Which Beater Car Is Best? [And Why You Need One]

beater car

There are lots of reasons to buy a beater car. You can find a great deal with hard research, whether it’s a car you use for every day driving or something you plan to work on yourself. So here is the ultimate guide to buying your very own beater car.

What Is A Beater Car?

A beater car, also known as a ‘daily driver,’ a clunker, or a banger, is defined as an old and often low-quality car. Typically, these cars are high-mileage and very inexpensive. However, what makes beater cars stand apart from the rest is one simple thing – their condition.

A beater car has seen better days. It’s not pretty or sexy to look at, but it will get you from point A to point B without spending a load of dough.

Why Would Anyone Want To Buy A “Beater?”

In this day and age, cars are expensive. For many people, the sticker price may be too steep. If you have an extremely tight budget, buying a cheap beater car is the obvious choice. Buying a used car that suits your needs and budget is more practical than buying one that you cannot afford in the first place. Just be sure to check the vehicle ownership history before buying it to ensure that it doesn’t have any problems.

Also, getting a new car is not advisable for beginners learning how to drive. A used car would be perfect for first-time drivers because its value has already depreciated even if you make mistakes. Moreover, it won’t be so bad if you scratch or dent it if it doesn’t compromise safety.

Additionally, If you don’t have your vehicle and need one for work or business, getting a used one will be better than renting or borrowing a car. It will cost less and provide more convenience over time. Other buyers get beaters just to learn how to work on cars. At the same time, others buy them to fix and sell them for more money than they paid for them.

How Many Miles Do Beater Cars Last?

how many miles a beater car will go

It is impossible to determine the exact number a beater can run as it is determined by many factors like maintenance and the type of car. However, most cars can run up to 200,000 miles with proper care and maintenance.

Other cars might not make it to 180,000 miles, while others can run up to 250,000 miles. If you calculate the average of all of them, you can expect that a car could make it for about 200,000 miles before it starts giving problems.

What Are The Advantages Of Buying A Beater Car?

pros of a beater car

New cars can be great for various reasons, including knowing what you are getting and not getting someone else’s problem. However, there are also some significant advantages to buying a “beater” car. Therefore, you may want to consider things before pulling the trigger on a new car.

A Cheap Car Means Cheap Insurance

Insurance providers often charge higher premiums for newer cars because they will cost more to repair. However, the cost to replace beater cars is much lower than it is for high-end luxury vehicles, and as a result, insurers give you a break on your insurance.

Therefore, when you purchase an older vehicle, you may save thousands of dollars each year simply because you’ll have lower insurance premiums. However, if you find that insurance rates are high for your particular model, consider settling for a different make or model of vehicle.

Less Maintenance Cost

Beater cars typically require less maintenance than newer, more expensive cars. That’s because they’re not engineered with all kinds of sensors, microprocessors, and other computerized parts that can fail and require costly repairs.

These older cars have fewer electronics that can malfunction and less need for regular servicing, like oil changes and tire rotation. Plus, they don’t need to be replaced as often as newer ones. A new car may need repairs every 3,000 miles to remain running smoothly. A beater car will not require as much preventive maintenance.

Less Depreciation

Beater cars can be good investments, as they tend to keep more value than newer cars. However, even if you are the most responsible driver ever, making sure to get regular oil changes and service on your car, it still depreciates. Furthermore, if you have a luxury vehicle or sports car, this depreciation can quickly add up.

If you buy a beater car, you will immediately save money. For example, a 10-year-old car might only depreciate by a few hundred dollars a year. A used car has already hit its maximum depreciation. You won’t lose nearly as much value from your purchase if you decide to sell or trade it later.

You Could Pay Cash

The price tag of a new car is enough to make anyone cringe. Although several financing options are available to consumers today, most people purchase a new car with a loan. It means that they’ll still be making a monthly payment for their vehicle long after they’ve stopped driving it.

In addition, many consumers choose to trade in their old cars when they purchase new ones. By buying a beater car outright, you can avoid these pitfalls and enjoy the benefits of owning a paid-off vehicle right off the bat. You don’t have to worry about making payments or financing something.

Peace Of Mind

A beater gives you peace of mind because it doesn’t have the same financial risk as a newer vehicle. That’s because the car is inexpensive, so if something happens to it, you won’t be out too much money or time trying to replace it and fix it.

In addition, you don’t have to worry about being too careful with a beater car. If it gets scratched or dented, you won’t care nearly as much as if you were driving an expensive sports car or luxury vehicle. You might not even notice that someone has bumped into your car in a parking lot.

