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Unusual Mileage on Used Car

I’m looking to buy a used Toyota Camry 2005 from a private party. The car looks to be in beautiful condition and only has 6,000 miles on it. The seller wants 9,000 dollars for the car. I took it to my mechanic for a pre-purchase insepction and she said there are no problems with the car and that it’s ready to drive. I test drove it and it’s really nice.

I questioned the seller about the exceptionally low mileage and he provided me with the entire service history of the car. From the paperwork the car was taken for service regularly (every three months).

Should I be concerned with the exceptionally low mileage? If the car had sustained damage due to non-use would that have been something my mechanic would have seen in her inspection or is that something that can go unnoticed?

Not in my opinion, seeing as you’ve done everything right, but you may want to check prices in your area. This sounds high for a 12 year old Camry.

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Sounds like a good deal to me.

My only concern would be the 12 year old tires.

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I would at least look at a few sites like Kelly Blue Book and Edmunds. I would not pay more than $6000.00, it is not a collector item and would like to know how much of that time it just sat undriven…

They put new tires on it right before putting it up for sale.

Looking over the paperwork, it looks like the least it was driven was 20 miles between services.

How much do you need to drive it to keep it from suffering damage? Wouldn’t just driving it in to the service center every three months be enough?

There’s no minimum amount. Much of that depends on the driving environment, the driver’s competence, and the type of driving that’s been done.

Once a day to the corner store is different than once a week to visit the family 20 miles away, and that’s very different from an occasional trip up a challenging mountain. Which is very different from a flat straight trip across North Dakota. Except in the winter, when it’s -40F for days at a time. And then there’s the northeast, where you can get an 1/8" coating of road salt that’ll sit there for a week until the temperature gets warm enough to use the car wash.

To your great credit, you’ve checked and had checked everything on the car that can be checked. The only thing left is the price.

Normally I’d be concerned, but if you have proof of frequent (crazy frequent, in my opinion) maintenance, and your mechanic checked it out, and the price is OK, then I have not problem.

Check on KBB.com and Edmunds.com for appraisal.

Edmunds says the added value for low mileage is $1312. If this is a loaded XLE V6 in clean condition, they say it I should worth $6000 in a private party sale.

Many people have an inflated sense of value if an old car has low mileage. While some things are mileage related, a lot are age related. Any rubber components, like belts and hoses, age whether the car is driven daily or not. You could print the estimate from someone like Edmunds.com and take it to the seller to see if they are willing to get realistic. If not, tell them you are interested when they do want to bargain realistically with you. This assumes you have time to wait. If not, thank them for their time and move on.

Sounds good to start with a 6k offer, of course then you have to look at dealer resale price, which may be 9k, the seller is at the high end, you have been given some good info,

It’s probably a 4 cylinder LE, as that was the most common model.

If that is the case, the price seems high, even taking the unusually low mileage into consideration

The car you describe would be worth about $4700 in clean condition with traction control, stability control, all the air bags, and upgraded sound system. I chose the highest priced model, fully loaded, to show that even then the $9000 asking price I sold outrageous.

Sounds like we’re in agreement

Whether it’s the common 4 cylinder LE or the V6 XLE, the price seems too high

For that matter, I have a hard time imagining most dealers would ask 9K for the car

I contacted the seller and told him that the most I’d pay would be 6,500 dollars. He told me that in light of them having had no other calls on the car they would accept my offer.

It sounds like a situation where an older adult kept his late wife’s car for his grandchild and then for some reason s/he did not end up having a need for it when the time came.

Glad to hear you were able to haggle

So exactly which Camry is it?

Camry LE 4 cylinder

Camry XLE 4 cylinder

Camry LE 6 cylinder

Camry XLE 6 cylinder

or something else?

What shape are the headliner and rear speaker grilles in? I’m asking because those 2 items commonly come apart on that generation of Camry. Not to say it doesn’t happen on other cars, as well . . .

Good news that the car was apparently well maintained

That was a great year for Camry in terms of reliability. Plan on replacing all of the 12-year old rubber parts. If the car is mint, and it runs great after you own it, consider having the timing belt changed if you have a local mechanic you trust to do that job correctly and affordably. I’d flush, rather than just change, any fluids that can be flushed as well. Last, I’d look hard at the areas mice are often found in a car, like the engine air filter, intakes and the cabin air filter. Just to be sure. Cool find!

i agree. get it inspected which it sounds like you did.

The OP did that. They also were given a reasonable explanation of the low mileage. There is no problem here.

Sounds like you got a pretty good deal at $6500 there OP . Good for you. The main problem I’d be looking for on a car that is driven infrequently or only on short trips for 12 years is oil sludge. Esp if this engine sport variable valve timing, which I expect it might. If you inspection didn’t include removing the valve cover and inspecting for signs of oil sludge, that might be worthwhile before signing your check. If I were presented with this deal, I wouldn’t bother removing the valve cover if the price was $4000, but $6500 I probably would.

It’s a 4 Door LE model. What is oil sludge? Wouldn’t frequent oil changes prevent problems with oil?