1997 Honda Accord or lease a new one?

I have the choice between buying a 1997 Accord with 130K miles for $2500 (that seems to be up to date on all maintenance including $670 spent on the suspension) OR leasing a new Honda Accord for about $250/month. I drive over 1000 miles a month (I would get the 15K mile lease) so as much as I don’t want a car payment, I also don’t want a car that won’t be able to handle the drives up and down I95. I’ve had money pit cars on the past (not Honda’s) so I’m just a bit weary. Any help would be appreciated!!

130K miles is low mileage for a 11-12 year old car. If it’s up to date on service and is in good shape otherwise, I’d go with it. Highway miles are easy on a car, and a '97 isn’t too old for at least a few more years of service. The only thing I would be concerned about is rust in your part of the country.

I, personally, would never lease a car unless there was absolutely no alternative.

I believe you have more options then that.

How about BUYING a CHEAPER vehicle so your monthly payments will equal the $250 leas payment. Leasing is NOT being financially fiscal.

The '97 Accord (assuming it has the 2.2 liter, SOHC, 4-cylinder engine), is one of the most reliable vehicles on the planet. Assuming the maintenance schedule has been followed within reason, this car is capable of doubling its current mileage with ease.

I’m not saying this because I drive one, which I do, but because the independent Honda specialist to whom I take the car has many customers with high-mileage Accords of this vintage.

300K miles is not uncommon for these cars, as long as you maintain them.

I use mine primarily for weekend trips on the PA Turnpike (250 miles one way). The car cruises happily at 75 mph and consistently delivers 30+ mpg (manual transmission) at that speed. I have seen 35-36 mpg before 10% ethanol became common. Now it’s more like 33-34 mpg on the highway. Around town I get 28-29 mpg.

You won’t match that with a new Accord.

Not only is the 97 Accord a very reliable car, it still has 20k miles left on its warrantee. Because of an agreement with the EPA, that year Accord was given a 14 year 150,000 mile warrantee on all emissions related parts. The CV boots or axles should have been replaced by now, it that the suspension repair? Check the transmission fluid, shift quality, brake rotors and for any unusual tire wear patterns.

One other thing, on the test drive, push the power door lock button down. Sometimes on these, if the doors are locked while moving, the power locks will start cycling on their own. That will become a $200 repair sooner or later if this happens.

Leasing is almost always a bad idea for a private owner. There are just too many thing that can go wrong and you are stuck.