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Best used car for under $2000

Looking for the best car can i can own for under 2000 dollars. Something reliable and dependable that will last towards 300k miles or more, good fuel economy. Easy to work on myself when something break. Something less than 20 years old would be nice too.

Current car is a 1997 Mazda MPV. Its easy to work on and almost impossible to kill but at over 260k miles i need something smaller with better fuel economy.

Would like something larger than a Carolla or Civic. Thinking a mid sized 4 door sedan. Maybe a Toyota Camry?

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There is no such thing as “Best” car in this price range. It depends complete on how the car was maintained by their previous owner(s). There are several Camry’s for sale in my area that would fit you budget. Go to one of the used cars website and start searching. Asking for a “best” car on a car forum will give you personal opinions/experience from responders.

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If you can find something like that for 2000.00 you could flip it and make serious money.

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In that price range, I think you’re looking at a domestic sedan from the early to mid-2000s, perhaps an older Taurus or Malibu, just to list 2 examples

The condition of the car is more important than the brand or the mileage

You’d be well advised to pay a shop to inspect it beforehand. That inspection should include a thorough road test and putting in on the hoist.

Depending on your location, you might want to look very carefully for rust

Don’t pull your hair out over old tires or worn out brake pads. Those are wear and tear items. I’d be more concerned about a rusted out frame, a car that was poorly repaired after a major crash, an automatic transmission that isn’t shifting properly, a low compression engine, etc.

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The best used car for under $2000 is one from a family member. You won’t find a trustworthy one that cheap on the open market.

Let everyone in your family, mom, dad, uncles, aunts, grandparents, cousins, etc. know that you’re desperately seeking a used car for under $2000. Then accept whatever you get gracefully and thankfully.


That’s a really hard list of things to achieve on a used car, especially for $2,000 or less. At the point that cars depreciate to the $2,000 or less, the most important thing to do is to get a mechanic to do a thorough inspection. For fuel economy, look at small and mid-sized sedans. A Camry could fit your list of wants, but with a price tag of $2,000 I don’t think you’ll check everything off your list necessarily. Also, be patient while you’re conducting your search. If your Mazda is still working just take your time looking

Look for an unpopular car with lower mileage. The Chevy Cavalier comes to mind. Early 2000s Cavaliers were reliable and you might find something with between 100,000 to 150,000 miles on it. It also has to have been maintained well. That’s the most important thing - maintenance. If you find something you like, pay a mechanic you trust for a prepurchase inspection. That will be the best $100 you ever spent.

The Camry is a good choice, as would be the Accord. Folks here seem to like their Subaru’s, so if something in that price range in a Subie was available, might be worth considering. The Ford and Chevy competitors to those cars also have a lot of merit and should be considered if a good one comes up. Good advice above, in this price range the overall condition and maintenance history of the particular car is more important than the make/model and model year. No harm done however to check what Consumer’s Reports Used Car Guide says about it as a used car. Most important is to pay the $100 bucks or so it takes for your shop to inspect it before signing any contracts or writing any checks.

If I was wanting to spend $2000 on a used vehicle myself, I’d be looking for a truck. Old pickup trucks are just plain fun to drive & own.

I suspect a Camry or Accord in the under $2000 price range will be significantly older, versus a Taurus or Malibu

That’s why I suggested the domestic vehicles . . . you could theoretically get a newer vehicle, possibly with a longer life ahead of it

Provided it checks out, during the vehicle inspection

Not to mention an Accord or Camry in that price range will probably have a timing belt, versus the domestic vehicles I mentioned. We know that having to pay for a timing belt replacement isn’t pocket change,

I’ll take a slightly different perspective.

Aside from the fuel economy and/or size… it sounds to me like you’ve already got the vehicle you need.

Anything you buy for $2000 is going to be a crapshoot, and probably around a 2000 model. Yours is a 1997.

Why not keep the one you have, if it otherwise meets your needs as described above for a “new” one? Good luck.


Agree! My wife has a widow friend who has 2 cars, a Hyundai and a 1997 Taurus.

The Taurus only has 150,000 miles on it and is well maintained, and has a few rust spots. Such a car would be a good buy. My guess is $1200 or so. Age of a car is more important that condition or miles in determining the price.

Inevitably, seniors are a good source of low mileage older cars.

Buying from family or private sellers is that way to go provided you get a mechanic to check out the vehicle.

That shouldn’t be too difficult, but not for 2000 dollars. Save more money and get into a range of cars that actually will do what you’re looking for it to do.

Right now, you’ve got what’s called champagne taste on a beer budget! :wink:

I’ve bought and sold lots of used cars. I recommend as a general rule not to buy one that is not licensed for the road and does not have current insurance.

I’d stay away from any cars that are “parked” with no license plates and insurance removed, especially if grass is getting deep around it (think: Put out to pasture). I’m always very skeptical of those, regardless of the story that goes with it. Find one that is in use and relied upon for daily transportation.

I wouldn’t overlook any cars with the GM 3800 engine, but you might have to take a hit on MPG. I own 4 of them. 2004 - 2008 Grand Prix Pontiacs are nice, reasonably priced, and owners love them. :smile_cat:


"Cheap" and “reliable” are rarely uttered in the same sentence unless the word “not” is placed in front of the word “reliable”.


A low mileage 3.8L GM midsize will likely be too expensive. That’s why I suggested the Cavalier. You may recall I owned a 1998 Regal with that terrific 3.8 for 14 years until my daughter wrecked it.

JT, you are correct. That’s why I recommended saving a bit more money. I’ve seen some pretty nice 04 to 08 Grand Prix Pontiacs for 3 to 4 thousand.

Two years ago, I bought a beauty, no rust, 100,000 miles, for four thousand (it’s pictured in my icon)! I bought it off Craig’s List. I wouldn’t sell it for $8000. I love driving it.

For good reason, Subarus are awesome (my photo totally doesn’t imply any bias). The problem is that any Subarus in that price range are probably around the 300k mark.

I’d personally say raise your price tag. I scoured Craigslist for over a year before I found my car and got very used to how Craigslist postings work (good deals are always a bad sign ;)). You can start finding mildly reliable cars above $2500, but $3000-$4000 is really where you are going to start finding good deals.

A Toyota Camry is good as long as you don’t mind checking oil every time you fill your gas. They tend to consume oil at a manageable rate, but you need to keep an eye on it.

Hondas are usually inexpensive, but there are a lot of transmission problems in civics and accords, so be wary. This site will also help you do lots of good research into whether a car may be good or bad:

A 2006 Mazda 3 has some pretty dang good reviews from this site. And with any used car purchase, have it inspected.

I’m not surprised. An excellent choice.

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