Saving In Taxes

The most significant advantage of buying a beater car is the savings in vehicle taxes. Since used cars are cheaper than new ones, they’re generally taxed at a lower rate. For newer vehicles that cost more than $5000, you will likely need full coverage auto insurance. This cost is three times more than the minimum coverage.

In most states, you can drive off the lot with a used car for less than you would pay in sales tax on a new one.

Lower Registration Rates

When you buy a new car, you’ll have to pay vehicle registration fees, which vary by state. Registration fees are based on several factors; however, many states base their registration fees on the car’s value. So when you purchase a used car instead of a new one, your registration costs will be lower because you’re paying less for the vehicle.

Good Gas Mileage

Older cars are more efficient when it comes to gas mileage. They use less gas to run because they aren’t designed with all of the bells and whistles of newer vehicles. So if you’re looking to keep your fuel costs low and improve your car’s efficiency, a beater is a good choice.

Beater cars are small, lightweight, and have excellent gas mileage for their size. You can easily get a mid-2000s model vehicle with a four-cylinder engine, manual transmission, and less than 60,000 miles for under $5,000.

Easy To Repair

A great thing about older model cars is that they’re easy to fix yourself because you can still find parts for them. For example, if you have a 2000 Toyota Camry with a bad alternator, you can easily find an affordable one at your local auto parts store or online.

Additionally, If you are willing to go through some trouble and get your hands dirty, then it is very easy to repair a beater car by yourself. You can find a lot of information and tutorials on the internet to help you with the repairs.

Disadvantages Of Buying A Beater Car

cons of a beater car

In addition to being a major expense, a car is an important investment. Your vehicle will play a significant role in your life, so choosing wisely is important. When you’re trying to stretch your budget or save money, buying a beater may seem like the way to go. However, there are many disadvantages to buying a beater car.

Lack Of Safety

A beater is likely to be very old, which means it lacks many safety features found in newer cars, such as airbags. As a result, it makes it more dangerous and increases your risk of injury if you get into an accident. It might also have bad brakes or other problems that make it more difficult to control in an emergency.

In addition, some older beater cars have not been properly maintained, which can lead to poor structural integrity, especially in an accident.

It Is Not Aesthetically Pleasing

Keep in mind that beater cars aren’t always aesthetically pleasing. They may have rust, dents, or other visual problems. Also, some beaters are old and run down. You can only do so much to make a car look better if beat-up.


A beater car is probably a lot less reliable than a newer car, which means you’re more likely to encounter unexpected repair costs over time. In addition, beater cars tend to break down more often than more recent models. Although some breakdowns can be prevented by proper maintenance, others, such as engine failure or transmission problems, may still occur despite a good maintenance program.

On the other hand, a newer car that has been well maintained may require only routine maintenance for many years, but a beater will probably need major repairs along the way.

Long-Distance Travel Might Not Be Possible

Beaters are not ideal for long-distance travel because they are unreliable. They often do not have all the amenities that make long-distance travel comfortable. Many beaters lack air conditioning, power windows, locks, and other modern conveniences that make long-distance travel more pleasant.

If your beater breaks down far from home, it may cost more to get it towed than you would spend on gas if you drove a more reliable vehicle in the first place.

Low Resale Value

One problem with buying an older beater car is that they often have low resale values. You may be able to get decent use out of one if you’re willing to put up with their problems. But when it comes time to sell your beater, you’ll probably discover that no one else wants it either.

Beaters generally can only be sold for very little money. So when you’re ready to get rid of yours, you won’t even make enough money back to cover what you paid for it.

Regular Inspection Needed

Another disadvantage of a beater car is that it may require regular inspection by an honest mechanic to ensure that all its parts are working properly. Even if you have some mechanical skills, you will find that you will be spending a lot of time working on your beater car. You may not have to do this work every day, but you will probably have to do it every week or so.

And even if you don’t have any mechanical skills, you will still probably have to take time out of your day to find someone who can help with any mechanical problems that arise. While this can give you more insight into how cars work, it can also be very frustrating when you don’t know what you are doing.

No Warranty

Buying an older model car means that you will not get any warranty on the vehicle when you purchase it. If something goes wrong with the car, you will have to pay for all of the cost of repairs.

You Can’t Trust It

A car that looks good outside can have problems underneath the hood. You could end up paying $3,000 or more for repairs throughout owning your cheap beater. It is possible to buy new tires, fix the brakes, or change the oil regularly. That’s on top of regular maintenance costs.

If you have to pay for major repairs every couple of years, it will cost more than getting a newer car with fewer issues.

