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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: MichelleD1977 on January 20, 2015, 10:39:30 PM

Title: low mileage older vehicles a good deal?
Post by: MichelleD1977 on January 20, 2015, 10:39:30 PM
My husband and I are looking for a "new to us" car.  Debating the merits of going for a low-ish mileage but very reasonable older car vs. very low mileage but more expensive newer car. 

example: 1992 honda accord with 130,000 miles for $2,500 vs. newer sedans with 30,000-60,000 miles for $8000-$10000
http://eugene.craigslist.org/cto/4856347223.html

At what point is an old car with low mileage still an old car, and not worth the risk? I do commute to work about 20 miles each way. 

Title: Re: low mileage older vehicles a good deal?
Post by: SaintM on January 21, 2015, 03:02:35 AM
I'm partial to older cars, so that Accord looks very appealing. It has less than 6k miles per year and new tires. If maintained properly, that car should have 200k more miles in it. You can always have it checked out by a mechanic before you buy.

On another note, 20 mile commute each way? Ouch.
Title: Re: low mileage older vehicles a good deal?
Post by: Monkey Uncle on January 21, 2015, 04:33:55 AM
Given how much you drive, my personal preference would be for the newer car.  Yes, Accords are reliable, and some do go well past 200k mi, but you can't count on that for each individual car.
Title: Re: low mileage older vehicles a good deal?
Post by: southernhippie on January 21, 2015, 05:23:47 AM
i prefer the newer car. Mileage is only an issue once you start getting really high.   like close to 200,000.  But age of a car is just as bad.  I personally would not buy a car that is more than 20 years old.  You have to start thinking of rust.  Especially if your driving regularly everyday.
Title: Re: low mileage older vehicles a good deal?
Post by: NeuroPlastic on January 21, 2015, 06:14:05 AM
Maybe a newer car, but get a better deal. 

Last summer I got a 2007 Yaris with 58k miles for $6,000 (with a set of snow tires included.)  The craigslist asking price was about $7500.  The car is totally solid and is perfect for my 14-mile daily commute.  It has no problem toting around our family of four with a cooler full of food and all the gear we need for a day at the seaside.  Since is it a smaller car, maintenance is easy and inexpensive.

It took about two weeks of watching the craigslist ads to find what I was looking for, then a 15 minute test drive, and 3 minutes of negotiations with the sellers.

I second the concerns about corrosion on 20+ year old cars.  It makes them a pain to work on.
Title: Re: low mileage older vehicles a good deal?
Post by: TN_Steve on January 21, 2015, 06:37:44 AM
My B.I.L., has been mechanic for 40 years.  When assisting my son in a car hunt recently, he opined that he would recommend newer model/higher miles, rather than old model with lower miles.  2005 Hyundai/Kia models with 100-140,000 miles seemed to hit sweet spot on price (not the brand he is a mechanic for, but the quality became better than the reputation in that time period).

Rationale was safety features on newer models, plus the inevitable aging of cars.  (N.B.  analysis was driven, in part by: Son is law student with no garage space, no d.i.y. experience, and little time, so ymmv.)

Title: Re: low mileage older vehicles a good deal?
Post by: pjm123a on January 21, 2015, 06:48:47 AM
"2005 Hyundai/Kia models with 100-140,000 miles seemed to hit sweet spot on price"

I agree with this completely. Just brought a 2005 Sonata with 125k miles for $2700. Is it perfect? No. Does it do the job? Yes.

You can get a newer/lower mileage Hyundai/Kia for the same money as an older/higher mileage Honda/Toyota

Also depending on where the car was sold and used rust may not be a concern (think Florida, California).
Title: Re: low mileage older vehicles a good deal?
Post by: frugaldrummer on January 21, 2015, 07:40:59 AM
Also, if an older car has suspiciously low miles, someone may have rolled back the odometer.

