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Milage vs Age, what is more important when buying used

Presently I have a 2003 Impala with about 125,000 miles on it, it runs pretty well and I like it but a local dealership is having a “sale” on and I thought I would stop by and see what kind of deal they might be able to offer me. I have a set budget of what I am willing to pay per month, and only want a car, not a truck guy. I have reviewed over their web page of used cars and have ID a couple that interest me. When looking at a used car what should be key things to look for/at and what matters more, the year of the car or mileage on the car? Also I know Car fax is very limited and kinda misleading, but wondered what folks here thought of it and what impact it should have on looking at the car.

Maintenance history is probably more valuable than age or mileage. An older car with low miles may have been driven on short city trips, never warmed up enough and not had frequent oil changes-_I would avoid that car. A newer high mileage car may have been driven on the highway and had frequent oil changes. See if the dealer will let you take the car to your independent mechanic and get it looked over, will cost you about $100, but you will get a good idea of what you are buying.


Bertrand, buying something based on monthly payments is not wise. Going with prearranged financing that you can easily ( I repeat Easily ) afford is better. But also remembering your past problems you might be one of those who would benefit leasing a lower priced vehicle new…


A significant difference in age is meaningful, but condition is the most important thing. If this is a new car dealer, they tend to cherry pick the best cars and sell the other trade-ins at auction. If you Re looking at cars within a 3 year rang, I wouldn’t worry about age too much.

If you don’t know a lot about cars, you might take a friend with you that does. You need to inspect the exterior, interior, trunk, and engine bay. You are looking for rust, damage and repaired damage. Your test drive will may show you if there are engine or suspension problems. Again, your knowledgeable friend may have an idea what any problems might cost you to fix.

Basically I go in with a set price I am willing to pay each month for a car, I then leave it up to the dealership to find the cars on their lot that can fit into the payment plan I want, I then will look over each option, I wish I could go in with a different strategy but you go in with what you can. Leasing isn’t an option that I have found as with my credit score and such no lease can be at the level I need.

Is there a web site that offers reviews of cars that I can go over, I have looked on the dealers web site and ID a few cars I think “might” fit my payment level and have tried to do some research but wasn’t sure if there was a good site that gave overall reviews of cars pointing out the good and bad for that model.

You can read new car reviews for the ones you are interested in at They carry past new reviews for used cars. The public library often has a subscription to Consumdr Reports and you can look up reliability reports for any used car you are interested in. CR reports are accurate, but reliability ratings are very good for most cars. The worst vehicles in the report have problem rates of four percent or more. Similar information is available from TrueDelta and JD Power. The Power data is only for five year old cars. All have their place and can be helpful.

Anytime you’re considering a used car, the most important thing you can do is have it inspected and checked by your mechanic, on your dime, so to speak. You need to pay for this service in order to ensure the mechanic doing the inspection doesn’t have a conflict of interest. This inspection should be done before you sign any paperwork.

I don’t care if it’s a certified used car from a dealership, a car you’re buying from your grandmother, or a car in a private advertisement in the local newspaper. Get it inspected by your mechanic.

This inspection is far more valuable than a Carfax report, because a car that has been in an accident and fixed properly is worth just as much as one that was never in an accident. The only reason to be concerned about buying a vehicle that was in an accident is if it wasn’t fixed properly, and that is more likely to be revealed in an impartial inspection than in a VIN report.

unfortunetly that is not an option for me, I don’t have the monies to have the inspection done, I guess I have been lucky over the years as I have never had any major issues with any of the cars I have bought. I usually buy an extended warrenty and as with my present car it covered the only “expensive” fix I had without issue.

Sometimes you can use a monthly payment as leverage to negotiate a lower price if you use it as part of a negotiating strategy. I did this with my latest motorcycle. I figured out what kind of financing I could qualify for ahead of time, computed my payments at that interest rate, and then I told the salesman what I was willing to pay per month. In order to meet my desired monthly payment, the dealership lowered the purchase price to where I wanted it, all without me having to actually negotiate (directly) on the purchase price.