Common Beater Car Issues

When buying a beater car, you need to be prepared for the vehicle to have some problems. The most common issues with beater cars are:


Leaky oil, coolant, power steering fluid, and brake fluid are all problems to watch out for. Many different places could leak fluids in an older car, but they can all leave stains and cause damage if left unattended for too long.

Check underneath the engine for any signs of oil or transmission fluid leaking and look in the trunk for coolant leaks or mold growth. A small leak isn’t much of a problem, but larger leaks can lead to severe issues down the road if not fixed.


All cars rust at some point, but it’s especially common in beater cars that have been used in salt-heavy climates. Rust on body panels isn’t as concerned as rust on the frame or other structural components that can affect the car’s safety. There also may be build-up on your battery terminals.

Your vehicle may have trouble starting or staying started once it gets cold outside (if you live in a place where it gets cold).

Noisy Suspension

The suspension system is one of the most complex systems in a car, so it’s no surprise that it’s prone to many problems. Bouncy or shaky rides, a loud and funky noise when turning or driving over bumps, and sagging springs are just a few signs that your car is old or something is wrong with it.

The good news is that you can replace each part individually if they break instead of replacing the entire suspension system at once.

Transmission Issues

The automatic transmission relies on several parts that can wear out over time. This includes fluid inside the transmission, which will get dirty and lose some of its ability to lubricate vital moving parts.


This issue often occurs when leaks develop in the cooling system of an older vehicle. Without coolant in the system, your car’s engine will run hotter than usual and eventually overheat. If you notice steam rising from under your hood or your temperature gauge is high, pull over immediately to avoid serious damage to your vehicle’s engine.

Air Conditioning Issues

Although air conditioning problems aren’t always a deal-breaker for beater cars, they are common, especially in older models. This is because the refrigerant used in air conditioners can leak over time and eventually cause the unit to stop working.

Unfortunately, replacing this fluid is expensive, so many owners choose not to fix the problem or sell their cars before repairs are needed.

Bad Ignition Coils

Ignition coils are responsible for firing spark plugs and running your car properly. Unfortunately, if your vehicle has a coil-on-plug ignition system, the ignition coils may be bad. This has been a common problem on many engines since the 2000s, especially ones with high mileage.

Top Beater Cars And Trucks

Here is a list of the best beater car and truck models in recent years.

Top Reliable Beater Cars

  • Toyota Corolla
  • Honda Civic
  • Subaru Outback
  • Nissan Altima
  • Ford Focus
  • VW Jetta
  • Chevy Impala
  • Kia Rio
  • Mazda Tribute
  • Nissan Sentra
  • Chevrolet Cavalier
  • Ford Escort
  • Lincoln Town Car

Top Reliable Beater Trucks

  • 1998-2011 Ford Ranger
  • 1998-2003 Ford F-150
  • 2002-2008 Dodge Ram 1500
  • 2004-2012 Chevrolet Colorado
  • 1999-2005 Chevrolet Silverado
  • 2001-2004 Toyota Tacoma
  • Nissan Frontier
  • Chevrolet S-10
  • 2000-2006 Toyota Tundra




Tips To Help You Find A Good Beater

The used car market is filled with many vehicles, from basic transportation to sporty coupes. But if you’re in the market for a better car, what do you look for? Here are some tips to help you find the perfect beater:

Find A Reliable Model

If you’re buying a secondhand car, you want one that won’t leave you stranded on the side of the highway, or worse, with a hefty repair bill. Fortunately, plenty of resources are available to tell you which cars have the best track record for dependability and longevity. Reliability can vary among models of cars and trucks, even those of the same age. Look for a model that has good reliability ratings from Consumer Reports.

Check The Maintenance History

Check the maintenance history of the vehicle. Many beater cars you come across will be older and higher-mileage vehicles. Even if you’re going for a purely functional car, it should still have routine maintenance done on time and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Check the maintenance record for regular oil changes and other fluid replacements, such as transmission rebuilds and engine replacements. If the seller doesn’t have documents, ask for receipts from service stations and new parts to show what has been done.

Check The Car’s Auto History Report

An auto history report (also known as a vehicle history report, VIN check, VIN history, or VIN lookup) is essential for anyone considering buying a used car. It provides detailed information about a vehicle’s previous owners and service history and its title status and ownership timeline.

After that, inspect the car thoroughly. Don’t rely on what you see on the surface or a quick test drive to confirm the condition of a used car. Instead, get it inspected by an independent mechanic before you agree to buy it.

Have them check major systems like the engine and transmission and smaller components like belts and hoses. The cost of an inspection is usually worth it when you consider what it would cost if something broke after purchase.

