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200,000 miles?

I’m a college student with little money and need a car. Have found several possibilities, all with 200,000 + miles, which sounds really high to me. Could someone advise if any of these (all are 2000-2002) might be worth consideration: Subaru, Honda Civic, Mazda 626, Saturn. Thank you

My advice on any car with that kind of high mileage is brand goes out the window.

I would concentrate on a model without an automatic transmission if an option for you. A clutch/manual transmission is easy to tell condition with a normal driver. An automatic is a ticking time bomb at that mileage I could care less of brand.

My next thing would be to narrow down to any car with a known history of maintenance if possible and if performed.

Lastly and most importantly pay a trusted mechanic for a checkover. If you have none ask around. They will identify the issues (most likely will be) and what needs to be done right away or later. Do not try to save a buck here, otherwise you may end up with something requiring thousands of dollars more in repairs.

Again ignore brand at your mileage/age brand expect avoid euro makes simply due to higher repair costs.

Are Any Or All Of These Vehicles Driven On A Daily Basis, Right Now?

I mean, Are they licensed and insured and make trips of several miles at at time?
Cars like these that have been “parked” tend to scare me. I start to wonder why the vehicle was taken off the road.

Cheap, high miles, old cars are a dice roll. Nobody knows just when they’ll have the “Big One”. I’d go with one that is driven almost daily and has some proven maintenance, records if possible. I actually don’t think the car make is that important at 200,000 miles. They all got there. The proof is in the pudding.

You can choose the one you like best and see if the owner will let you have it checked by a mechanic. Poor maintenance plus 200,000 miles can equal a car that is possibly dangerous to drive.

Do you know of any work each one needs to have done? How much money are we talking about? Do you know any/all the owners?


Lastly and most importantly pay a trusted mechanic for a checkover.

Cars at 200,000 miles are often good solid cars. Those that are good have received good maintenance. A good mechanic can tell a lot about a car and it’s condition.

I also agree that brand is not all that important.

Know that there will be things that need to be done to that car over the next few years that you might not need on a newer car, so you factor that into your decision, however overall it is usually cheaper to have a car like you are considering, assuming it passes the mechanic’s test.

Also know that any car new or old can and will have problems, some cars only a few and some many.  The maintenance and care you give it will help your chances of having one that has fewer problems.

Agree in principal with Andrew’s comments.

I’d shy away from the high mileage Subaru. The AWD system has expensive components that can break down. The Subaru AWD system is sensitive to tires being evenly matched with the same depth of tread. You don’t want to buy 4 new tires if you have one that gets a flat and needs replacing.

Try to find an FWD or RWD car with manual transmission. Stay away from 4WD or AWD drive systems.

My only comment on Subaru AWD is manual transmission is significantly less sensitive to mismatched tires. It also uses a simple viscous coupling using fluid shear instead of a wear item called a electronic clutch pack used in the automatic transmission. My family is running 5 Subaru’s in the 200k-300k range without any AWD issues although the manual transmission.

To add I have only seen one or two posts on the many on Subaru regarding a manual transmssion AWD Subaru. I understand less sold but the issues are fractional. The manual Subaru AWD is so elegantly simple and work incredibly well (top tier) using simple fluid shear.

Once you get to 200K miles you’re talking about disposable cars. The brand doesn’t matter any more. You buy a car like this for $500 or so and you drive it until something breaks. Then you junk the car and buy another one. Repeat as necessary.

Buy the best running car you can find. If it comes with maintenance records you’re way ahead.

If you must buy a car with this many miles, I recommend Honda Civic or Accord, Toyota Corolla or Camry, and Geo or Chevrolet Prizm.

Subarus can last this long and longer, but their maintenance expenses are higher than the others, and the potential for expensive problems with the AWD system is high.

Also, some automatic transmission Subarus come equipped with the premium Variable Torque Distribution AWD system, which is far superior to the “garden variety” AWD system on most automatic transmission Subarus. IIRC, the VTD system started to become available for the '01 model year. One of the reasons why I chose my Subaru was because of this vastly superior system.

The easiest way for the layman to tell if a Subaru has this AWD system is to look for the fuse holder for disabling the AWD system. This is present on most automatic transmission Subarus, the exception being the ones with the VTD system. Since the VTD system is not prone to damage from mismatched tires (like a donut spare), there is no fuse to disable the VTD system.

Buying ANY car with that many miles on it and you’re taking a chance. If you know the history of the vehicle then that’s a different story. Some brands…even knowing the history I wouldn’t buy them with over 200k miles…The young college student who bought my wifes 96 Accord with 240k miles on it…got a GREAT deal. Car was in EXCELLENT shape.

The cars you mentioned, 200K miles is getting pretty close to the end of the line…If we are talking $1000-$1500, fine…Many craigslist sellers will take half their ridiculous asking prices if you offer them cash…Shop off the second and third page of listings. After two weeks unsold on the market, they are ready to deal…

The cars you mentioned, 200K miles is getting pretty close to the end of the line

Not too about the other cars…but the Honda Civic…IF normal maintenance was preformed…then it’s got plenty of life yet. I’ve seen them go well past the 350k mile mark. I work with a girl who has a 87 with over 420k…and still going strong.

On Civic’s I found out my wife’s old one failed with main bearing failure around 200k miles, we sold with 180k miles. My wife kept up with regular oil changes every 5k miles. She is not the easiest driver but never revved it too high either. We did notice a subtle knock on occasion but never alarmed the few mechanics who actually did work to the car.