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Years vs. miles on a car

Is it better to buy a newer car with more miles or an older one with less miles. I am only talking about a 2 year difference. I am looking at a 2000 Subaru outback with 94K versus a 2002 Outback with 130K. Is two years older enough to make the parts worn out more or technology of the parts worse on a the older model?

This question has been asked many times – use the search function.


I don’t think the difference between year and mileage is enough to be significant between the two. However, two other things come to mind. One, Subaru had some problems with the head gaskets on certain engines in the late-90’s through early-00’s and so you should definitely do some research to make sure you’re not getting one of those (or at least one that’s been fixed with the “improved head gaskets”). The other thing is the timing belt-- if the 130k one has had it done recently but the 94k one hasn’t, that’s a several hundred dollar point in its favor.

Don’t get trapped by the fallacy that a “low mileage” car is a significant advantage. It really just depends if the proper maintenance has been done. Is either one of them being sold privately? If so, see if they have saved all of their receipts.

Better stay away from Subarus as old as them unless you like walking or paying a lot.

What matters with a used car, ANY used car, is neither miles nor age. What matters is MAINTENANCE. If you don’t know the maintenance history of the vehicle you are looking at you are gambling, regardless of age or mileage.

You can find a low-mileage car that has been abused or neglected and it will be trouble. On the other hand, you can find an older, higher-mileage car that has been well taken care of and it will be a good buy.

With Subarus maintenance is extremely important, as they don’t suffer neglect very well. A Subaru that has been neglected can very quickly become a money pit.

As much as I like Subarus, I wouldn’t consider either one of that age/miles as a used purchase. Newer cars in the last 10 to 15 years have more specialized parts in awd/4wd configuration that buying anything in that drive train, other than a truck, is begging for high maintenance costs.

The Age Difference Is Insignificant And Could Be As Little As A Year. These Are Both Old Cars, Ranging From 8 To 12 Years Old & Both Subarus. Condition Is The Main Consideration.

The difference in miles isn’t a big deal either.

These cars are both senior citizens in “car years”. That’s fine. I own a couple, but they’re not my daily drivers and this needs to be considered in a purchase price.

I wouldn’t buy a car of that age / make, unless . . .

  1. It comes with a complete, favorable, up-to-date maintenance / repair history or
  2. You are a competent mechanic or
  3. The car is thoroughly checked by a competent mechanic or
  4. The price constitutes a “steal” with enough money left over to cover major problems.

Greasy Jack’s advice on the timing belt is right on the mark (no pun).

What are you driving now ? Why not save some money and get something younger and a little less ripe or look at a make without all the infamy?


It always hard to know how someone has driven the car over the years. One is a private sale and the other is at a dealer. I can have them look at the parts but it still doesn’t give a complete history of the car, I think right?

I know people who have Subarus that old that are still on the road and running well with regular maintenance. Unfortunately we need a family car with large trunk space for our dogs and we can’t spend more than $6,000. We don’t want a car payment each month. This car seemed like the best bet. I wanted a Volvo wagon but that is very expensive to maintain as well. You have had bad luck with Subarus?

I just sold my ford focus hatchback and need a family car with room for the dogs… My focus wouldn’t cut it. It was hard to climb into the back with my daughter…not fun. We were hoping to get something in the meantime while we saved for a newer car. We want to keep this for a few years and then get something else.

Thanks I figured so but…I couldn’t seem to find the right key words to get my question answered so i asked it. I’ll search again.

thanks, I will surely check this out as planned. I know they do have those problems.

Well it’s always a good idea to have a professional mechanic independently inspect a used car prior to purchase, regardless of where you buy the car.

Check out the one that is being sold privately and ask the owner to show you their receipts to show what maintenance has been done. From there you can start to construct the “picture…”

You can compare what they have done with the maintenance schedule in the owner’s manual. If they have done nothing more than keep the oil changed, move on. The transmission fluid, timing belt, spark plugs, air filter, etc. are also important maintenance items.

So start there and get back with us.

Check out the Honda Element. Easy to put lots of stuff in those cars.

You stated you can’t spend more than $6,000, so start looking at $5,000 vehicles and under and save that extra money back for any unexpected repairs. One other thing to mention about Subarus is that if either don’t have the same tires on all 4 wheels(i.e. there’s 3 brand X and 1 brand Y), don’t bother talking to the owner anymore, walk away, this will be an expensive repair cause by the cheap owners.
If you can find one, a Taurus wagon would fit the bill, and probably be a bit newer in your price range