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Buying a high milage used car

i was told growing up that any car over 100,000 miles was over the hill and to much of a risk to buy. Does that still hold true? What is today’s “to many miles” to consider buying it?

Not as much. Many cars can go well more than 2 times that if you maintain them properly. But it depends on what you’re paying, and what car it is.

Are there certain models/brands that have longer lives then others?

One of my cars currently has 134,500 on the odometer, and the other one has 99,300.

I expect to drive both cars for at least several more years and MANY more miles.

Check Consumer Reports Magazine’s annual auto issue for lists of good and bad used car bets, by price range, as well as information on most reliable and least reliable vehicles.

IMHO past 8yrs/150,000 miles you will more likely than not have major repairs or maintenance(as some call/justify it).

Unfortunetly due to budget issues, a number of the cars I am looking at either are over 8 years and near or past 150,000. but I am also not looking for a car that will get a ton of driving either, basically around town and back and forth to work.

When looking at cars that age and miles, past maintenance is far more important than make/model. If it were me, I’d look for a domestic economy car with a documented history. A domestic will likely be less expensive and being an economy car it will have less bells and whistles which are likely to break. Check out a Ford Focus. They get decent mileage and have better handling and steering feel than most economy cars.

I think a lot has to do with not only the car, but the owner’s maintenance. I have a 1991 Camry with 147,000 miles. It’s my daily commute car. I sold my '89 toyota pickup to my nephew in 2003, with 193,000 miles and he still drives it. Last I heard it had 230,000 miles.

Shop your relatives and friends, the ones you know who take care of their cars, homes, electronic gear etc and you’ll do better than just on the open market. My personal preference is Toyota but I’ve owned Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Chevy, Dodge and Subaru. The brand that has given me the least amount of trouble has been Toyota.

My daily driver Mustang GT has over 100k on the clock, my Bronco is closing in on 280k, and my TR6 has around 70k on it, but when input the 70k into the British Leyland coversion calculator that equals out to about 400k miles for most other cars.

100k isn’t the milestone it once was. These days just about any car can do 100k with even minimal care.

Almost every car I’ve ever owned has been purchased with 80K miles, and much higher, mileage on it. It all depends on how it was driven and maintained and every one of those cars has given me a long service life with few problems.

Around my household a 100k miles is just broken in and 300-400k miles is the norm before moving on to something else.

With almost 105k on the odometer, my car still performs excellently, burns no oil, and even looks far newer than most cars that are 8.5 years old. However, it has been meticulously maintained and garaged.

Another car of the same make and model, and with the same odometer mileage, would undoubtedly not be in such great shape if it was the victim of lax maintenance. Ergo–maintenance is the key.

Without good maintenance, even the most reliable and durable make and model will suffer rapid aging.

Buying any used car is full of “unknowns”. Often high mileage cars that are about 4 years old have a lot of “highway” miles and still have a lot of good life in them. Before retiring I had a sales management job and did about 33K miles a year. My company leased the cars and turned them over about every 60K miles. My 2 year old 60K cars made good used cars for members of my family and myself.

The cars you are looking at are less expensive and have a lot more years and a lot more miles on them. Most likely they’ve had multiple owners. In general, each owner tends to be less careful with maintenance than the previous owner(s). This means if you can find an older, higher mileage car that is still in the hands of the 1 or 2nd owner that is a plus for the car. If the owner can document that all the proper maintenance has been done, on time that is another plus.

You need to know if the car you are considering has a motor in it with a timing belt. If it has a belt when was it last changed and what is the change interval. Very often people are selling a car that they don’t want to pay a big service bill on, such as it is time for a new timing belt and water pump. If you buy such a car it will be on you to immediately start spending money on it for such maintenance. Use the search feature for more info on interference engines and timing belts.

Have someone who is a “car” person help you evaluate cars you are interested in buying. Then spend some money for a mechanic pre-buy inspection.

Or, you can buy another auction car and takes your chances. I’d say you did ok with your shot on the Taurus. It lasted longer than you expected.

I am considering the auction again, went last week and the pickings were thin. i am looking at used car lots this time also. When I go to the lot, and I do a test drive, what should I look for, listen for and smell for and what should I do during the test drive to get a sense of the condition of the car.

Are there certain models/brands that have longer lives then others?

Yes, but there the differences may be less than many people think and it may well be that the reported differences are in large part due to the type of owner that the car attracts. For example cat A may be the cheap model that manufacturer has to offer and a high percentage of buyers may not bother with maintenance and the lack of maintenance could cause problems. Those problems are the caused by the drivers not the car. These kind of statical problems are not uncommon.

I can’t tell you what to buy. I would and generally do consider the statical data, but I don’t put a lot of weight on it. As to the age and miles of the car. It could have many more good years. I suggest having any used car you are considering, checked out by your mechanic.

Good Lucik

Are you checking out the local private sales, too?

I’ve bought many of my cars from private sellers over the years, and I’ve had very few problems with the cars I purchased this way.

Problem with private sales is you have to have all the cash right then, i only have about $600 cash available right now, thus the need for either the auction or BHPH type place where I can get financed.

My experience shows that outside of a design defect or characteristic flaw, a sound chassis has about 12-15 years of life before major components are going to be routinely failing. The overall reliability of the chassis is substantially degraded. If you can tolerate the down time, it’s still cheaper than buying new, just less convenient.

About the cheapest/best evolution is beater class. Domestics are easier to find deals in since the manufacturers had to produce so many …and force sell them, just to pay the bills.

The area of the country also has a bearing on the longevity of the car you buy. Rust can be more destructive than wear. When I lived in the Midwest my cars would last for 10 years before they rusted into oblivion.

I now live on the Pacific coast … rust here is negligible. My daily driver is a 19 year old Taurus wagon (230,000 miles) that I bought 9 years ago for $2000. The only expenses I’ve had were a $300 starter replacement and a head gasket that I replaced myself for $120.

It’s smart to budget a few hundred dollars a year for any used car you purchase.

I don’t know how old you are. My dad purchased a 1954 Buick in 1955 from a friend of the family. The car had 25,000 miles on it when he bought it. I bought the Buick from my dad in 1963 and it had 120,000 miles on the odometer. I drove it to 160,000 and sold it. Two years later the Buick was still on the street. In the 160,000 miles my dad and I owned the car, the cylinder heads and the pan were never off the engine. A well maintained car today probably has half its service life left at 100,000 miles. A poorly maintained car,however, may be shot at 40,000 miles.

In the “old days” we were told to take a roll of black tape and put a strip over the odometer. Dealers were known to reset odometers. A thorough check of the car including a compression test was more important than the odometer reading.