Shopping on a budget: Best cheap cars to buy

If you’re in the market for a car, chances are you have a budget. For some people that budget could be $10,000 or more, while others are only working with $1,000. Either way, there are options albeit fewer options the less money you have. Even if you’re on a budget, don’t give up. Here are some of the best cars under $5,000 that you can buy, and (most) are no older than 10 years.Keep in mind these are just some examples of what’s out there, so always do your diligence and research before buying.

Economy/commuter car: 2007 Mazda 3 i Touring

The rating for a 2007 Mazda 3 is more than 4 stars on That makes the Mazda a good option, as you can find some going for less than $5,000 on Craigslist or KBB. The Mazda 3 i Touring comes with a 148-hp 2.0-liter inline-four cylinder gasoline engine, can have either an automatic or manual transmission, and is capable of more than 30 miles per gallon. That might not sound like a whole lot when it comes to Hondas and Toyotas, but with a commuter, it’s important to consider comfort and durability. Mazdas can be known for being a more luxurious brand, which explains their typically high price point but also Mazdas have decent suspension, are reliable and robust. You can probably find a Honda for less money, but for the comfort level and performance, a Mazda is hard to beat.

Best Used Truck: 2008 Ford F250

Surprisingly I actually was able to find quite a few of F-250 within a 5k budget, and several were from 2008. The F-250 has multiple engine options, ranging from a 5.4-liter V10 to a 6.8-liter, producing about 360 horsepower. There’s also a diesel option, called the Power Stroke. These trucks can tow as much as 10,400 pounds and can handle a payload of almost 6,700 pounds. It’s no secret that the Ford F-series is a solid choice for a truck, so finding one as new as this, with this kind of performance is definitely a good option.

SUV- 2007 Chevrolet Trailblazer LT

If you’re looking at SUVs for less than $5,000, one of the options is to get a 2007 Chevrolet Trailblazer LT. This car comes with a base 6.0-liter eight-cylinder gasoline engine, producing 395 horsepower. That’s a lot of SUV for $5,000. It can also come with AWD. While the car can come with many options in terms of safety and comfort since you’re buying used that won’t matter much, however, the staples are things you can rely on, those being the engine, AWD, durability and 43 cu-ft of cargo space with the seats still up.

Cheap Sports Car: 2005 Infiniti G35

With the price range of no more than $5,000 and want a sports car no older than the mid-2000s, the choices were somewhat limited. Although the 2005 Infiniti G35 is technically a compact luxury sedan, it does have the same engine as Nissan’s 350z so it’s about as close as we could get to a sports car. Not only does it have 280-hp out of its 3.5-liter V6, but it also comes with the same transmission as a 350z. The things that hold this car back from being a full blown sports car is its weight, it’s less horsepower figure than the 350z and it has back seats that can actually fit people. Otherwise, it’s got the power and the RWD so as long as you don’t mind taking out the back seats and swapping for bigger brakes the G35 can be the sports car you want it to be.

Executive- 2007 Mercedes E350

You may be interested to know that, if you’re one of those people who’s needed a Mercedes all of their life, it’s more than possible to get one and not necessarily have to spend a ton of money. At least in the beginning (maintenance cost is another story). The 2007 Mercedes E350 is an option for you if you don’t mind a used luxury sedan and only have about $5,000 to spend. It’s got a V6 that produces 268 horsepower and has plush comfy seats you could fall asleep in. It is a Mercedes though, so, keep an extra couple thousand dollars extra handy in case a piece of plastic falls off.

Also check out other’s list of the best used cars under $5,000. Of course, there could be other options beyond my recommendation. Keep in mind that my search criteria limited the price range between $4,000 and $5,000, so for much, much less you can get different cars but they won’t be in as good condition. People will typically charge more for a better condition vehicle, barring any unsuspecting grandma-driven Bentley that’s “taking up space” going for $2,500. Unless you find a “diamond in the rough” like that (which you should pounce on immediately), stick with the odds and stay within your price range.

While buying used cars could come with its own set of problems, like exploding radiators (may or may not have happened to me once) and needing new tires, so it is always smart to figure out how much you can spend on a car, and try to keep some cash handy for a rainy day.


