Less than $2000 for a used car

What’s the best used car for less than 2K. I’m thinking about a 96 or 97 subaru… Any suggestions?

Can you get one for that price? You might be better off by looking at vehicles that have a high depreciation rate or are unwanted “orphans” for other reasons. Cars in this price range are usually sold by individuals. Tauruses before about 2000 are a source for this price range. If you can find a Subaru that is not over 150,000 miles you may have what you want, but how many miles will you be driving this car?

Winarth is right. Look for something from a private individual. You could find an older persons babied car like a Lumina, LeSabre, Crown Vic, Malibu or other American car that holds up well. I have seen some older Toyota pick-ups in that price range - but they may have major miles.

I think you will have a hard time finding many Asian cars for that money unless it is older than a '96 and/or has high mileage.

If your thinking Subaru only get Legacy with 2.2L or Impreza. Forgot about anything with the 2.5L engine as it will cost you nearly the same to fix it when the head gasket blows.

That’s really pretty cheap. Luckily, I’ve never paid over 1500 for a car, so I know a bit about this.
The thing is, once you get into a price range like that, you really can’t delineate any specific model of car that’s going to be better or worse than others. The car is obviously going to be very used, and people treat their cars differently. The other guys on here are right in that your best bet is older individuals, but be aware that individuals want a payoff too. There’s some real trash out there listed for 2k that’s not worth half that. Also, be suspicious of deals that seem too good to be true. …and honestly, I’d be a tad suspicious of a 96-97 Subaru being sold that cheap unless its been pretty dogged out or super high mileage.

The keys in finding a good cheap car are:
-Being diligent in checking the classifieds and craigslist, etc… every day (the truly good deals on cheap cars usually go pretty quick).
-Patience in your search. It usually takes time to find a diamond in the rough.
-Don’t be too picky in exactly what TYPE of car you’re looking for. At 2k, the value for the money should be the deciding factor. …not what color the car is or how many doors it has.
-Once you find a car you might be interested in, do a little research online (preferably a more specific site than this one, as it pertains to the model/year of the car), to find out what the normal problems/defects/positives there are with the car, so you have a better idea of what to inspect and expect when you test drive it.

Sigh. People never seem to catch on. If there were truly a “best” car for under $2000 it would sell for $3000.

I share the experience of VelocityBoy above. I have bought about eight used vehicles in my lifetime, never paying more than $1600. That includes two Mercedes (I still have one of them). All purchases worked out well. Of course, I had to do some minor repair work on each, but I am capable of that myself.

So follow the advice above. Ignore the make and model in your search. You are unlikely to find one at your price anyway. Even if you do it may be a dog. Be patient, and find a way to have a knowledgeable friend check out your selection for potential problems.

What kind of driving will you be doing in this $2000 car? You probably won’t get a good over-the-road car at this price. Don’t think about the brand of the car, but look for one that doesn’t have a rusted out frame and that the engine runs and the transmission shifts right and the wheels track correctly. Have a little money in reserve for a tire or two and possibly brakes.

If the car is mechanically sound,don’t worry about faded paint, torn upholstery, etc. My first car cost me $75 back in 1961. The cluster gear in the transmisison was worn, so it made a horrible noise starting out in low gear–I shifted to 2nd as quickly as possible. The engine used a quart of oil every 200 miles, but I was able to find re-refined oil for 10 cents a quart. The car, a 1947 Pontiac, got me and my possessions to graduate school. At this point, it became a town only car and I took trains back home at vacation time. The 350 mile trip was uneventful. I drove between 55 and 60 on the open road and the car performed beautifully. In any old car, choose carefully and drive sensibly.

I personally would never buy a $2000 car. The trouble with that price range is that anything you get is going to be so well used that it’s going to be a crapshoot, but unlike a $500 car, if the thing blows up a week after you buy it, you’re out a lot of money. If you’ve got $2000 to spend, I’d shoot for a $1000 car and then keep the rest in reserve for minor repairs, which it will need, plus if the thing is a dud you’ve got a good start on another one. And, realistically, a $2000 car is not going to be that much better than a $1000 one. $2000 is pretty much the upper price range of cars that are completely depreciated, at which point there is no established “market value” for them.

All you really need to know about buying a cheap car is that they are worth what someone will pay for them, and they are as good as the condition they are in. It’d be great if you have a mechanically-inclined friend help you shop or, although it will put off some sellers in this price range, get a mechanical inspection and repair estimate for what the car inevitably will need. Don’t get too attached to any one car either-- there are a lot of cars in your price range and you will be much much happier if you’re patient and don’t rush into anything.

I would propose an exception to the “make and model” don’t matter-- don’t buy anything with a carburetor. You see a lot of Japanese cars from the 80’s in your price range, which usually came with either a carburetor or fuel injection-- the FI versions are okay, but the carbed versions are a pain in the butt.

For the record, the most I’ve ever bought a car for was my '89 Toyota 4x4 for $1,200. About a year ago I paid $500 for an '86 Accord (FI) with 140k miles that I’ve put about 25,000 completely problem-free miles on.

What kind of driving will you be doing? If you are willing to spend a lot of time, you may find something. I mean many hours a week for many weeks.

When my wife told me she wanted to spend $2000 on a used car, I told her, “good luck, I will have nothing to do with it.” At three times that price I started helping her. We were still looking at a lot of junk, but some decent cars. I felt badly about saying that, but she has to find out stuff on her own, doubting Thomas type. I was not willing to waste my time on her learning period.

We have a 1990 Lexus LS400 with 225,000 miles. The car has always been in the sunbelt. The engine and transmission are seemingly like new. Except for a couple of dings, the paint and body are like new. The interior is nearly like new. Except for remote locking, everything works.

The car has a few oddities, and has a little more float in its ride than 1994 when we bought it, but it would make a great $2,000- $3,000 car.