Tips, Tricks & Trends

Can You Buy a Decent Car for $1,000 to $2,000?

Are you under financial duress but are currently in need of a car? Or are you looking to own a car without having any car payments? No problem! Just go ahead and get yourself a $1,000 to $2,000 car and call it a day. But you might be wondering, “Are there really any good or decent used cars for $1,000 to $2,000? And if so, where can I find them?” We’re so glad you asked, let’s take a closer look.

First step: Lower your standards

If you only have 10 to 20 Benjamins to spend on a car, but you’re not sure where to begin, then hop online and start searching. Actually, the first step to the whole search process is to lower your standards. Let’s face it, you’re not going to find a newer Ford Focus or Honda Civic in the bargain-basement price range that you’re looking at, and to be honest, you’ll be lucky if you find anything with a working air conditioner or without some major repairs. But have no fear, there are decent cars in the $1,000 to $2,000 price range, you just need a lot of patience and to throw your expectations out the window.

A person doing car buying research on their laptop.
Car research | Joseph Branston/Future via Getty Images

RELATED: Don’t Buy a Car off Craiglist Before Checking These Things

Second step: Look online

Since the power of the Internet is so awesomely amazing, we recommend checking online classifieds like Autotrader, Cargurus, or even Carfax, as there are some good listings on there as well. We hopped on to Autotrader and entered in a search query using the $1,000 to $2,000 price range cap along with the criteria for any make and model. We were met with a cornucopia of results including cars like this 1995 Toyota Camry LE with over 200,000 miles on it selling for $1,000:

1995 Toyota Camry LE
1995 Toyota Camry LE | Autotrader

Sure, it has paint issues and is badly dented and since there are no pictures of the interior, we have no idea what that looks like. However, Toyotas are known for their ultimate reliability and we’re willing to bet that this 25-year-old Camry is a pure testament to that.

But if you’re looking for something a little newer, then you might be able to get your hands on a car like this 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix GT. It looks like it needs a new fender and some other minor bodywork and we have no idea how many miles it has, but for $1,995, no one can really complain.

RELATED: Which is Better for Buying a Used Car?

2004 Pontiac Grand Prix
2004 Pontiac Grand Prix | Autotrader

Just remember, when you’re shopping in this price range, what you see is oftentimes what you get, in addition to some possible unseen electrical and mechanical issues. But that’s what a mechanic is for.

Third step: Check the junkyards

Now that your standards are lower than the U.S. economy, you can open yourself up to the possibility of finding that super-budget dream car in the confines of a good, old-fashioned junkyard. Actually, with websites like Copart.com and Insurance Auto Auctions, you can search the junkyards and auctions sites from the comfort of your own home. We also recommend eBay, as there are typically some decent cars on there from time to time. For example, we found a 2001 Toyota Celica GT with 166,000 miles on it selling for $2,000. It has a clean title and looks like it just needs a paint job. Not too shabby, if you ask us.

RELATED: The Best Free Online Tools To Help You Buy A Used Car

Cars at a Salvage Yard in Louisiana
Rows of old wrecked cars in junk yard near Alexandra Louisiana parts and repairs for autos. | Photo by: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Fourth step: Buy a cheap car, but get it inspected first

Once you finally find a decent car for $1,000 to $2,000, we wholeheartedly urge you to get it inspected first. If you’re buying a car that is across the country or at a far distance, then there are mobile pre-purchase inspection companies that will check out the car for you and send you a report.

Yes, it’s going to cost you some money, but it could save you thousands of dollars in the long run, especially if you’re shopping in this price range. Ultimately, there are good cars that can be had for $1,000 to $2,000, but it just takes a little time and patience to find them.