Author Topic: Is a 12- or 13-year-old car too old?  (Read 20607 times)

Villatour

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Is a 12- or 13-year-old car too old?
« on: May 13, 2015, 07:43:57 PM »
Hi everyone. My wife and I have a limited budget to get a car—$5,000 Canadian. It doesn't look like it'll be easy to find one of Lemon Aid's recommend cars for that kind of money. Not in Toronto, and not if you want it to have less than 150K km.

I have, however, found at least two or three 2002-2003 Mazda Protegés. So my question is: in your experience, is it a bad idea to get that old a car? The ones I've found seem to have anywhere from 100K-130K km. Am I asking for trouble, or am I being a wise Moustachian?

Any help appreciated, in particular from those of you who have this car.

Thanks!

Syonyk

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Re: Is a 12- or 13-year-old car too old?
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2015, 07:49:35 PM »
That's not even 100k miles.

Do a bit of maintenance on it when you get it (basically, assume everything that should have been changed before then hasn't and change it), and it'll run for a lot of miles.

Jack

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Re: Is a 12- or 13-year-old car too old?
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2015, 08:30:55 PM »
I own three cars:
  • 17 years old, 200K miles
  • 19 years old, 215K miles
  • 25 years old, 82K miles

13 years old and 62K miles? Hah! That's barely even broken in!

bogart

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Re: Is a 12- or 13-year-old car too old?
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2015, 08:38:38 PM »
I see no problem.  Just read Consumer Reports (or similar), I don't know the particular model but my sense is that Mazdas in general are pretty darned reliable.  And get it looked at by a mechanic you trust before you buy (unless you are a mechanic you trust, in which case you've already got that covered.  But given your question, I assume not.).

DesireeD

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Re: Is a 12- or 13-year-old car too old?
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2015, 10:00:47 PM »
I drive a 1993 geo metro with an unknown # of miles on it. The odometer is broken. Too old? Is 43 too old to have sex? What's too old? I think it all depends on how you plan on using it and what you are willing to do to keep things running smooth. There is something to be said for something that has proven the test of time and is still going strong.

lhamo

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Re: Is a 12- or 13-year-old car too old?
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2015, 10:15:00 PM »
My mom is going to give me her car when I move back to the US.  It is a 1992 Toyota Corolla with a little over 150k on it.  She has been the only owner, and has had it maintained by neighbors who are mechanics.  To be honest I don't love the car -- the stick shift is a bit hard to use, it doesn't have automatic steering/brakes, and no A/C.  But I'll take a free car that I know the history of over paying for one, at least until I know I am staying long term.  If we do stay on in the US I'll probably buy a newer car, but don't want to spend over $10k, and probably will settle for something in the $5-6k range as I don't plan to drive much if I can avoid it.  Toyota will be passed on to DS when he learns to drive in a couple of years.



AJ

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Re: Is a 12- or 13-year-old car too old?
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2015, 10:23:46 PM »
I expect it depends on the car. Our toyota is 14 years old with 220k miles on it and I consider it just a teenager. I will be disappointed if it doesn't make it to at least 350k.

alsoknownasDean

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Re: Is a 12- or 13-year-old car too old?
« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2015, 10:43:18 PM »
I bought a 2002 Holden Barina (Opel Corsa) with 111,000km last December. Top little car for $3000, I expect a good few more years from it.

However, there's far more snow up your way. Mechanically they should be fine if one has kept up with servicing, but do they have much rust on them?

Look after it and it should keep on going. My mum had a 1999 version of essentially the same car, went fine until someone rear-ended it.

alberteh

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Re: Is a 12- or 13-year-old car too old?
« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2015, 11:32:05 PM »
Besides rust the constant cold winter starts also put a lot of strain on everything, shortening the life of everything. That being said all it means is some more diligence on your part to look for issues with that particular car.

I personally drive an 03 echo with 200,000 km that i found for $800 without too much looking in northern alberta. runs great, no issues. And depending on winters out your way, WINTER TIRES! Are a must for the winter.

Trifele

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Re: Is a 12- or 13-year-old car too old?
« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2015, 03:48:14 AM »
Not too old, if the model is a reliable one.  Check Consumer Reports, as others have said. 

I got my 2007 Honda Fit in 2009 when it had 65k miles on it, and it is still going strong now at 155,000 miles.  A woman down the road from me has the same year Fit with 305,000 miles on it.  I am aiming for at least that many.

+1 on the winter tires, depending on your weather.  We put 4 on every year
« Last Edit: May 14, 2015, 04:08:12 AM by Trifele »

Villatour

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Re: Is a 12- or 13-year-old car too old?
« Reply #10 on: May 14, 2015, 06:22:57 AM »
Thanks for the input, guys. According to Lemon Aid, this car is above average. Not a bad idea to check consumer reports as well. The owner agreed to have a mechanic inspect the car.

