Is this 2007 Camry SE a good buy?

Hello,

Thank you in advance for your guidance.

We want to decide whether or not to buy a 2007 Camry SE. Following are the details:

  • Odometer reading: 127,200
  • Asking price: $5,000 (the seller found out about our budget through a mutual friend)
  • Location: Boston
  • 4 previous owners
  • Checked Carfax and Autocheck reports. No accidents
  • KBB value for “fair” condition is $5,090.
  • Our budget is $5,000 meant to be for car + repairs. Can do + or - $500.
  • I and DW are very new drivers and this will be our first car. The primary use will be to gain experience driving and gradually go on inter-state trips

In the pre-purchase inspection at a mechanic, 3 issues were identified:

  1. Rack and pinion need repair - Estimated $800-$1,200
  2. Stabilizer links on both sides need to be repaired - $125 each
  3. Airbag might need reprogramming (Snap on computer code :B1650 Occupant Classifying System). Might need to involve dealership. At high end, the price might get as high as $1,000
  • In addition, they expect the exhaust pipe/rear axle between mufflers to need replacement in 1-2 years. It could cost up to 1,000 depending on the extent of replacement necessary. I am a car noob. I thus don’t remember the part exactly but do remember the price!

Some good things:

  • For a 14yo car, it seems to have lower (127k) than average (143k) mileage
  • The original parts have not been replaced
  • No issues reported with the engine and the transmission
  • I was concerned about the infamous Toyota oil leak issue but that does not seem to have afflicted this car

I have the following questions:

  1. Based on the information above, I am unwilling to pay $5k for the car. The max I am willing to spend is $3,200 although that figure could change a bit based on your feedback. If the seller doesn’t agree, I plan to walk away. Is this car worth buying for $3200? Is it worth buying for more or less?

  2. Are there other factors that I need to consider?

Thank you once again for your guidance.

kurious

You have done your homework. Great that you had a pre inspection. Offer $3,000 and be prepared to walk away

4 Likes

It is sooo refreshing to hear from someone who has done their homework!

This is a car that can last 200k miles if properly maintainted.

They are asking $5K, you have estimates for between $1300 to $2325 in immediate repairs. I can’t see the car but $3200 seems fair considering they had inside info. Be clear with them that you are prepared to walk away. Only offer more if you are comfortable.

6 Likes

Thank you for the feedback, SteveCBT and Mustangman. I have never bought up a car in the past and all this is new to me. It’s encouraging to get your validation that I am on the right path.

In terms of prep, I have also done the following:

  1. Built a simple financial projection spreadsheet that the Total Cost of Ownership and Operation of the car will be about $30k over the next 5 years. $500/month is something I can live with, although I’ll prefer it to be less expensive.

  2. Checked CarFax, Autocheck, KBB, and a bunch of other sources using the VIN. While info is consistent, not everything matches up. For example, their recent servicing in Feb 2021 is not in the Carfax report. I saw the sticker from the Toyota dealer mentioning the date of the oil change.

  3. Our insurance is going to be crazy as we are new drivers. Anywhere from $250 - $300 per month for me and DW. I am looking for ways to reduce this expense, and one of them is to buy an inexpensive car.

If you have any additional advice at all, I am all ears.

Thank you so much!

Seems like you are getting quote for comprehensive coverage, with a car priced around $5K, you should probably buy liability for the third party. It is a gamble, but with the rate you have been quoted, if you are fine in a year, you will come ahead.

As far as the car, that gen 4 cylinder Camry engines had an oil burning issue. Not sure where this one stands.

The rack and pinion leaking is also common at that age. Add it to your repair bill but you might be just fine with topping up the power steering fluid once a month.

Your estimate is right on. The used and new car prices have gone crazy, but if you are budgeting $500 per month for repairs and are going to buy full coverage insurance, you might be better off leasing a new car and then probably buying it at the end of the lease. And this is from someone who hates leases.

I sort of agree with that plan . Leasing does require a FICO score of 720 . I also think since you seem to be able to do research why not find something that does not need that many repairs just as soon as you buy it .

Air bag repair would make me look elsewhere.