4 Tips on How To Effectively Sell A Car On Craigslist

4 Tips on How To Effectively Sell A Car On Craigslist

There are many options for selling a car privately. Craigslist has been proven to be a competent, easy and quick convenient platform on which to sell. Anyone can sell anything on Craigslist, nevertheless when it comes to cars there are guidelines that help streamline the process.

Here’s how to sell a car on craigslist:

  • Get your paperwork in order. That means title, service records, registration, bill of sale, and anything else significant like a warranty if applicable.
  • Take good photos of the car. In good lighting, around mid-day, take photos of the exterior and detailed photos of interior. Highlight anything nice about the car, and if it has defects capture those as well. Also helps describe them in the ad, and why they happened.
  • Find out the car’s value. Go to KBB or Edmunds to find out your car’s market value. Be sure to click on the private party value to get a good idea of what your car goes for on the market. Also go and see how much similar cars are going for on Craigslist. They may be going for more, in which case you can up your selling price a bit.
  • Time to post. Go to craigslist and post in the appropriate location, either where the car is or a place that you can comfortably drive the car to.

If your car has a lien, you can still sell it privately even on Craigslist. The only thing that needs to happen differently is you’re going to need to communicate with your lender. If the buyer also has a loan it makes the process that much easier, because then both lenders can talk to each other and transfer the paperwork with minimal effort. It also helps to make the transfer in close proximity to your lender so you can help streamline the process by talking to them directly.

Depending on the state you live in, paperwork may vary. For instance Texas requires a title, and a separate application for a new title. Texas also requires an inspection. Legally speaking the only paperwork you’re responsible for is a smog check, if it’s even needed. California’s DMV states that the seller is legally obligated to provide a valid smog certificate, showing that the car has successfully passed smog. Beyond that, you are not responsible for any other fees or taxes.

It is required in California that you inform the DMV of selling your vehicle within 5 days of the sale. This is not only for their records, but for your benefit. If you don’t inform the DMV and the new owner gets a parking ticket you’ll be technically responsible. Likewise for insurance, as soon as you sell your car you should cancel your insurance on it. You don’t want to be legally obligated for the damages it may or may not take. And this can be done any time.

Typically buyers want to see that you’ve taken care of the car, and most of all they want to know they aren’t getting a lemon car. The best way to show this is to keep all your service records and present them to prospective buyers. They want transparency, and you need to deliver so they feel comfortable with the purchase. Getting everything fixed that’s wrong isn’t completely necessary, but if you want to get the most money for your car then replacing things like bad tires and brakes, repairing headlights that don’t work or small dents then it certainly won’t hurt. Keep in mind this will only help the selling process go faster and won’t necessarily make your car worth more money. If you say in your ad that you’ve replaced the tires and brakes, the new owner could respond with, “Well, yeah you’re supposed to”, or something of that nature. If it’s something detrimental, like an engine replacement, all you’ve done is get the car from not running to running condition again, and that just brings the car up to its market value, so don’t think you’ll get stellar numbers just for replacing the engine. Certainly get the car washed, and keep it nice always. Buyers want to see you’ve taken good care of your car. Likewise tell the new buyer about everything you’ve done to keep it nice. It won’t get more money, but again it will help the sale move along.

Bear in mind that the buyer will always try to offer you less money than you asked for. That’s normal, and you should expect it. The best way to counter this is with service records, a clean car and a solid case. Don’t be so rigid as to drive away buyers, but be somewhat flexible with your price. It’ll help psychologically if you have a set range in mind. It helps to get more attention if you indicate in your ad that the price is “best offer”, because it means the buyers can negotiate with you which gets more interest.

Be safe, because selling on craigslist can be dangerous. You don’t know who’s coming to buy the car, and if it’s at your house you don’t want them to see where you live so it’s best to avoid this situation if possible. If not, have a friend present to witness the interaction. If possible meet the buyer in a public place in the middle of the day, or when there’s a lot of people around.

Don’t forget you have every right to walk away from a transaction for any reason. If something doesn’t feel right, or if the money isn’t good enough (i.e. far below asking price), then just say no and wait for the next buyer. Remember that selling a car privately generally takes about 3-4 months, so be patient and things will happen in the right time.

