Author Topic: High Mileage vs High Priced Vehicles  (Read 5910 times)

Truckman

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High Mileage vs High Priced Vehicles
« on: October 24, 2013, 09:15:29 AM »
Looking for a new commuter car and really just can't decide on price vs mileage (miles on vehicle, not mpg).  Is it better to pay higher prices for a lower mileage vehicle? Some examples of what I'm looking at:

  • 1999 Toyota Corolla, 200,000+ miles, $2500
  • 2001 Toyota Corolla, 134,000 miles, $4995
  • 2006 Scion Xa, 85,000 miles, $7000

My commute is about 55 miles one way (yeah, yeah, I know...), and averages out to about 3-4 days/week (technically 4 days out of 8). My schedule is changing on the 1st of next year, which will cut my commute almost in half. I've started carpooling, too, which has cut my gas bill almost in half. And this new vehicle will at least double my current mpg. So, if the stars all line up for me, I'm hoping to pay only about 1/8 in fuel what I'm currently paying.

I'm not quite sure how much maintenance and repairs I'll be able to do on my own. Not that I'm not capable, but more due to space and time. I guess if there's a will, there's a way, huh?

Forcus

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Re: High Mileage vs High Priced Vehicles
« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2013, 09:58:43 AM »
Here is my general feeling towards miles / age for my own situation. Note this is based on my experience, and I do not have data to back it up:
- All miles are not equal. Highway miles are generally preferable to city miles. The expensive parts (engine, trans, etc.) tend to wear out more from starts / stops, heat cycles, etc. I'd take a 2012 car with 90k miles (obviously highway) over a 2002 car with 50k miles that had been used for city driving. Tires, suspension parts, etc. generally wear out regardless of how the miles are travelled BUT they are far easier / cheaper to replace than engine / trans stuff.
- Cars have made substantial increases in safety and mpg in the past 4 or 5 years or so. I would tend to lean towards a higher mile newer car over a lower mile older car that had less sophistication (and I don't mean touch panels in the dash board). More speeds in the transmission, direct injection, and now, downsized engines with turbos.
- Simplicity is key (somewhat in conflict with the above). Complicated cars usually mean complicated (expensive) repairs. I just got rid of a 2005 Volvo S40 T5 with 180k miles. While I took care of it, and it was relatively reliable, I was always terrified that some mystical problem only solvable by a dealer would pop up at an inopportune moment. And it would be expensive to fix. No such fear with my current driver (02 Focus).
- Pick a car that is known for reliability, has a fan base / support, and is common. Parts will tend to be cheaper, or good alternatives to factory parts available. When something goes wrong, it is easier to diagnose. Couple weeks ago my car started running on three cylinders. Limped it to a parking lot, checked which cylinder was misfiring by pulling spark plug wires one at a time while running, found it was #4, looked it up online, and within a few minutes, found that a common failure is the coil pack. Threw in a spare, ordered a new one, fixed for cheap.

So, specific to your choices, it depends on how car handy you are. If you are on the end where you don't / can't do your own oil changes, I would lean away from something with 150k miles or more, even if it is a Toyota. While your commute will go down in frequency (good), the distance isn't, so that is an issue. For these reasons I would probably cross off the one with 200k. The Scion is a hatch, which is infinitely more utilitarian than a sedan (assuming the 01 Corolla is not a wagon), so to me the choice is easy. Cheap, reliable, relatively low miles, basic Toyota design, sounds like a winner.

Truckman

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Re: High Mileage vs High Priced Vehicles
« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2013, 10:34:48 AM »
Thanks for your input!


daverobev

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Re: High Mileage vs High Priced Vehicles
« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2013, 12:42:21 PM »
I wouldn't personally go for #2 - it seems the poor value for money.

Saying that, 200k miles is probably the point at which 'stuff starts breaking' that is *expensive* to repair.

Even option 3 seems relatively expensive, but if it's a car that'll last you 8-10 years... yeah I guess I'd go for that *of the three*.

We paid about $5k for a 6-ish year old Civic in 2010, I think it had 160k km on it at the time. I thought that was expensive at the time, but I guess it wasn't. I'd say that is a better deal than any of the three you gave, so can you find something better priced - some blend of the three, a hundred thousand miles, 2005 or newer, for $5k?

madage

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Re: High Mileage vs High Priced Vehicles
« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2013, 01:24:57 PM »
I wouldn't personally go for #2 - it seems the poor value for money.


Yeah, I'd be thrilled if my same-vintage, similar mileage Corolla was worth $4995, but I just think that's way too much for that vehicle. My Corolla, however, has been absolutely fantastic to me and I hope it lasts me many more years.

