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Buying a 2004 used car with manny tranny-what questions should I ask?

in the market for a used 2004 Rav4 with 75K miles with a manny tranny. Price seems right but am worried about potential problems under the hood. am OK with the car needing usual replacements for wear and tear (battery, brakes, tires etc) but not OK if the car needs new belts, fuel pumps, clutch, transmission, struts…ie big ticket items over $1000. What questions do I ask to determine what the big ticket items could be and what answers should make me run away screaming…

Are you being realistic? This is not a new car, but rather an 8 year old car with 75K miles. It will need some items beyond battery, brakes, and tires. What will it need? That’s the question. Pay for an independent mechanic to inspect the car. Then based on his report negotiate a deal. My '03 Honda Civic has needed a timing belt, an alternator, and a few repairs beyond brakes and tires and I’ve had it since it was new.

If this motor has a timing belt, it is due for a change. At that age all the fluids would get changed if I was to buy the car used. Beyond that, see what info the inspection turns up. It could be a great car, but even if it is at 8 years old you can’t expect perfection.

Great! Thanks this was helpful. I fully expect that there will be other issues (i.e. timing belts) that the car might need and am willing to pay for them but it figures into what I’m willing to pay for the car. Some things just wouldn’t make sense to repair, even for a reduced price because it is an 8 year old car with 75K on it! Am trying to sort out the difference.

I bought a 2003 RAV 4 with a manual transmission and 30K miles two years ago. I spent a well-worth-it $75 to a good mechanic who looked it over. I was told that there was a significant amount of rust on the undercarriage, but that the car was mechanically sound. I have had very little trouble with the car, I’ve been very fortunate. I had to get new tires last year, and the right front axle froze and had to be replaced. Other than that it has been smooth sailing.