96 Toyota Camry LE - 200K Mi


I’m looking at this car to purchase and wonder if there any questions I should ask?

You should ask the seller to allow you to take the car to a mechanic of your choice for a pre-purchase inspection.

Unless it’s been maintained to the absolute hilt (few cars are) then this car could be due for just about anything at that age and mileage.
A thorough inspection is not a guarantee of a problem-free car but it sure helps to swing the odds in your favor a bit.

What I would ask you is just how much are they asking for this car? It may or may not be a deal depending on that amount.

In navigation, both speed and direction are needed to make a vector. In car buying, the car and the price are needed to determine true value. If you buy that car for $500 it may be a good deal. It stinks at $2,000.

Asking questions does you no good because the answers are always questionable. Question the answers. There are shops that do evaluations for $40 and they will sometimes estimate $1,200 in needed repairs. Have a shop check it out for a price that you agree to.

asking 2100

Sounds a bit much to me although the point could be made that at a certain point a used car is worth X amount of dollars if it’s in good shape, both mechanically and appearance wise. A decent used car should only depreciate to a certain point and after that they’re generally considered a beater.

With a high mileage car that has seen only average maintenace a good auto mechanic can generally find a number of issues that need to be addressed; some minor and sometimes major.
In this case the key would be to make sure the engine and transmission are fine and the body/interior is not beat to heck. Failing to do an inspection, the next best thing is a lengthy test drive of say 40 miles. Those 2 mile test drives just do not tell you much about what is going on.

About 6 months ago my youngest son picked up a 95 Camry with 150k miles on it; running great, looks good, current tag, ice cold A/C, and a new, just installed 400 dollar Kenwood stereo.
He gave 500 dollars for this car and after I went over it and caught up the maintenance and a few odds and ends (one loose motor mount, etc.) he’s into it for about 800 bucks and that includes the 500 he gave for it.

It’s been rock solid dependable for 6 months now and he uses it as a daily driver for work, etc.
Point being here that patience and homework can get you a real deal.

As an addendum, what would I feel comfortable with on a car like this price-wise?
About 1500 dollars, IF the car looks decent and has no apparent major problems related to the engine, transmission, or suspension.

thanks,I appreciate all the comments.

I’m not sure if the motor has a timing belt or not. I’m pretty sure the V6 has a timing belt, not sure about the 4 cyl. You can ask if the timing belt has been changed, but you can’t trust the answer unless there is a service reciept to document it.

If it has a timing belt you either spend about $600 for a new one, or just drive it until the belt breaks. If it breaks and you have an interference motor the damage will be significant and you’ll be sending the car to the crusher and looking for another one.

14 year old car with 200,000 miles on the clock, asking $2,100?!?!!?!?!?

Too much, not worth it. I drive two Toyotas with over 200,000 miles on them, one is 18 years old, the other is 22 years old. Both are fine mechanically, but are constant maintenance hogs. There is always something breaking or coming apart that I am having to tend to. It’s worth it to me because I can do my own work in my home garage. If I had to pay a mechanic to do this stuff for me, I wouldn’t keep them.

Yeah, that’s an awful lot for 200,000 miles and 14 years, not sure how it has been treated. If it was your grandpa’s car and you knew it from new, maybe, but a pig in a poke, no.

This may be the Toyota reputation thing that attracts you to it? If so, the goodie is probably gone on this one, and it will not match the reliability of a newer one.

Over the years I have been on this URL, I have learned a lot. But, I have also observed a lot. Once in a while, someone will say Toyotas and Hondas are no better than any other car, just stupid people paying more money for benefits that exist only in their imagination. That may not be their exact words, but it’s close.

In most cases, it comes out they bought a very old one, too cheap or broke to pay for a good one, than when it ate them up on maintenance and repairs they accuse those of us who are Toyota fanatics of lying to ourselves.

The only way to taste the maximum Toyota reliability, outside of being one of our top mechanics who can pick the good used ones from the heap, is to buy one when it is still new enough to affect its life expectancy with flawless maintenance.

That is my opinion.

With what that one costs to buy, and what you may well have to put into it in the next year or two, there may be a good make/model with far less age and mileage, that will still do well. From time to time, the experts here will list American makes that, if they have been maintained, are actually darned good used cars at a reasonable price. Though market is limited in the $2000 areaa.

Um… I bought a 92 camry LE w/ sunroof, same generation, with full service records, from original owner, a nuclear power plant safety inspector, with 198k miles and receipts for all repairs, including a new tranny around 80k, even had a notebook full of gas fillups and tire rotations and oil changes, came with one of those bras (in the trunk) and an extra alloy rim and tire. Plus the haynes manual…$1100…I would aim for a lower price