Regardless of where you live in the UK, it’s likely that you’ll have noticed costs rising. Whether it’s food, fuel or heating – and everything in between – inflationary rises have caused most ‘normal’ costs to soar, making everyday life more expensive.

The same goes for the world of cars, with a short supply of new cars post-covid sending used vehicle prices into overdrive.

However, if you’re looking to get on the road without breaking the budget, there are still some excellent options currently available.


The best used cars for under £3,000

Finding a second-hand car for under £3,000 doesn’t need to be tricky. In fact, there’s a lot of variety out there with cars that fit into all different types of roles.

However, it’s worth thinking about the type of car you’re looking at and the associated costs which could drive up how much you’re paying each month. For instance, you might be able to find a ‘premium’ car for a cheap price, but it could still cost a lot when it comes to servicing, insurance and tax.

Here’s our expert pick of the best used cars for under £3,000:

1. Toyota Yaris (2006-2011)

If reliability is a top priority when buying a low-cost used car, a Japanese car maker is nearly always a great place to start, especially a model from Toyota. This brand is known for its dependable products that are known to last for decades not years.

One of the best options within a £3,000 budget is the Yaris supermini, particularly the second-generation model. Expect to pick up a 2008-registered example with around 80,000 miles on the clock for this budget. A Yaris of this age is well-made, practical and economical on fuel too, making for a cracking used buy.

Best Features

  • Superb reliability reputation
  • Spacious interior considering its size
  • Efficient engines

Things to consider

  • Yaris is available with three or five doors
  • Automatic gearboxes weren’t all that good in a Yaris of this age
  • You might find a Yaris more expensive to buy than an equivalent supermini

2. Ford Fiesta (2008-2017)

One of the most popular used cars available is the Ford Fiesta. There are thousands of them available across the country, including lots within a £3,000 price bracket. We’d recommend a seventh-generation Fiesta, which was first introduced in late 2008.

Bringing far more modern styling than its predecessor, the Fiesta has universal appeal, whether it be for smaller families or those wanting their first car. This generation is known for its fun driving experience, extensive range of versions and engines, and for just being one of the best small cars that has ever been sold here in the UK. You can pick up a 2009 example with around 80,000 miles on the clock for the £3,000 budget.

Best Features

  • Huge choice of used models avaiable
  • Great to drive
  • Still looks and feels modern

Things to consider

  • Early 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engines had some reliability issues, so could be worth avoiding
  • Facelift model in 2012 gave the Fiesta a fresher look
  • Diesel models of this age will not meet ULEZ requirements

3. Mazda 3 (2009-2013)

Mazda is sometimes forgotten next to other more popular Japanese car brands, but if you’re looking for something stylish, reliable and good value for money, its models are worth considering.

We particularly like the Mazda 3, a family hatchback that rivals the Ford Focus. For a £3,000 budget, you can pick up a second-generation example, and expect to get a tidy 2009 car with 100,000 miles on the clock.

It still looks cool and modern next to new cars in this class (at least on the outside) while offering an engaging driving experience. There are roomier cars in this class, but it should still offer a good amount of room for families.

Best Features

  • Cool, modern styling
  • Enjoyable to drive
  • Decent levels of equipment

Things to consider

  • Entry-level petrol models can feel a bit underpowered
  • Cabin isn’t as well-built as some rival cars
  • There are more spacious cars available in this class

4. Skoda Octavia (2004-2013)

If you need something with more space than the cars we’ve already mentioned, the Skoda Octavia will most certainly do the trick. Available as a large hatchback or as an estate, both offer a great deal of space and are ideal for families or those with large dogs, for example.

It would be a second-generation that is the best option with this budget, with a tidy 2010 example with around 100,000 miles on the clock available for this budget. There’s a broad range of petrol and diesel models available, while you can even get a sportier vRS version for less than £3,000.

Best Features

  • Very spacious interior
  • Reputation for its reliability
  • Great value for money

Things to consider

  • DSG automatic gearbox can be troublesome so ensure it has been serviced properly
  • Skoda updated the Octavia in 2009, bringing a more modern design and additional technology
  • Check carpets are dry as door seals can fail

5. Honda CR-V (2007-2012)

If you want reliability, a Honda is another great place to start. From the Jazz supermini to the Accord saloon, it’s quite hard to go wrong with a used Honda. But for this budget our pick has to be the CR-V – one of the few dependable SUVs you can pick up for less than £3,000.

We’d be looking at a third-generation CR-V, and expect to get a 2007 car with 125,000 miles. That might seem a lot of miles, but as long as a car has a good maintenance history, there should be little to worry about. The CR-V is well-equipped and still feels very solid inside, with the excellent diesel engines being our pick of the range.

Best Features

  • Good reliability reputation
  • Great build quality
  • Strong diesel engines

Things to Consider

  • Despite its SUV styling, the CR-V isn’t really much of an off-roader
  • Manual versions are smoother to drive
  • 2010 facelift brought more modern styling

6. Kia Picanto (2011-2017)

If you’re looking for a small car that will cost you as little as possible to run, we would highly recommend the Kia Picanto, which punches well above weight for something of its size. The Picanto is ideal around town, but surprisingly competent away from urban areas.

It would be an early second-generation Picanto from 2011 or 2012, with around 90,000 miles on the clock that will sneak into this budget. It will return great fuel economy, while many examples of this age will also be free to tax as well.

Low insurance groups mean it will be a fantastic first car, too. Examples of this age still look fairly modern, while the interior is nicely finished for a car of this size.

