Older + Low Miles <OR> Newer + High Miles

used

#1

So I’m looking to buy a newer, but not new, Honda Civic. I found one deal for a 2001 car with 55k miles, one owner. I can also find newer cars, say 2004 Civics with close to 100k miles, some already on their second owner. My instict is to go with the older car w/ lower miles, but my friends say it’s worth it to pay more for a new car, even with more miles. One reason for this is that I live in New England, and newer means the car has suffered through fewer winters of salty car-eating roads. Reason 2) is that fewer miles in that length of time means, possibly, more around-town driving, which wears out the car faster, while more miles means more highway time, which is better for the engine.



I’m leaning toward the older/fewer miles, can anyone convince me otherwise? Thanks!


#2

As with any used car purchase, it’s THE CAR that matters, not the age or the mileage. You can find a low-mileage car that’s been beaten or a high-mileage car that’s been pampered.

Look for a car who’s owner keeps maintenance records, and is willing to show them to you.


#3

MC has given you the best advice. It is the current condition that counts. Miles or time is not really important.

Good care and driving is important.

If all else was equal, it never really is, then I would go for higher miles. More miles per unit of time usually means highway miles and highway miles are easier on a car than city miles.


#4

It all depends on the individual car.
All things considered as to any rust issues, etc. I would take the older car/less miles.

If there are any concerns about a lower miles car being beaten to death in city driving then inspect the rubber pad(s) on the brake and/or clutch pedals.
If the pads are showing considerable wear then you know it has seen a lot of stop and go driving.

Same thing with the ignition switch and drivers door lock. If they’re marred up quite a bit, including the key, that means a lot of key cycles.


#5

The arguments are pretty much as you laid them out, and as others have said there are exceptions and conditions on either side. For example, the older car with fewer miles might be owned by a retiree who keeps it garaged and only drives in good weather to visit grandkids. That would be a good bet as a used car because it has low mileage, but most of it is highway mileage. On the other hand if it was driven 1/2 mile per day to the corner store, that’s not such a good thing. The individual car and its history will make the difference.


#6

yup, you will have a better idea which (if either) you want after the pre-purchase inspection.


#7

I think it would help if we knew how much and what kind of driving you expect to do, and how long you would like to keep the car.

In general, since a well maintained Civic will easily do over 200K miles, most drivers will do better with the 2004 with 100k miles. A notable exception would be someone who puts on a lot of miles in short hops and city driving.


#8

Well, here’s the background: I have a 99 Civic, just reached 102k miles, bought the thing 1.5 years ago thinking, hey, A/C and Cruise Control are frivolous wastes of money. Well, now I find myself doing much more highway driving on the weekends, since all family is 1 hour way, beer buddies are 2.5 hours away, and girlfriend is 6+ hours away. In any case, driving on the highway during the increasingly humid/hot summer days resulted in one sweaty driver, even with both windows rolled down. While that provides some decent cool air at 65+ miles/hour, it also drowns out any conversations w/ car passengers and/or the radio.
Also, for the long trips, my accelerator leg starts to twitch after hour four. So I’m looking for upgrades, and I found a 2001 Civic with 55k miles & the features I want (1 owner). Feedback from friends is that I’m foolish to spend $$ on a car only 2 years newer, and I should get something much newer, even if it A. costs more and B. has more miles. While I understand this from an economic standpoint, it just doesn’t feel right.

So I have a number of options

  1. Find a closer girlfriend…probably not
  2. Hope this climate change thing is all over with…most likely not
  3. Spend lotsa $$ on a newer car, even if it has lotsa miles(the car I’m favoring was owned in a small NH town, serviced at a dealer 1 hour away, in Portland, ME).
  4. Spend not so much $$ on a slightly older car, but less miles (these cars are all over the place)

The primary quandary is this: miles vs. age. Otherwise I intend only to buy a single owner car for which I have access to the majority of maintenance records.


#9

Wow. I thought my girlfriend lived far away: four and a half hours. But yours lives 6 hours away. The things we do for love!

Take the older Civic with lower miles. Highway driving is not hard on a car. The Civic will make the trip many, many, many times before it wears out. Who wants to start a lot of highway driving with a car that already has over 100K miles on it?

The lower the initial price, the lower the total cost of ownership. Maintenance costs are the same once a car is a few years old. Buy the less expensive car and enjoy an air conditioned trip.

Six hours! I still can’t believe it.


#10

Price matters too. Some cars won’t go 200,000 miles without major expense. Go with your choice because you can never tell anyway which one will be your best. CV boots wear out from mileage and they crack from age too. There are a lot of 50-50s that could go one way or another. Everybody is sure about what YOU should do. You can’t please all of us.


#11

Well, here’s the background: I have a 99 Civic, just reached 102k miles, bought the thing 1.5 years ago thinking, hey, A/C and Cruise Control are frivolous wastes of money.

So I have a number of options

  1. Find a closer girlfriend…probably not
  2. Hope this climate change thing is all over with…most likely not
  3. Spend lotsa $$ on a newer car, even if it has lotsa miles(the car I’m favoring was owned in a small NH town, serviced at a dealer 1 hour away, in Portland, ME).
  4. Spend not so much $$ on a slightly older car, but less miles (these cars are all over the place)

Option 6: Save some money and fix your current car if it’s still running good. Get a quote from a local mechanic on how much it’d cost to fix those items(and anything else you, or the previous owner, may have neglected over the years) subtract that cost from the price of both cars you’re looking at(say $1200 for up to date maintenance, $7k for the car, you’re still ahead $5800(1200-7000 = -5800)). If the number is negative, keep your car and fix it, if the number is positive, then get the new car.


#12

I would buy the lower priced one even if older. At 150k miles its a turning point in a vehicle. My previous Civic owned over 9 years/225k and wife’s/185k over 8 years both started have significantly issues/worn items past 150k miles and very little before. The same is pretty true across all makes out there. Yes you can get lucky however why not enjoy the time out shop/out of pocket and less outlay of cash?

Why not buy the cheaper one and enjoy the next 100k relatively trouble free miles.


#13

Thanks, MC, I think you & are on the same page. We’re also both crazy to be in long distance relationships. But, when you find what you want, you’ll do what you need to get it.

So I’m going to look @ the car today, ironically I’ll be sitting in a non-air conditioned car for 3 hours to look at a car with AC…and even if I buy the thing today, I won’t be able to pick it up until next weekend. By then, who knows, there may be snow on the ground. Ah well.

Thanks for the help!

p.s. it’s actully 7 hours minimum…she’s in NJ, for which you need to go through Manhattan…which takes at least an hour due to gridlock at two tolls. Ah, well, again.


#14

What I read from his post isn’t that his AC and cruise was broken, but that his car didn’t come with it.

I like option 5 the best-- in an 8 year old car, cruise and AC isn’t going to make that much of a price differance (depending on local climate) and I see no reason if you’re careful and patient about it that you couldn’t find a car equivelant to the one you have for the price you’ll get selling yours.