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Help...Is it worth buying a Used 1997 Toyota Camry

I need some advice! I am looking at buying a 1997 Toyota Camry LE or XLE from a recommended, reliable mechanic (who said he’s serviced the car since it was new). It has 194,000 miles but has recently gotten many new parts (tires, timing belt, brake pad…too many to list). The engine and transmission are original and the car is in great condition with A/C, sunroof, etc. Only one owner and oil changes every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. He claims there have been no accidents but I am researching the Vin #. My dilemma is that I need the car to commute about 400 miles a week from city to suburbs. Am I crazy to buy something with all these miles? I’m on a tight budget and haven’t owned a car in many years so am totally overwhelmed. Any advice is greatly appreciated. He’s asking for $3000.

While it’s not unusual for Camrys to last 250,000 to 300,000 miles, it’s not guaranteed.

I would try to find something with lower mileage if you’re going to rely on it as daily transportation.

Having said that, a car with a verified maintenance history is a better bet than one you know nothing about.

$3,000 seems rather high for something with this many miles, but that’s a sign of the times, I suppose. I recently sold a car with 145K miles for $2,500.

Please be aware, regardless of purchase price, ALL cars require periodic maintenance and repair. Allow $1,000 per year or more for this.

It’s still a 14 year old used car with very high miles and overpriced. The cost of new tires, timing belt, etc. does not raise the value of the car by that much either.

I would wager that with a very thorough examination a number of other problems could be found with this car; ball joints as an example.

$3000 is about right for an XLE with 197,000 miles from a dealer according to Edmunds. You might try to get a price reduction. If you trust the person that recommended the mechanic, you might consider buying it. If all you have is $3000, it may work out for you.

Not if your actually going to use it. There are too many other options with fewer miles. Cars are expendable these days as repair jobs get to be so expensive and cars so plentiful, it’s often more worth replacing a car then trying to drive a car that old and with that many miles. If you’re on a tight budget include potential repair costs. One of the reasons people are in such a bad way economically is illustrated by your predicament. Savings rates are low and lending rates are low encouraging people to go into debt. Find a Focus instead.

“Find a Focus instead.” There We Go . . . That’s What I’m Talking About. You Can Do It !


The most important of the new parts is the timing belt. The car might be OK, but the too many new parts to list means we can’t really tell you what to expect from the car. New tires, brakes on all 4 wheels, tie rods, steering rack, alternator, radiator, would all be parts I’d like to see recently replaced on a car with 200K miles.

You could offer about $2,000 and see where this goes. I’d recommend a mechanic of your choice inspect the car before you purchase it. At 200K miles a transmission could go out on you at any moment. Regular transmission service at 30K mile intervals would be good, but most cars don’t get that kind of care.

““Find a Focus instead.” There We Go . . . That’s What I’m Talking About. You Can Do It !

Been recommending many Ford models in posts for a long time when people are short on cash and want bang for the buck. But then, you could recommend a used K car, Yugo or Fiat Strata if you like as “all Manufactures make equally reliable cars.”

"But then, you could recommend a used K car, Yugo or Fiat Strata if you like as "all Manufactures make equally reliable cars."
I agree. I definitely could. I Had 3 K-Cars, (82, 86, 88) purchased used. Each One Was So Reliable And Economical That It Resulted In The Next Purchase.

The 2.2L engine / automatic transmissions were bulletproof. Those resulted in the purchase of A 91 Dodge Spirit 2.5L (program car) that we drove for 17 years. My wife and I both commuted 100+ miles / day and those cars were wonderful. They were very easy to maintain. Our rural mail carriers ran some of these, also.

There’s a lot to be said for repeat purchases of similar vehicles, especially if you maintain / repair them yourself.

Not so sure about foreign cars though, like Fiat or Yugo (do they still make cars ?). With Fiat getting involved with Chrysler, I’m sitting that out now. My driveway is slowly gaining more GM makes /models (5).