Edit : Just another thought , Do you have a Carmax near you ? They do not negotiate but they do have some kind of warranty and tend to have a little better bunch of vehicles than many used lots . It is worth a look .

1 Like

It would not bother me if alternator etc. had been replaced if that is what you are referring to.

There are many cars out there to choose from.You might find one in your target price range that needs little repairs.

Thank you for your responses! Some thoughts:

  1. The cheapest Camry on Carmax costs 10k. It’s config is similar to the one I am looking at.

  2. I was concerned about the airbag as well. The mechanic thinks it’s just something that happened over time and it’s very unlikely that it’s because of an accident.

  3. For my price range, almost every car that I have looked at online is more dated (Boston area), has more mileage, and has manual transmission. I have been looking for a few months and prices have hovered around this range.

In addition, I am unsure about how to get pre inspection check done if a car is far away from where I live.

I had almost made up my mind to put an offer for this car, but the general consensus of this community seems to be to keep looking. I am in two minds now.

kurious

Also, the $500/month estimate is all inclusive (maintence, gas, tickets, repairs, etc.).

I suspect a lease will drive my costs higher. What’s a good website to research leases?

just some advice… never, buy a car that you have not seen and has not been checked out by a reliable mechanic.
if the price seems to good to be true, it probably has major issues.
the cheaper car probably needs the most work.

Thank you for the feedback!

if your thinking about leasing this might help
LEASEHACKR

How to Buy a New or Used Car and Get the Best Deal Every Time - RealCarTips.com

This is the summary of costs I have for 5 years assuming the seller is willing to sell for $3,000. A friend helped me refine it.

|Purchase Price|3000|

|Pre-purchase inspection|95|
|Sales tax|187.5|
|State Excise Tax|150|
|Certificate of Title Transfer Fee|$75|
|Add / Delete Lienholder on Title|$25|
|Vehicle Registration Fee|$60|
|License Renewal|60|
|Motor Vehicle Annual Inspection Fee|$175|
|Title|75|
|Motor Vehicle Annual Inspection Fee|35|
|Registration Gift Tax Transfer|$25|
|Insurance|18000|
|Additional Gadgets|600|
|Maintenance|$750|
|Repair|5000| 2,000 initially and then 600 every year
|Gas|$4,000|
|Tickets|500|
|Initial Registration Fee|$500|

|TOTAL|31812.5|

|Price per gallon gas|$3|
|Miles per gallon - gas|30|
|Total years to be owned:|5|
|Mileage per year|8000|
|final sales price|1500|
|Cost per mile:|0.7953125|

Apart from the benefit of driving a much newer car, will I come out financially ahead with a leased car?

it seems like not having enough money is the problem. with buying a 14 year old car your going to have more and more mechanical problems as time goes on. you might be better off leasing a new car that you really like and you can always buy it when the lease is done. you just finance it for the balance of what you have left. this way you have a reliable car.
something to think about.

This is what we are planning to do:

  1. Offer to buy the car for $3,000. If they ask for more, we walk away.
  2. Spend $2,000 on repairs and cleaning
  3. Spend $600 on head unit and rear camera

Then, we watch our repair costs like a hawk. If it exceeds $600 during the next year, we sell the car, even to salvage if need be. We take the financial hit and move on with our lives and buy a new car next time. Do you think it is a reasonable approach?

To be honest, we don’t live paycheck to paycheck and save about 50% of our paycheck (before buying this car). It’s just that we don’t like spending money and a car is strictly a want for us, not a need. Hence we’re looking to optimize our spending.

I am researching the lease option as well.

Don’t do that until you have had the thing for at least 6 months . You don’t want to put these in a car you may have to get rid of shortly after buying it.

Why does it have to be a Camry ? There are plenty of good vehicles made by other brands . I think if I was in Boston I would want the smallest thing I could find because of the parking problem.

We offered 3k but didn’t get the car. The seller was able to sell for more elsewhere.

For now, we have decided to only rent cars using ZipCar and other services. Based on how much we enjoy driving and the associated costs over the next 3-6 months, we will revisit the car purchase topic.

Thank you once again for all your inputs!