by Lori Straus
Finding a decent car for $10,000 is doable, but you have to do your research. In this blog post, we’ll share with you a few tips and resources to help you on your treasure hunt.
The Age of the Vehicle
Unlike vehicles under $5,000, which will most likely be at least 10 years old, vehicles at the $10,000 mark may be newer. You might even luck out and find one that’s only five years old. We’ve seen them on our website, so it does happen.
However, also be prepared to find vehicles that are older than that. In the used car market, many factors enter into the price equation: the reliability of the vehicle, the number of kilometres driven, if people smoked inside the vehicle, its repair, and maintenance history… Each used vehicle is unique.
The Vehicle’s Mileage
Whereas you’ll find cars with over 300,000 km in the under $5,000 range, you’re less likely to find them here. Vehicles around the $10,000 mark usually range between 100,000 km and 250,000 km. You will find exceptions, but based on our experience, that range is typical.
If you’re buying a used vehicle with a much lower odometer rating, ask questions about it: What is the vehicle’s accident history? How well has it been maintained? Did it pass safety inspection with flying colours? Sometimes a seller hopes to hide important shortcomings by emphasizing a lower-priced vehicle’s low mileage.
Or sometimes the odometer’s been illegally changed.
Either way, get as many details as you can about a vehicle in this price range with a very low kilometre count.
There are several online sources you can use to help you evaluate a vehicle’s reliability. Remember, none of these can guarantee that the vehicle you’re going to buy will be absolutely reliable: you’re aiming for a very educated guess.
Although you may require a subscription, Consumer Reports is a good source for reliability information. If purchasing a subscription isn’t in your budget, contact your local library: they may have one you can access.
Another source to try is JD Power. Their data goes back to 2003, making it a comprehensive research source, although they’ve removed some of their more dated information. For these studies, JD Power asked over 80,000 drivers about their three-year-old vehicles, so the date of the award does not coincide with the model year. For example, if you’re considering a 2008 vehicle and want to see its reliability rating, look at the 2011 awards.
Where to Buy a $10,000 Vehicle
Unlike cars for under $5,000 , which you’ll find predominantly through private sale, vehicles in this price range can be found both through private sale and at a dealership. Do your due diligence: ensure all-in pricing, ask for a copy of the vehicle’s history, inquire about a dealer warranty, and do your own homework as suggested above before you talk to the seller.
You can find good-quality used vehicles for $10,000 or less. Take your time to research, but when you find a car you want to inspect, jump at that chance. Used cars are unique, and it doesn’t take long for someone else to beat you to your treasure!