Which car should I keep?

In 2001 I purchased a 99 Camry LE with 26,000 miles on it. Car was well maintained, in good condition with leather interior and sunroof. I drove it until 2007, put about 100,000 miles on it and continued with the maintenance recommendations at 30,000 mile intervals along with regular oil changes - never had any problems with the car.

In 2008 my 85 year old mom needed a decent car so I sold her the ?99 Camry and purchased a used 2001 V6 Camry LE with 52,000 miles on it. The documentation from the dealership indicated it passed the 100 point inspection. Haven?t had too many problems with it except the check engine light has come on a couple of times. First time I took it to the dealership they charged me $264 to fix a sticking valve in the evap vent system. Light came on again a few months later and the dealership wanted another several hundred dollars but it wasn?t clear there was anything wrong so I refused the repair. Came on again about a year later and I took it to another shop and they said there wasn?t anything wrong. This was well over a year ago and I haven?t had any problems.

I like the ?99 Camry better ? it gets much better gas mileage, is more fun to drive and is in great condition. I do a lot of city driving and I figure the ?99 would cost nearly $500 a year less in gasoline.

Question ? would it be crazy to sell the car with 80,000 miles and buy the one with 140,000 back from my mom? I would come out about $3,000 ahead but don?t want to be buying something that?s going to cost me several thousand dollars in the next year or two. I?m looking at another four years of driving before getting another car.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!


I personally think you should let your mom stick to your old(her) car if she is happy with it. Its your mom.

When you drive a car with 140K miles on it, you should ALWAYS budget $1,000 per year in maintenance. You may not pay that much every year, but it’s not hard to spend $1,000 on a car in a year.

Does your mother want to sell the car? The only way this makes any sense at all is if mom either doesn’t want the car or doesn’t need it anymore. Otherwise you’re asking for trouble.

If both cars are operating properly the difference in fuel cost should be closer to $300. Assuming you drive mostly around town and put about 15,000 miles year on the car, and pay about $2.90 a gallon. If you drive fewer miles or pay less for gas then the difference will be even smaller. The mileage difference between the two cars is about 2 or 3 MPG.

If your check engine light is on, then there is a fault somewhere in the car. Addtionally some cars will go into open loop mode where the ECU stops taking readings from the O2 sensors and enriches the fuel mixture to avoid a pontentially dangerous exceesively lean condition. When the car goes into open loop mode, mileage will suffer, sometimes up to 25-30%. In most cases the car will appear to drive normally. If your Camary has defaulted to this mode it would explain the loss in fuel mileage, and you should find out what the problem is and have it fixed.

Either of these cars should go another 100k miles with reasonable care. The 4 cyl will most likely be cheaper to maintain. I would definitely keep the 4 cyl.

By the time you transfer deeds, get the cars registered, inspected (if your state requires) and change insurance you are going to eat up some of your potential savings and that’s not including your time in making all these transactions. I’m not at all sure this is worth the trouble.

Unless your mom wants to sell you the '99 Camry back badly enough that she’s brought it up (do not ask her…mom’s will sacrifice for their kids. She’ll probably give it back even of she doesn’t really want to), then leave her to her Camry.

Since it sounds like you got an EVAP system code, you might find the problem by having a “smoke test” done. A smoke test can sometimes find leaks that are otherwise impossible to find.

Thanks for all the replies - I should have made it clear that my mom is hanging up the keys for good. She’ll be 88 in a couple of months and doesn’t feel confident driving. We’re lucky she decided that on her own!

I’m reluctant to sell the 2001 if there is indeed a problem with it - or maybe I’ll just discount the price significantly (and inform the potential buyer of the history, of course). The '99 is more fun to drive (if a Camry can ever be considered fun) but I’ll take all these things into consideration.

You have answered your own question here. Your mom wont be driving any more, you like her car, buy it from her and she can use the money for the comforts of old age, such as a new dvd player and a subscription to netflicks. You sell the 01, after having it checked out and certified by a reputable independent garage, (not the dealer for goodness sake), and inform the buyer of the history. You should be able to arrive at a reasonable agreement, and everyone is happy.