Kris

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Re: Is a 12- or 13-year-old car too old?
« Reply #11 on: May 14, 2015, 08:45:09 AM »
Definitely not too old. And Proteges are great cars, too.  It should run for a really long time if you treat it well.

Jack

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Re: Is a 12- or 13-year-old car too old?
« Reply #12 on: May 14, 2015, 09:26:20 AM »
I bought a 2002 Holden Barina (Opel Corsa)...

I love how you put "Opel Corsa" in parentheses as if you think we have any clue what one of those is either...

(For the benefit of the rest of the Americans: it appears to be similar to a Chevy Spark/Aveo/Sonic.)

anks

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Re: Is a 12- or 13-year-old car too old?
« Reply #13 on: May 14, 2015, 09:30:41 AM »
Cars this old can be great! They can also be a headache though, if they were not take care of! I would strongly recommend getting a pre-purchase inspection (PPI) by a qualified mechanic. The mechanic will check out the car and make sure it is good to go. They will also be able to point out repairs that will need to be made in the near future, which you can then use to negotiate the price of the car. You can read about PPI here

Phil_Moore

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Re: Is a 12- or 13-year-old car too old?
« Reply #14 on: May 14, 2015, 09:38:02 AM »
I bought a 2002 Holden Barina (Opel Corsa)...

I love how you put "Opel Corsa" in parentheses as if you think we have any clue what one of those is either...

(For the benefit of the rest of the Americans: it appears to be similar to a Chevy Spark/Aveo/Sonic.)

To be fair it helped me out. Although it's a Vauxhall Corsa here I think.

I've personally never owned a car made after 1986, so I say rock on.

Gone Fishing

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Re: Is a 12- or 13-year-old car too old?
« Reply #15 on: May 14, 2015, 09:43:08 AM »
Nothing wrong with an older car (we've had/have several) but here are a few things to keep in mind:

Can you work on it yourself?
If not, do you have a mechanic that doesn't charge an arm and a leg?
Can you live with inconvienences(broken window motors, locks, etc) irritating noises, worn (but not worn out) suspension, and small leaks?
Do you have a backup ride, given the vehicle will need more repairs? 
If you drive a lot, do you want to have to go through the process again in 5 years vs 7 or 8 for a slightly newer model?

Another member recently posted a thread on a failed old car experiment.  IMO the biggest problem was that the member could not live with somewhat minor problems then had to pay a shop for the repairs.  Owning an older car is like rafting down a river, you just go with the flow.  As long as you are still moving, you will get where you are headed with a minimum of effort, start trying to go upstream (making it run/look like a new car) and you will waste a lot of effort (money) for not much gain.

Rural

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Re: Is a 12- or 13-year-old car too old?
« Reply #16 on: May 14, 2015, 05:05:43 PM »
My fancy luxury car is a 2003; the others are older (1998 Jeep and 1982 Tercel as our backup).

daverobev

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Re: Is a 12- or 13-year-old car too old?
« Reply #17 on: May 15, 2015, 06:39:04 AM »
You should be able to get something newer than that Protege for $5k, depending on if you are including tax + licensing. AFAIK the Prots tend to rust, just like Mazda 3s do.

Try a Hyundai Accent if you can deal with 3 doors (hatchback). I am a strong proponent of manual transmissions, and they are usually cheaper too.

Matrix/Vibe, Corolla, Civic.

I got an 03 Crown Vic 2.5 years ago for $2500, not suggesting you do the same but there are LOTS more cars down south (from Ottawa!) than here so they should be cheaper.

Check kijiji.

SomedayStache

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Re: Is a 12- or 13-year-old car too old?
« Reply #18 on: May 15, 2015, 06:47:03 AM »
We bought a 9 year old car last year with 100,000 miles (~160km?).  I consider that car a spring chicken.  But we went straight from the dealership to the mechanic and had quite a bit of maintenance done on it immediately. 

radix

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Re: Is a 12- or 13-year-old car too old?
« Reply #19 on: May 15, 2015, 06:57:42 AM »
I am still rocking an 03 Mazda Speed Protege. It's an awesome car even though it's getting a little old. A great balance between economical and fun to drive. Very reliable aside from a few things here and there related the upgrades with the Speeds. I would absolutely recommend getting a Protege if it has reasonable miles on it.

I am planning to drive the wheels off of it, and since I am only at <120k miles, it may take awhile...

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Is a 12- or 13-year-old car too old?
« Reply #20 on: May 15, 2015, 07:27:02 AM »
Every single vehicle I've bought has been 10+ years old and 140K km or more when I bought it.

The most recent one was $5000 and felt like a luxury vehicle after years of shopping in the $2K range.

depending on your needs, with gas prices what they are up north, why not something even smaller or more efficient? Honda Fit, older gen Priuses, etc.

