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The Best Cheap and Reliable Used Cars Under $5000

Looking for a cheap car? These days, that’s no easy mission…especially if you’re looking for reliable cars under 5k. But, don’t give up hope! They’re out there!

And, the absolute worst thing you can do is talk yourself into spending $20,000 for a supposed “dependable” car… Then, you’ll be deeply in debt and you still might experience car troubles!

No way.

It’s time to identify the best reliable used cars under 5000 bucks. Then, after reviewing the list, you choose which car is best for you! (When you’re searching for a used car, take your search to our recent partner site, Carvana.)

How to Find a Good Used Car For Cheap

In a world where it seems like finding a car for less than $10,000 is impossible, we’re saying you can do yourself even better. It IS still possible to find good reliable cars under 5k.

Want to know how to find a good used car for cheap? And what car models are the best bang for you buck? 

First, we’re going the explore the ‘where’ to look (ie. what websites are best for your search?), and then we’re going to talk about the ‘what’ to look for (ie. what are the best used cars under $5,000). So, where can you find quality used cars? Online. But…where online?…

Top 10 Used Car Websites

If you’re looking for the best reliable used cars under 5000 dollars, then your first question is probably around the best used cars website! Makes logical sense.

So what are the top used car websites out there? Where is it most likely that you’ll find a quality used vehicle for a decent price?

Here’s our opinion of the top 10 used car websites:

  1. Facebook Marketplace
  5. Craigslist
  6. Kelley Blue Book
  8. eBay Motors

Personally, I’m not a big fan of finding a car that’s 500 miles away, and then wasting an entire day to go see it and maybe buy it (who knows, it could be crap and you have to go back home empty handed. Been there…done that…got the T-shirt. Not doing it again.).

The beauty of Facebook Marketplace is two-fold:

  • You can filter for used cars that are for sale by owner (which are often WAY cheaper than at the dealership)
  • You can actually see who is trying to sell you a car. If they’re willing to put their name out there and sell you their car, chances are, they’re probably pretty honest and not trying to screw you with a lemon. It’s more personal and therefore, there’s an added layer of security there.

On all the other sites, there are two major downsides:

  • Many of the cars that are listed are from dealers, so they’re marked up $2,000+ from the private party value
  • Since many of the vehicles are from dealerships, they really don’t have any history with the car and can’t tell you much about it, which doesn’t provide much assurance against that possible lemon.

So for me, I check Facebook pretty much exclusively. If I’m looking for a specific vehicle, then maybe I’ll extend my search onto CarGurus, Autotrader, or Edmonds.

Beyond these sites, I love finding cars that are out for sale by the side of the road. They’re often cheaper, the competition is lower, and you can talk to a real human being about a car that they’ve likely had for years.

If you’re looking for a reliable used car under $5,000 and take your search online, start with Facebook. Then, be sure to scour your neighborhood for anything that’s for sale by the side of the road. 

Best Reliable Used Cars Under 5000

Alright. Back to the task at hand – the best reliable used cars under 5000 bucks. What are they? For this list…

  • We’ll first start out with the most reliable used car to buy for 5k
  • Then, we’ll hit the absolute cheapest reliable used car
  • We’ll then list a few great reliable used cars under 5000 for teens
  • Then, we’ll look at a couple reliable SUVs under $5k
  • And, some reliable sports cars under $5,000
  • And finally, we’ll just look at the all of the remaining most reliable used cars under 5000 that we can come up with

Ready? Let’s do it!

What is the Most Reliable Used Car to Buy For 5k?

What makes the top of the list? And, what is the most reliable used car to buy for 5k? If you’re looking for a car that will be the most dependable and will consistently get you from point A to point B without breaking down, then look no further then the 2007 Buick Lucerne! 

You can buy a 2007 Buick Lucerne with just 100,000 miles for less than $4,000. Why so cheap? Basically, because it’s ugly. It’s big, it’s bulky, and nobody really wants to be seen driving them.

BUT, they have great motors that will likely never die on you…ESPECIALLY if it has low miles, which many of them do (because grandma and grandpa owned them)! So, what is the most reliable used car to buy that under $5,000? The Buick Lucerne, baby!

What Is The Cheapest Reliable Used Car?

If you’re looking for the absolute cheapest reliable used car…I still might go with the Buick Lucerne…but we should probably choose something different here for the interest of the article.

When you think about quality used cars, what do you think about these days? You know, cars that don’t break down often, and when they do, they’re cheap to fix! 