I’m rather proud of the deal I got using this strategy.

Bertrand. You are a perfect example of doing everything wrong, you don’t find out ahead of time what kind of financing you can get from a non dealer source. You negotiate by asking the dealer for a monthly payment instead of a price. Don’t you realize that is an invitation to the dealer to unload a car that he has not been able to see because he paid to much for it so he will sell it to you, use your credit score to jack up the interest rate and extend the loan for far longer than is should be.

You then buy an extended warranty which costs magnitudes more than a pre-purchase inspection by a good mechanic.

Consumer reports says that extended warranties return 12 cents on a dollar to consumers.

Your decision making may be the reason you don’t have the cash to get a car checked out…

Everything you are doing in the process is costing more money than necessary and putting you further in the hole.

Keep driving your 2003 Impala for as long as you can and put the monthly payment in the bank and when the Impala dies you will have the money to help buy a car.

When you finally buy a car, put the monthly payment you were going to pay for a warranty in the bank to pay for repairs.

The secret to having money in the bank is not more income, it is spending less than you make. Don;t let advertising tell you what you “need”


I’ll join the chorus. This is not a good plan.
I doubt you’ll ever get a decent deal using this approach. There is no incentive for them to negotiate or give up any profit on the deal, They will only show you cars that are guaranteed to make them the most money possible.

You should keep this information to yourself until it’s necessary to reveal it. They will have prices on the cars already. You just need to look around at what is reasonably close to your budget but on the high end. Just the opposite of what the dealer is going to do to you. Then negotiate them DOWN to your price.

Your proposed method is the easiest and least confrontational. But it’s also the most expensive for you…

We are talking about an inspection fee of about $100.00 to $125.00. If you don’t have that what are you going to do, finance the full coverage insurance ( required by loan company ) registration and tags? You are shooting yourself in the foot.
You need to correct your credit score now.

Not in my nature, I don’t worry about the future cause I could be dead tomorrow. My impala had a extended warrenty on it I bought and it cost me $1500 added on cost me $5 per month more on my monthly payment. Back this summer I had to have the rack and pinion replaced, warrenty paid for it only cost me the deductible of $50, total cost to replace $875 which I didn’t have. If I can bump up to a newer car and keep my payments the same I don’t care that the payments are for X amount of years, good chance I won’t be here. Secret to having money, is to work a job that pay’s a liveable wage which I don’t, or hit the lottery.

You don’t have a job that pays a living wage, but you play the lottery?

OK, gentlemen, I think we’re being trolled.

Working on my credit score but near impossible to improve it in the 3 years since I filed bankruptcy and I have done everything possible to improve it. $100-$125 dollars may not seem like much, but to someone making under a living wage it’s a lot. My car insurance runs me right now $54 a month for full coverage, I figure I bump up a couple of years might add about $10 a month to my present car insurance. Registration and Tags will be paid for by the non car payment I have this month as it will be far less then the $160 I presently pay a month for my present car payment. Last time to register and plate the impala came to about $75 total. My feet are dead almost already due to non treatment of Diabeties so not really shooting anything.

I play the lottery when it gets big, I bet the ponies 2 times a year for both the Derby and Breeders cup. I set aside a buck or two per paycheck to have for those two occasions. I don’t consider $14 an hour a living wage…my guess is some might. I make enough to cover my bills and leave me about a few bucks each paycheck to see a sports event or go to the movie but not much else.

Me thinks there is no helping this person.


I could care less if the deal is “decent” or not, what will it cost me each paycheck is the only thing that matters, as long as it falls within my budget then nothing else for me matters. I tell the dealership up front, I am only willing to pay X, and right now X is no more then $160 per month, I then allow them to show me the cars they have on their lot that meet that and if I find one I like and it can be financed then I buy it, that is I have always bought a car.

Why, all I asked is a basic question, what does it matter how I pay for the car. That isn’t a factor in the original question at all.