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2003 Corolla single owner 175,000 miles?

Q1. Buy?

Q2. What price is fair?

Condition of car: good condition, stock, lady driven.

From My Perspective, When You Are Talking That Many Miles, The Car Is Nearing That “Throw Away” Category. I Wouldn’t pay much for it.

Any brand car, especially of unknown history can have major engine or transmission problems at 175,000 miles. The problem is that because it’s 7 model years old and has lots of miles, it isn’t worth putting a lot of money into for repairs. Then it becomes a throw away.

Personally, I wouldn’t buy it. but if you do, pay an amount you could afford to throw away. I wouldn’t give $1000 for it. I’d put it toward a younger car.


I would not buy a car with that many miles.

What appeals to you on this vehicle? Price, brand name or what?

Most cars with 175k feel well worn.

Honestly, the seller seems to be a young dealer out to make a buck. he bought it from the lady, and now hopes to sell it for kbb value. (yes, LOL) . He told me 3500 for the car, and I said 2500 final price. Now, with what you guys say, it seems that that too is too much of a price to pay.

I have been looking for cars for the past month, and have wasted a lot of time on it. I have whittled down to these expectations and models

  1. No accident.
  2. Honda Civic, Accord, Toyota Camry, Corolla, Mazda Protege, 3, Acura RSX, Integra.
  3. Ford Taurus, Chevy Cavalier , geo Prizm ( I wish I could get more manual tranny American cars though)
  4. Cars condition has to be good.
  5. Avoiding student and or immigrant driven cars. Even though, I’m a foreigner myself, I say it, (sorry) because some people just donot have the money to pay for the cars upkeep.
  6. No cars from Dealers if I can help it. Simply no cars that have been bought by a small ass dealer at an auction, is fixing it up and selling it for a quick penny.
  7. Manual Transmission; fun, cheap to repair.
  8. Pricing:
    Generally, cars close to and above 100K are priced by condition rather than by mileage; kbb goes to junk then. Usualy offer around 1000$ below kbb for a reasonable miles car.
  9. Sellers reasons for selling—!! I have heard so many of them; from baby to college to this to that. The only ones I like is actually moving away to a foreign country or upgrading…the ones in which poor condition is clearly not an issue.
  10. High, highway miles better than fewer city miles of course.
  11. Model research: msn auto reliability, true delta, consumerreports (bless them), user comments.
  12. Mechanical inspection before purchase.

I would like your comments on the above list of parameters.
Thank you so much.

I Wouldn’t Say That You Have Wasted A Lot Of Time Looking At Cars. From Your List And Your Stories I Think You Are Educating Yourself Rather Well, Not Wasting Time.
Look at how much more you know, now. This isn’t a simple process and represents a large expediture.

This time spent will hopefully pay off in time and money saved when you find the right car.

Could you say again the amount of money you are willing to spend at this time?


Upto 6000$. I’m a graduate student doing a PhD.
My ideal car would be sporty, fun, well maintained, have high predicted reliability and cheap to own. The civic si’s and acura rsxs are good here. But they get stolen. Do you think I would need insurance if I have central locking and an inverted club?

The problem with used “tuner” type cars is that they have usually been abused and repaired with less than professional methods. And on top of it they have probably been stolen at least once in their lifetimes. If you do buy a Civic si or Acura rsx or the like, make sure that it is stock from intake to tail pipe. Buying in this price range you risk getting a Tijuana special with 3 extra horsepower and a ticking obd time bomb.

yeah, you;re right, these cars do get stolen.
I am talking to two people right now. They have a Honda Civic and a Acura RSX respectively. The Honda civic guy, has the title in hand. He says that he bought it from another guy, and then while driving it, did not like the way it felt while driving. Thus he wants to change the car. He says that he has the original receipt, and the title with the previous owners signature on it. He’s telling me that if I buy, I’ll sign both those documents, and thus the sale shall show as having being done with the earlier owner. It sounds funny, the car may be stolen. Then again he might be telling the truth and that might have happened to him.

I shy away from someone who has a car not registered to them. I once passed on a deal like that and then got a few harassing calls from the seller.
Add the Ford Focus and Kia Spectra and Hyundai Elantra to the list. Sporty cars are usually driven hard, so I tend to stay away from those.

A lot of people make deals this way. It generally means that he paid almost nothing for the car and is going to double his money at least. You don’t stand much of a chance if you try bargaining with him. I call them vehicle vultures because they always lowball the seller and charge the next buyer a lot. Maybe you should look harder for the bargains. The Corolla might be good for five or six hundred dollars.

If $6k is your budget and a $2500-$3000 car suits your needs go for it if you can stash $1000-$1500 aside for a car repair fund and not touch for anything else. Nothing wrong with high mileage ownership except when the buyer leaves nothing aside in case.