Selling an electric car or motorcycle

At the moment it surely seems like electric vehicles are the future, and according to industry titans competition is paramount. For the average-income earning consumer, however, a used electric car can be a difficult sell. After all, gas-powered cars, for similar performance, cost a lot less. Taking Tesla’s Model S into consideration, MSRP starts at around $68,000 for slightly less than 400-hp, vs the Corvette standing atop with 450-hp and costing near $55,000. The Model S also weighs more than 4,000 pounds and only goes roughly 100 miles on a charge. That’s not a great sell, however factoring in tax breaks, the fact that it needs significantly less engine maintenance than a gas-powered vehicle and the realization that trips to the gas station are no longer a factor, the EV can (eventually) pay for itself.

Unfortunately the tax breaks don’t factor in when selling a used EV, so if you’re trying to sell an EV privately you’ll need to make prospective buyers an offer they can’t refuse. The problem with most EVs is the depreciation, with cars like the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt losing tens of thousands of dollars of value per year, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association. If you’re selling your EV, no matter what you have be prepared to eat the cost of depreciation.

Unfortunately the cons list for buying an electric vehicle continues, with the overall price of the car not being worth the performance. The most powerful option for the Model S is the 90D starting at around a hefty $90,000, producing an impressive 690-hp, and still is able to go (according to Tesla) more than 100 mpge. That’s the same distance as the Nissan Leaf, which starts at about $30,000 but only has around 100-horsepower, which won’t matter if all you’re using the car for is commuting. The Tesla, however is a luxury vehicle so subjectively it’s going to be more comfortable, stable and be of higher quality. Basically, there’s still a massive gap between luxury EVs and run-of-the-mill commuters.

EVs also weigh a lot more than gas-powered cars due to batteries. Tesla’s Model S houses a 1200-pound battery. Comparing its roughly estimated 4,500-pound curb weight to the Honda Civic Type R’s modest estimated curb weight of 3,100-pounds, Top Gear’s observed 27-mpg, its estimated price tag of $35,000 and its turbocharged inline-four producing more than 300-hp, the Tesla Model S suddenly becomes a big question. However the average life span of an EV battery is supposed to be around 10 years, but the inevitable cost to replace it will be a four-figure beat down.

So, how to sell a used EV? It’s tough to create incentives out of thin air, especially when the government won’t allow them. If you’re selling your EV just to get rid of it, then no price is too low. EVs as they stand now are still very expensive, even when when selling one the losses can be disheartening, and all this just to not pay for gas, which isn’t even that expensive. Solution to selling an EV? Run it into the ground, then try to salvage parts for the apocalypse.

Selling electric motorcycles, however, is a lot easier. Granted the technology is still very new, electric motorcycles are easier to make, go farther and cost less. Zero Motorcycles of Scotts Valley, CA only charge around $10,000 for a base model motorcycle, a fully loaded more expensive model going for nearly $20,000. The fully loaded bikes go more than 200 miles, charge quickly and are fast enough. They also weigh about as much as a modern sport bike, still producing 70-hp, about as much as a Suzuki V-Strom dual sport.

Taking Zero Motorcycle’s products into consideration, the pros to owning an electric motorcycle are lonely with almost no cons to accompany them. Gas powered motorcycles already get exceptional mileage so fuel efficiency isn’t normally an issue for bikers, surprisingly Zero Motorcycles aren’t heavier than modern sport bikes, it’s belt-driven which means less maintenance and not a whole lot of power is needed to get moving. A con may be that it’s too quiet, and motorcyclists are typically grateful in dangerous situations when their bikes make noise. Another problem is, motorcycles are so cheap already in every way that there’s not a huge reason to buy an electric model in the first place.

So selling an electric car might not be the correct solution, and in fact keeping it around may prove to be more cost-effective, in a sense running it more miles ensures getting every dollar out of it. One thing to be aware of is, that depreciation sometimes lends itself to technology. In EVs it’s rapidly improving, rendering old models obsolete. Electric motorcycles suffer the same fate, unfortunately, of depreciation due to technological advances. The ultimate solution to selling an electric vehicle, it seems, is to not sell it at all.

