Reasons Why It’s Worth Buying a Beater Car
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Whether you're shopping on a tight budget or for a young driver, beater cars can be a good option.
Finding a reliable beater is a great way to save money on car buying.
While they may not be as luxurious as a new car, there are many reasons to consider one.
Which option is right for you? Buying a new car or a used car.
Table of Contents
What is a Beater Car?
Beater cars are older, high-mileage vehicles that still run well. They typically cost between $500 and $2,000.
While the name may sound harsh, beaters are not cars with a ton of problems and constant repairs. However, it's not uncommon for them to have cosmetic imperfections or slight malfunctions. With the proper care and maintenance, a beater can last for many years.
Beater Car Benefits
The top benefits of buying a beater car include:
- Save Money. If you have a very limited budget, then beaters are a great option for getting a reliable car. Due to their low price points, you can often buy them in cash, avoiding the need for car loans and huge down payments.
- Worry-Free Driving. A minor scratch or ding isn't a huge problem, and you can live without fixing many of them. You can still find a teen or new driver a reliable vehicle without worrying too much about them keeping it in pristine cosmetic condition.
- Lower Insurance. Since a beater cars' value is so low, you can get the minimum required insurance coverage on them. Vehicles that cost over $5,000 tend to require full coverage and can be up to 3x more expensive than minimum coverage.
- Past Depreciation. Cars diminish faster in their early years, so older cars won't lose much more value than what you buy them for. Should you decide to resell your beater, you will likely be able to get close to what you paid for it.
- Cheaper Gas. Many beaters use less expensive gas than modern vehicles with premium gas.
- Parts. Older vehicles typically have cheaper parts for replacements and repairs, and the parts are often readily available.
- Vehicle Taxes. Driving a car with lower resale value also helps save on vehicle taxes.
When Not to Get a Beater Car
Getting a beater car has many advantages, but it's not always the right move. If you frequently make long road trips, a beater may not be the best option, even if it's a fairly reliable one. Another important consideration is the potential for repair. You always want to make sure you have some savings to handle repairs, even if you find a beater in great condition.
Beater Car Checklist
It's certainly possible to get a reliable beater, but not all beaters are good options. You'll want to ask many of the same questions you should when buying any used car. To ensure you choose the right beater, look for the following:
Typically, having one owner is a good sign for a beater car. While some dealers may sell beaters, they may have come from auctions, so their history can be hard to trace. Fewer owners lend a better likelihood of proper maintenance, and having many owners for a short duration is a warning sign that the vehicle may have issues.
It's normal for beaters to have small imperfections and signs of age and wear. However, you still want a well-maintained car. Ask for maintenance records and inspect the vehicle's overall condition, inside and out, for major signs of serious damage.
Find out the resale value of the vehicle. If the seller is posting it for way less, there may be a reason. You could be getting a great deal from a seller that's eager to offload the vehicle, but it's worth proceeding with caution.
Buy From Someone You Know
Ideally, buy a beater from someone you know personally or at least that a friend knows. You can still get a good beater from other sources, but finding a trusted seller is important.
Beaters are meant to save you money, but lemon cars will do the opposite. It's vital to ensure you get a reliable beater, not one that will cause a host of issues. Your final step before purchase should be a presale inspection from a third-party mechanic.
Is It Worth Buying a Beater Car?
Buying a beater car is a risk that can pay off big time. The best quality beaters can last many years and miles but cost very little upfront. By proceeding with caution and asking the right questions, you can find a reliable beater that's extremely affordable. Stick with makes and models known for their durability, and make sure to thoroughly vet any vehicle before buying.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a beater car?
Beater cars are older, high-mileage vehicles that still run well. They typically cost between $500 and $2,000. While the name may sound harsh, beaters are not cars with a ton of problems and constant repairs.
What are the advantages of a beater car?
- Save money on the car purchase.
- Cheaper gas and parts.
- Cheaper insurance.
- Less worry of small dings while driving/parking.
When should I not buy a beater car?
Beater cars may not be the best option if you need the vehicle for very long road trips or won't be able to save money for repairs/backup transportation.
Are beater cars worth it?
If you spend the time to research beater cars, you can get a dependable vehicle for a great price. Beater cars make excellent second cars or cars for teens.
What makes a good beater car?
- Maintenance history.
- Interior and exterior condition.
- Reasonable price.
- Trusted seller, ideally someone you know.