When you're shopping for a used car on a tight budget, you face a dilemma. The most highly regarded used cars are also the most expensive. That means that if you stick to the big names, you likely get a vehicle that's older, higher-mileage, and/or in worse condition. On the other hand, many of the less-expensive used cars are cheaper for a reason — either they have demonstrated a poor reliability record or they're otherwise undesirable.
The sweet spot with a cheap used car is to find a decent vehicle that other people don't want. Sometimes that's because they're mistrustful or unaware of a good car. Other times, there's a legitimate downside that you'll need to accept to stay on budget. Yes, some once-great cars become affordable once they're old enough, but that's after prior owners have already used up much of their life — hence the low price. Instead, our 10 best used cars under $7,000 are all available at less than 10 years old and with below 100,000 miles. And none of them is a likely "money trap" of pricey repairs. Let's see which one might be for you.