How hard is it for you to sell an $80,000 car privately?

The short answer is it’s a lot harder than selling a $10,000 car privately, and it most-likely comes down to the money. Even $20,000 is a stretch, but still doable. Selling a used car has its own set of challenges without the car being horrendously expensive, so what happens when the price becomes the biggest factor? Of course there are no guarantees for how quickly it can happen, but there are steps that can be taken to improve your chances. One thing to remember first and foremost, when you hit the $80,000 mark you have “officially” entered the luxury range of interest, which means pricing your car that high puts it in competition against cars classified as luxury vehicles. This is just one aspect of the selling process, but before you know it once all the factors are laid out and considered, selling a higher-end car privately becomes a vicious balancing act.

Appeal to your location

No matter how much money you’re selling your used car for or whether it’s a mid-90s Civic or a brand new Corvette, where the car is physically can make all the difference. For instance, an $80,000 car will not sell (at least not very quickly) in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, which as of 2015 raked in an average median income of $15,405. That’s against San Francisco’s (at the time) average median income of $92,094, according to city-data.comHowever, selling your $80,000 car in a place like Atherton or Portola Valley will be a lot easier, where the average household income is closer to $200,000. So what if you want to sell an $80,000 car in a place like the Tenderloin district?

Practicality- Know your market

What kind of car are you trying to sell? The benchmark we’ve set, $80,000 may not cover every brand but it covers many different classes. For instance, a 2009 Audi R8 may go for near $90,000 or you may own a much newer Mercedes G-Class that’s worth around $80,000. One of those is a sports car, the other is a family-targeted luxury SUV. These have the similar prices but appeal to completely different markets so you need to sell your high-end car to the right people. Trying to sell an R8 to a family is going to prove immensely difficult. There’s little-to-no trunk space, the kids will need to sit on the passenger’s lap, and the car will only go about five miles before it needs refueling. Sure, the R8 will complete those five miles quickly, but the process will get old just as fast.

Join a club

One option that is valuable to owners of high-end cars is clubs. Because these high-end cars are so expensive it makes them collector’s vehicles, where the car was purchased not only because it fulfills a desire, but because it can’t be found around every street corner. There’s an air of exclusivity which breeds safe havens for owners of similar cars to gather and gawk. Within these clubs are prospective owners, or previous owners that miss the taste of luxury complete with leather seats and built-in Jacuzzis. Clubs like these make selling and buying luxury cars so much easier, because the club already caters to the correct demographic and those prospective owners have the money to spend. These clubs can come in the form of a Facebook group, a forum or even an official club with its own website and everything, like this R8 site. This will increase your chances of selling your car, especially if you post your already neat and tidy listing in the club’s classified section.


Perhaps the biggest factor that separates the process of selling a car for around $5,000 vs selling a car for around $80,000 is how you want to be paid. A very popular adage is “Cash is King”. Why? Cash means no hassle, all of the payment is there in your hand, there’s nothing left to do, except plop the cash in the bank. However with some exceptions people don’t carry $100,000 cash ready to throw at the next Porsche 911 Carrera 4s that comes their way. It’s important that at this stage of selling your high-end car to be realistic to the buyer’s options. However you don’t want to expose yourself to a suspicious situation at the same time. If the car is all paid off, the payment process is purely a judgement call. Meet the buyer at the bank to sign a check, watch them withdraw a vast sum of cash (enter Portola Valley), whichever is more comfortable. Just be sure to hold on to that pink slip until your bank balance skyrockets. Selling a car that still has payments left on it is a different beast altogether, but by no means impossible. Here is a handy guide for how to enter that arena.

This may have become apparent 2-300 words ago but as you can see, the factors that come into selling a used high-end car privately are pretty much the same as selling a low-end car. The biggest difference is the money, which magnifies all aspects of the process. The market, location and form of payment all become more distinct and less vague, which filters the available options. In terms of clubs and factoring in the money, chances are like owners will be less concerned about things like title status, miles and the condition of the car, because the luxury car owner demographic, with some exceptions, treat cars with similar habits. Posting your listing in a club’s classifieds means no longer selling to random people on Craigslist. You’re selling a special car to people looking for special cars, and that is an advantage.