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Best cheap car where replacement are available cheap

Long story short, a friend in poverty needs a vehicle that she can buy as cheaply as possible (think hundreds of dollars). She lives with people that can do mechanical work on cars so as long the car is running when she buys it and parts are available cheaply it should be possible to keep it running.
Any recommendations for makes and model? Also, any suggestions where to look beyond craigslist (e.g. auto auction, auto brokers getting something on trade in)?

Sincere sympathy for your friend. The best recommendation I could make is to scour all the charity organizations in the area and beyond. And also he/she should reach out to her family. He/she may get lucky. But he/she cannot be choosy. He/she has to be willing to accept whatever might be offered that’s running.

Sincere best.

It would be easier we know what function the vehicle needs to fulfill and what is available in the area that seems to fit the need.

It just needs to function as an A-B car. Subcompact, minivan, so long as it runs.

There is not an answer to this question. Any vehicle that can be bought for hundreds is going to cost more than it is worth to repair most of the time. The only thing to do is find something that is running and stopping as it should and do it again when it needs too costly repairs.

hmm … well, you’ll want an econobox version, as those are the best sellers and so parts are readily available and less expensive. That means Honda Fit/Civic/Accord, Toyota Yaris/Corolla, Camry, or one of the Ford or GM econoboxes. The fewer gadgets or gizmos the better, esp go for one with a manual transmission if at all possible.

There’s plenty of those available as used cars, but the price range you’re looking for, that’s the bigger problem. Rather than trying to find one the usual way, Craiglist or used car lots, you’ll probably have better luck w/one of these ideas. Hopefully you’ll bump into a good Samaritan.

  • If you see one parked outside on the street for weeks at a time, obviously not being used much, leave a note explaining your need & asking if they’d like to sell it.

  • Ask at all the local auto repair shops if they’ve recently come into something like this and would like to help out. To sweeten the pot, offer to come in and help clean their shop floor, sweep their parking lot of debris, or sort parts or whatever maybe on your day off. Shops often have a bunch of tedious stuff they’d rather not be doing themselves.

  • The local college and high school auto shop teachers may also be willing to help. Ask them.

I suggest an older Ford Focus

They don’t keep their value, and parts are plentiful

The car has to be older than 10 years to get that low price. A no frills car will also keep the price low. Something like a Chevrolet Cavalier would fit the description. The car was built for a long time, and you might find something from the late 1990s for a few hundred dollars. If your friend’s mechanically able friends are very good as mechanics, they could accompany her when looking at cars. This might enable her to buy a car with a few problems that could be easily and inexpensively fixed. A car with problems will always be less expensive to buy. The risk is in determining what is wrong and therefore how much it costs to fix.

The Astro vans appear to be about as mechanically and technologically basic as any popular vehicle and the classifieds are filled with them in all the various models from cargo to family bus. I was never a fan due to the difficulty of some repairs because of the positioning of the engine but the Astros were relatively reliable and cheap to repair as a result of using common, off the shelf components used in pickups and full size vans. I saw many dozens under $1500 and quite a few under $1,000 on a quick search in my area.

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My friend has had good luck buying old Saturns for $1000 or so and getting lots of mileage out of them.


In that price range you will not find a running driving Japanese car. I agree with the Focus or Caviler suggestions. A lot of parts can be found at the junkyard. Beware of cheap cars that are expensive to repair. Anything made in small numbers should be avoided.

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2000-2005 taurus. Solid cars. Cheap.

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I thought some of those older Tauruses had weak transmissions . . . ?

Forcus and Corolla are inexpensive and reliable.

Whatever you get, make sure the parts are easy to find and cheap.