is rust or corrosion. Thus, a car that has been garaged helps.
Another important factor is any type of oil or other fluid leaks. The car should not have been in any accidents or repainted. The car should have at least 6 months (hopefully more) remaining on the inspection and emissions stickers. The owner should be able to show you receipts of the car’s maintenance from the same garage.
Keep in mind that some sellers are hard up for money too! So what cars might you buy for $1,000 or less?
Some cars to consider include late 80’s or early 90’s Honda Civics or Accords, and Toyota Corollas or Camrys of the same years. Mazda Protégés or Nissan Altamas are others to be considered. The Subaru Legacy sedan or wagon, the Acura Integra, and Infiniti G20 are also outside picks.
Before buying any of the cars (I came up with 10) listed above, be sure that the timing belt has been replaced within the last 30,000 miles or less (the owner should show you a receipt documenting that the work was done and the car’s mileage). If the timing belt has not been replaced, figure on a $350-$400 bill. Thus, a lower purchase price would be suggested.
Last, but not least, be sure to take the used car to a good mechanic to be inspected, put on the lift and test driven. This is money well spent! If the owner objects to the inspection, simply move on!
It is challenging to buy a car for $1,000 or less, however, it can be accomplished. If done right, the car will get you where you need to go and give you time to save for other transportation down the road.
One last thought. Insurance on older used vehicles can be kept relatively low as tying up too much money on a $1,000 car makes limited sense.
Kyle Busch is the author of “Drive the Best for the Price: How to Buy a Used Automobile, Sport-Utility Vehicle, or Minivan and Save Money.” He welcomes your comments or car questions at his auto web site: www.cartown1.com. Follow Kyle on Facebook and Twitter.