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Used cars can be a great way to save money. The payments, if you have any, will be low and your insurance costs will stay within reason. The catch is that you have to know what you are looking for when you shop for used cars. Here are five cars under $5,000 that have a history of being dependable over the long term.

Ford Focus

In order to hit the five grand and under mark, you will need to look for a 2002-2004 model. If you want to add fun to the practicality of a Focus, you can find a model that pairs the 2.0L with a six-speed manual. The SVT trim package added a stiffer suspension. Avoid aftermarket changes like larger wheels or a lowered suspension. They kill the ride and fuel economy.

Volvo 740 or 940

Okay, a Volvo may not be your first notion, but these are tough-as-nails cars that you practically have to go out of your way to kill. You have a wide range of years to choose from for $5,000. If you buy a 92 or later model, you will have the added protection of Volvo’s industry leading side impact protection system.

Toyota Corolla/Camry

Both the Toyota Corolla and Camry are dependable cars that you can easily find for less than $5,000. Granted, you may have to fall back into the late 90s to get one with low miles and meet your price tag, but they are easy to maintain and there are plenty of parts available for someone with a DIY mentality. These cars can easily last 200,000 miles, so a later model with high miles is not a bad idea either.

Honda Civic

The Civic has been a beat-me-and-I’ll-like-it car forever. Hardy engines, solid transmissions and easy maintenance combine to offer a car that lasts well into the 200,000 mile range.

Honda CR-V

Many small families have a need for a minivan, but not the desire. Enter the Honda CR-V. The CR-V has plenty of cargo space and room for two adults and two children. Then there is the reliable drivetrain and decent fuel economy. The IIHS and NHTSA have given the CR-V consistently high marks in every form of crash test they can throw at it.

Other models to consider are the 90s Jeep Wranglers or a Subaru WRX, depending on your personality. Go here for more of the best cars under $5000.


About the author: Jerry Coffey


Jerry Coffey is the financial expert here at A recovered "debtaholic," he now preaches frugal-living and sound money management here and at, where he is the chief contributor. He works for a major automaker.


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