Check The Car Mileage

Check the mileage of the car. If it’s high, this could signify that the vehicle is not in good condition. It’s important to look at how long the owner had the car and how often they drove it. A vehicle with high mileage but was owned for 20 years may be in better condition than a car with low mileage but was operated every day for ten years.

Look At The Exterior And Interior

The exterior of your potential new, used car should be free of dents and scratches. Also, check to see if there are any issues with the paint job. Finally, the tires should have tread on them and not be balding or worn down. You can tell if tires have been replaced recently by looking at their tread patterns – if they match, then the owner probably replaced them simultaneously, which is a good sign.

Check The Kelly Blue Book Value

Before you start shopping, check the Kelly Blue Book value for your area of the country. It will give you an idea of what price range cars are selling for in your area and set a baseline for how much you should pay for a vehicle.

Keep in mind there is always room for negotiation. Don’t be afraid to try and get the car for less than the price listed in the kelly blue book, especially if it has cosmetic damage or is older.

Also, ask friends and family if they know of any cars that could be potential candidates to buy. It’s incredible what can happen when you put out the word that you’re looking to buy a car. You never know who might have an extra car sitting around that they are willing to part with at a reasonable price. If anything, this will give you an idea of what costs people are asking for their old cars.

What To Avoid When Buying Beater Cars

There are a few things you should avoid when buying a beater. These include:

Avoid Expensive Repairs

The whole point is that a beater car is cheap, so avoid expensive repairs at all costs. For example, if you come across a used car with a bad engine, don’t buy it. Replacing an engine can be extremely expensive. Likewise, if the transmission needs to be replaced or rebuilt, avoid it as well.

Vehicles With Known Recalls

If you are looking at purchasing a used car, you can check to see if there have been any recalls issued for the specific make and model of the vehicle. If there have been, you would be wise to avoid purchasing that vehicle until all recall repairs have been made.

Avoid Rust Damage

Rust damage is another issue that can cost a small fortune to fix. If there are only a few spots here and there, it might not be that big of a problem. But if the entire underside has rust damage, fixing it might cost more than the car is worth.

Flood Damage

Flood-damaged cars are one of the biggest red flags when buying any type of car. cars with water damage are dangerous, especially if they are involved in floods where water levels reach above the bottom of the doors. This can cause electrical problems and other issues that may not be apparent when looking at a used car but will become evident later down the road.

Structural Damage

One of the most important things to avoid in a used car is structural damage. If a used car has been involved in an accident and sustained structural damage that was not repaired by a certified mechanic, pass on it. Cracked frames can be expensive to repair and cause safety issues and increased wear on the engine’s mounts, bushings, and other components.

Also, When a car is involved in an accident, it could have problems that are not apparent on the surface.

General FAQ

What is the price of a beater car?

Most people spend between $300 and $1,000 on a beater car. However, this is just an estimate, and you may pay more or less, depending on your situation.

How long do beater cars last?

In most cases, a well-maintained beater car will last anywhere from 5 to 15 years. Beater cars driven aggressively and neglected won’t last as long, while those cared for and maintained regularly may last even longer than the average.

What should I look for in a beater car?

The most important thing to look for in a beater car is whether or not it runs well. But, of course, it also doesn’t hurt if it looks nice too! You can find these qualities by looking at the car’s history report or taking it for a test drive before purchasing it.

What's the best old beater truck that gets all the factors considered?

If you’re looking for an old used truck good on gas, consider a Ford Ranger or Toyota Tacoma from the late 1990s. These trucks were fuel-efficient and also had excellent reliability ratings.

Can I negotiate prices at a dealership?

Yes. The only exception will be if there is a “no-haggle” policy at the dealership.

What happens to an old beater after it's traded in at a dealership?

Many dealerships will sell these cars at auction, or they’ll “wholesale” them directly to other dealerships. If this doesn’t work out, they’ll sell them on their lot as “as-is” vehicles.

Where should I look for cheap cars?

There are several places to look for used cars under $5,000. For example, you can check online classified sites like Craigslist and Autotrader or visit dealerships specializing in selling low-priced used vehicles.


If you’ve decided a beater car is for you, then there are some things to keep in mind. First of all, a beater car is not going to run forever. You might get lucky and get a few hundred miles out of it; you might get unlucky, and it will only make it to fifty. There isn’t much way around this.

However, there are some things you can do to ensure your car runs as long as possible and give yourself the best chance at getting the most out of your purchase. Take advantage of the tremendous resources that are available on the internet.