Cheap cars

My Story: Finding a Low Mileage Car

contributed by Tammy

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I am a single mom of two boys. I have only been able to afford cheap cars, which keep breaking down and costing anywhere from $200 to $800 each time I take it in to be fixed. I finally decided to just cut my losses and buy a newer car. Because I could not afford a large car payment, I started thinking about what was important in a car. I came up with low mileage to reduce the need for repair and dependable. Now I was looking at $10,000 to $12,000 for a car. There was no way I could afford a payment on something like that.

I started researching salvage laws. In some states, the law reads if the vehicle can't be driven from the accident it gets a salvage title. I found a guy who buys salvage cars that require little work, repairs them, and sells them cheap. I just bought a two year old car with 20,000 miles on it, fully loaded, for $5,500. The damage was left front fender, door and strut. Because the strut was broken, the car could not be driven way from the accident, so it was considered salvage.

My bank had no problem financing it because of the minimal damage that was already repaired and the book value was still $12,000. I ran a Carfax report to find out anything that the new owner didn't know. I also checked for recalls on the car and to see if they would still be repaired with a salvage title. The warranty is voided on a salvage title, but I figured if I bought something else for that much money, it wouldn't have a warranty anyway. The owner also gave me pictures of the car after the accident, so I could see the extent of the damage before it was repaired. The resale value of the car was not important to me because I want a car to drive for years, not something to trade-in in a couple of years for a new one. With a little research, you can get a nice newer car with low mileage at a price you can afford. Nobody will even know it was salvaged if you don't tell.

"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money please send it to

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