Too many miles?

I’m looking for a car to buy and I really like the lexus rx models. I am planning to drive this car through college so for at least six years…I found a 2004 Lexus RX 330 SUV with 119,516 miles on it. It was taken really good care of by the first owner but not so much by the second. Is that too many miles??? Should I look for a different small suv with less miles??? THanks in advance!!

120,000 miles is not really old. It is a used car like any used car. It likely will have some problems, but that would not stop me if the price was right and I liked the car. I have never had a care wear out and I have had several cars go close to 200,000 before I sold them and then the only reason I have sold a car was due to accident damage or changing needs (like two kids)

Wants Vs. Needs. Starting Out With An Eight Year-Old Car Of Unknown History And Wanting It To Last Until It’s 14 Years Old Is A Bit Much.

How many years/miles did the second owner not care well for the car ?

I’d look for a newer and younger (less miles) vehicle with a known history, one owner if at all possible. See if you can get one with documents vouching for its maintenance and something with no timing belt.

A Lexus might have to wait until you graduate, you’re a CEO, the Rebublicans are back in charge, and the country is percolating again.


You give no info about the asking price. You need to know if the car has a timing belt, and if yes when was it changed; if ever? Do you know the “second owner”? and what info do you have to know if the car was or wasn’t cared for by the previous owners?

to CSA and Uncle Turbo…
I found the car through which gives the carfax for the cars. the second owner had it for 4-1/2 years, almost 73000 miles. they are asking $13992 and I have saved up almost half that and my parents are maching. Also, what is a time belt??? I didn’t see anything on the carfax about that…:confused: and also good pt about 14 years old might be too old-I agree

It Would Behove You And Most Used Car Shoppers To Read This:

Also, I’ll bet that your parents could be involved in expenses if the car needs repairs during the next 6 years. For that reason it may be an advantage for them to spend a little now and pay a competent certified mechanic to check out a car you are considering.

Few cars are perfect and it’s good to know what they need now, what they’ll need soon, and whether or not they’re in good health and worthy of a purchase.


120k on an 04…is NOT that many miles…I have over 190k on my 05. It all depends on how well it’s maintained. I wouldn’t hesitate to drive mine from NH to CA and back.

It does have a timing belt, but it is not an interference engine. You need to fin out if the timing belt was changed. It should have been changed around 100,000 miles. My guess is that it has not been changed. Take about $1000 off the asking prince for that. In my area, that truck would sell for about $13,500. The mileage adjustment is almost $1400. Offer $12,500 or tell the dealer to replace the timing belt, pulleys, tensioner, and water pump and you’ll pay $13,500, depending on options.

An important factor in buying a used car with significant miles, is how much you intend to drive it. 119k miles may be too many miles if you plan on putting a lot of miles yourself in a short period of time. Assuming it’s been checked over, passes and you drive fewer then 20k miles per year, it’s not too many miles over 6 years.

But, I would recommend you nix the SUV phase, put the same money in a compact with fewer (not less) miles and save on both ends. Save on operating, insurance and purchase. Though it’s a fairly reliable car, it isn’t bullet proof and Lexus could demand inflated prices to repair. $12,500 gets you one heck of a reliable, low mileage compact.

It would also demonstrate your priority in your education by possibly not putting it in jeopardy with higher repair bills.

I’m Pretty Sure That Your Parents Would Agree, But I Wouldn’t Buy A Small Vehicle. Shop For Safety As One Of Your Top Priorities. Small Cars Are Just Not As Safe As Larger Ones If You Get Hit.

Saving money is silly if you are killed or maimed while trying to get an education. Buy a larger, safer vehicle. I won’t let any of my family members drive or ride in any compact or subcompact cars, no way.

Crash tests on cars a couple years old don’t tell the real safety story, but this site should help:

Informed For Life: " The 3rd component, vehicle incompatibility, is an important consideration since 52% of all traffic accidents involve more than one vehicle, and the laws of physics give the advantage to the heavier vehicle. The relationship between vehicle weight and fatality rate is well documented and must be included in any overall assessment of safety. Heavy vehicles have reduced fatality risk in multiple vehicle accidents compared with light vehicles, however additional weight is not necessarily beneficial since heavier vehicles, especially SUVs and pickups, tend to ride higher above the ground with an attendant higher risk of rollover. "

If push comes to shove in deciding on a vehicle you can probably use safety to get your parents to kick in a couple of extra bucks to put you in a safe car. Do your homework.


While the first owner took good care of it, you say the 2nd owner didn’t. RUN away from this one.

For $14k you could have a brand new vehicle like the Ford Fiesta or Mazda 2 or Hyundai Accent. You’ll have brand new tires, battery, fresh coolant, oil, and transmission fluid. As long as you maintain it properly, 6 years will be nothing on a brand new car. Needing little maintenance in those 6 years(new set of tires, several oil changes, couple transmissions fluid changes and maybe a coolant change is about all you’d need) Used compacts 5 years old or newer are commanding high prices, so it’s almost better to buy new than used at that rate.