GetItRight

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Re: Is a 12- or 13-year-old car too old?
« Reply #21 on: May 15, 2015, 08:28:21 AM »
I wouldn't touch anything as new as that. I stick to vehicles at least 30 years old, cheap, simple, reliable. Had a fancy newer car once, and it was nothing but problems. So, 12-13 years is too new in opinion. I've also never worried about miles. I generally buy vehicles that I like and fit my needs so it is likely that I'll keep it as long as I'm alive so miles are not a consideration at all, especially considering you can only make an educated guess as to how many times the odometer has rolled.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2015, 09:00:13 AM by GetItRight »

ketchup

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Re: Is a 12- or 13-year-old car too old?
« Reply #22 on: May 15, 2015, 08:42:56 AM »
Our two cars are 23 years old and 16 years old, each around 170K miles.  And they are great.

As everyone else has said, 12-13 years old is fine.

PeachFuzzInVA

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Re: Is a 12- or 13-year-old car too old?
« Reply #23 on: May 15, 2015, 09:19:13 AM »
We're at 350k miles and 260k miles on our cars. First one is a 1992 Honda Civic. Second is a 2006 Ford Focus. Both vehicles are base models with manual transmission, manual window, manual door locks, etc. More manual stuff means less to fail and less to fix.

TheFixer

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Re: Is a 12- or 13-year-old car too old?
« Reply #24 on: May 15, 2015, 09:55:02 AM »
Everybody has such new cars.  My DD is a 1986 Toyota truck w/ 125K miles.  Wife's fancy 'new' car is a 2001 w/ 210K miles.

So to the OP I say no, a well-maintained, rust-free 12 YO car is perfectly fine.

captainawesome

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Re: Is a 12- or 13-year-old car too old?
« Reply #25 on: May 15, 2015, 10:21:31 AM »
I own a 13 y/o car. It is nicer than most modern cars. It is a bit of a unicorn, still only has 43k miles on it. I actually get excited about finding those cars that sat in a garage for years on end, not being driven.  Age doesn't necessarily dictate condition as stated previously.

Ethernet

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Re: Is a 12- or 13-year-old car too old?
« Reply #26 on: May 15, 2015, 10:39:54 AM »
Mazda makes good cars. Your biggest factor with them however is going to be rust. The most common spot is in the area of the trunk where the Mazda badge is.

Also, be wary of rust along the strut mounts. I haven't seen one without rust in this area, and you don't want a McPherson strut to go out on you going 70 on the highway.

klystomane

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Re: Is a 12- or 13-year-old car too old?
« Reply #27 on: May 15, 2015, 10:58:55 AM »
Not sure if the Protege is the same as the Protege 5, but my first car was a used, stick shift Protege 5...it was horrible on gas.

Sid Hoffman

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Re: Is a 12- or 13-year-old car too old?
« Reply #28 on: May 15, 2015, 11:11:03 AM »
Get it inspected before you buy.  60,000 rust-belt miles is like 250,000 California miles.  13 years is still 13 years.  You could have major rust issues and even secondary rust issues, such as all the bolts of the suspension being rusted in place, dramatically increasing the cost of maintenance.

MayDay

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Re: Is a 12- or 13-year-old car too old?
« Reply #29 on: May 15, 2015, 06:40:46 PM »
American here so prices may vary.

We had 2 2003 Civics, both with ~120k miles.  Neither had had any maintenance problems except a few of the power windows died (you can live without it or pay about 150$ to get one fixed).  We recently sold one of them for 5k, sold it the day after I listed it.  Of course I don't know if the one we sold has since blown up, but the one we still have is chugging along, still no maintenance needed except the routine stuff (and timing belt at 100k miles is the only pricey one).  Both have been driven exclusively in snowy climates that salt their roads, no rust problems yet (that we know of anyway).

So I would say go for it if the car and the price make sense.  The only concerns I have about the car is no side curtain airbags and no antilock brakes.  I fully expect our civic will still be on the road in ten years when our kid starts driving, but we will likely upgrade to something with more after features before we let him drive it.  Or he'll just be stuck rolling in the minivan. 

BlueMR2

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Re: Is a 12- or 13-year-old car too old?
« Reply #30 on: May 17, 2015, 08:40:32 AM »
I'd say it may not be old enough.  I live in the rust belt and enjoy working on cars.  I have '90's cars myself, my wife has an early 2000's.  I've worked on  cars up through nearly new recently.  The newer cars seem to rust out a LOT faster.  The bodyshop guys I've talked to have told me that the good anti-rust and paint compounds were banned back around 2000 and that the new cars really are rusting out much faster than the '90's-2000 era.  Notably, the wife's 2002 Toyota with 160k miles is definitely rusting worse than either my '91 Toyota (274k miles) or my '95 Mitsubishi (only 127k miles, but a lot of salt exposure).

A friend also recently traded in his old Grand Prix for a newer Altima.  We'd done struts on that Grand Prix with only minor issues.  The much newer Altima was a rust pit in comparison, in fact it was so bad that he eventually had to take it to a shop as parts were having to be cut out in chunks due to how bad the rust was.