Newer Used Car or Older Used Car

Hey all! I’m looking to actually DOWNgrade from a BMW 3-series (want something cheaper), and was looking for advice on used cars.

Specifically, I wondered whether to buy a more recent used car (<5 yrs) or an older used car (more like 10 yrs) assuming the SAME milage.

Obviously, this varies from car to car, but I’m asking generally about reliability, safety, longevity, and lifetime cost (it seems like older cars have more room for do-it-yourself work). How does a car’s actual AGE affect it as compared to just the milage?


My son DOWNgraded fibe years ago from a BMW (his second) to a Scion tC. He loves the tC. Fun, economical, and as reliable as taxes.

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What kind of mileage are you looking for? Are you planning to pay for it right away or make car payments? Are you planning to get something comparable with your trade in, that way you wouldn’t have much of a payment? These are the questions you are likely asking yourself. So, don’t feel obligated to respond to them here, unless you want to think out loud:-}

I bought a new-to-me 2010 Hyundai Sonata that already had 20,000 miles. I upgraded from a 93 Camry that had 200,000+ (I miss my car). But the peace of mine is wonderful even though my Camry (till the day I traded it in) really didn’t give me problems (even though the mechanics said it would!). Before I bought it, I was close to buying a used 2003 Ford Taurus with over 100,000 miles for $2,000. When I checked it out that was the down payment on something newer that I will have longer and can pay off in 3-5 years. I don’t think I would have gotten more than 5 yeas on the Taurus. So new used is the way to go–for the peace of mind. However, if you CAN and LIKE fixing up cars yourself, then go with an older one. You’ll save the most money that way, but it’ll be more time consuming and a headache (or a great hobby) to fix little-by-little.

I think you are better off with the newer car. There are far more opportunities for abuse over 10 years than under 5 years. And finding that pristine 12 year old car won’t be nearly as easy as the showroom-like 4 year old. Also, age does have an effect on many items on your car. The radiator, the water hoses, the brake lines… will need to be replaced much sooner than on a young used car.

You can’t generalize about this. There are too many variables. Each used car is different and must be evaluated on its own merits, or lack thereof.

I’ve seen 10-year-old cars that were pampered and in near-perfect condition, and I’ve seen 5-year-old cars that were neglected, abused, and not worth half the asking price.

Thanks for the replies so far!

To answer your questions, I’m looking for something substantially cheaper to be paid-in-full on the spot. And whether older or newer, I don’t want it over 50,000 miles. I would hope to put many many miles and up to 10 years on the car myself, which brings up another question: is that further support for a newer vehicle considering an older car would be reaching 20-years-old by the time I want to retire it?

Also am I even correct in thinking it’s easier to repair an old car yourself? I’m not looking for a fix’er-upper, I just want to avoid paying labor.

I think that newer is easier to repair. OBDII is easier to deal with than the completely proprietary OBD systems. The older the car you get, the harder the parts for it may be to get.
I’ve found that age seems to be worse for cars than a high odometer reading. I’d take a one year car with 100K miles over a ten year car with 1K miles.

@David-John I flagged you for Spam on this 12 year old thread . And I do not believe you are from the US .

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Want a fuel-efficient, dependable car? Look for a used 1997-2001 Toyota Camry (preferably a 4-cylinder) from a region where rust is not a problem. There literally does not exist a better vehicle for a better price anywhere. This is a car which was made just before all the (unnecessary) complexity took over, yet it offers excellent reliability, excellent fuel economy, and excellent safety features. With proper maintenance, these kind of cars can easily go for a quarter million miles or more.

I would imagine the person who started this in 2010 has found a vehicle by now.


I guess you are right. I did not notice how old the thread is. However, this is a timely discussion, no matter what the year, and my advice remains the same. Anyone needing a low-cost, reliable vehicle for general use should look for a rust-free 1997-2001 Toyota Camry. There is literally no other option which delivers so much bang for the buck.

Do you not realize just how old those vehicles are ?