That being said, my son just bought a 99 honda with 125k miles. But it was one owner, and she had EVERY service record, AND we talked to the mechanic who did all the service.
Title: Re: low mileage older vehicles a good deal?
Post by: frugaliknowit on January 21, 2015, 08:06:14 AM
1992, OMG, that is way too old for such a commute, no!
Title: Re: low mileage older vehicles a good deal?
Post by: Gone Fishing on January 21, 2015, 09:36:31 AM
My dad always said years were harder than miles, but that car probably has plenty of life left in it if the mechanics look as good as the rest of it.  Inspect all the hoses (don't just look at them, squeeze them), rubber boots, rubber bushings, belts etc. for cracks as time tends to be hard on them.  When you test drive, listen for smoothness in the engine, transmission, and handling/suspension.  Make some tight turns. Accelerate hard. Any clicking, clunking, rubbing noises could be a sign of wear. The transmission should shift smoothly.    Look for blue smoke when it starts and under acceleration.  Engine power should be good. A dry engine block would be great, but there may be a little "weeping" around the valve cover gasket. Minor oil leaks are not that big of deal, but can get annoying if you care about your driveway, or you start having to add oil every fill-up (which woul dbe a major oil leak).  Look at the ground where they park it. Any records to substantiate mileage/maintainance would be good.   In my experience, Hondas and Toyotas tend to drive (even if they don't look) prety much like new until you start pushing 175-200k, after that the suspension gets tired.   If the engine and tranny are sound, you would probably be fine to take that car up to 200k plus, but I would budget at least $500 per year in repairs.  One other consideration is the emissions inspections/requirements in your state.  Some older cars have trouble passing in some areas, but in others they are exempt and can be preferable to a car just over the threshold for exemption. 
Title: Re: low mileage older vehicles a good deal?
Post by: b4u2 on January 21, 2015, 10:18:24 AM
My wife drives a 1995 Camry daily. It has 150k plus miles on it. We paid 1500 for it about 3 years ago. She drives roughly 30 miles or more a day and transports people to various appointments. I like it because parts are reasonable and it's easy to fix on my own. Youtube has just about anything you need to do to that car and the Toyota forums are awesome.
Title: Re: low mileage older vehicles a good deal?
Post by: ketchup on January 21, 2015, 10:57:05 AM
Do it.  A commute like that would be brutal with the depreciation of a newer car.  Our cars are a '99 and a '92 and they've yet to let us down.  Just make sure you do all the maintenance on time (including an initial wave right when you get it to make sure everything's recent) and it should keep going a long time yet.

Accords are nice cars.  My uncle drives an '05 Accord.  A friend of mine had an '88 Accord, drove it to 240,000, then sold it to his aunt that still drives it.  And then there's this guy: http://jalopnik.com/5852681/man-shows-remarkable-stamina-driving-honda-accord-for-one-million-miles
Title: Re: low mileage older vehicles a good deal?
Post by: MichelleD1977 on January 21, 2015, 10:12:39 PM
Thanks folks! That honda is gone, but now we see another one for even cheaper (100,000 miles, $1500!) We're going to consider something in this category, as well as taking the advise of the hyundai/Kia.  I did a brief search and found a 2005 Hyundai with 80,000 miles for $3700. Your advise helped me realize we can find a reliable car in our price range. 

I like the enthusiasm around the 1992 honda in general.  Made us feel not so crazy for considering it.  We're in Oregon, so rust is not a concern. Old cars are king out here. We will be taking it to Vermont, where it will likely rust away in the next 5 years.
Title: Re: low mileage older vehicles a good deal?
Post by: b4u2 on January 22, 2015, 06:28:30 AM
Don't rule out the older Camrys if you can work on cars yourself. Youtube is a great resource for repairs. Before buying any certain vehicle watch a few videos and see if the job is easy enough. I look at fuel pump replacement, Radiator, water pump, those are the main things I look at. The camry is very easy to work on and cheap to buy.