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Used car buying: higher miles/older honda/toyota or less miles/newer other car?

So I really need a new car and I don’t have much money to spend: $4,000-$8,000. I’ve heard a lot about the reliability and durability of Hondas and Toyotas but the only ones in my price range tend to be over 100,000 miles.

Is it better to buy and older Honda or Toyota with lots of miles on it or a newer car with less miles that might not have as good of a reliability reputation?

More information might be useful. Shopping by model rather than brand can be useful. What do you intend to use the car for? Will you be driving a lot of miles so fuel mileage is paramount, or just a few miles ? How many passengers and how much cargo will you have?

You should be able to get a 5 year old corolla with far less than 100k miles for around $8k.

It is very important to remember that brands are not reliable, individual vehicles are. I’ve driven many GM vehicles and Fords well over 200k miles with minimal problems. If a vehicle is maintained well and not driven like it’s stolen, it will last a long time, Honda or Chevy.

Also if buying a used car with between 60-90k miles on it, be mindful of upcoming maintenance, like timing belts, that can run close to $1000 to have replaced. Have any vehicle inspected by a mechanic you actually trust.

Well, my ideal car would be the Honda Civic. I want a compact sedan with good gas mileage as I would be commuting about 300 miles a week. This would be the main use, just me, no passengers or cargo. But, the only Civics I can find in my price range are really or have very high miles or both - or have rebuilt titles. Thanks!

A Chevy Prizm should fit the bill. It’s a Corolla with a Chevy badge, so you should be able to find a newer one with less miles while still being inexpensive to purchase.
Though, with 300 miles a week, you might want to find a mid-sized sedan for better comfort. A Taurus or Crown Victoria come to mind in that category.

Think about the fuel efficiency. You indicate you will drive 15,000 miles/year. At 3 bucks a gallon, the annual difference between 20 and 30 mpg is $750. You might be able to get a less expensive car and still save money even though it gets poorer fuel efficiency.

A 2004 Buick Regal or LeSabre get 28 MPG on the highway and are about $8000. A 2004 Civic is about $10,000. This translates into about 30,000 fewer miles on the Buick. You can insert an equivalent Ford or Chevy for the Buick.