Is 350K Miles Realistic?

We’re looking for a used minivan but are on a tight budget. A friend’s father, who owns a used lot, recommended we get a japanese one that’s been very well maintained, saying that some minivans will go to 400K miles. He has an '01 Odyssey w/ 200K miles that’s had one previous owner and he says it’s been very well maintained. He is going to put in a rebuilt transmission and says he thinks it will go another 100, 150K miles. From what I’ve read on other posts, it looks like I should ask about the timing belt. But is his prediction reasonable? Could we do better for the $6-7,000 we can spend?

Any vehicle can go $350K miles. The key is: can you do it without it being prohibitively expensive? Very few vehicles do reach $350K miles - often because repairs begin exceed the value of the car.

The '01 Odyssey has had more than its share of (costly) transmission problems.

Based on the advice your friend’s father is giving you, I’m suspicious of his intentions. See what his answer would be if you told him you found a similar '01 Odyssey elsewhere that you’d like to buy.

Are You Serious ?

You are considering buying a used Odyssey with 200,000 miles from a friend’s father who just happens to own a used car lot and you want it to be a reliable one that has been well-maintained, But Needs A Transmission ?

I see just a few problems.

The 99 to 01 Odysseys had transmission problems. I wonder how many transmissions it’s had ?
You’re buying from a car salesman.
How will you ascertain that the car was well-maintained ? Take somebody’s word ?

Almost any car will go 350,000 miles if well-maintained, but you have to absolutely know its excellent maintenance history before you can make that happen.

Buy a vehicle like this and if you think you’re on "tight budget" now, just wait. Buy a newer, younger vehicle, even if you have to save a little more. I wouldn’t limit my search to Japanese vans and I’d buy directly from an original owner with all the maintenance / repair documentation. 200,000 is way too many miles to start from, in my opinion.


Ask about the timing belt?
Sure, but do NOT take anyone’s verbal assurance that the timing belt was replaced.

You need to see an actual repair invoice with that vehicle’s VIN on it, along with the date and the odometer mileage in order to establish factually that the timing belt was replaced and WHEN it was replaced. With that extreme number of miles on the odometer, it is due for its second timing belt replacement, so unless you know factually that the timing belt was replaced VERY recently, then you have to assume that the belt replacement that he referred to was the first one that was due at 105k miles.

Relying on anyone’s word for something as important as this is…naive…and potentially very costly for you. Yes, this is the father of a friend but is he was lied to by the previous owner, or if he is in the habit of stretching the truth when he sells cars (a reality with used car salesmen, unfortunately), then the one to suffer the financial consequences will be you or another sucker who buys a vehicle whose timing belt was not replaced on schedule.

The transmissions in these vehicles is their true Achilles Heel, and many owners have reported that the replacement transmission gave out after 70k or 80k. Then, there are the weak motor mounts on these vehicles. However, overall they are good vehicles, and are listed by Consumer Reports as one of the most reliable vehicles in that price/age category. Another one in that category is the '02 Toyota Sienna.

Can this vehicle go another 100-150k miles? Sure, but that could be said for virtually any modern vehicle if its owner is willing to keep spending increasing amounts of money on repairs. Essentially, the Odyssey is a good vehicle, despite its chronic transmission woes, but with 200k on the odometer, its best days are behind it and repairs are going to be needed at an increasing rate as more miles mount up on it.

I would suggest that you keep looking until you find an Odyssey or Sienna that has:

Fewer miles on the odometer
Complete maintenance records

And then, be sure to have a potential purchase vetted by your mechanic, prior to purchase.

Is it possible - yes. Is it realistic - no. Very few cars make it to 350K miles. The Odyessey is a pretty solid vehicle, but you’ll got through about 3 transmissions between now and 350K miles. If you are willing to continue to pay for repairs it might make it to 350K. A better question is do you have a good chance of getting your money’s worth from the vehicle before it dies or requires a repair you aren’t willing to fund? Answer to that is a good probability you’ll get your money’s worth.

It is over 10 years old so you’ll have to figure on a lot of repairs and downtime. Alternators, radiators, heater cores, AC condensors, yadda yadda are all prone to failure in older cars. That is just part of what you deal with keeping an older car on the road. Figure about $2,000 a year for repairs, replacing tires, and maintenance.

I just traded my Buick with 523K on it. I’m not sure if it was worth it or not. If you are on a tight budget, seems to me you’d be better off buying a domestic in good condition. They will be cheaper to buy, and will cost less in maintenance as a general rule. After a couple hundred thousand miles, the body starts to lose some of its tightness and flexes a whole lot more.

As the others have said, anything’s possible, but the vast majority of cars/vans/trucks never see 350k, much less 400k, without major (expensive) repairs. So the real question is should you get a 2001 Ody with 200k. Have you seen written records proving this was well-maintained, including the very troublesome transmission?

Friend of you dad or not, do not take any used car saleman’s word for it, you have to see documents. Alternative-look in Craigslist, idividuals may be a better bet.

350,000 may be realistic for the Odyssey engine, but nobody knows because the transmissions keep failing. 1999-2001 were the worst years for trannys and I don’t know if anyone ever figured out how to keep these going. Many of these Odysseys are on their 3rd transmission.

Do a net search about Odyssey valve lash (or failure to check valve lash) and then ask him if the vehicle has been well maintained.

Even a well-maintained 200k miles vehicle will need something(s). Sounds like you’re being fed a sales pitch from a wholesale lot to me and I sure hope you’re not considering coughing up anywhere near 6 grand for a 200k miles vehicle.

Not to mention a used car lot owner who says he’s going to take a 9 years old Honda with 200k miles and is allegedly going to put a “rebuilt” transmission in it. Hello salvage yard or eBay.

I don’t know what the prices of used vans are where you live but I think you can do better than a 2001 with 200k for $6 or 7,000. I think you’re hoping for some sense of security because this man is the dad of a friend. Let’s be brutally realistic, the first car dealers in the US had been horse traders! How well known for honesty? I once had one tell me to my face that he’d shoot me a line of bs in a heart beat. If you want some added security I’d look at CarMax if there’s one near you. If you buy a used car from them and you don’t like it you have 5 days in which you can return it and get all of your money back.

Two things, it is pretty easy too get hired into sales in the auto business, the reason, they hope and believe you bring all your friends and realitives in as customers, after your entire extended family has bought and you are down too selling one car a month, you are out.

2nd, for this Odyssey don’t give this Dealer any more than he has into this mini-van. He knows he should not be into it at all and is stooping to selling this car to a friend, if you want it, pay no more than cost and he should be happy he got out of it. Don’t be suprised if he rejects your “at cost only offer” as he thinks “OK this one sees through me but there are others to fleece”

On second thought, do not buy this van, regardless. I would never buy a vehicle that needed major surgery (like a ‘rebuilt’ tranny) to make it driveable. Especially if I’m on a tight budget.


At 200,000 miles, there are all kinds of parts that could fail–suspension parts, fuel pump, engine, HVAC parts (blower, air conditioning compressor), etc. Replacing the transmission won’t keep these other parts from failing.

A minivan may be a one owner and that owner may have been a cab company. I’ve seen more and more minivans used for taxi service.

I just picked up a publication at the grocery store that lists used vehicles for sale in my area. One franchised dealer has a 2001 Honda Odyssey advertised for $5995. I am certain that 1) the dealer would come down on this price and 2) if this Odyssey needed a transmission it would be off to the wholesale auction. A used car dealer would pick it up, find a used transmission and turn around and sell it. I think that is what is happening in your case.

Keep looking.