Should I buy a 2000 Toyota Echo with 255k on it?

Hi! My husband and I own two larger Hondas and love them. However, we’re looking for something with better gas mileage and found a 2000 Toyota Echo manual transmission with 255k miles on it, asking less than $4000. We have two house payments currently, as the housing market was great for buying but not for selling. We think it could be a good bargain for now, but are wondering how long it may last us and if you guys think we should buy it at all? We want my hubby to learn on the manual transmission, and have read on consumer reports that it’s one of the top 10 used cars when it comes to fuel economy. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
-Maria (and Tim!)

I suggest that you continue to drive your Hondas, assuming that they run well and have less mileage than this Echo. It will take 5 years to pay off the $4000 with gas savings if you drive 10,000 miles per year. It will be more if you have to pay more to repair the Echo, and that is likely considering the mileage.

Well if you are just looking for a beater for the husband to learn to to drive a stick that sounds pretty good-but, for 7K more you can probaly get a base Versa or something similar brandnew.Zero miles and you will have another economical car,4K just sounds like too much money for the Echo-Kevin

I wouldn’t buy it, but then again, I want a vehicle that can be counted on to start every time that I turn the ignition key, and to run reliably for the long term. In my book, no car–despite whatever brand logo might appear on its body–can be counted on to be completely reliable at over 200k miles.

All of that being said, any used car that you might be considering for purchase should only be considered if…
…You have access to its complete maintenance history, and you can verify that it is up-to-date on maintenance—including potentially expensive items like the timing belt.
…Your mechanic has inspected it, and given it an “okay” for purchase.

And, even with both of those provisos, you are still very likely to have periodic repair issues with a 12 year old car with over 200k miles on the odometer. Please DO NOT fall into the trap of thinking that, because it is a Toyota it will run forever, despite possibly lax maintenance in its past.

The most important factor with an aged car like this is its maintenance history.

The car is 12 to 13 years old, and has 255K miles on it. That is a lot of water under the bridge. Does it have a timing belt? Likely $600 replacement job fairly soon if it has one. Has the clutch been replaced? Likely $700 job fairly soon if no. I’d expect repair bills to eat up some of the savings in fuel.

You really need to get the calculator out and see what kind of savings you are really going to get. A couple of hundred dollars saved in gas could go up in smoke quickly with a $1,000 repair bill.

Is there a problem with one of the Honda’s? What is the mpg on the Honda? What is the expected mpg of the Echo? How many miles per year will be driven in the Echo? If you were replacing a 15 mpg pickup truck with the Echo, the savings can be significant. But replacing a 30 mpg Honda for a 37 mpg Echo might not help you that much.

I’m sorry. Did you mean to type $400? Or maybe 25.5K? (meaning 25,500 miles) Otherwise this transaction makes no sense whatsoever.

Take it only if it runs well and is a gift. I would never commit much money to a car at or near THE END of it’s useful life.

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You know about the Hondas that you already own. You didn’t say what models these Hondas are,but even if these Hondas are the larger Accords or even the Pilot SUV, I don’t think you will save enough on gasoline to pay for potential repairs on a 255,000 mile car. All cars need maintenance and repairs and I think the best bang for the buck would be to continue to maintain your present cars.
You didn’t say how many miles you drive a year or the type of driving you do. If your driving involves a 100 mile a day commute, the Toyota Echo would be risky. On the other hand, if you are doing local driving and 15,000 or fewer miles a year, the Toyota Echo won’t pay off.

Even the best cars need repairs and maintenance. We have a meticulously maintained Toyota 4Runner (great repair record according to CR) that needed a front hub bearing at a cost of $500. Our 2011 Toyota Sienna needed new tires at 35,000 miles even though I kept the tires properly inflated and I rotated the tires every 5000 miles. I am almost certain that there are repairs lurking ahead on a 2000 Toyota Echo with 255,000 miles.

Also, cars deteriorate with age as well as wear out with mileage. Rubber parts deteriorate. Brake fluids attract moisture, coolant loses its rust protection with age.

You could find much newer cars for cheaper than the Echo. If it’s just a beater to learn stick on, then an old Escort or Focus, Cavalier, Cobalt, Accent, Neon, etc will do just fine.

Though, the cynic in me says too put that $4000 towards current car payments, if they exist, or towards your house payments. This will be better in the long run for you guys than learning something that might not exist in 10~20 years

No.

I wanted to add another point to my earlier response.
I am sort of out-of-touch regarding used car prices, but mleich’s post caused me to consider the price that was mentioned for this car.

