Car or Truck for 3,000?

Where do I begin? I am a 21 year old guy and do not own a car. I have thought about financing a car but currently my financial situation is not going to allow that to be an option. Still, I need a truck for side jobs that I do and/or just a car from getting from point A to B. Is it even possible to find a car in this price range?

From what I know about used cars:

  • If you buy a good used car it won’t need parts(i.e matinence)
    that often, so you won’t be putting money into the car.

  • The car must have low mileage.

  • You should check the car’s VIN for the Carfax report?

From what I have heard for cars: Honda’s are very reliable. I want a coupe and it must be black.

From what I have heard for trucks: Toyotas are reliable. I want a black Toyota too if I am going to get a truck.

So, is this even possible? Thank you guys in advance.

if you limit your self to one model or color you really make it a lot harder to find a good used car.

when you find the right one, the sun will burst thru the clouds and the birds will sing with joy…

then you ll know.

if you drive car and you have a bad feeling about it. walk away. there are plenty more out there

I would suggest a Ford Ranger. Tacomas are good but you will pay a premium. Ranger will be more affordable and parts are plentiful. Don’t get a sedan. You need the truck for side jobs. A $3000 truck can pay for itself quickly in side jobs.

Get a 4- cylinder, not a 6. Also avoid 4x4 which will be more expensive. And get a manual transmission, also cheaper. If you can’t drive manual, have a friend teach you.

Of course, look for low miles and as recent model year as possible within budget.

Read owner’s reviews of whatever vehicle you consider here on You will get a good range of opinion about reliability, etc.

Yes, get a Carfax report but remember they are not infallible and don’t always include relevant info.

In Baltimore here’s one I would look at:

You will have a difficult time finding a 4 cylinder stick shift P/U truck for $3000…These are highly sought after vehicles…You might find some in New England but out west, forget it. EVERYBODY wants one…You can find Crown Vics at police car auctions for that money, but this is not a place for beginners in the world of cars…Older Hondas have timing belts, so reliability becomes suspect if the belt has not been changed…

^I bought a 2008 Cobalt for $2,000 at a PennDOT surplus vehicle auction, and it’s probably the best deal I’ve ever got.

Look at it this way: if your state’s employees are union, there’s NO WAY they’d be allowed to ride around in unsafe heaps–that’s basic “working conditions” stuff.

So, a public vehicle is likely better-maintained than your typical $3k-moblie. A Crown Vic’s probably been “rode hard and put up wet” a few times, but a sedan not owned by LE has probably had a softer life.

First of all, color choices go clear out of the window when youre under this kind of budget. Its imperative you get the most well maintained vehicle for the money. As long as its not repainted bright pink or something, any color will do.

Toyotas go for stupid money. To get in that price range youd be finding one with well over 200k on the clock and itd be old. I dont care who makes a car, mother nature takes its toll on rubber, plastic, electronics, metal, etc.

Trucks are also hard to find that havent been abused. Itll take a while to find one so be prepared.

You might check out the f150’s. Parts are really cheap for them because theyre everywhere. Good engines too.

Regardless of what you buy - it’ll need things like tires, trans fluid change, oil change, spark plugs, etc, unless they were done recently. So account for that as well. Nothing is cheap ultimately, but do your research, and try to buy leaving yourself atleast an extra 3-400 for repairs.

Here is what the State of Colorado is offering this week…

@Caddyman I just scored a 4 cylinder stickshift Japanese minitruck for $1250. It CAN be done, but you have to expect to put some more money into it, and you certainly won’t get one that looks brand new (which is fine - it’s a truck. It’s supposed to be used for hauling things and will therefore get beaten up). I have always been incredibly lucky when buying ultra-cheap used cars. I don’t really know why.

OP: You’re limiting yourself entirely too much. My first advice would be to ditch the color - I like black too, and one of my cars is black. And I will never have another one, because it’s impossible to keep looking clean. Sometimes only 5 minutes after you wash it, it looks dirty again.

Next, remember not to spend all of your money on the car, because anything you buy for less than 5 or 10 grand is going to require something to be done to it, probably within the first week you own it. You don’t want to be broke with a non-running car.

You can also buy Ford or maybe Suzuki

Sell you our 03 windstar for 3 grand. Deendable but quirks, guages go crazy and lights flicker every now and then, drivers side door intermittent open, solid runner, full maintenance, oil trans and coolant, prndl indicator not working, driver side mirror cracked, $1500 trade in, $4k resale, 70k miles, 6cyl. I think I have put 4x8 sheets of plywood drywall etc in there. 4 captain chairs.

I know it’s possible to find a good running black used truck or car guys, hard; but possible. So where else do you guys suggest I look? I have looked on craigslist, ebay. Where are other popular places to shop for used cars and trucks? Thanks for all the great advice too guys.

So far I am looking for: Toyotas, Fords and Hondas. These are cars that I have heard repetitively being good cars.

Volvos are supposedly really good too.

Would this one be out of the question because of it’s miles?

Here is the car:

Volvos are not good. Very unreliable as they age and expensive to maintain and repair. Toyotas and Honda’s are excellent, but everyone wants used ones so the prices are sky high. You can get a Mazda or Nissan for less money and they are also very good. A well maintained Ford or GM product will also be just fine and is likely to cost less.

Sounds like youve got your mind made up.

@jasmed1. I agree with the Ranger. They are an old basic design way behind the times but something you can afford that has ok reliability if you don’t press it. They are used as fleet trucks for years just for purposes like yours. Check for rust !

No Volvos! Any $3000 Volvo you buy will be a nightmare. They have poor reliability and are costly to repair.

Craigslist is going to be your best bet in Baltimore. Just be patient and the right thing will turn up. Your main problem now is your insistence on a black vehicle, which will severely limit your choices. I suggest you give up that idea and take whatever color comes along. Otherwise your wait will be quite long.

That’s very high mileage, but hey, it’s in Dundalk! Go take a look at it in person and drive it. Pay attention to the transmission and suspension as well as the engine. Look for rust all over, including under the truck.

I wouldn’t recommend that F250. High mileage, V8 gas guzzler, 4WD is more stuff to break, you will quickly regret it. It looks cheap until you start paying for gas and repair bills.You’ll be paying for all the stuff that’s just about to break.

An old 4 banger S10 would also be a good low bucks candidate, in my opinion

Forget the GM 4.3 liter V6 trucks . . . they’re rugged enough, but it’s 100% guaranteed that you’ll be replacing those lower intake manifold gaskets. And there’s a fair chance that “spider” fuel injector assembly will get plugged up eventually

Even though you probably won’t come across any Colorados in the $3000 price range, avoid them if you do. The early ones, in particular, had some problems with the valvetrain

What about an older Dodge Dakota?

I agree that an older Ranger is a good bet for low bucks. Again, keep it simple. Stick with the 4 banger

I can’t agree enough about the Tacoma being good, but overrated and overpriced, as far as used vehicles go. You’re paying dearly for the name and the reputation. My gardener wouldn’t even sell his small Toyota truck for $3000, and it’s older than a Tacoma, pre-1995.