Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Old car with low mileage versus Newer car with high mileage?

I am looking for a minivan for my family of 5. We currently have 2 honda accords and love them. I would like to purchase either a Honda Odyssey or a Toyota Sienna. I can’t afford new and am therefore looking at used vehicles. Question: Which is preferrable an older car (~10 years old) with low mileage (less than 50,000) or a newer car (~5 years old) with higher mileage (~100,000 to ~120,000)?

Beware of Honda Odyssey transmissions, especially those made prior to the 2005 model.

There is no general rule of thumb. Most of your decision should be based on how well the vehicles were maintained and an independent inspection.

Everything comes down to price. Either could be a great van, or either could be a nightmare depending on the maintenance or lack of by the previous owner.

Keep in mind that no “car fax” or “factory certification” can replace a good mechanic and a thorough pre-purchase inspection.

High miles in a newer vehicle (4 years old or less) often means a car used by sales or service people on business. Lots of highway miles that are relatively easy on the car. If the car got regular oil changes as per the mfg’rs schedule these can be good buys.

High mileage cars 5 years and older can be trouble. Often these are 2nd and 3rd owners and teh cars might be neglected.

How much are you willing to spend? A new Mazda5 starts around $20,000 with an auto transmission. If you want a used van, you can often find a newer one by avoiding the segment leaders (Sienna and Odyssey, of course). In used cars, it’s more about condition than the brand. A mid-level 2009 Chrysler Town and Country will cost about $20,000. while a similar Odyssey would cost around $24,000. The question is how likely you are to spend the extra $4000 in repairs over several years. I think it is highly unlikely based on my experience. I’ve bought the less expensive brand several times and never made up the difference in cost. If you like the Odyssey or Sienna $4000 more, then by all means buy it.

I would not enter car buying with any preconceived notions. Looking for a date who is good looking or great personality when a moderately good looking one with money may pass you by. There are other features that have to be considered that may meet your needs and either mileage or age could become secondary.
Evaluate each choice on it’s own merits. Base or different models or makes can be had new with low mileage.

Also beware of Sienna engines with sludge issues. Not saying they are bad cars, they all have some issues. What is your budget. I find that in the minivan market, the used domestics are a great value. They might need a bit more upkeep in the long run but still considering the reduced initial investment makes it worthwhile.

Which is preferrable? The one that received proper maintenance.

Thanks for all the responses! It sounds like I need is to look for a vehicle that has been treated correctly and get it checked out. I just have to decide! I am making a decision soon…