Top 11 Best Used Cars Under £5,000
Just because you want to replace your car doesn’t mean you have to go down the brand new, showroom fresh route. You can buy every kind of car imaginable in the used car market. But what kind of quality can you get if your budget won’t stretch above £5,000?
£5,000 isn’t much money when it comes to cars, but there are still some great bargains to be had at this price or lower.
Make sure you keep an eye on number of owners as more than two previous owners can sometimes be problematic as it can suggest an ongoing problem with the car.
As for target mileage – the average Brit drives 10-12,000 miles per year, so look for used cars that have done less than that compared to their age, and you will be more likely to find a bargain. It’ll be cheap to insure too.
With older cars it’s also paramount to find ones that have a full service history, a wallet full of MOT certificates, maintenance receipts and the correct V5C paperwork is also important. Any signs that the car has been looked after are useful to have.
So what used cars can you buy for £5,000 on the used car market?
Our top 11 best used cars under £5,000 are:
- Suzuki Celerio
- Volkswagen EOS
- Vauxhall Astra GTC
- Dacia Duster
- Citroen Nemo Multispace / Peugeot Bipper Tepee
- Peugeot 407 SW
- Mazda MX-5
- Mazda 2
- Rover Mini Cooper
- Audi TT S
The Suzuki Celerio is one of the cheapest new cars on the market, so it makes sense that you can buy a nearly new one for our £5,000 budget.
A 2017 model with only 4,000 miles on the clock can be found for £4,999; ongoing motoring costs will also be nice and cheap thanks to the tiny 1.0-litre engine. Yes, they are incredibly basic budget machines, but if you simply need a small car for town or city driving, then the Celerio will do that just fine.
At this age you’ll still be covered by the 3 year, 60,000-mile warranty, once that expires, you can either extend it or chance it as repairs are also likely to be cheap on such a basic car.
Seeing as summer comes every year, it wouldn’t be right to avoid a ‘drop top’ for this list, and what’s better than the reliability of a VW?
The EOS was based on the Golf but without a roof, and although they’re older vehicles, low mileage 2007 models can be found for £4,995. Often powered by the 2.0-litre petrol engine and the super slick DSG automatic gearbox. Performance and comfort are combined.
As with all convertibles, make sure the roof mechanism is working seamlessly, and check it over thoroughly for any damage before you buy.
Soft tops are notorious for going wrong and leaking or picking up small rips and tears over their lives.
Also check the spec for some of the rarer items that weren’t found on cheap, entry-level models, ideally find a leather interior, some are cloth.
Vauxhall Astra GTC
If you want something a little sportier rather than a standard three-door hatchback, the Vauxhall Astra GTC ticks the box.
Coupe lines turn the humble Astra into a squat, sporty hatch. Age wise you’ll be looking at around a 2011 reg, there are plenty on the market with roughly 40,000 on the clock for just under our £5,000 budget.
You can opt for a 1.4-litre turbo, but that’s a little slow with just 136 BHP, ideally go for the most potent 1.6-litre turbo, that makes 194 BHP and can shoot to 62 in only 7.9 seconds.
There are also a raft of diesel engines out there if you want something a bit more frugal, the 2.0 litre CDTi will return great MPG on a long run while also making the 0-62 sprint in 8.4 seconds.
Watch out for the large doors on the GTC; they open fairly wide so tight spaces can be an issue. Ride is also much firmer on the larger 19-inch alloys, and watch for stone chips along the rear arches.
The budget Dacia Duster has always been a bargain, costing roughly £10,000 new, numerous used models are floating around the for half that price. A 2015 with just 40,000 miles on can be had for £5,000.
Make sure you find a decent spec one, the basic models often don’t even have a stereo or speakers!
Most are 2WD but there is a 4WD option if needed, but expect to pay about £1,000 more for the AWD model.
Dusters are known for their rough and ready build quality – the interior is made from the same sort of plastic you’d find in a van, so it’s hard wearing and will last a lifetime.
Outside, the steel wheels are basic but mean business and the roof rails are handy for lugging around extra kit.
There are few reliability problems with the Duster, the majority of faults occur with the DPF filter on the diesel models.
That’s purely down to them being used solely for short journeys, so ask the owner how they regularly use the car to see if there could be an issue down the line.
Citroen Nemo Multispace / Peugeot Bipper Tepee
Both are the same car, they just have different badges, and we say ‘car’ loosely as they’re derived from vans.
They’re not the best looking and are somewhat slow, especially if you opt for the automatic gearbox. But to lug around a family and all their kit in relative comfort, at this price it can’t be beaten.
You can find 2011, 61 registration models for just under our £5,000 budget. Again, the interior is much like the Dacia, rough and ready but can take a beating.
Even if you don’t have a family, they make the perfect car to cart the dogs around in for long weekend walks, or your muddy mountain bikes.
Power outputs from the 1.3 diesel or 1.4 petrol engines are around the 75 BHP mark, but due to their low emissions – tax is going to be cheap.
The diesel engine can return 60+ MPG over normal driving conditions, just beware of the scarily slow 0-62 times of 16.8 seconds. Great if you have your eyes on a decent MPG.
Peugeot 407 SW
Need a bit more space than either the Duster or Nemo can provide? It’s an old model, but the Peugeot 407 SW estate is a barge big enough to accommodate three kids and all their luggage.
It’s a proper practical family mover and there are plenty of low milage examples to be found. A rather high priced 2.0-litre diesel was seen with just 25,000 miles on the clock for our headline price, but keep an eye out for cars with double that mileage as the prices will be a lot cheaper.
The 2.0-litre diesel option with 139 BHP is the engine to go for, either with the manual or automatic.
