1999 Toyota Corolla

I have a 1998 Honda Accord with 140,000 everything is good except it needs struts to the tune of $1,000. Should I buy a 1999 Toyota Corolla with 28,000 instead for $4,500?

$1,000 is significantly less than $4,500, and a '98 Accord in good shape should last MANY more years.

Having said that, $4,500 doesn’t sound like a bad price for a Corolla with only 28K miles.

Is that $4,500 cash, or $4,500 plus the Accord as a trade? If it’s the latter I’d put struts on the Accord and keep driving it.

If you have owned the Accord for its entire life, or even if you have owned it for a few years, you should be very familiar with its maintenance history.

On the other hand, are you really aware of the maintenance and repair history on this Corolla?

Better to have a known quantity, rather than an unknown quantity, IMHO.

The low miles on the Corolla could actually be a negative, if it was driven in lots of short trips with little time to warm up. You would need a very complete maintenance history showing that all the time/milage items were done on a time basis. I’d would stick with the Accord, put on the struts, assuming I liked the Accord.

Yours is a known commodity. You knpw everything is in good shape. Buying a used car, any used car, is a gamble. You really don’t know what it might need.

Price out the new struts, but keep yours.

Along with everything else said and not knowing where you live, corrosion would be a big concern of mine. It doesn’t stop deteriorating just sitting there for most of ten years. Other than that, being a sucker for used Corollas, I’d go for it.

Thanks so much for the advice. The Toyota Corolla in question is my friend’s mother-in-law’s car. She bought the car new in 1999 for $16,948 and took good care of it. She didn’t drive very much and made sure it was cleaned in the winter. The car stayed in the garage when she wasn’t driving it. I’ve decided to purchase the car from her estate for the $4,500 and that includes four snow tires. I’m still holding on to the Honda Accord until I really decided to keep the Corolla. I hope I’m doing the right thing. Thanks for all your help.

“She didn’t drive very much”

This brings us back to texases’ point about the low odometer mileage possibly being a negative. Unless you can confirm that the “Severe Service” maintenance schedule was used, then the previous owner did NOT “take good care of it”. There is nothing worse for an engine than just short trip driving with little or no highway driving, and as a result, the motor oil needs to be changed every 3 months, regardless of odometer mileage. Can you confirm with service records that she changed the oil every 3 months?

In addition to the engine having been abused if the Severe Service maintenance schedule was not adhered to, the brake hydraulic system could be largely diluted with water by this point if the brake fluid was not changed every 3 years, and the transmission fluid is likely in bad shape if the previous owner did not have the fluid and filter changed every 3 years.

Worn out, sludge-laden transmission fluid would mean that you should budget ~$1,500-$2,000 for a transmission overhaul in the near future. And, even if the Severe Service maintenance schedule was used, the exhaust system is likely at the end of its life as a result of short-trip driving.

If your Accord has been maintained according to the book, and if the Corolla was not maintained according to the Severe Service maintenance schedule, you should definitely stick with the Accord.

It looks like you have all the bases covered. There are no guarantees that the Corolla will be perfect, but the potential is there for a good long automotive life. They are prone to corrosion in later years in the rockers and rear quarters, if the mechanics take you that long, which under these circumstances is a possibility. Rust is occurring now even if you think it not, so this car is a great candidate for a little motor oil rust proof treatment in the body cavities. We got 15+ totally rust free years out of a couple of Nova/Corollas with this treatment in the rust belt. And, it was worth something to the next owners who maybe running them still. Google the procedure done by those that keep antique cars and the like. It works.

Ask yourself…which is worse long term, a radiator that’s been neglected and needs replacement or a unibody car with bubbling paint along the rocker panels and trunk floor ? I’ll take the car that may need a little mechanical work anytime, than an “old” body. I have my own to worry more about. Be less concerned about the mechanical maintenance during 28K miles than car body integrity under your given circumstances and have a body shop check it out.

Just wanted to update my decision. I did buy the 1999 Toyota Corolla for $3,200 and spent $1,331 for repairs which included power steering pump replacement and brake line replacement and new spark plugs and wires and flushing and filling antifreeze, oil change and inspection. Then sold my 1998 Honda Accord to mechanic for $2,500. So all in all I think I made a good decision.

Congradulations; you were very rational and business-like in your decisions. Good luck with the Corolla.