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What are the risks with this '04 Honda CRV purchase?

A local Honda dealer has an '04 Honda CRV on their lot. Asking price is $7,888. They say it had one owner and has a clean Carfax report. My concern is the vehicle has 208,404 miles on it. I have only looked at it when the dealership was closed and saw this information. The vehicle appears to be cosmetically “clean”. But obviously the mileage is HIGH. What are the possible problems you could have with a vehicle with this many miles on it and how much longer could this vehicle last? The vehicle would be used by my teenage daughter for local use. She is just getting her license.

Have a pre-purchase inspection performed by an independent mechanic (not the dealership selling the vehicle). Subtract the cost of work needed from the purchase price. Budget $1,000 per year in maintenance and repairs.


My concern would be how well it was maintained. Unfortunately, many people simply change the oil occasionally, put gas in it, and wash the car–and consider it to be well-maintained.

Personally, I would not buy any used car (except a fairly new one) unless it came with complete maintenance records, as that will make the difference between a car that still has some life left in it and one that will last only a short time before needing very expensive repairs.

Honda products are–generally speaking–very well engineered, so if the car has been meticulously maintained by its previous owner(s), it has some life left in it. This particular car has apparently been driven over 35k miles per year, which is heavy use by anyone’s definition, but since that would have to have been mostly highway miles the wear and tear is less than on a car that was driven mostly in local driving.

The things that you should look on the maintenance records include:

Evidence that the timing belt (if it has one–I think that it does) has been changed within the past 1-2 years. If not, then you have to budget…about $600 to replace the timing belt, water pump, and serpentine belt in the near future.
Evidence that the transmission fluid has been changed once per year on this high-mileage vehicle.
Evidence that the oil has been changed at least every 6,000 miles.
Evidence that the fluid in the center and rear differentials has been changed within the past 1-2 years. This is the one big Achilles Heel of the CRV if it is not maintained properly.

Additionally, you should have your own mechanic inspect it for obvious wear problems and for collision damage that may not be apparent. But–if there are no maintenance records, walk away from this deal.

The air conditioner has been problematic with CR-V of this vintage, Google CR-V A/C problems. I would pass on this car If you live in a climate that demands heavy use of the A/C

Yep, that’s the worst year for A/C problems with the CR-V (‘much worse than average’ for ‘climate system’ on CR. Newer ones ('05, '06) are ‘better than average’, older ones ('02, '03) are ‘average’ for ‘climate system’.

My concern is the vehicle has 208,404 miles on it.
That would be enough for me and I’m a Honda fan. At that many miles, you might as well consider a newer anything else with fewer miles. Dealer is lucky ANY ONE is even looking at the car. I’d take it only if it were a free gift from a relative. The possible problems are too numerous to name. Run and look at something like an almost “new” Ford Focus for more security from breakdown for you daughter !

Give your head a shake, Man! Picture it, 10-12 in the evening and your daughter is coming home from work and the 208,404 miled car breaks down…probably not because of the way a teenage girl drives either, but rather a timing belt or trans that should have been adjusted 100,000 miles ago but seemed good by the mechanic who inspected it and has never seen the light of day/probably has the original oil in it. Don’t get me wrong, Hondas are great but you can’t even trust GM to make a car that lasts more then 50,000 miles. Ford makes a far superior product: I have 250,000 miles on an Explorer that has had no more then clutches and breaks…seriously, just routine maintenance. This is why Ford has been the only US manufacurer who has turned a profit consistently (Stock tip) and has never needed governement assistance. I feel for ya, Buddy. My 17y/o wants an Eclipse. I’m going to CarMax. Their Service departments are preditory but their sales are right on the money.

Far too much money for a 7 year old vehicle with over 200k miles. Be patient. You can find a much better vehicle for much less money.

Forget Carfax reports. They’re pretty much a sales aid for car dealers more than anything else and do not serve much more of a purpose than promoting the idea that if a car has a clean report then it must be mechanically sound. Not necessarily.

Too many miles and too many unknowns. Buy your daughter an older and simpler car with fewer miles. I’m sure you can find a Hyundai Elantra, late model Hyundai Accent, Ford Focus or Mazda Protege for the same or less money.

One other reason to not get the CR-V: it has lower than average safety rating. When we were looking for a vehicle for our teen, we looked at it, but passed because of the low performance on safety tests. We ended up with a used Forester. You can compare safety ratings here: