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Buying a used car

I haven’t owned a car for eight years, but in a few months I will be moving for a new job that I will have to have a car. I’m interested in a Scion xA because it has a good reliability record, good gas mileage, and I think it looks cool. Since it hasn’t been made for five years, I’m seeing ads for used ones from 2004-2006. All of the listings fit within my budget, but I’m wondering about balancing mileage versus price. What is a good amount of mileage on a used car? Ads I’ve found range from a 2006 with 34,000 miles for $10, 700 to a 2004 with 120,000 miles for $8,000.

I won’t be doing tons of driving, but I would like the car to last me a while. Any advice is welcome. Thank you!

Once you’re on the used car market the mileage is secondary. E.g. I’d take a car with 120K on it long before a car with 34K on it if the former was really well maintained and did a lot of highway-type driving and the latter was poorly maintained and did a lot of short trip driving. The 120K car would actually be in much better shape and probably last longer.

So you want to know whether or not you can get maintenance/repair records and you want to know what the actual maintenance schedule was supposed to be.

But by far your best ally will be a mechanic you can trust to look over the car. Since you haven’t had a car you probably don’t have a mechanic. So ask around among the car owners that you know. You need a good, trustworthy, local mechanic. Expect to pay them some basic fees for their time to look over potential cars, but its your best way to avoid disaster.

Do some research on,, Each will value the car a bit differently, but you can see the trends and decide value. These valuations will also tell you whether the mileage is average for its age, or not. I still think the average per model year runs about 12-15K.

While proper maintenance and a quality pre-purchase inspection is important, I don’t discount the value of a good low mileage vehicle. Maintenance records are an important part of equation.

Don’t trust Carfax completely either. It’s a place to start, but not the end-all-be-all for used car buying.

Since you won’t be racking up a lot of miles per year, I’d suggest you consider Scion’s with higher miles. Many of the cars with high miles will have been on highways for many of the miles. Highway miles are easier on a car in general than “city” miles.

When you find a car you like spend a bit more money for a mechanic to inspect it BEFORE you commit to buying the car. Miles on the car aren’t that big a deal, how well the previous owner maintained the car is more important the miles on the odometer.

We have an '04 xA and an '06 xB, both good cars. Both about 120K miles. Neither has required any repairs at all, including before we owned them.

I prefer the up-to 2006 model years on both models for better mileage and cuteness, particularly on the xB. Advice: look for better optioned cars as adding things like cruise control, remote keyless entry, and alarm systems can quickly add up.

These are well thought out cars with good reliability and MPG.

The price for the 2006 is a little steep, even for a dealer. It is way high for a private sale. If you tell us what options are on it, I can calculate the price a little better. The 2004 price is at least $1500 too high. Don’t even bother with it.

Buying any used car is a crapshoot, even for a seasoned mechanic. A pre-inspection can help your odds a bit but there are no guarantees even on a low miles vehicle.
Many people buy a new car. flog it into the ground for 10-20k miles, and then off it goes to be inflicted upon someone else.

Speaking of Carfax, here’s an example not only of CF but news in general.
Carfax erroneously promotes the warm and fuzzy feeling of a reliable vehicle.
Customers assume too much based on a Carfax report. Apparenty being psychic is a requirement; and on a 13 year old, saltwater car to boot.
TV reporters always want to drum up controversy or drama. The rep. is dead wrong.

wonder if she’ll try to sue carfax