The absolute cheapest reliable used cars in existence today are made by Honda and Toyota. 

And, if you asked me the question, “What is the cheapest reliable used car out there today?”…I’d have to say the 2006 Toyota Camry.  In my area, you can find a 2006 Toyota Camry with around 150,000 miles for $4,000. It sounds like high miles I know…but many of these vehicles last till 250,000 miles or more. They’re simply amazing.

If you don’t have a ton of money to spend and you want a cheap reliable used car? Check out the Toyota Camry. You likely won’t be sorry!

Best Used Cars For Teens

The Buick Lucerne and the Toyota Camry sound great and all, but what about the best used cars for teens? What’s cheap enough for a teen to buy, but won’t leave them stranded on the side of the road? 

Well, just so you know, any car could leave someone stranded by the side of the road – whether it’s $2,000 or $20,000. Sure, the likelihood might be greater with the $2,000 car, but we all have cell phones today and help is just a button click away…so don’t worry, your kiddo will likely be just fine…even if they blow a gasket. 

Anyway, back to the point here. The best used cars for teens that are under 5000 dollars…

What kind of cars are out there that teens can afford but are still safe and decent quality?

At this point in my life, I’ve got super-young kiddos. Neither are anywhere close to driving.

But, if they were, there are two types of cars that I absolutely wouldn’t buy for them:

  • SUV – The more room there is in a vehicle, the more friends there are that can pile in, and the more distraction there would be for my child, the driver. No thanks. A simple car is better in my book than a big SUV or minivan.
  • Sports Car – Teens are new drivers. They don’t fully understand what a car can do…and they won’t know how to recover if the car loses control. It’s just unsafe for a teen to have a sports car, so I’m certainly not going to recommend them here.

So, what are the best cheap used cars for teens? Again, the 2007 Buick Lucerne is a great pick again. It’s a big, bulky (and therefore safe) car. And, it’s cheap and reliable.

But, besides the Lucerne, I choose the following cheap used cars for teens:

  • 2011 Kia Soul
  • 2009 Mercury Sable
  • 2005 Ford Crown Victoria
  • 2008 Honda Civic
  • 2006 Honda Accord
  • 2007 Pontiac Vibe
  • 2009 Ford Taurus
  • 2005 Toyota Avalon

You can buy all of the above used cars for under $5,000. They’re cheap, they’re dependable, and they’re great for teenagers! Not a bad list for $5k or less! 

Related: How to Make an Extra $1000 a Month Blogging (From a Guy Who Actually Does!!)

Most Reliable SUV Under 5000

So far, we covered the most reliable used car for 5k, The cheapest reliable used car, and the best cheap used car for your teen. Now it’s time to name the most reliable SUV under 5000 dollars. 

Here’s my list of the top 5 reliable SUVs under $5,000:

  • 2007 Suzuki Grand Vitara
  • 2009 Scion XB
  • 2007 Ford Explorer
  • 2007 Mazda 5
  • 2011 Kia Soul (this was a solid car for teens, but I’m mentioning it again here so we don’t miss it)

So which one is the best? Which of the above picks is the most reliable SUV under 5000 dollars? I choose the 2009 Scion XB.

For many, it’s not the most appealing SUV, but it’s cheap, it’s dependable, and it actually gets pretty good gas mileage too! I mean c’mon! What’s not to like??

Best Reliable Sports Cars Under 5k

Ahhh, into the realm of sports cars now. Can you really afford a sports car? Sure you can! I found four of them that you can likely buy for under $5k!

Here’s the list of cheap used sports cars!

  • 1986 Chevy Corvette C4
  • 1988 Toyota Supra
  • 1993 Mazda Miata
  • 2003 Ford Mustang

So which is my top pick? Which is the best reliable sports car under 5k?

The most dependable is hands-down the 1993 Mazda Miata.

The coolest one is the 1988 Toyota Supra.

The one that you can likely find AND fit in is the 1986 Chevy Corvette.

And, even thought I graduated high school in 2003, I still don’t want the 2003 Ford Mustang. Lol. Not sure why. It just always seemed like a lightweight sports car to me. 

Best Used Cars Under $5,000 in 2022

So what else is there? Which are the other most reliable used cars under 5000?

Here are some great cheap used cars under $5,000 that we haven’t mentioned yet:

  • 2006 Toyota Corolla
  • 2006 Honda Accord
  • 2008 Mazda 3
  • 2009 Scion TC
  • 2009 Honda Fit

So what is our list in full? What are all the best reliable used cars to buy? 

