Among financial experts, one popular piece of advice is to avoid car debt. Everybody wants a comfortable and reliable car, but many believe that anything with over 100k miles is knocking on death’s door. However, this isn’t always the case. The issues with new cars don’t stop at their hefty price tags and depreciation value. Oftentimes, you pay the massive markup only to end up with a car that needs significant mechanical repairs. Now, I am not here to tell you that you need to buy an old beater. Quite the contrary…I am here to tell you how to avoid the lemons, and find a quality vehicle that will last you for years. Better yet, I’m going to show you how to do it on a budget. To start your search, here are 5 good budget cars under $3000.
5. Buick LeSabre
The Buick LeSabre is a solidly built American car with many loyal customers who have bought several generations of them. Touted for its comfortable and spacious interior, its an economical option that has room for the whole family. The smooth ride and easy handling make it a fan favorite.
Unfortunately, Buick stopped make the LeSabre in 2005. However, you can still find used ones out there with low mileage and well within your budget. It is an extremely well-built car that will surely last the years ahead.
4. Lexus LS400
The pinnacle of Japanese luxury cars, the Lexus brand has always been iconic for their timeless interior material quality. If you want Japanese reliability, the floaty suspension and cushy leather seats of the LS400 will leave you with no questions as to why it’s MSRP was $76,000 new.
Sit in the driver’s seat of this amazing cruiser, and you will be in awe as to how you only need to shell out a few G’s for a low-mileage example of this car. However, these can be hard to find. So, make sure to set notifications or regularly check the new listings if you have your heart set on this gem.
3. Panther Platform
This is more of a category than a specific car. The panther platform consists of three absolute American icons: The Ford Crown Victoria, the Mercury Grand Marquis, and the Lincoln Town Car. These cars have a slightly different edge on each other. Each of them is an absolute workhorse: the Crown Vic is the cheapest and most standard, the Grand Marquis has one of the best suspensions ever made, and the Lincoln Town Car oozes class and luxury.
You can’t go wrong with any of them. You are able to find any of them for under $3000, in good condition, and with reasonable mileage. Used as taxis, cop cars, and limos, these cars are profoundly unique in the fact that they were still made into the early 2010’s! You can find 2012 Crown Vics that look just like their early 2000’s counterparts. And the best part is that they last just as long.
2. Honda Civic
Although it was just edged out of the top spot, the Honda Civic is also listed among the good budget cars. With similar reliability and affordability ratings as Toyota, the Civic is no slouch. In fact, it has an even higher safety rating than other vehicles in its class.
Furthermore, Honda cars are known for their longevity. One owner famously drove his Honda Civic until it broke the 999,999 mark. So, if you find a well-priced one with more than 100k miles, you can feel assured that it will continue running for many years to come, with proper maintenance of course.
1. Toyota Corolla
Since the Toyota Corolla was first introduced in 1966, they have sold more than 40 million vehicles worldwide. With its reputation for durability, fuel economy, and reliability, it is easy to understand why it has become the best-selling car.
Although you will find many generations of Corollas, you should look for 2003 or newer if you want more interior space, added features, and the sleeker body. The Toyota Corolla remains a top seller because you get the most bang for your buck from this comfortable and affordable compact sedan.
Things to Remember When Looking for Good Budget Cars
Whether you are buying from a dealership or a private seller, it is important to do your homework. Check your vehicle’s history report and look for any telltale signs that it may not be a good deal. Most used vehicles have a lot of miles on the odometer, and the life span of your car depends on where they were accrued.
It is also wise to have the vehicle inspected by a certified mechanic before you make any large investments. There are many good budget cars for under $3000 out there, but you need to be able to spot difference between a hidden gem and a lump of coal.
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