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Used car prices have not fallen as many experts anticipated. Thanks to that, the most popular cars are the hardest to find. So while used car prices remain at an all-time high, what are the best cheap used cars to hunt for?

How to find a cheap used car without breaking the bank

Finding a cheap used car isn't easy
The Chrysler PT Cruiser at the 2002 Cannes – Chrysler Million Dollar Film Festival Extreme Filmmakers competition | George Pimentel/WireImage

Sometimes the need for a car outweighs everything stacked against it. That seems to be the case with everyone overpaying for cars that don’t deserve such steep price tags. Most affordable cars have high mileage or are undesirable in some way. New cars don’t even come in under $20,000 anymore, either.

David Tracy of The Autopian suggests that the key to finding a good deal right now is to find the ugliest car out there. Try to find a purple Chrysler PT Cruiser or a red Chevy HHR. But really, it isn’t just about finding an ugly car. If you can find a cheap used car that someone else thinks isn’t worth much, you can get a great deal!

Thankfully, AutoTrader has some great cheap used cars. Facebook marketplace is another good option, and there is always Craigslist. Places like CarMax and Carvana are probably going to have some expensive options because these work on a mysterious algorithm.

What are some cheap used cars available right now?

A navy blue 2007 Saturn Vue with 222,907 miles is available for only $2,500 near Orlando, Florida. It has a 2.2L four-cylinder engine, and automatic transmission and gets 19 mpg in the city. The 2007 Vue also gets 25 mpg on the highway and has a CD player!

A lovely silver 2007 Chevrolet HHR with 196,543 miles is available in Lakeland, Florida, for only $2,500. The listing says it is orange, but the photos show a silver HHR. This SUV-ish vehicle has a five-speed manual transmission for those enthusiasts out there. It also gets 22 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.

There is a classic offering of a 2008 Chrysler PT Cruiser for only $1,200. Another 2004 Pontiac Aztek for $1,700. The possibility of a used cheap car are endless as long as you don’t care what it looks like.

Check out the crash test ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to ensure the vehicle you find is safe. You can also check the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) for information about recalls and crashworthiness tests.

Beware of bad deals and high prices

Move fast if you find a car, truck, or SUV worth buying. If you have a trustworthy repair shop, have someone inspect it before buying. Depending on the vehicle’s condition, you might be able to verify some information with maintenance records.

For instance, there is a 2011 Nissan Cube 1.8 for sale on AutoTrader for the “good price” of $6,751. That’s insane. Kelley Blue Book gives the trade-in value for a 2011 Nissan Cube between $3,242 and $4,521. This is worth avoiding, even if it is ugly.

If you try to fix your current car instead of buying a cheap used car, beware of predatory auto repair loans. Buying a used car has its risks, but so does fixing a car these days.


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