Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

High-mileage Honda Accord

I am looking at a 1997 Honda Accord LX Wagon ,

5speed manual with 218000 miles. What should I look out for ?

The seller says the AC needs charging, and that the driver’s side window motor is failing. Are these problems indicative of greater problems on the horizon ?, and is such a car worth $ 1500?

We use to own a 96 Accord…EXCELLENT CAR…But the car is 13 years old…there are bound to be some problems no matter how well it’s made.

We kept ours to about 230k miles (wife wanted a quieter car)…and I had a total of $4 in repairs.

The other factor is how well it was maintained…

If it has a interference engine with a timing belt, i’
d check when was the last time the belt was changed.

Take the car to your mechanic and have a pre-purchase inspection. Find out why the AC needs a charge. You might need new seals (at least). Factor in a regulator/motor replacement for the driver’s power window. The car is worth about $1800 in clean condition. Subtract the regulator/motor and AC problems as well as any other repair it needs. I suspect that the car is not worth more than $1000, but you need to do your homework if you want it.

Definitely have the car inspected before you buy it. Window regulator problems are common with these cars, so that’s not unusual. If the a/c needs charged, there’s a leak somewhere. The stuff doesn’t just disappear or wear out, so be aware of that. O-rings and Schraeder valves are common and normally cheap repairs to the a/c system on these cars. If the history of the timing belt and water pump are unknown, replacement is entirely necessary to prevent failure. The Accord does have an interference engine in it, so timing belt failure would be catastrophic and very expensive. The clutch and hydraulic system for it will also be a concern. With the age and miles on those components, you can expect to replace some or all of that stuff sometime in the next couple of years. If the car is in good condition and checks out well with a mechanic, I would definitely consider spending $1500 on it.

Assume the AC needing recharging costs $1500 to fix. Rarely do older cars simply need a recharge.

Those surface problems are meaningless on a well worn car.

If you spend $1500 on the car expect to spend about $1000-$1500/year keeping this car going.

It’s a good sign that the car isn’t worth more than $500. Deduct for reconditioning and the car should be free!! It may need $1,500 in repairs. That means you could afford a car with everything working if you spend more money on the car instead of the repairs. Don’t set yourself up for a beating.

Skip it. Keep looking.

What $1500 car does not work and repairs?

Honda’s sell at a premium for whatever reason. Maybe illusion of reliability. Back in 2004, I sold my 1994 Honda Civic EX Coupe with 225k in need of timing belt, front/rear suspension work for $2300. It had no major maintenance performed since 140k except $15 Walmart quick oil change.

I doubt you’ll find a good running car with good AC for $1500. Can you live without AC? If the clutch doesn’t wear out and slip, and the timing belt doesn’t break, this car will probably go a lot more miles.

It depends on what the previous owner has already done. A 97 Accord with 218,000 miles needs to have had 44 oil changes, 4 transmission fluid changes, 4 coolant changes, etc. If the previous maintained the car very well, if it is sound and drives like a sound car, then it is probably worth around $1,000. With very good tires on it and a clean exhaust sytem. Make an offer in that range if all of that is true. Otherwise, it has 218,000 miles on it. I can’t think but that the original owner had it in his or her mind to drive this car into the boneland from day one. Then maybe the car kept going but each year the parts and labor costs started getting much higher than a new car monthly payment. It’s a good car, but you will spend real money to keep it running. When was the last time the timing belt was replaced, or the water pump? The belt is good for maybe 90,000 miles, so if the anwser isn’t twice, you can expect to replace that part for around %500 - and add $300 for the water pump which you should change if that part hasn’t been changed once.

Timing belt replaced 2 years ago. New Catalytic Converter. Drives smoothly and quietly. The seller has maintained car with oil change every 3000 miles, has extensive service records. Does that help ?

It still depends. The timing belt was replaced but what about the tensioners and water pump? If this was not done at that time then it’s way past due, timing belt in the last 2 years or not.

The A/C is leaking and a recharge is not the answer. This could get pricy.

At 218k miles you can safely bet that if that car were put on a rack and thoroughly inspected by a competent mechanic a number of problems may be present.
Worn suspension components and halfshafts are an example and sometimes these parts may require disassembly to actually inspect. That of course brings up the point that if it’s apart then you might as well replace it.

Whether it’s worth 1500 is in the eyes of the beholder and based on what an inspection, and compression test, may show.

Where’s this car? I’ll buy it since I don’t need AC.