Some guidelines to consider when buying a used car for under $5,000 are to focus on reliability over style, to shop from private sellers and to always have the car professionally inspected. The buyer should also examine the car in person to make sure it suits her needs and tastes.
One important factor to consider when shopping for a used car is the potential cost of future maintenance. Even if a car has a low selling price, if it is in poor condition or requires hard to find parts, it could end up costing the buyer considerably more further down the line. Buyers should speak to local mechanics about the potential cost of common repairs and general maintenance on the make or model of different types of cars to find out which come with the lowest repair costs.
Many dealers add hidden fees to the cars they sell, which can end up raising the initial cost of the car noticeably. Buyers should look into purchasing a car from a private seller though an auction site or a classifieds site in order to avoid excessive fees. Private sellers also typically sell cars for cheaper prices because they aren't trying to turn a profit in the same way as used car dealers.