Truckman

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Re: High Mileage vs High Priced Vehicles
« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2013, 03:51:02 PM »
Unfortunately the majority of cars available are at dealers. The availability of private-sale vehicles in my area is unbelievably slim.

Personally, it's going to be a stretch to plunk down close to $7K on a vehicle since we're just starting out our mustachian ways, but not impossible (and all cash, no financing). It also makes the wife very uneasy taking the extra out of our savings/emergency fund. We already have $3K designated for the car, so we'd need to pull out $4K more from the emergency fund.

Just as an example of what's available:  2001 Toyota Corolla (yes, I know it's not the one I listed in the OP).




captainawesome

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Re: High Mileage vs High Priced Vehicles
« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2013, 06:51:36 AM »
try expanding your craigslist search beyond just york county (think lancaster, baltimore etc) and look for a few cars in those areas.  Being willing to drive to make and find those deals can save you a few thousand vs buying from a dealer, and could be worth the 30 bucks in gas to drive there and back. For example http://baltimore.craigslist.org/cto/4142973358.html

Truckman

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Re: High Mileage vs High Priced Vehicles
« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2013, 07:12:43 AM »
try expanding your craigslist search beyond just york county (think lancaster, baltimore etc) and look for a few cars in those areas.  Being willing to drive to make and find those deals can save you a few thousand vs buying from a dealer, and could be worth the 30 bucks in gas to drive there and back. For example http://baltimore.craigslist.org/cto/4142973358.html
I have been. Went all the way down to Alexandria, VA to see a car that got sold 10 mins before we got there... I'm being exceedingly picky, I know. But I have a bad history of getting screwed with used cars because I've rushed things.  I may have seen that link you put up, but didn't give it much thought because it's an automatic and I'm holding out for a stick.  Part of the trouble, too, is that I don't check CL or autotrader regularly. I'll go a couple days of checking with no new listings, then give up for a week or so and wind up missing out...

Anyway, I guess I was wondering more whether it's better to shell out more $$ now for a newer/lower mileage vehicle, or keep it cheaper but get a higher mileage vehicle.  I guess in the end it's just whatever you can afford....
« Last Edit: October 25, 2013, 07:19:06 AM by Truckman »

captainawesome

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Re: High Mileage vs High Priced Vehicles
« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2013, 07:31:34 AM »
I personally don't like messing with higher mileage cars (over 150k) if I can help it, especially if I havent owned the car for the last 150k miles.  Again, as you stated, it is what you can afford, but if you commute a lot you need reliability.  And knowing that you can get to work everyday means you can pay the bills.  To me, it's an example of frugal vs cheap.  You pay for what you need.

Forcus

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Re: High Mileage vs High Priced Vehicles
« Reply #9 on: October 25, 2013, 08:09:42 AM »
I personally don't like messing with higher mileage cars (over 150k) if I can help it, especially if I havent owned the car for the last 150k miles.  Again, as you stated, it is what you can afford, but if you commute a lot you need reliability.  And knowing that you can get to work everyday means you can pay the bills.  To me, it's an example of frugal vs cheap.  You pay for what you need.

Ditto. If your commute is short and/or you have backup plans if the car doesn't start (bus, friends, etc.), different story.

I think in your case it's much better to borrow at a low or zero interest rate and get the slightly more expensive (but more worthwhile) car. Yes,  borrowing is bad.... but if you are driving something that gets half the mileage now, that cost for financing will be more than eradicated in a short time. Not MMM advice, but my own point of view. I don't like to hem and haw over nickels and dimes, instead I try and focus my energies on the big picture. 2-3k difference for a better car (better being safer, higher utility, more reliability, and possibly better MPG) is what I call nickels and dimes long term for financial freedom / early retirement. Again, just my $.02.

sdeng87

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Re: High Mileage vs High Priced Vehicles
« Reply #10 on: October 25, 2013, 08:35:20 AM »
Those prices seem ridiculously high.... If you can afford to wait it out and be diligent in your searching I think you can find a much better deal. For example, I was able to pick up a 2008 ranger 4cyl with 14k miles for $8000 in February. Sure, it took me four months of spamming all of the craigslists within 100 miles of me, but paying thousands under blue book was worth all the effort. If you're not exceedingly picky about the type of vehicle, certain searches are helpful for this: divorce, moving, must sell today, etc.
One last tip, you can find reputable mobile mechanics that live in an area nearby the car you're interested in buying. Paying them $40 to go look at a used car for an hour and send you photos is a pretty solid way to go.