A search of edmunds.com shows that a 2000 Echo with 255k miles should be selling for no more than ~$3k at a dealership, and ~$2k in a private sale. Of course, your zip code could impact the price to some extent, but…the asking price for this car that is near the end of its life span is…just not realistic.

Why not just continue to use your two Hondas, instead of chasing better gas mileage with an overpriced car that could totally crap-out the day after you buy it?

Are You Selling One Or Both Hondas ? What About Insurance Cost For The Little Toyota ? I’m Not Seeing The Savings. Pay Off A House Or Two, First.

CSA

Even the consideration of giving near 4 grand for a 13 year old Echo with around a quarter of a million miles on it is insanity.
To me, it’s a 1000 dollar car (tops) if it’s somewhat clean and runs out ok.

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No. No car out there with 255,000 miles on it is worth $4000. It could have had the engine and transmission replaced with brand new units last week and it still wouldn’t be worth $4000. I doubt the car would bring more than $500 as a trade-in.

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It had better be a LOT less than $4000.

To me, that’s a $500 car at BEST.

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As an owner of a 2000 Echo with 155K, I want to speak up and say that the Echo is a GREAT car. I always get well over 40 mpg on the highway and no less than 33 in complete city driving. It has been SUPER reliable. This car is a manual and I too taught my husband to drive stick on it. We recently sold a used Fit and got a great price for it, in part because we had a notebook showing every service AND a mileage notebook showing every single mpg per fill up. We kept the Echo because we knew it would run a long time, but we needed the cash generated from the Fit for our larger family car. You could probably get a good amount selling your Honda because they hold value so well. I agree with the others; that does sound like a very high price (did you check blue book?). My guess is that the Echo’s owner sees it as worth so much because of its great mileage and reliability, but you should be able to get them to come down on that price.
I fully expect to get another 100K out of this car. When it finally dies, I will probably get its newer sibling, the Yaris.
As a side note, the automatic Fit disappointed me in gas mileage, but it’s just because I am so spoiled by the Echo!

@redecho - sounds like you have a great car. You’re pretty much supporting our concerns, you have 155k and expect 100k more, 250k is about the life one can expect (and pay for) on most cars now. If I already owned a car with 250k I’d keep driving it, see how far it would go, but I would never buy one, especially for serious money (like $4,000).

How about a 3 cylinder 5 speed Geo Metro? They are not expensive to purchase and can easily get 50+mpg. I recently got one of these for gas savings and it is a great little car and super simple to repair. The timing belt takes maybe an hour to replace in your driveway or garage with basic tools. I have changed an entire engine in one of these twice and it takes only a few hours with basic tools. The engines are light enough that I can lift them myself. No hoist required although it would be nice…

You can pick one of these up with some work needed for less than $500 and a good running one for $1200 or so. Beware of severe frame rust where the front control arms bolt up. You may have a great running car with no outside rust but this area is about to come apart! Also give the engine a good look and see if the PCV system is clean, if seals are leaking, etc. Again, this stuff is super easy to replace but can be indicative of how well the engine was serviced.

Again, if you want a simple and very economical car that is like driving an oversized go kart, you can’t go wrong with one of these. Parts are cheap and easy to find although I wouldn’t count on just finding them at any parts place on demand as I had to order some and wait a few days. You can also find any of the parts online, often for less than at a parts store.

I went through and put all new gaskets/seals, timing belt, water pump/belt, thermostat, etc. on mine while swapping engines. The engine was good so there was really nothing else to go wrong.

Conor

Cars these days last a lot longer then they did years ago. I have no problem keeping vehicles 300+ miles. Longest so far kept in our family was over 450k miles.

HOWEVER…that doesn’t mean that ALL vehicles are that reliable. Most can probably reach 350k miles or more. The problem is maintaining them so they do reach 350k miles. Unless you know for a FACT that the car was maintained well and not abused then RUN…DON’T WALK away from this vehicle. You have no idea how well the vehicle was maintained. How many oil changes did he skip. I know a guy that does his own oil changes…and skips Dec - Mar because it’s too cold to be doing oil changes in his driveway (doesn’t own a garage). And that’s about 15k miles. You can’t do that if you want a vehicle to still be running well after 300k miles. Just too many variables.

I personally would not pay more than $1000 for an Echo with 255K on it, even if it seems in great shape. They were great little econoboxes when new, but at that mileage the better part of its life has passed. Things will routinely wear out and fail, some of them expensive.