Many of the 407’s are in higher grade trims as they were company cars rather than private owners, look for SE grade and above.
If you go to test drive one and it idles lumpy or sounds rough then it could be the exhaust gas recirculation valve, or EGR for short. This may mean the car has a sticking throttle or worn injectors, so be aware.
Turbos have also been known to blow on this model, so give the paperwork a check to see if it’s ever been replaced in the past.
This car single-handedly reinvented the cheap, affordable roadster and the MX-5 is still a superb driver’s car. 2005 models with as little as 11,000 miles on are available used for just £5,000.
Rear wheel drive, with a convertible soft top it’s the perfect car for long drives on hot days.
The 1.8-litre petrol engine will be a little thirstier than what you’re probably used to, but at the cost of miles per gallon, you’ll be gaining in smiles per gallon as the MX5 is a hoot to drive.
As many of these little Mazda roadsters are bought by enthusiasts, expect them to have only one or two owners in all this time.
Problems on the MK3 are few and far between, both the 1.8 and 2.0 litre are pretty bulletproof, just make sure the oil is changed every 10,000 miles.
Have a listen to see if the rear differential sounds noisy and grinding, if it does avoid as replacements can be costly.
Moreover, check to make sure the soft top operates smoothly, the plastic gears can sometimes wear, and replacing them is a fiddly job.
Now you may think this is an odd choice, but if you ever drive a Mazda, you’ll know how sweetly they handle.
While the little 2 will never set the world alight in terms of speed, they’re one of the best handling hatchbacks on the market. They make B Roads a blast and commuting fun again.
For £5,000 you’ll be able to bag yourself a 1.3 litre Mazda 2 in Tamura trim. Back in 2009, this sat toward the top of the range, with its dark headlights and anthracite wheels its looks are sportier than the engine within…sadly.
However, with only 1.3 litres at your disposal, you’ll never find yourself getting into too much trouble, and MPG is quoted at 40.9, so it should be frugal around town.
As with all Japanese brands build quality and reliability are high on the list. With the Mazda 2 being quite a rare car, finding any reports of issues and problems makes it a little tricky.
Having a thorough look online and over the forums, there was nothing major, or common that we could find.
If you want something a little different rather than the run of the mill Ford Fiesta, the Mazda 2 is a great choice.
Rover Mini Cooper
If you’re after a car that will not lose money no matter how old it gets then look no further. This 1996 Rover Mini Cooper is a bargain at £4,000.
You may think that’s pricey for a 23-year-old car, but if there’s one vehicle in this whole list that won’t depreciate it’s this.
We found this beauty on Gumtree, as the budget is dipping we’ve had to ditch Auto Trader for cheaper pastures. Gumtree is a great site to sell fast or find an automotive bargain.
Everyone loves the classic Mini, and when Rover rereleased the model in the mid-’90s, they sold like hotcakes.
Low mileage pristine examples can sell for nearly £30,000. Immaculate and low mileage this one is not, but look after it, tidy a few bits up, love it and use it for a few years and you’re almost guaranteed to get your money back on it.
Some say this version of the Mini is the nicest and best to drive due to all of the upgrades and new additions. Purists will argue otherwise.
As they were built by Rover there are a few things to look out for, nearly every panel will rust, with the worst areas being the rear subframe, inner and outer sills as well as the floors. Find a decent Rover Mini buyers guide, and you shouldn’t go wrong.
Audi TT S
This one could be a bit of a gamble, but it’s a lot of car and performance for the money. There are a few 2007 Audi TT’s on the market, all with seriously high mileage, over 100k in most cases; there are even a few TT S models for our £5,000 budget.
That means you get a 3.2 litre V6 with 247 BHP up front, don’t let the high mileage put you off though, this engine is known to be a workhorse and will go on for many more miles than the 100,000 mark.
Just make sure all the service stamps are present, and the owners are as few as possible. If you aren’t looking to cover many miles a bargain TT could be a superb choice.
This second-generation TT has had few problems reported, just make sure to listen for any whistling coming from the door seals on a test drive and take note of any dash rattles.
Oh, and the leather seats seem to wear quickly, so if they’re badly worn, you’ll have to try and find replacements which will be pricey.
Another bargain basement and relatively new hatch rounds out our list. The MG 3 is a cheap car, new it can be yours for £9,945 which is incredible value for a brand new motor. However, the pre-facelift cars are now selling for as little as £5,000.
There are some 2016 models on the market with just one owner and around 24,000 miles on the dash.
As most are nearly out of warranty, it’s worth thinking about extending it just in case as the MG brand is still a bit of an unknown since it’s rebirth.
Older MG3’s can suffer from a timing chain problem where it stretches and can lead to engine failure; later models had this fixed with a new chain, so it’s worth checking early cars to see if they’ve had that done.
Parking sensors on some models have also failed, and there has been an issue where the clutch pedal goes to the floor and can’t be bought back up. Both are easy fixes for an MG dealer, but those can be few and far between.
As we said at the start, £5,000 isn’t much money, yet we’ve managed to find cars around that price or lower to suit nearly every need, from a sports car or a convertible to a family wagon and even an investment.
Auto Trader is a great place to look for second hand cars, but as budgets get squeezed don’t forget that both Gumtree and eBay are far cheaper and will have lower priced cars due to the smaller fees they charge.
Try not and take out finance via garages at this price; it will invariably cost you far more in the long run than a private loan will. Get saving or sell your used car or part exchange it to raise funds.
Looking for a car on a budget bigger than £5,000? Need something small or for a first time driver?
Make sure you have a read of our extensive guides that cover the best cars in all areas of the market. Take a look below: