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When to sell a car

I have a 1997 Avalon in very good condition but it has 128K miles. I keep it well maintained and recently got over 30 mpg on a 600 mile rounf trip. I had it checked out recently for some ‘clunking’ when geares changed but they adjusted something, checked the transmission and said all was OK. Shortly after, I needed to replace the starter to ther tune of $450. This got me thinking that maybe this was the ‘beginning of the end’.

I get nervous when cars reach 100K and I have no backup car.

I have been wondering if I should sell it now whan I can honestly say it has no issues, or should I press my luck? Everyone seems to say well-maintained Toyota’s last forever. My repair guy says I should get another 100K out of it. But what about all the stuff along the way?

Comments, anyone?

I agree with your repair guy, keep the car, but remember, at 100k it will need some things, but still much less costly than a new car. Maybe you should find a less expensive mechanic. Do you ave a chain store like Pep Boys or Strauss where you live? My starter on my 1994 182K Tercel went and i had to get it fixed fast, so I towed it to my local mechanic, cost $400, a week later I was at the Pep Boys store some 8 miles away, and asked for an estimate… Parts and labor—$179

A agree, keep it. I have a '96 ES300, 120k miles, basically the same car, and I plan to keep it another couple of years. The starter is a very common problem, I fixed mine by replacing the contacts in the solenoid. It’s not the ‘beginning of the end’.

128K miles? A well maintained Toyota with that many miles is just broken in IMHO. The least miles I got out of a Toyota car was 194K miles. And that was because it got rear-ended and was totalled. The most I got from a toyota car was 249,993 miles. But when the water pump/timing belt failed, the body and interior were all used up so it wasn’t worth fixing. I just missed the quarter million mile mark by seven miles!

Keep it and maintain it.


My father has almost 275k miles on his 1998 and still running strong. He has replaced some wear items here and there but thats expected.

Your car is going to need to occasional repairs. Its all part of owning a 10yr+ old vehicle. If you are worried about no backup car, just rent a car when you repair yours. Good independents have a relationship with a rental company or their own cars to rent for a relatively inexpensive rate.

If the car still looks good and you like it, keep it.

A Toyota with 128k is slightly less reliable than a Toyota with 28k, but significantly more reliable than several brands I could mention (but won’t, for fear of offending someone) at any mileage.

If you are worried about reliability, join AAA or buy towing insurance from your car insurance company. I ran my last Toyota 278k miles, and it ran perfectly and looked good (other than the seat covers) when I sold it. It was only towed once, and that was due to a mistake that I had made while working on it. Economically, you are a long way from the point where a new car payment makes more sense than repair costs.

Agree; Toyotas have a very long life if well cared for. I would just replace items as they are needed; that will always be less expensive that buying a new car, until the car reaches the end of its design life; for a Toyota that can be 350,000+ miles.

As mentioned above, a well cared for Toyota is more reliable than many new cars. We drive cars until one or more of the following things happen:

  1. The car becomes unsafe due to corrosion or other factors that can’t be corrected

  2. Major items, such as engine, have reached the end of their life and replacement is not economic. This is ususally at 300,000+ miles.

  3. The car cannot meet the smog tests without very major expenses in engine repairs

  4. The car is very hard to start in cold weather due to excessive engine wear; again, we are talking 350,000+ miles.

Your car is not even close to any of the above 4 situations. Just keep driving it and correct items as they occur.

The stuff along the way will cost way less than the $35,000 for a new one.

When a car starts stranding me – more than once over a year’s time, I mean, or in really bad conditions – I also think it’s time to dump it. IF you mostly drive close to home, an occasional failure is tolerable. But, I drive all over US and Mexico, and failures are very miserable. My 2002 Sienna has 143,000 miles, and while I do worry about unexpected failures far from repair service, at this point I am planning on driving it a long ways.

I actually try to replace stuff before it fails on me, when I can reasonably predict failures. An obvious example is the battery. Somewhere around 5 years and I get a new one, period. I am trying to figure out when/if to replace O sensors and things like that.

I think it depends entirely on the kind of driving you do… I’m facing the same dilemma with a much younger car; a trouble-free 2000 Suzuki Swift hatch with 108k miles; however, I do a lot of commuting on deserted back roads alone, and I’m a helpless female with lousy cell phone service (no reception in many areas). Hence, I’ll probably sell it in the spring, buy a BRAND NEW 2009 Toyota Yaris (my first, last, and only new car), and sell it as a gas-miser with no probs while I can; I’m sure I’ll get a fine price, considering the current gas crisis. That said, on the other hand, were I doing JUST in town driving and/or didn’t have these other safety concerns, I’d drive it till it rusted away or could no longer be fixed. So, in summation, it depends on your individual situation. Good luck with whatever you do.

Honestly, the old 100,000 mile point, which seemed to indicate the end-of-life for cars years ago is no longer really valid. For a Toyota Avalon I wouldn’t worry until somewhere around 250,000 miles, and even then I wouldn’t worry much. Starters go bad, brakes wear out, you might need shocks or struts, but if the engine and transmission and body are in good shape those peripheral items will cost far less than buying a new car. This one sounds like it’s reliable and I would not hesitate to keep it another 10 years.

I spend most of my working life improving equipment reliability. Some extremely reliable industrial equipment is over 30 years old, but has been well maintained and is constantly monitored.

A well cared for older Toyota is probablymore reliable than a new Volkswagen or Chevy Aveo, for example.

A colleague of mine sold surgical instruments to hospitals across the West. He had a Toyota Cressida, a forerunner of the Avalon. He put 325,000 troubler-free miles on this car with only the cruise control faling. Another example, some years ago, a hardware representative also covered the West in a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air, accumulating 458,000 trouble-free miiles before trading the car at 7 years old.

If I had a job that took me to the boondocks, I would:

  1. Buy the most reliable, long lived car for the job.

  2. Maitain it according to the book.

  3. Become “CAR SMART” and able to anticpate problems, replacing items that fail without wearout warning before they get to far. Changing the battery every 4 years is a good pro-active example!

  4. Take it easy the first half million miles!

Nobody rides for free. Repairs and new cars both cost money. The car you are driving will cost the least.

Here’s another possibility: You want a new car and need to rationalize it. If that is the case, just buy it! You don’t need to justify your car decisions to anyone but your spouse. You’ve had the Avalon for 10 years and if that’s long enough for you, then you’ve earned a new ride.

I should add that I, too, was a member of the Toyota 200,000 mile club, with over 200k on my 1994 (I think?) Corolla… At some point, a little rust spot developed below the window; I remember thinking, eh, I won’t bother with it; as old as this car is, it’ll die before it spreads. Well, needless to say, years later, the door was about to fall off from rust, but the engine was still going strong. Fortunately (?), it was totalled in an accident, or I’d probably still be driving it, the door held on with bungee cords. Not sure if today’s Toyotas are as reliable or long-lived?> Maybe that’s another question for another thread…

So… I have a 94 Tercel at 180K miles - sounds to me like I should just keep it going! I’ve just had a few pricier repairs done - tie rod ends, timing belt, all new tires. And the exhaust is going to have to be done from the catalytic converter back. So I’ve just arrived at the point of thinking maybe I’m throwing more money at it than I should, if I’m going to need to keep replacing stuff on it.
I’ve got about $4000 in it now (and it was a gift too, so I didn’t even pay for it).
But when I read this thread it sounds like it’ll probably be worth it. (That’s what every mechanic tells me - of course, they’re making money on me!)