Toyota Corolla1999 with 36,000 mileage

Hello, I have no knowledge about cars, so I really need some advices. I will really appreciate if you can help me out to make a right choice. I have been looking for used cars ( less than or around $5000), and lately, my driving teacher told me he can sell Toyota Corolla 1999 with 36,000 mileage for $ 5200. It is pretty cheap but I feel its kind of too old…He is an autotech and has told me its better to buy older used cars with low mileage than newer used cars with high mileage.

What do you think? Do you think I should buy this car from this guy? Thank you very much for reading my posts. And if I make any mistakes in writing, I am so sorry. I just came to the U.S as an international student, my language skill is still pretty bad.

It’s very difficult to determine whether a used vehicle is worth the money or not without a thorough inspection.

This car has low mileage (allegedly) but it sounds overpriced to me.

It’s also not completely true that an older low miles car is better than a new one with higher miles. It all depends on how well they were maintained and how the miles were put on the cars. In other words, if both vehicles were maintained the same a car with 80,000 highway miles may be in much better shape than a car with 36,000 miles of short hop driving.

I’m sorry about not being defintive on whether or not you should buy the car or not. There are simply too many unknowns about the car but the price seems a bit high to me.
Actually, the language is very good and better than many native Americans.

A loaded Corolla LE with automatic transmission is worth about $3700 from a private party; $4700 from a dealer. The car is overpriced, but the price might be negotiable. Look the car over closely. Are the pedals worn? Is the upholstery worn? There should be a little wear, but these items should not appear new. Are the tires new? If not, how much wear is on them? A 12 year old car should not have the original tires, but it is possible. If they are the original tires, they should have less than half the tread of a new tire. Ask him why this car is worth the money. If he makes claims about how it was well serviced, ask to see the records. He may be right, but you need to be sure. And get at least $1000 off the price.

If you’re going to finance the car…then be careful not paying too much. The lending institute WON’T lend you more then what the vehicle is worth. So if jtsanders is correct (he probably is)…then if you plan on paying 5200…you won’t be able to finance more then 4700. The rest you’ll have to come up with.

" . . . …He is an autotech and has told me its better to buy older used cars with low mileage than newer used cars with high mileage."

Maybe, maybe, not.
The one to buy is the one in the best condition with the fewest immediate problems and the fewest not too distant problems.

Please explain what is meant by, "…He is an autotech . . . . Is he willing to give you a warranty (in writing) that every thing about the car is in perfect condition and for a certain amount of time pay for any existing problems ? I doubt it. Most used cars are sold “as is,” take your chances.

Sometimes the conditon of the car can be best evaluated by a good mechanic / technician who is well versed on that particular make / model. You will need permission to take the car to one and pay to have it assessed. It could cost you $50 to $100 or more, but could be the best money you ever spent, one way or another.

If the car has big problems then you spent a little and saved big headaches and expensese. If the car has a little list of minor things (almost any used car will have) it will give you an idea of what to take care of after you purchase it and maybe some bargaining power.

That’s why most frequent advisors on this site recommend always having a used car checked by a mechanic prior to purchase. This is especially true for a “noideaaboutcars” buyer !

Many will tell you that if the seller does not allow you to have the car checked out then walk away.


If Safety Is Important To You Then You May Want To Compare Safety / Safety Features Of An Older Vehicle To A Newer One. The Safety Of Most Vehicles Improves Over Time With Newer Ones Safer Than Older Ones.

Every time I replace a family vehicle I find it to be safer than the last one.


Aside from the reality that the car is overpriced, I would worry about the exceptionally low odometer mileage of the car. 36k miles on an 11 year-old car means that the car has been driven–on average–less than 3,300 miles per year, and that does not bode well for its engine.

Since the OP states that he/she knows little about cars, I will simplify the issue by saying that this type of service is likely to have resulted in a build-up of damaging sludge in the car’s engine. And, since Toyota engines of that era are prone to sludge build-up to begin with, this car is one to avoid, IMHO.

