Age versus Mileage?

I would like to solicit some opinions on a car choice I have. My dad recently passed away at the age of 80 and Mom now finds herself with two cars. Dad’s car is a 2005 Toyota Avalon Limited with 9800 miles on it. Mom’s car is a 1996 Isuzu Oasis (really a Honda Odyssey) with 31,000 miles. Although Mom loves it, Dad never liked the Oasis because he felt like it was underpowered on the highway. So, the Isuzu was only used by Mom locally and otherwise was parked in their carport. The Isuzu is in fantastic shape and looks almost like new. However, since the Isuzu is over 11 years old and the Toyota is less than three years old, Mom is thinking of keeping the Toyota and getting rid of the Isuzu.

My wife and I recently found out that we are expecting our first child. My wife has a 2003 Mazda Protege with 40,000 miles and I have a 2004 Chevrolet Avalanche with 42,000 miles. The Mazda has been a great car, but it is a little on the small side, especially once we load it up with baby stuff. The Avalanche used to be our main car (like father, like son?) but, after gas prices shot up a few years ago, we started using the Mazda as much as possible.

Mom has offered us the Isuzu and we are thinking of using it to replace the Mazda, since the van is very versatile and roomy. However, low mileage notwithstanding, we’re a little hesitant to replace a car that’s less than five years old with one that’s over eleven years old. We weren’t planning on replacing either car for another five or six years. If we keep the Isuzu that long, it will be 17 or 18 years old and would have around 90,000 miles on it. That’s not much mileage, but I worry about electrical problems due to corroding connectors, deteriorating rubber items, and things like that. Mom replaced the OEM tires about a year ago because we were worried about dry-rot, but all the other hoses and belts are original.


Unless you’re having triplets, the Protege will be fine. You can put a child seat in the rear. Lots of people have kids in cars this size, or smaller.

I would not sacrifice a 2003 Protege for a 1996 Isuzu, unless the Protege has over 150K miles. Think of gas prices! The Protege will continue to be economical to drive, at least more so than the older van.

Stick with what you have and save your money. You’ll need it for your child.

Get an estimate to change all hoses, and belts including the timing belt(overdue if never changed) and fluids (brake, transmission, coolant) and then decide. The van will be much pleasant with children.

I am not familiar with the Protege. However, if the Isuzu is rust-free, you might consider it. However, if you do take it, I would spend money to have all the belts, hoses, and fluids changed.

Thanks for the comment, those are good points. We are thinking of having at least one more tot, but obviously that’s still a couple of years down the road. I was in China recently and when I saw some American cars on the road over there I was surprised how hulking they appeared. So, I suppose we get used to the automotive gigantism prevalent around here.

We typically get 22-24 mpg with the Mazda, while Mom gets around 20 mpg in the van (which is essentially a '96 four-cylinder Accord, mechanically-speaking). The EPA says the combined mileage on the van is 19 while the Mazda gets 24. So, the Mazda is better, but the Isuzu is not too bad when it comes to fuel consumption.

As far as money goes, KBB says the private party value of the van is about $5k, while the Mazda is worth about $7k. So, we’re not having to really invest much, although I think I’d go ahead and change the belts, hoses, and fluids which I’m sure would soak up several hundred dollars.

I have to admit some bias against the Mazda, which my wife bought before we got married. It’s fine for short trips and quite peppy and nimble. But, as a big person (6’2", 240 pounds), I always feel like I’m sitting in a chair made for elementary school children when I get behind the wheel. The seats are just awfully small for me, even though the cabin is relatively roomy in front.

Dump the maza the parst cost to much to fit it put the family in the van it will good until the kids are teen ages and they do not want to seen in van . the avalon is a great car and will last mom until she can not drive any more.

My wife’s best friend, a very sharp lady originally from Scotland, is a very shrewd shopper. She has a 2003 Mazda Protege, as have some of her other friends. This is a bulletproff little car with good backseat room and a large trunk. I would keep that one; it’s perfect for a small family. Mazda has a much better repair rcord than Suzuki as well. This is a NO-BRAINER as far as I can see. You are looking at at least 10 years of trouble-free life left in it, unless you live in the rust belt.

Well, if it was me, I’d get rid of the Chev Avalanche. That thing is going to cost you every time you look at it. Gas, maintenance, insurance, you name it. And, with a wife and two kids it’s just not a realistic vehicle at all, if it ever was. Keep the Protege, take the Isuzu and get the belts and hoses changed, and sell the Avalanche.

^^ I second that. Dump the Avalanche and replace it w/ the Isuzu. It still has fewer miles than the Avalanche, is still big enough for your family, and gets better mpg. You say you don’t use the Avalanche much anyway b/c of fuel costs, and if you’re gonna have two vehicles, at least this way they can both be practical on some level.

Here’s a little math for ya:

The Avalanche has an overall mpg rating of 14mpg. Assuming an average gas price of $3.00 (a bit on the cheap side), and an annual driving mileage of 10,000 miles, the Avalanche costs:

$2143 dollars per year on gas.

The Isuzu, with your mom’s rating of 19mpg; and using the same gas prices and mileage as above, costs:

$1579 dollars per year on gas.

So you’d save over $500 on gas alone just in the first year. That should be more than enough to replace any belts/hoses you’re worried abt.
And if you’re worried abt electrical corrosion, get a can of Dielectric Grease from Autozone, and just spend a lazy Sunday afternoon going through the engine compartment squirting a little grease on all the connections.

—Oh, and hey, Congrats on the KID!

I agree with wentwest and VelocityBoy, Sell Avalanche!!!

Yep, I’d dump the Avalanche, too. Use the Protege as a thrifty commuter car, and the Isuzu as the family hauler. But, then I’m pretty much anti-GM, so my bias may be affecting my thinking. On the other hand, I also favor sedans over trucks for most day-to-day stuff like driving to work or getting groceries.