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10 Best Used Cars for Less Than $9,999

Karen_SKaren_S Member Posts: 5,092
edited March 2014 in Nissan
Ten grand will get you a new car. You know, something like a Nissan Versa 1.6 Base or Hyundai Accent GS three-door base — solid, basic transportation with all the charm of Tupperware. Or, that same $10,000 will buy you a used ride any car enthusiast would be proud to call his own.


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    roadburnerroadburner Member Posts: 17,438
    I have just two caveats:

    1. A car that cost $50,000 or more new will generate repair costs equivalent to its MSRP- not its current market value. The S4, 7er, and 944 are great cars but they are best suited for drivers who are willing to tackle minor maintenance and repairs. A good independent specialist will also be worth his or her weight in gold. If you go to the dealer to have your wiper blades changed and/or the thought of raising the hood makes you pee your pants, look elsewhere.

    2. Many of these cars have been owned by brain-dead morons who did not heed the first caveat. Most of said cars have only been "serviced" at Jiffy Boob or some other chain store. Needless to say, proper maintenance has been ignored, corners have been cut, and substandard replacement parts have been used. Therefore, I consider a pre-purchase inspection by a professional who knows the marque to be mandatory.

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport-2020 C43-2021 Sahara 4xe-1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica
    Wife's: 2015 X1 xDrive28i
    Son's: 2018 330i xDrive

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    ctmechectmeche Member Posts: 1
    It'd be cutting it close to the $10k mark, but you can find decently cared for first-year S2000s for around that price. Might be 80k+ miles on it, but they last. Well worth the money, and way better than a recently new Civic Si
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    wjtinatlwjtinatl Member Posts: 50
    roadburner is dead on... having owned both a 2000 GTI VR6 and a 2000 740iL, I can tell you first hand that maintaining these cars is not for the faint of heart! The VW was not bad, but in Atlanta VW service was limited and pathetic. When my drivers window dropped into the door frame about 30 minutes after a major servicing, the dealer was happy to respond with "they all do that" and hit me with a $300 repair on top of the $400 service my credit card had not yet cooled from. The BMW was without a doubt one of the sexiest and finest driving and riding cars ever built, but.... Once the warranty expired, just about anything cost $1000 or better. Brakes, no problem, but BMW rotors cannot be resurfaced so it's about $600 per end. A/C compressor goes out, well, that's $1200. I loved the car dearly, but like a boat, the cheapest part of a higher-mileage BMW is buying it. Many fun and interesting cars and trucks later, I now have a '98 Camaro SS convertible with a 6-speed and a '03 Focus SVT. Cheap to buy and even cheaper to maintain, the domestics don't have the panache the German makes exude, but provide more tire-squealing, grin inducing fun for almost no money than any of the sexy Euro's. A former Mustang GT further validates my opinion that for cheap fun and speed, it's hard to beat vintage Detroit iron!
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    rickskirickski Member Posts: 1
    Lots of good advice above. I would add a couple of other great cars. If you want fun to drive, you can't beat a Mini. 2004-5 models with 60k miles are under $10k. For a classy ride, how about a 2000-2001 Mecedes E class with 70k miles. Both are easy to find on cars.com. I had a Mercedes E class that was a great car to drive and was actually not expensive to maintain, contrary to what everyone presumes.
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    joegibesjoegibes Member Posts: 1
    As enthusiast cars go, here's a few more:

    Ford Focus SVT
    Ford Contour SVT (this one could almost fit in the "Cars under 5k" category)
    Nissan Sentra SE-R (v?)
    VW Jetta GLI (same generation as the mk. IV GTI)

    Numerous BMWs
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    ivannachooivannachoo Member Posts: 2
    Actually, I think the 1999 Civic Si did come with a spoiler option that looked a lot like the one in the picture.
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    autoboy16autoboy16 Member Posts: 992
    TO add to this list, you guys for got the early E46 BMWs, and late E36 BMWs

    I personally think the TurboS beetle counts too... But thats similar to GTI and GLI... SO maybe not.

    Oh and VR6 GTI had 200hp after 2001
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    gouldngouldn Member Posts: 220
    I loved the article, but I need to wholeheartedly agree with some of what's been said above. If you buy a $60,000 car for $10K, be prepared to face much larger maintenance costs. Some may argue that they can do the work themselves, but the large BMW in particular will get you on parts!

    I've know people personally have gone down this road, buying 10 year old big BMWs with 120K+ miles, and they got killed on the maintenance. Even at the good indy shops, you've got to be prepared to pay the price. It's one thing if you can afford a $25K car and buy a $10K BMW, do your homework to get a documented car, and put money aside for maintenance and repair. As long as you can and PLAN to spend $$ you probably will do OK

    What scares me is the people who spend every dime they have to buy a $10K 100K+ mile BMW, and expect it to not cost them more than the Mazda 626 they just upgraded from. They don't spend enough on maintenance, and are often sunk at the first $2K repair. Worst of all, some people even manage to get loans for a 10 year old BMW, and are making payments on a car that is surely going to cost them more than the payments.

    With that said, the 740 is a wonderful car. I think the lines were classic before they changed it! In fact every car they mention would be a great car to own ... as long as you're not under the impression that $$ wise it's equivalent to buying a new Versa or something.
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    roadburnerroadburner Member Posts: 17,438
    but the large BMW in particular will get you on parts!

    That's where your BMW CCA discount comes in handy!