Here’s the full list of all the reliable cars you can find for under 5k.

  • 2007 Buick Lucerne
  • 2009 Mercury Sable
  • 2005 Ford Crown Victoria
  • 2008 Honda Civic
  • 2006 Honda Accord
  • 2007 Pontiac Vibe
  • 2009 Ford Taurus
  • 2005 Toyota Avalon
  • 2007 Suzuki Grand Vitara
  • 2009 Scion XB
  • 2007 Ford Explorer
  • 2007 Mazda 5
  • 2011 Kia Soul
  • 1986 Chevy Corvette C4
  • 1988 Toyota Supra
  • 1993 Mazda Miata
  • 2003 Ford Mustang
  • 2006 Toyota Corolla
  • 2006 Honda Accord
  • 2008 Mazda 3
  • 2009 Scion TC
  • 2009 Honda Fit

And there you have it! The best cheap reliable used cars out there!

Related: The BEST Debt Snowball Excel Template!! (And It’s FREE!)

How to Get a Good Deal at a Car Dealership

I get this question all the time –> “How can I get a good deal on a car at the dealership?” The best answer… You can’t. The dealer bought a car from an owner for a fair trade-in price. Then, they mark it up $2,000+ and try to sell it to you, the buyer.

What are the chances they’re going to sell you the car for the trade-in price? Zero. Zilch. Never going to happen. Heck, they might not even bring the price down $500 from their marked-up sticker price. Why not?

Because they need to pay for their salesmen, their building, their light bill, their insurance…etc etc… They need to make more than a thousand bucks on every car to stay in business. You’re never going to find a great deal at the dealership. 

A Few Ways to Save Money on Cars at a Dealership

So, now you’re know you’re not going to save thousands of dollars on a car at a dealership, but here are a few tips to help you save a bit.

  • Come with cash – it’s not overly enticing since the dealership often earns more with financing, but cash is still intriguing and might earn you a slight discount
  • Shop in a cheap area – If you’re looking for a truck and the demand is low in an area nearby, then you might find a deal. Scout out these low-demand areas.
  • Stick to your guns – When you find the car you want, name your price and let them know you won’t budge much from that price. If they don’t drop the price, be ready to walk away. Once you walk, they might just call you right back!
  • Use creative negotiating – If they won’t budge much on price, have them throw in 5 free oil changes! It doesn’t cost them much, but it will save you $200+ in future oil changes.

There you have it! If you must, these are the ways to save money on cars at the dealership. But, if I were you, I’d buy your car from a private party seller. You can always find a better deal, and maybe even a better car!

How to Get the Best Deal on a Used Car

You came here trying to figure out how to find a good used car for cheap. Part of that is knowing first how to find the cheap cars, but then you’ve got to know how to close the deal and make the purchase!

If you want to know how to get the best deal on a used car, below are my absolute top tips!

  1. Stay away from the dealership (they bought the car for cheap, they’re going to sell it to you for regular price)
  2. Buy from a private party seller
  3. It usually works best to find the used car online through Facebook Marketplace
  4. Understand why they’re selling the car and be sure it’s a believable story (if they’ve only owned it 2 weeks, it’s probably a lemon…you might want to run)
  5. Find a car that has small issues that can be fixed, but that would turn off other buyers (missing hubcap, missing front emblem, small dents that may pop out, dirty floor mats, balding tires, etc.)
  6. Get the car fully looked over by a mechanic before buying it
  7. Point out the flaws and let them know that’s why you’re reducing the price on your offer
  8. Make a cash offer (and be sure to show them the cash – if this makes you nervous, have a friend come with you)
  9. Once you make the offer, say nothing. Let them either say “yes” or have them make a counter (this is often referred to as, “the first one to speak loses” ;))
  10. Always be willing to walk away. If the price isn’t right, then it’s not right. Another car will come along.

Related: 20+ Jobs That Pay 50k a Year Without a Degree (Anyone can do these!!)

The Best Reliable Used Cars Under 5000 – Will You Buy One?

So what about you? We taught you a TON in this article!

  • First, we let you know where to find quality used cars online
  • We then answered your question of “what is the most reliable used car to buy”
  • We gave our take on the best cheap used car, and the best used cars for teens
  • And, we even found a few used sports cars for under $5,000!
  • And finally, as if that weren’t enough, we taught you how to get the best deal on a used car!




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