Despite some cooling in recent months, the used car market is still largely out of control. There are three-year-old cars that are selling for more than what they cost when they were new, which is leading buyers to shop for much older cars. If you’re one of these buyers and you have a tight budget, here are five reliable used cars that cost less than $10,000.
Bear in mind that in order to keep to the low budget, you may need to spend some time staring at your local classifieds in order to find some of these cars. But according to the Car Wizard – a popular YouTuber and master mechanic – they are well worth the effort and should be cheap to own.
1. 2000 to 2005 Buick LeSabre
The Buick LeSabre is an odd choice considering it isn’t the most popular American sedan, but it has its upsides. First, the LeSabre is super comfortable with its “catcher’s mitt” designed front seats with outboard seatbelts. It also had 16-inch tires and a supple suspension that easily soaked up road imperfections.
Under the hood was a 3.8-liter V6 that was matched to an automatic transmission. As for its reliability, the Car Wizard attests, “These are extremely reliable, and when they do break, because all cars do, the parts are cheap and plentiful. And they’re easy to work on. These cars are known to last 300 to 400,000 miles.”
Best of all, you can expect to get up to an EPA-estimated 27 mpg on the highway, which is good for a large sedan. The Car Wizard assures that “it’s not going to break the bank to buy it nor maintain it.”
2. 1999-2006 Chevrolet Silverado
If you have a strict budget of $10,000 and are in need of a truck, the 1999-2006 Chevrolet Silverado is highly recommended. The Car Wizard explains that this vintage of the Silverado is reliable because it’s easy to work on. “The parts are plentiful. They are cheap to purchase, and LS-based V8 is easy to work on,” he said.
That engine he refers to comes in the form of a 4.8-liter or 5.3-liter V8 engine that can be connected to a manual or automatic transmission. Autotrader backs up his sentiments about the Chevy Silverado, stating, “the 1999-2006 Chevrolet Silverado is relatively inexpensive to purchase, will run hundreds of thousands of miles with minimal care, and can take abuse in stride.”
3. 2004-2009 Lexus RX 350
If you’re looking for a reliable crossover with an added dash of luxury, the 2004-2009 Lexus RX 350 is a no-brainer. “These things are all over the place. They’re somewhat stylish, and they are bulletproof,” the Car Wizard explains. “You’re getting the Toyota quality.”
In addition to the renowned build quality, the RX 350 easily gets 35 mpg on the highway from its 3.5-liter V6 engine. It’s also extremely comfortable with its leather upholstery and optional Mark Levinson sound system. If you want a no-nonsense SUV, the second-generation Lexus RX 350 is one to look out for.
4. 1998-2012 Ford Crown Victoria
The 1998 to 2002 Ford Crown Victoria is an unusual choice, but it’s a reliable one. It rides on the “panther” platform, which is the same as the Lincoln Town Car and the Mercury Grand Marquis. So if you choose one of those other models, you’ll still benefit from many years of dependable motoring.
“These cars are the epitome of bulletproof,” the Car Wizard said. Under the hood is a 4.6-liter V8 that pumps out 235 hp and gets up to 25 mpg on the highway. But engine specs aren’t what this car is about. Instead, buyers can expect to easily squeeze 300,000 to 400,000 miles out of one of these cars, which makes it a bargain for under $10,000.
5. 1996-2000 Lexus LS 400
Nearly everyone is familiar with the Lexus LS 400. It’s a large luxury sedan that exudes the type of opulence and softness you would expect from a Lexus but is also ultimately reliable. “There are so many still on the road,” Car Wizard said. “They are literally tanks. They’re built beyond extremely reliable.”
That’s a true statement considering there are plenty of current Lexus LS owners on Edmunds still enjoying their cars after racking up well over 200,000 miles on the odometer. If you’re on the hunt for one of these cars, one thing that the Car Wizard advises is to check out the car’s interior to make sure it’s in good shape. Otherwise, most LS 400s should be in good shape mechanically.
The most reliable used cars under $10,000
The used car market might be crazy, but these five vehicles are a great place to start if you’re looking for something for under $10,000. After all, the Car Wizard has been working on cars for many years, so we can rest assured that his picks are pretty good. If all else fails, stick to a Lexus or Toyota, they never seem to die out.