Car Buying

Finding The Cheapest Cars to Buy and Run 2024

Learn how to find the cheapest cars to buy and run in 2020, ensuring you save money without compromising on quality or reliability. Here’s everything you need to know. When it comes to money, cars can be a real drain on your bank account. They cost money from start to finish, and there’s no way to get around spending. If money is an object or you’re really trying to make the most of your purchase in the long term, then you need to know how to find the cheapest car possible, and that goes for running costs and upfront costs combined. 
Like most things with these complex machines, there’s always a lot more to it than meets the eye. Usually, people jump straight to the argument of the lower price for the highest mpg form the vehicle, but that can be far from the smart thing to do. Instead, you need to be clued up with the facts that you need to make an educated and logical decision. 

Car Value Factors: 

The biggest cost with any car is almost always going to be found with the upfront price (unless you get a seriously cheap vehicle). If you want to have the best chance of a finding a cheap car, this is one you need to understand to make your budget go as far as it can. It comes down to five main aspects. 


Don’t forget to think about where you’re buying your car form. Private sellers may be stabbing in the dark, and dealers are looking to turn a profit. Always look to find a car that’s worth the price tag and going to be all that it’s cracked up to be without you having to pay through the roof for it. 


The age of the car has a massive impact on the value of the vehicle. As more desirable cars make their way to the road and older cars become less efficient, practical and costly to repair against their worth, their value plummets. That usually means that you can get a much cheaper car if you’re prepared to get something old. Remember though, that also means there’s just more time for things to have gone to get ready to go wrong. Do your homework if you’re looking at an older vehicle. 


As well as the age, the mileage of a vehicle is capable of doing exactly the same as the above. It is a huge indication of how much wear and tear a car has been open to, and how much more likely the car is to face issues because of it. That isn’t to say that mileage is everything, but it does have a significant impact. Account for it in your budget as it could be life-limiting as well as a great way to save money. 


It doesn’t need a professional to tell you that understanding how to find a cheap car, both to run and to buy, is going to depend on what vehicle it is that you buy. There are vehicles of all kinds of shapes, sizes and brands out there that have different things going for them. Just make sure that you remember this in your price and the reputation that goes behind them, their reliability, and the overall value of that particular model. 


Lastly, tying all of the above together in how easy it will be for you to buy a cheap car is the condition that it finds itself in. IF the car is rundown and worn out, it is going to be a drastically lower value than a pristine well looked after and highly maintained vehicle, even of the same value. This in itself can be a false economy though since it could be asking for trouble if it isn’t in great condition. Remember the risks with a used vehicle if you’re not sure about its condition. 

Running Factors: 

Buying prices aren’t the only thing that needs to be considered when you’re exploring how to find the cheapest car that you can. How much it is going to cost to run the vehicle post-purchase is just as essential, if not more if you’re going for the long haul.  

Again, it can be broken down into several different key areas you need to account for. 

Engine Size 

Engine sizes are a massive determiner of how much fuel you’ll be using. It makes sense. A larger vehicle will be using much more fuel than a smaller engine, and it’ll be more powerful too. Remember though, too much stress on your engine will result in higher fuel use, so we’ll get onto that soon. 

Fuel Type 

As well as how much fuel the engine needs, the price of the fuel is just as important to running a cheap car as well. Fuel economy is a really big deal when you’re looking at the total costs of a used car, and the petrol vs diesel argument is just another in the long argument of efficiency. In fact, hybrid and electric vehicle power are on the rise massively as a result, and it should only get better. 

  • Diesel is often cheaper to buy for long journeys but will likely be taxed higher 
  • Petrol is more expensive but more efficient and can be better for short distances 
  • Hybrid technology is even better for both, but often more expensive to buy (but nothing to tax). 


You can never really find the cheapest car unless you know how you need to use it in the long run. It’s a combination of everything we’ve looked at. If you have a large 2-litre engine Audi A6, that will almost definitely use more fuel than an Eco-Boost Ford Fiesta when driving short distances or commuting. Motorway driving, however, could be the total opposite because of how hard the smaller engine needs to work. Think long term. Where is most of your time spent? 


Vehicle tax is another annual cost (or monthly if you prefer) that comes with every vehicle. The more efficient the vehicle is, the less the tax will be. If you’re saving money by buying an older car, this factor may well mean you’re paying more tax. If you’re buying diesel for cheaper fuel costs, this could do the same. It can be better to buy more environmentally friendly in the long term, so plan ahead.  


Finally, this is something that should be reduced in price as time goes on (providing you drive safely of course). Car insurance is again a legal requirement for driving in Britain, and a higher value or higher risk vehicle will almost always result in higher premiums than safer or lower value vehicles would with the same driver (but driver demographics have a massive impact as well, of course). There are some things that anyone can do to make things cheaper, however. 

Wear and Tear 

Finally, to be able to truly find the cheapest can that you can, you need to be aware of how it has been treated already and the extent of the wear and tear that’s present before you even buy it. Wear and tear effects all vehicles no matter what age or mileage. It only makes sense that mileage and age are the biggest contributors. Remember that a low-cost car may well cost you more in the long run due to repair and maintenance cost than something newer. Don’t be sold on a low initial price alone. 

Some of the Cheapest Cars to Run 

Last but definitely not least, understanding how to find the cheapest car to run could always use the help of some already very well established economical vehicles, both in value and in price. These are some of the best across the automotive industry all here to help you find a vehicle to fit your needs, price range and fuel usage. 

Ford Fiesta (Eco Boost) 

Already mentioned above, the Fiesta is a phenomenal car for value, reliability and economy. With variants out there like the Eco Boost and even the more developed Zetec or the basic models,  

Toyota Aygo  

Another strong performer in relation to economical performance against a budget price tag is the Toyota Aygo. This small machine is another perfect example of economical city driving at it’s finest. In fact, it’s just won What Car?’s Car of the Year 

Toyota Prius 

The Toyota Prius is another of those that paved the way to driving as we know it today. As one of the frontrunners in the hybrid technology race, the Prius can now be bought across a range of different ages and all of which have incredible electrical energy systems to make your money go further for less. 

Volkswagen UP! 

Again, the up! is just another of many cars that is renowned for its frugality. It is another award-winning example of how finding a cheap car can be easily gotten wrong by buying something old and unreliable without the proper know-how. 

Hyundai I30 (MW) 

Our final cheap car to run and to buy contender has to be something a little bit bigger. Something for those extra miles and more demanding users. This is where cars like the Hyundai I30 come into a league of their own, offering a great mpg at higher speeds and more space as well, often being a seriously practical car both in and out of city driving. 


Ultimately, learning how to find a cheap car that you can ultimately save the most money on comes down to a range of different factors. Above all else, remember that this is long term. Buying a cheap and unreliable car can end up in a large repair and part bills that can make the whole thing pointless against spending a little more on something higher quality in every sense. See also buying a used car privately or from trade.

No matter what you do, just remember that it’s all about quality. As long as the price is justified and you’re not in the dark about what’s going on or taking a gamble, then do what fits best for you. 

To really make sure you’re protecting yourself and your money, always remember that services like CarExamer are out there on hand to help you too. We’re vehicle prepurchase inspection experts that look at used cars to check they’re up to scratch all day every day. We’re always happy to help. Buying a car from a dealer.

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