Florida drivers are speed demons. We like a combination of on-road and off-road driving. Living in the flattest state, there is no need for 4x4s or AWD vehicles… but a high ground clearance can be preferable when it floods! With these factors in mind, there are a pretty wide range of makes and models you can look into if you want to buy used, buy cheap, and own a car in full. Whether you’re buying for a first time driver or just trying to keep expenses reasonable, it is possible to find a reliable used car for less than $5,000.


Benefits of Buying Old and Used Cars


A used car has lots of benefits - and you may not be inclined to think of an older vehicle as being a beneficial buy, but nowadays it can save you so many headaches. Older cars are less managed by computers - and thus, fewer things can go wrong. How many times have you taken a car in for a failed sensor? Or been led to believe that there was a major engine problem when in fact, it was just a relay or a fuse you couldn’t reach because the car is so hard to work on? Older cars are made more for the consumer than for the dealer, and as such, are less designed to force you to spend time in a dealership and more oriented towards enabling you to fix simple problems with a phillips head. All these facts will save you money if you pick the right vehicle.


What to Look for When You Buy


While everybody knows about that man in the fox suit who claims to know the full history of your vehicle, the truth is that Carfax does not update car histories regularly enough to always be accurate. So, you need to do a little further research. First, when you research a specific model, discover what problems are prone to happen and at what mileage. You can also go to repairpal.com and discover the average annual expenses on the make and model of your potential new old car. Make sure you get the VIN and double check that it matches the Carfax. Make sure the Carfax is up to date - or better yet, use an Experian report, as they tend to be more thorough.


The Best Part: What to Buy?


For under $5,000, there are a good number of makes and models known for longevity and easy maintenance as well as cheap parts. Below, we compiled a top ten list and a range of model years to help you narrow down your search (via Trusted Choice).


  • Toyota Corolla, 1990-2000: Polk says that 80% of Corollas sold in the last 20 years are still on the road!
  • Lincoln Mark VIII, 1993-1998: Engines in an old Lincoln are known for their durability, and you know the previous owner probably did not drive it extensively given their popularity with retirees.
  • Mazda Miata, 1990-1997: Yes, there ARE sporty options under 5 grand! Early generation Miatas handle well and boast a fun ride.
  • Ford Focus, 2002-2004: These are some of the highest ranked Focuses on the market.
  • Subaru Impreza, 1998-2003: The Impreza’s extremely reliable boxer engine is known to be bulletproof. Not to mention you can get these babies in All Wheel Drive and enjoy some off-road or beach driving time.
  • Acura Integra GS-R, 1994-2001: This high revving engine and sporty vehicle has great handling and fuel efficiency, especially considering how old it is.
  • Jeep Wrangler, 1997-1999: Another great off-roader, repairs will run you a little higher but you can’t beat the rugged handling.
  • Honda Accord, 1996-2000: this generation Honda is super reliable. Formula 1 switched to Honda engines for a reason!


Did we miss a car in our list? Let us know! Also, if you buy a used car and need to get it registered, you can skip the DMV and get same day service with Auto Tags of Florida today!