How wise would be to buy a car made in 1996?

I’m a student and to make understand my situation, I’m talking a bit details of myself. My monthly income is just above 1k. For an urgent condition, I am in a real need of a car. As of option, I’ve a 2002 Toyota Camry with 262000 miles and a Lexus LS 400 with 172000 miles. The first one would cost me 900 and the Lexus would be around 1800-2000. Which one should I buy? Lexus has got some braking problem which would be fixed by the owner, but the Camry has some issues which the owner doesn’t talk in detail. I can at best, spend as much as 2000, not more than that. So what do you people suggest?

Re-evaluate “need” and keep saving $.

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These 2 cars are probably at the end of there life. Expect to spend $$$ for major repairs in the near future. Keep saving money until you can afford a newer car.

If you MUST buy a car… By far the $900 Camry with $1100 left for repairs is the way to go. You never want to exhaust your savings buying a car that WILL need work.

That said, the best money spent here may be to have a mechanic do a pre-sale inspection on the Camry. He can’t tell you for certain when things may fail, but he can identify what it needs right now.

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I have a 1987 car. I do all my own maintenance so know it’s as good as new (except the paint). It has never needed a major repair, at least in terms of cost (I re-built the carburetor, replaced the fuel and water pumps myself; I had the brakes and clutch replaced. for a few hundred).

Both of these cars can be reliable. If they were properly maintained and had no accidents they could be good for 10 more years. That one has a problem with brakes is a sign the owner doesn’t care, a bad sign. It could be simple and cheap to repair; that the owner hasn’t is evidence of his/her carelessness and not a good omen for its condition otherwise. If it’s expensive to repair, it’s expensive.

These both sound like Craigslist disasters in the making. PhoenixSS , you need to find a family member or friend that can help you that might have some knowledge about vehicles . Frankly, any vehicle at selling price below 4000.00 these days is a real gamble.

Of the two, the Camry’s problems will probably be much less expensive to deal with. But before buying have it looked over by a mechanic, it’ll cost you around $100. That would be worth it if you avoid buying a car that’s about to die.

Are you in the United States? If not, we don’t know what your money is and “1k” isn’t very meaningful to us as far as figuring out your finances.

That said, if you can’t spend more than 2,000, then you don’t want to spend all 2,000 on the car - - especially a vehicle that old is going to need work done to it pretty much right away. If you’re lucky that will just be some fluid exchanges, but it could be much more. So the Lexus is out.

And so is the Camry, because the car-selling translation of this is “I know this car is about to die, and it will be insanely expensive to fix, and I’m hoping this guy will give me money and take this problem car away.”

You would probably be better off using a ride hailing company like Lyft or Uber.


I like the Uber/Lyft idea. Recent article described how it can be cheaper overall in some situations.

Neither. I know the Camry is getting the love, but if it is the 4 cylinder, the engines on those are known to have head bolt loosening issues which is expensive to repair and makes me wonder if that is the issue the seller doesn’t want to talk about.

Does your budget for a car include maintenance and repairs, or just the purchase price and insurance?

If your budget doesn’t include all the costs, keep saving.

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Red flag for me, “Lexus has got some braking problem which would be fixed by the owner,” Fix the problem then let me know. Why would the seller offer to fix a known problem if you buy the car, before fixing the problem to sell the car? Oh that was a verbal commitment, but you signed as is, you loose.

6 of one, half dozen of the other. Both are good cars, reliable in their day. But @262K on the Camry, you are taking on some expensive potential problems there, even with a reliable car. With the lower miles on the clock, I’d probably choose the Lexus of the two myself. Make sure whichever you choose, you get it inspected by your own mechanic first. Ask for a “pre-purchase inspection”. Should cost around $100, money well spent.

I took a quick look at Craigslist used cars in my area and in about 2 minutes found a 2000 Honda Civic with 132K miles in good mechanical condition but w/a few body dents for $1400. I’d prefer that car to either of the two you posted. If I was in your situation I’d look some more. Try to find a Civic/Corolla/Mazda 3 model year 2000 or later with less than 150,000 miles, and if possible manual transmission and roll up windows (no automatic door locks or automatic windows). As a student, you want a reliable ride & avoid time and $$ consuming car repair problems, that’s your main objective. Trade off things you might desire, like the car’s color & appearance, gadgets and gizmos, to get what you need the most.