Most people tend to maintain their cars solely on the basis of odometer mileage–which is WRONG. Elapsed time needs to be taken into account also. Thus, besides the strong potential for engine sludge, I would also be wary of water-diluted brake fluid, old coolant whose rust inhibitors have long ago evaporated, a timing belt that is several years overdue for replacement, and transmission fluid so old that it endangers the life of the transmission.

In other words, this car is a potential money pit, despite the low odometer mileage–unless you can examine the car’s maintenance records for its entire 11 year lifespan, and compare those records to the Toyota Maintenance Schedule, making sure to pay very close attention to the notations about elapsed time for all maintenance procedures.

In the unlikely event that you can confirm that all maintenance has been done on the basis of elapsed time, then I would suggest that you walk away from this overpriced old car.

Thank you very much for the quick respond and thoughtful comments :slight_smile:

Pedals worn… uphostery worn… I really dont understand those things…>< He told me he had changed to new tires and new battery. He told me this car is worth the money for the mileage and the condition… but since I dont have any idea about cars, he can tell me anything that he wants…I want to trust him but …hmm…

javascript:newReply(2811859); Finance… You mean loans? If so, I cannot take any loans since I am an international student and dont have any family and relatives here. And I cannot work in here since I am on F-1 visa (student visa), so I have to pay all by cash. But thank you very much for your advise.

First…Your language is very good :-). The car is a Good car. Toyota Corolla. A mechanic owned it. Low miles. Tell him you’ll give him $4500

Well… What he told me was that he could give me 2 years warranty ( he seems to work as his hobby… he looks like over 70 years old). But since I have an accent and he also has an Indian accent, we are having hard to time to understand each other (><;). So I might misunderstand what he said…

Yeah asking to another mechanic to check the car’s condition sounds a very good idea! Thank you !

Thank you for being nice :slight_smile: He did not accept the amount of money, unfortunately… :frowning:

Thank you very much for detailed information. Grrrr… I really dont know what to do…
He told me that the previous owner of the car was a very old lady, and she only used the car for going shopping near by or going to somewhere very close to her house. But well I dont know if he said the truth…I want to trust him, but well…
He promised that car is in a very good condition: new tires, new engines and new battery (?).
He also told me that he can give me 2 years warranty and fix the car for me if any problems happen.

What do you think?

Yeah I know… I wish I could afford newer cars or could have some loans. But I have to commute 40 minutes each way almost every day to my school, my driver teacher recommended me low mileage cars…
THank you for commenting btw :slight_smile:

I’d be more than a little concerned since he said “new engine.” And the thing about the little old lady driving it is an old American lie used often used to sell cars.

Did he say he would put a warranty in writing?

What would it cover?

I have a bad feeling about this guy. I would stay away from him. It’s too much money and too much risk.

Really??? I did not know that it was the common way of lying…
I never asked him how he would put warranty… maybe I should ask him if he can give me in writing…
He knows I never drove before and dont have anyone ( like family and relatives) in here. Also I am a woman, so he might think he can trick me easily… I dont know… He is such a nice guy and I cant believe he would say lies…

He may not be lying. But I don’t like what you’ve been told.

Would he let you take it to another mechanic (not one he chooses) to be assessed, as was suggested by CSA earlier?

If not, then I would definitely not buy from him. It would indicate that he is hiding something.

Anyway, it seems that he isn’t going to budge on the price, so it wouldn’t hurt for you to look elsewhere for a better deal.

Hmmm Can I ask you one more question to you? ( Im sorry ><) What about what do you think about this car? ( the link is below, I dont know if you can open or access to this link.)

I would like to read other opinions, but that Corolla looks like a better deal on face value, but that assumes it was well maintained. And of course, the type of warranty offered would be important. The rest would be up to you.

Any time you buy you should offer at least a thousand less and try to reach a compromise. Just my opinion.

I like the fact that you are already looking around. If you can, take your time and get someone you can trust who knows about cars to shop with you.