Even as new car prices continue to climb, you can find reliable but cheap used cars for sale. Many are readily available online, but car lots and local auto auctions also provide excellent sources for inexpensive vehicles.
Search Online Classifieds
Many private individuals hoping to sell a car start with online classified websites. Some sites specialize in automotive sales and may contain hundreds of local listings, while others contain listings for cars, trucks, vans, automotive accessories and a plethora of unrelated merchandise. Private sellers may offer considerably lower prices for their cars than a dealer and be more receptive to negotiation, but you likely will find dealer listings on these sites as well.
Much like online classifieds, eBay offers a forum for individuals and dealers to sell their used vehicles. You can browse thousands of vehicles of almost every make and model, and find important information like the vehicle’s location, mileage and photos. If you are looking for a very inexpensive car, you often can find older vehicles selling for less than $1,000.
When shopping for a car on eBay, be sure to factor in any additional costs like shipping, taxes and any applicable dealer fees.
Visit Local Auctions
Though many car auctions take place online, you still can find a cheap used car at a specialized auto auction. These auctions, available in many bigger cities, are the same ones where local dealers purchase cars for sale and unload unsold inventory, so prices typically reflect dealer wholesale pricing. Rules can vary significantly from auction to auction, so check with your local auto auction center to verify if you need special credentials like a business license to gain access.
Consider Retired Fleet Vehicles
Many organizations that manage a fleet of vehicles sell their used cars when they remove them from active service. Car rental companies frequently sell late model, relatively low mileage former rental cars for well below the price a dealer would charge for a similar vehicle. For a very cheap used car, consider browsing retired police cars and government surplus vehicles. Retired fleet cars may have high mileage, but they likely will have had regular service and will carry some of the lowest price tags available. In many cases, you can find retired police cars for under $2,000, and some sell for considerably less.
Be Prepared to Negotiate
Unless you buy your used car in an auction, you likely will have the opportunity to negotiate for a lower sales price. When negotiating with a dealer, according to the financial magazine Forbes, you may be able to get the lowest possible price on the last day of the month, a day with poor weather, or late at night on the weekend. Negotiations with a private seller often are more direct and consist of simply offering your ideal, but reasonable, price.