1996 Accord (manual) or 1998 Camry (automatic)?

I’m trying to choose between two used cars: a 1996 manual-shift (a plus!) Accord with 109 K on it, for about $6000; dealer says it will fix the non-functioning A/C and ding in windshield; and a 1998 automatic Camry with 170 K on it for $4800; seller is my car shop, is warranting the $3000 worth of work they did on it. Anyone have strong opinions? Weak opinions you are nevertheless willing to share? Low-maintenance-ness is important to me.

They are both good cars design wise. I would (if I HAD to chose) take the Accord with the stick and the lower mileage, provided all maintenance records are available, or a mechanic can pronounce it OK. The Accord will need a timing belt if that has not been replaced already. Budget $600 for a V6 and about $500 for a 4 cylinder.

Camry engines of that year had a sludging history, so it will still need an independent mechanic’s evaluation.

However, since I don’t HAVE to chose, I would buy neither one. For that money you can get asmaller car with lower mileage.

What work was done on the camry?

Oh, such a good question, and such a dork I am not to remember (or have it written down, yet). I am sure that the timing belt and water pump were replaced, and it had a brake job. And I think they did a full tune-up too.

I would pick the Accord; clutches are relatively cheap to replace. However I, like Doc, am surprised that you cannot get a newer car for $6000.

Honda if you get repair records, toyota if not.
I agree you could buy some thing newer if you checked around.

Those cars seem VERY overpriced. $6K for a 15-y.o. Accord? $5K(ish) for a Camry w/ 170K mi?

My vote is “none of the above.”

Unfortunately, that’s the way things are if you are in the market for a Honda or Toyota. People selling them think those cars are gold, especially dealerships. I’ve seen some dealers selling Accords and Camrys from the late '80s and early '90s in Swiss cheese condition for $3k, and they actually sell them! If you look at domestic cars in that price range, you’d likely find cars in the '03 to '05 range with well under 100k miles.

I have a '97 Accord 5-speed with <100K miles, functional AC, and a perfect windshield, and I don’t think I could get $6K for it even if I left $1,000 lying on the front seat.

The price for the Accord you’re looking at is outrageous. Bring your money, you can drive my car home for $6K.

Thank you for the laugh and the advice! The Accord’s air conditioning didn’t work, though the salesman rather hilariously kept holding his hand in front of the vent and saying, “It’s not cold, but it’s cool” (the compressor wasn’t even working). I decided to go with the Camry because the seller is the shop I have used for ten years and they’re warranting the work they did on it, and I trust them. I had a brief infatuation with some private-seller classified ads, but the were all deals that seemed too good to be true, and so I think they were. Plus they were all from alleged servicepeople stationed in Iraq who got the car in a divorce, didn’t care how much money they got for it, and were prepared to absorb into the $3000 purchase price the cost for shipping it from NY to Oregon for me to reject it if I didn’t like it. Through eBay’s Vehicle Purchase Program, which they said applied even though they weren’t selling it on eBay. Adventures in Car Buying! But I didn’t WANT an adventure!

Many thanks for all the help.


I have a 1996 Accord for sale for $3000, automatic, 89,000 miles on it.
The ac pump is leaking so that would cost about $500