After 6 years, that Lexus will be 14 years old and will need lots of things replaced during those 6 years, most of which you probably won’t be able to afford while going to school. I forget what year it was(fairly new), but one of my buddies’ parent’s Lexus needed a new engine, dealership told them it’d cost about 10 grand to replace.

With that line of reasoning, trucks should be safer overall (?) which they are not. Do your homework ! Crash tests have shown that in head on collisions, It’s the newer technology and design that is more important then car size alone. A newer compact( I did not say subcompact) can be much safer overall including single car crashes than an SUV or larger sedan.

BTW, not everyone can be a CEO…that is a Republican myth.

Please include all the laws of physics and not just the “bigger is better one”.
Superior Metallurgy, standard side air bags etc. are found on many newer compacts that an older SUV, large sedan might not have.

In this case you are arguing for the Lexus (did you know that was a Toyota?) which does have lots of standard safety features…a newer compact that handles better can be plenty safe enough.
Bscar is right.
And I didn’t shout (bold) to be heard !

You’re Actually Partly Correct.

From the quote Informed For Life quote I posted: " . . . .however additional weight is not necessarily beneficial since heavier vehicles, especially SUVs and pickups, tend to ride higher above the ground with an attendant higher risk of rollover. "

Stay away from those vehicles.


As many have noted, 120K miles is not a lot. But you absolutely DO NOT pay anything like $13K for it! Holy cow.

As noted - college coming and all - take the $13K and buy a brand new small compact that will be under warranty for a lot of time and probably get the gas mileage X 2. Spending that much $$ on this car would be impractical no matter what. Times 2 if you’re on your way to college.

“you’re actually partly correct”

Thank you for acknowledging I am correct about the Republican myth. ;=)

Seven years old, well into 6 digits on mileage, admittedly not taken care of by the second owner, and way overpriced. You can find a much better vehicle for far less money.
That 120k miles may be the equivalent of 250,000 miles. As with any used vehicle a thorough pre-purchase inspection will help but even that does not guarantee a problem free car.

You should also not fall into the Carfax knows all trap. CF is a tool to aid in a car buying decision but it does not guarantee you that the car you buy will not have been a flood car, whacked hard in a collision, or abused into the pavement by any prior owners.

I doubt if I were buying a used car if I would bother checking Carfax.  While I don't have personal data, but I have to believe that it is used as a sales tool much more often than it is used as a unbiased tool for the buyer.

While I would agree that a carfax report is more of a sales tool than anything else, I don’t think you should ignore it altogether. Just remember that there are any infinite number of things that won’t necessarily be listed. Very, very little is required to be reported - I think airbag deployments are the only reports that are mandatory - but have a glance at it, anyway, if it’s available (don’t buy it, though). If there’s something listed, then you know it’s time to walk away.

Not knowing where the car has resided or where the older car will spend the next 6 years, it’s really important to get a handle on body condition, at least at time of purchase. Inspect the condition of all body drain holes. Any paint bubbling around them or worse, clogged, tells that you are on the down side. Before that six years is up, you could be looking at a car that won’t pass inspection, is un safe and worth NOTHING.

Just yesterday, I inspected my neighbors door replacements on his 3/4 ton Ford power stroke diesel with only 120k miles with an OEM door. It had NO drain holes. Tell me Ford doesn’t plan on this being a rust rust bucket. There was poor or no drainage in areas in the rusted sills and cab rear quarter too. When he finishes replacing these parts, the plan is to start drilling, touch up, grease and oil. You then have a fighting chance. BTW, this truck was a 2000 and rested winters. The doors were replaced two years ago The rust was from accumulated rain water as it only saw salt this last year.

 Yeah, the "heavier vehicles are better in crashes" argument is no argument for SUVs.  SUVs have significantly inferior handling, braking, and acceleration, and roll over easier, than a comparable car, and so are much more likely to get into a crash to begin with.

 Anyway... have the vehicle inspected if you can.  120,000 miles is low (not just for a Lexus, for any vehicle) but if the second owner for instance did not change oil, or let it run with low coolant levels, they could have absolutely destroyed the long term reliability of that vehicle.  If they just skimped on brakes and tires, you might try knocking a few bucks off to cover the new tires and brake job, but those won't hurt you long-term.  If you can't get a true inspection, at least have someone who knows cars do a few sanity checks like check if the oil, coolant, and transmission fluid and differential fluid are nasty (indicating they drove it around with burnt and worn out fluids).

 No comment on if the price is good, locally the Toyotas, Hondas, and Lexii are SO inflated in price that I cannot bring myself to look into getting one.  For example, locally the corporate twin Geo and Toyota models, the Toyota will sell for over double the price of the Geo with similar mileage.