Best Features

  • Great fuel economy
  • Low insurance
  • Better to drive than you might expect

Things to consider

  • Picantos don’t have a lot of power, so some find it a bit underpowered
  • Many Picantos are used around town so expect bumps and scrapes from parking
  • Be aware of cars that judder as it could mean a new clutch is due

7. Volkswagen Polo (2005-2009)

You might find used Volkswagens are a bit more expensive than rival models of a similar age, but not only are you paying for that more premium brand, you also a get higher-quality finish inside. That’s the case for the Volkswagen Polo, as you will likely be shopping for an older example.

It would be a facelifted fourth-generation car that you will get for this budget, and something with around 70,000 miles on the clock. This generation of Polo is a very well-built small car that has the road manners of something far larger. A broad range of petrol and diesel engines means there’s something to suit most audiences too.

Best Features

  • Great build quality
  • Plenty of choice on the used market
  • Good brand image

Things to consider

  • Flaking paint is quite common, so inspect the condition thoroughly
  • As with any car, look for thorough up-to-date servicing
  • Be aware many Polos have been used as first cars and around town, so parking damage is likely

8. Nissan Qashqai+2 (2008-2014)

Nissan’s Qashqai was the car that helped to establish the trend for more compact SUVs, known as crossovers, and remains one of the UK’s best-selling cars. What you might not know, however, is that Nissan sold a seven-seater version for a number of years, known as the Qashqai+2.

Offering three rows of seats, albeit the rearmost seats are only really suitable for children, it adds additional functionality to what is already a practical car. The Qashqai is also comfortable and refined, while there’s a good choice of petrol and diesel models available. You should be able to pick up a diesel, 2010-registered model with around 110,000 miles on the clock for within this budget.

Best Features

  • Seven seat practicality
  • Good equipment levels
  • Efficient diesel engines

Things to consider

  • If you don’t need the seven seats, the standard Qashqai might make more sense, and there are more of them for sale
  • Diesel examples aren’t suited to short journeys
  • 2010 facelift brought much fresher styling

9. Audi TT (1999-2006)

Just because you’re shopping on a budget, it doesn’t mean you can’t have something fun to drive. So if you’re looking for thrills for less than £3,000, we recommend the first-generation Audi TT. It’s a bit older than the other cars here, but still feels solid and has aged brilliantly. You’d never know it was almost 25 years old.

Strong engines offer great performance, while the TT has a very solid-feeling interior that still feels remarkably well-built. You can have this Audi as a coupe or convertible, with the quattro four-wheel-drive models being the most appealing. You can pick up usable, if not immaculate, examples with around 100,000 miles for this budget.

Best Features

  • Iconic styling
  • Great engines
  • Brilliant build quality

Things to consider

  • Though fairly reliable, repair bills might be quite expensive
  • TT is likely to be a future classic, with investment potential
  • Look out for failed LCD displays and rust on the front arches

10. Suzuki Swift (2005-2011)

Moving back to smaller, cheaper-to-run cars, we have the Suzuki Swift. This supermini isn’t quite as well-known as models like the Fiesta and Polo, but if you’re looking for a reliable and fun small car, it’s worth a look.

The Swift brings modern styling considering it’s approaching 20 years old, while it’s roomier inside than you might expect.

With small, efficient engines, it should be fairly frugal, while equipment levels are fairly generous as well. You’ll be able to pick up a low-mileage car from 2008 in this budget, while those wanting something a bit more lively can choose the Swift Sport hot hatchback for within this price, albeit with more miles.

Best Features

  • Cheap to run
  • Good reliability reputation
  • Great value for money

Things to consider

  • Listen out for cabin rattles
  • Can go through front tyres quickly, so check the tread depths
  • Some replacements parts (such as bumpers) can be expensive

What should you consider before buying a car for under £3,000?


Naturally, the primary concern when you’re looking at a car for under £3,000 is cost. However, that doesn’t just include that headline price, it also contains aspects such as servicing, fuel and insurance.

It’s always a good idea to set a budget before you’ve even started test-driving a car and tie up all of those outgoings into it so that you’ve got a clear picture of what you’re able to afford before you start looking.


Remember too that cheaper cars might need extra money spending on them as they’re usually a little older than more expensive versions. However, many of the cars on our list have proven to be popular over their time on sale which means that there’s a plentiful supply of spare parts which can help reduce how much you’ll pay to get them fixed.

Other options

If you’re worried about some of the drawbacks that a cheap used car might bring, then financing a new vehicle might be a better option for you. This can get you behind the wheel of a new car while many finance agreements can also include servicing costs so there’s even less to worry about. Remember, you will be tied into a binding financial agreement with this option.


Tips for finding and buying a car for less than £3,000

Finding and buying a car for less than £3,000 does require a bit of research. At this price point, you’ll be dealing with cars that have higher miles and potentially more issues, so making sure you do all of your key vehicle history checks is essential. We’d run a history check on any car you’re looking at, with these paid-for services flagging up any issues in the car’s past such as whether or not it has been declared crashed and repaired previously.

You also might want to part-exchange your current car against the cost of the new one or you may sell it privately beforehand. It’s worth getting clued up on safe car buying processes before you start all of this too in order to ensure that you’re not going to get caught out down the line.

And if you need a little extra information or want some help in fine-tuning your choice of car, remember that we have an extensive range of car reviews where we take an in-depth look at some of the most popular models available to see what their plus points potential downsides are. A wide variety of cars are covered on the YouTube channel, too.

Frequently asked questions