I am looking at a couple cars for purchase. One is a dealer 2007 Mazda 3 Hatchback with 92k miles for $9,000. The other is a 2004 Mazda 3 Hatch with 95k miles for $6,500. I have done some research on the 3s and Consumer Reports says they are a good choice, but how about ones with lots of mileage? What can I expect in a Mazda 3 with this many miles?
If the car has been properly maintained, you can expect very good service from it.
Don’t buy a used car unless it comes with full maintenance records that you can compare with the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule in order to see if it has been properly maintained.
Otherwise, you are potentially buying a car with sludge in the crankcase due to infrequent oil changes and/or a car with an imminently-failing transmission as a result of no transmission fluid changes and/or a car with a timing belt that is overdue for changing. When an overaged timing belt snaps, it essentially trashes the engine and results in repair bills of…possibly a couple of thousand $$.
Lax maintenance is the prime reason for excessive repair costs and for the premature junking of cars of all makes. The only way to protect yourself is to limit your purchase candidates to those with full maintenance records available for you to inspect.
[b] As with all used cars, it is not miles that will determine how reliable a car might be, nor is it the make and model. It is the kind of driving and service the car has had.
Ignoring service and driving abusively will damage any car.
While I believe they try to give reliable advice, Consumer Reports like other sources are limited to available data. Consumer reports only gets data from their readers and then only those who bother to provide data to them. The problem with that is those readers providing the data are unique.
It should not take any stretch of imagination to realize that people who care enough to fill out the forms might take more care of their cars. Of for that matter and for reasons not guessed by me, they may be less likely to fill out the forms.
Go to www.Edmunds.com and read the “consumer reviews” for the used cars you’re looking at. For example, here are the consumer reviews for the 2007 hatchback:
These are useful because often the owners are reporting after several years of ownership, giving you a good idea of what to expect.
The consumer reviews are a little hard to find on the website, because you have to drill down a few layers. To find the reviews for other cars on Edmunds:
- Click on “used cars”
- Enter the make & model and click “appraise”
- Click on the specific year you want
- Click on the “consumer reviews” tab
That’s a very good price on the 2007. The 2004 is a little under market. But it is really all about condition. If you have a motorhead friend, take him to the dealership and test drive both cars. He and you should look them over thoroughly. If you like what you see, I’d be more inclined to buy the 2007 since there is less time for abuse to mount up. And it si a good deal - at least $1000 below list, depending on the model and options.