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport-2020 C43-2021 Sahara 4xe-1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica
    Wife's: 2015 X1 xDrive28i
    Son's: 2018 330i xDrive

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    tshoetshoe Member Posts: 3
    I have a 2002 FWD A4 1.8T, this is the first year of the 2nd A4 body style. It is a great commuter for me, however with the Turbo and/or gas saving CVT it is a bit sluggish off of the line. Have had to put a couple hundred dollars in it after warranty has gone out but not bad. Mine has under 60K miles and is worth $10K! Gets 30+ MPG on hwy, 25 in city.
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    dyziodyzio Member Posts: 9
    I love this kind of ...best used cars to 10000$...articles ! great job Edmunds!

    If that was my money I would go for that Camaro(or similar F-bird), no doubt best looking and performing car in the bunch..!

    7 series BMW also not bad car with J. Bond heritage..

    Instead of that Integras, and STI I would try to find some nice 2-door Prelude or Legend (beutifuul cars , almost like SEC Mercedes)
    and about Subaru ..I really can't take this car because of front design - what an ugly thing from this angle! side , and rear view are ok....come'n front is a face of the car !

    modern muscle debate
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    ttimelezzttimelezz Member Posts: 1
    If I'm looking for a performance car, the 300ZX Twin Turbo is a clear winner if you find a nice example for $10k. It has the looks (inside and outside), the power (also the potential to go bigger) and the handling that beats many newer cars.
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    cw910cw910 Member Posts: 1
    I've owned a 2002 GTI VR6 since new. This was the first year with a 6 speed and 200hp VR6. It's been a love/hate relationship. As many others have documented, German engineering means a car that is great to drive and not so good to own. Lots of squeaks and rattles, lots of little problems (the stereo has never worked quite right), and 2 times stranded by electrical (luckily at home). Plus, the dealer's service department was HORRIBLE. However, the car still looks brand new inside and out at 88,000 mi. It handled a recent track day with no problems at all. I prefer the engine (stronger, but not smoother) and the shifter (shorter throws) to a similar year 325i. It could use a little sharper steering and less body roll, but it still has a wonderful combination of everyday usability and sporty character. Too bad VW doesn't know which way is up regarding quality control. They need to get their heads out of the sand, and have a serious talk with their dealers.
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    g35xfung35xfun Member Posts: 7
    Who in their right mind would recommend an S4. Want to know what S4 stands for? Try $$$$$4 for more money to be poured down the drain. I owned a '01 S4 new from day one, and I had to unload it when is got to 77K miles because it need a third torque converter replacement and transmission swap, not to mention how the Audi dealer and Audi of North America totally shirked their responsibility from a lousy job they did with the previous transmission. That is on top of a list of other problems like frozen vaccuum lines and oil leaking out of the camshaft seals because the oil got injected into the intake manifold. By the away, did the author not even check against consumer reports? In the April 2009 issue, consumer reports ratings, the S4 was listed among the worst of the worst on page 82. Let this be fair warning to any and all who gets lured by the that twin turbo powered flat torque curve. BTW I didn't have to suffer indiginity of blown turbos because I babied the thing, blow turbos were common place on the S4.
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    jchan2jchan2 Member Posts: 4,956
    I would look into a late 1990's Mercedes-Benz C-Class... Maybe not the most fun of cars, but that design of the C-Class is timeless in my book and ages extremely well.

    I agree that if you're going to buy any of those cars be prepared to pour more money for repairs and to get an inspection by a person specializing in that brand. I have a friend who didn't do that and bought a '95 C280 w/ 180K miles and ended up spending more in repairs than she did for the entire car.

    She totaled the thing earlier this year and ended up buying a Jeep Cherokee.
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    jactonjacton Member Posts: 1
    I agree with everything said above out of experience. My 2nd gen A4 was beautiful to look at and drive (when it didn't chew 1/2 of its oil capacity between changes) but reliability was not in it's vocabulary. I asked the dealer to start paying for half of my payment since they drove it almost as much as i did with all the problems it had. It was by far the most unreliable car i have EVER owned American included. My friend is having similar issues with his 2001 A6. There is a very good service guy here in the DFW area but parts are VERY expensive and larbor is high too. Plus has A6 smells waxy and it gives me a headache. I would def. get the camaro or an SVT focus before ever owning a German car again. I might be tempted by an E36 M3 as long as it wasn't a daily driver.
    I think if you can find a Mitsu 300GT Vr4 you would have a great used car that is fast and reliable.
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    brettjr25brettjr25 Member Posts: 1
    I just bought a 1996 Ford Mustang (V6) with only 45000 miles and it only cost me $5000. So there's a recommendation for you. Body is is great shape too, so is the interior.
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    sotoluxsotolux Member Posts: 1
    Like the 740, the A6 is a larger style luxury car, but with the advantages of Quattro all wheel drive and is coming in many dollars cheaper than the 7 series. I have had a 99 Audi A6 Avant since new in 1999 and it has been very reliable except for its important and (no more expensive than a Nissan) timing belt service. What else have I had to replace? Some CV joint seals, a defective auto-dim mirror, upgrade the rotors and put tires on it. Now I'm selling it for $7500 and it still looks show room fresh. Guess what? No one will look at it because of some stories about naughty sludged up turbo Audi's. I can say the 2.8 Liter 5-valve engine has been a paragon of virtue and that if you buy a used Audi, you should avoid the turbo engines. See the car at: http://gallery.me.com/sotolux/100157
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    huyracinghuyracing Member Posts: 6
    if you get a 300ZX TT, be prepared to dump another $10k or more in it. you gotta pay to play folks...
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