Best Used Cars to Buy in 2021

Best Used Cars

Are you looking for a used car that you want to buy at a reasonable price, with excellent durability and a great driving experience?

There are horrible cars on the market that could completely shred your wallet.

Especially electrical faults could lead to prohibitive repair costs and it could be your worst nightmare if you don’t have a good knowledge of cars. I will tell you which used cars in the range of $2,000 – $10,000 offer the best value for money in my opinion.

Of course, there is always a small chance of buying a bad car, but I will reduce the risk of you doing so.

The most reliable cars

In general, I would say that German cars like Audi, Mercedes, BMW, etc. often have a nice driving feeling and fewer problems when you are in the 2000-2010 range. After about 2010 they are more advanced, which leads to many more problems.

  • Asian cars have very reliable engines, but in most cases, they are far behind in terms of driving feeling and interior design. However, as they have excellent engines, it would be my choice if I was looking for a reliable car with a good driving experience.
  • American cars are also an excellent choice if you are looking for a reliable engine. American engines are often not very efficient, mostly large engines with high fuel consumption. The chassis and suspension are often very outdated and lag far behind the other cars.
  • French cars are good cars, but they often have many electrical faults and the driving experience is not so impressive if you ask me.
  • English cars often have a lot of problems, but in general, they are good cars with many features and good drivability.

I will list the top 5 most reliable cars and a top 5 least reliable cars. The list comes from an insurance company that reported engine damage (often costly repair costs) based on reports.

RELATED: Best Places to Buy a Used Car in the USA

Top 5 most reliable car engines:

  1. Kia
  2. Hyundai
  3. Honda
  4. Lexus
  5. Toyota

As you can see, the Asian market routs everyone in this category of machine damage reports. As I told you, Asian cars have excellent engines with not too many problems.

If you are looking for a reliable vehicle and are not looking for a great driving environment, I would recommend an Asian car. There are a lot of aftermarket repair parts for the Asian market if you need to fix it, but the downside is that the parts are often a bit expensive.

We now move on to the top 5 list of cars with the most frequently reported engine damage.

Top 5 least reliable car engines:

  1. Land Rover
  2. Porsche
  3. Mini
  4. Seat
  5. BMW

Land Rover is at the top of the list with the most frequently reported machine damage. In my experience in the workshop, this is also the reality. I have seen many English cars with many costly faults.

After Land Rover it is probably the German cars, this is because German cars always try to be at the forefront of testing new technologies and therefore they make many costly mistakes.

In my experience, German diesel engines work great; the strangest mistakes you find are with gasoline and petrol engines, as well as other new, experimental technologies.

Remember that everything I am writing here is just from my experience from the garage and all the cars I have driven because of that. You should always research from several sources before you buy your car.

All cars can lead to expensive repair costs if you are unlucky. I am writing this list only to reduce the risk for you.

Now let’s move on to the list of the most used cars in the price range of $1,000 – $10,000 in my opinion. This is a list of cars that I would buy if I were looking for a car in this price range.

What to look for before buying a used car:

Check if there is rust under your vehicle and check your vehicle history with a VIN check to make sure that the mileage of the car is correct and that there are no significant accidents in the vehicle’s history.

Check the service history to ensure that all services that should have been performed previously are in order.

If the car is equipped with a timing belt, make sure that it has been replaced, as the cost of replacement is often quite high.

If you have an OBD2 scanner, you can check if there are any fault codes stored in the vehicle. If you are considering buying a scanner, you can view our article about OBD2 scanners.

An easy way to check a used vehicle is with the help of a car history report. You will see all accidents or mileage corrections on the vehicle. This is an investment before buying a used car that can save you a lot of trouble and money!

Best Used Cars To Buy in 2021

1. Audi A4 B6/B7 2001-2008 – (2.0 TDI)

Best Car Buys
The Audi A4 2001-2008 is my first choice.