Good luck, manual tranny is a huge plus as automatic tranny problems mean junking or putting out as much if not more than worth fixing them.

Hi Everybody who has helped me out.
I just got off the phone with a guy who has a 1998 Honda Civic Manual 130,000 miles.
Owned it since 2000. Autocheck (yes, I know we should take it with a pinch of salt)
gives it a score of 88 when similiar vehicles are in the range of 22-63 points.
Asking 2200$ for the car. He told me that the 100,000 mile tuneup needs to be done. He claims that no repairs have been required on the car since he bought it. Tyres are 2 years old, paint is in trouble, interior has seen 2 kids grow up in it.
The good is that the mechanical condition seems to be okay ( I’m taking it to a mechanic tomorrow). The interior can be cleaned etc, the paint , who cares?
Any suggestions, advice, comments and blessings people???

Thank you so much, I am EXTREMELY grateful for all the advice people have posted here. I have learnt a lot from the website.

And some of the knowledge that I have gained can be seen in some other threads, summarised best by my ad in Craigslist:


Just When Everthing Is Looking Up, I Come Along. I Hate To “Rain On Your Parade” , But . . .

. . . this 98 Civic with 1.4L 4 cylinder engine has a timing belt and an “interference engine” design, as many (most) small cars do.

The belt requires periodic replacement to keep from having it break. Although replacement can cost hundreds of dollars, a broken belt would no doubt cause more damage to the engine than this $2200 car is worth. It would total it, turn it to junk.

The owner has possibly put off a timing belt replacement with the 100,000 tune-up that was put off, possibly because of the expense of the belt replacement. Should this be the case, that engine is getting ready to turn into damaged goods at any moment and should not be operated.

Find out for certain if or when the timing belt was replaced (time and miles) and you would need written proof of it.

A Honda repair facility can give you the change interval in miles and years and tell you how much it would cost. They can also tell what the whole “tune-up” would cost.

I hate to be the one to tell you this, but this does not bode well for this car. I wonder what else has been neglected for the past 30,000 to 50,000 miles?


P.S. Add Timing Belt to your list. (Not all cars have one, but this one does.)


You did rain on my party, but have to say, WELL RAINED.
I just spoke to that guy…and he hasnt changed the damn timing belt! How the hell do people run their civic without changing their timing belts at 90000 miles I wonder.

And he is also asking for fair kbb private party, 2200 $. Should I buy the car at 1500$ or should I look for another?

Thanks for the common sense. It is truly rare.

You Could Offer Less, But I’d Make It Enough To Cover That 100,000 Mile Service & Timing Belt. He probably Won’t Do It Because He Can Find Somebody Not As Sharp As You.
That’s O.K. Then it’s back to looking, again. Darn!

I’d be too nervous to drive the thing, even a couple of miles after I paid for it.

It makes me wonder what else was neglected. I don’t know Hondas. Maybe somebody else will jump on here and tell whether any damage was done to the car by not doing the 100,000 mile service.

I’d look for one that has better maintenance documentation. I’d be kind of “ticked” if that guy was going to sell me a car that was a “ticking time bomb”.

Don’t overlook a small Chevrolet or something similar. You can possible get a car quite a bit younger (age and miles) for your money.


“Don’t overlook a small Chevrolet or something similar”

In general, that is good advice, but I would caution HoustonRice to AVOID a Chevy Aveo at all costs. This is just a poorly designed small car from the bankrupt Daewoo Corp of Korea that has been “rebadged” as a Chevrolet. As evidence of its poor design, despite its small engine and meager dimensions, its fuel economy is worse than more powerful, larger cars.

And, perhaps more significant is the fact the the timing belt on this car is supposed to be changed at 60k, an interval that every other car maker has been able to surpass for many years, due to better design. And, as bad as that 60k interval is, these engines are known for snapping their belts prior to 60k.

All-in-all, there is absolutely NOTHING about the Chevy Aveo that should attract an intelligent person who does his/her due diligence. For those who fail to do adequate due diligence, GM has muddied the waters even further by introducing the Pontiac G3, which is simply a Chevy/Daewoo Aveo with different badges. Old, bad wine in new kegs is still bad old wine.

Guys.please jump to this one:

Guys, I have taken look after look at the Consumer reports red and black dots. Nothing beats the Toyotas and the Hondas. mazda and Nissan close second. Those red dots for a Honda civic stretch all the way back to 1999 models. For the GM cars, they slowly turn black!

They take surveys of some 3 million US based vehicles, and the results are pretty accurate. So for the 1998 Honda, I think I should go for it at a reasonable price. Maybe 2500 total for the timing belt change+cost of the car.