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What is the best high(er) mileage investment?

Hello all,
My car died. Meh. I need to get into another ride, but with caveats, of course. Main one is: < $10k. I guess this means something in the mileage range of 80k to 150k plus or minus, depending on make/model. So, the question is: what is the best (or top three, say) choices for such a car, given that I want this car to last 250k miles. What car or cars are the best bet to get the longest life?

And, of course, I need to purchase this car within the next few days. So, no pressure on you guys at all :slight_smile:

thanks so much!!!

I’ll let the old timers answer with specific recommendations, but I think most of us can agree that you should be able to get a lower mileage car than that if you’re spending that kind of cash.

But it will take more than a week. Maybe you should rent a few different cars you like for a week at a time, see what its like to live with them, then find their older sibling for sale in your price range. It isn’t a perfect idea, I know, but it gets you thinking a little bit.

What cars do you like? Maybe we can steer you better if we know where to head.

Step one-go get the Consumer Reports car buying guide and read it (quick, it seems). Lots of info for you to make the best choice for you.

If you want a used car to last to the 250k point, then the maintenance history of that car is FAR more important than the make and model of the car. All too often, naive people seem to think that they can buy–for instance–a Toyota or a Honda, and that it will be invincible. In reality, a poorly-maintained Toyota or Honda might not make it past 100k miles without huge repair bills unless it was properly maintained by its previous owner(s).

Also–since you didn’t give us any actual parameters such as size of the vehicle, sedan vs SUV, expected mpg, etc, it is difficult for anyone to recommend cars for you.

My recommendations are:

Go to a large news stand and buy a copy of the Consumer Reports Used Car Buyers Guide. This has a wealth of information on every make and model of passenger vehicle that has been sold in the US marketplace over the past 10 years or so, including historical reliability data and recommended vehicles in every price class and size class.

Disregard “clean” Carfax reports, as these tend to omit more information than they include. A so-called “clean” Carfax report can accompany a car that has been wrecked and rebuilt, or a car that has never had its oil changed. That is how unreliable those reports can be.

After educating yourself via that CR publication, begin looking for used cars that come with full maintenance records. Do NOT take anyone’s word for a car’s maintenance history. In most cases, this will push you in the direction of private party sales, rather than used car lots. When you have located a vehicle that fits your needs and that has evidence of being properly maintained, then you need to have it inspected by your mechanic, prior to purchase. This inspection can catch undisclosed collision damage, as well as developing problems. Expect to pay ~$100 for this type of inspection.

If you do what I suggest, you will be giving yourself the best possible chance of getting a decent used car.

As not a car expert, but a recent used-car buyer, I agree with nerdnic. My budget was much, much lower – about $3K, which is around the price range (in my area in the northeast, where nothing is cheap) where I was dealing with cars with 110K-150K miles…you probably won’t hit this range of mileage, unless you’re planning on getting something fully loaded and possibly European. (My understanding is that BMWs and Audis, for instance, can remain pricey even with that kind of mileage.)

In fact, I’m pretty sure you could get a new cheap hatchback for under $10K, and though it wouldn’t have seat warmers or anything, you’d be able to break it in yourself, know its maintenance history, and you’d certainly get that 100K out of it that you’d like to get from a used one. My understanding is that some warranties even last for 100K now.

I also agree with the renting idea…I’ve had fun seeing what cars are out there thanks to owning a car constantly in the shop and needing to take long trips. Now I know things I never would have noticed otherwise, like that the Dodge Caliber doesn’t have enough rear window for me to feel comfortable backing into parking spaces (like a lot of new cars).

Good luck!

And now that I think about it, every car I have ever bought was in that mileage range (even cars I liked but didn’t buy fell in that mileage range) including the cheapest one at $400 with 88,000 miles on it and the most expensive was $5000 with 145k on it.

10 grand should buy something pretty decent about 5 years old with less than 80k miles for sure.

You could get a 2008/2009 Kia Rio Sedan or Wagon for $10,000. The dealers may have them in stock.

I’ll be selling an '05 Malibu LT pretty quickly, due to a recent passing in the family. It has < 20K miles, but I don’t want/need another car. It books at ~$8,555. It’s had all its services (both mileage- and age-wise). Since it’ll be part of the estate, I’d be very happy to get $10K for it, but I probably won’t.

Look around…they’re out there.

I must address the title of this thread. A car is not an investment, it’s an expense.

My answer to your question is that car reliability and longevity is more a function of maintenance and care than make and model. You need to find a used car in good shape with thorough maintenance and repair records for you to evaluate. The brand and model of the cars you find are far less important than the care they were given.

If you look at late model Chevy, Pontiac, etc., maybe even rental returns, you should be able to come close to that budget and under 40K.

From my limited personal experience in keeping cars in the over the two hundred thousand mile range. the ones we have had the most success with in our family have been the following: Toyota 2wd pick up, Chevy Prisms (Corolla clone), Honda Accords. None was maintenance free during this time, but only the PU needed any engine/transmission work and that was the clutch. ALL were manuals.

So, I wouldn’t hesitate recommending used versions of any of these provided they were well cared for and driven sanely. There are a plethora of used ones out there for less than $10K in all these makes and models.

The better a car is maintained, the more important the brand becomes. There are some used cars out there that have been maintained well that still give their owners plenty of problems…and I’ve had a couple. Very few owners, self included, have much bad to say about Corollas, Accords and Toyota pick ups as far as longevity is concerned.

$10K to spend? I’ll sell you my Camry with only 52000 miles.

shop around on Edmunds or and see what kind of rebates are available. You might luck out and be able to find a brand new car, with rebates/incentives, in your price range. Granted it’d be something like a no frills Nissan Versa or Hyundai Accent.
If you’re shopping used fuel efficient vehicles, don’t expect much wiggle room on the used market, you might not want to pay $10k for that 1~3 year old Civic, but the next person who walks in the door just might.
One of the best pieces of advice you’ll get from this thread is to not let the salesman know you’re in a rush to buy the car. That’s a giant red flag with strobe lights on it telling the salesman to take you to the cleaners, as it were. Tell them you’ll be buying within a month’s time and are looking around testing cars out.

Crown Vic, Grand Marq, or a Buick Park Ave.

You get reliability, comfort, safety, low price and long life all rolled into one. Or a 6 cylinder pick-up truck, stick shift.

I second Caddyman but keep in mind that when buying a used car all bets are off.

Many used cars that have less than 30k miles on them are considering an affair with a car crusher already thanks to the short time original owners.