The Audi A4 is a good car that I would definitely buy myself. You will get a modern car with an excellent suspension and an excellent drive train.

If you are looking for a reliable engine, you can choose either the 1.8t petrol or the 1.9 TDI diesel engine. Both engines have good reliability and are excellent and robust.

I wouldn’t recommend a V6 engine for these cars because you will get a slower car with more problems; indeed, the 1.8t and the 1.9 TDI are faster than the V6 without a turbo engine.

If you live in a cold country with snow, I would recommend you to buy a 4wd (Quattro). The Quattro system is fantastic and you probably won’t get stuck in snow or mud.

You can choose either the B6 or the B7. Both chassis are good, and the B7 is just an updated facelift version of the B6.

Audi a4 Buying guide/video review:

2.  BMW E90/E91 2007–2013 320D

Best Car Buys
The BMW e90 2007-2013 320d is my second choice.

Here we have a nice car to drive, which is cheap and durable.

Again, I would choose the diesel engine over the petrol engine. The 320D N47 is an excellent, well tested standard engine.

Make sure that the oil and service history of the car is ok. The 320D had problems with the timing chain and it could be expensive to replace it.

The E90 chassis is a great chassis, but if you want to spend a bit more money, the newer F30/F31 chassis is even better.

I own an F30 320D myself, and I absolutely love this car. A great car with low repair costs! 🙂

Probably the best driving experience at a good price!

2005 – 2011 e90 video review:

3.  Volvo v70 III 2008- D5

Best Car Buys
The Volvo v70 III 2008- D5 is my 3rd choice. 

A quality car from Sweden with a great chassis and engine. Very nice and smooth to drive.

If you want a petrol engine, the engines in Volvos are mostly from Ford. I would recommend the D5 diesel engine instead.

Choose your annual model according to your price range. But for the type III chassis, I would recommend a 2008 and higher. The second generation is OK if you want a cheaper car!

You get a great driving environment at a reasonable price!

Volvo v70 III Video review:

4. Subaru Legacy 4rd Generation 2003-2009 2.5i

Best Car Buys
The Subaru Legacy 2003-2009 2.5i is my 4th choice. 

Subaru is known for the highest customer satisfaction and excellent durability. Maybe not the same great driving experience as the above-mentioned cars if you ask me, but absolutely great for the price.

You can get a very good Subaru for a low price. Subarus 2.0-2.5i boxer engines are perfect and in this case, I would prefer one of these engines over diesel.

Excellent durability at a reasonable price!

Subaru Legacy 2003-2009 Video Review:

5. Skoda Octavia 2004-2012 2.0 TDI

Best Car Buys
The Skoda Octavia 2004- 2.0tdi is my 5th choice. 

Now it is back to the German market. With the same chassis as the Volkswagen Golf and the same engines at a better price, it would be wrong to say that this is a bad car for the price.

You can often find very good used Skoda Octavias at a low price.

Choose your model year according to your price range; all chassis above 2004 are great in my opinion.

My preferred choice is the 2.0 TDI engine or another diesel engine for great economy and durability.

Skoda Octavia 2004-2012 Review:


Many German used cars are good value for money. Choose Asian vehicles if you are looking for excellent reliability.

Diesel engines are in many cases better economically and have a better durability. It depends on how much tax you have to pay for a diesel engine.

In many countries, the tax fee for a diesel car is very high and it is then much cheaper to drive a petrol, gas, hybrid or electric car. My tip is to buy a conventional car brand and a common engine. You will get cheaper repair costs and probably also better durability.

All these cars I have chosen from my own experience and I do not take responsibility if you buy one of these cars and have bad luck 😉

If you still have questions, you can ask us on our homepage!

Written by: Magnus Sellén

Founder, owner & main author of Mechanic Base. I have been repairing cars for more than 10 years, specialized in advanced diagnostics & troubleshooting. I have also been a drifting driver and mechanic for over 7 years.