General Question

occ's avatar

Would you buy a used car that has 130,000 miles on it?

Asked by occ (4007 points ) August 21st, 2010

I am looking into buying a used car, that seems to have been well maintained by the owner (it is the original owner – he has all the receipts for maintence, and it has never been in an accident. Price would be around the blue book value). I can use the VIN number to verify all of this…the only potential problem seems to be that it has 129,000 miles. I don’t plan to drive it much – so will not likely put that many more miles on the car. But how much is too much? In your opinion, is a car with 129,000 miles on it a bad purchase (if the car seems to be in good condition)? In this case, the car is a 2004 Carolla, but I’m also curious as to people’s thoughts in general since I may look at other cars that have about that many miles.

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27 Answers

Seek's avatar

I’d say absolutely not.

The VIN will only tell you the accidents reported. Not only that, but you’re talking about a 130,000 mile transmission. Transmission problems suck, and they can come flying at you out of nowhere.

Seaofclouds's avatar

It depends on the car and the condition it’s in. Some cars are good with high mileage, while others aren’t. It also depends on how the previous owner drove it. @occ How much are they asking for it?

El_Cadejo's avatar

130 isnt bad for some cars. other cars its knockin on deaths door. that does seem like a shitload of miles on a car thats only an 04 though.

marinelife's avatar

I think that you are asking for trouble with that many miles on the engine.

kevbo's avatar

Check Consumer Reports for the overall reliability of the car (year, make and model) that you are looking at. They keep longevity-based ratings over a number of years.

If you can, have a mechanic look at it as well. The two high mileage cars I bought (sans inspection) had problems that cost me $1,000 and another that was around $2,500 after I’d purchased the cars.

Also, I basically owned my two high mileage cars for about two or three years each, although I totaled the second one in a wreck. Otherwise, it probably would have lasted another two.

deni's avatar

I would. A lot of cars can get way past that mileage, even past 200,000….it’s only had one owner….it’s a fairly new car, too. The blue book value, if you can get him a little below that, I say you should go for it.

polinsteve's avatar

I would consider buying it. A high mileage well maintained car is a better bet than low mileage badly maintained. Also most wear to the engine and transmission is when it is running cold and at that mileage, most of it will be hot running.

My car, a 2001 Rover 75 diesel, has 126,000 miles on it. I expect the engine to reach 250,000 miles + with no major problems and the transmission likewise. Since I got the car at 78,000 I have had to replace 1 injector for £98.00, ($150.00) and 2 tyres are due to be replaced. Other than that I have only paid for oil and filters. What I have saved buying higher mileage makes it a very good buy.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Only if it’s a Volvo. I bought my Volvo will well over 300,000 miles on it, and with the exception of a few belts and fans and other things under 100 bucks, haven’t had any problems with it.

jerv's avatar

All of my cars except one have had far more miles on the clock.

My current car, an ‘85 Corolla, had 205K when I got it last summer and is still running like a champ at almost 213K. My stepdad’s ‘95 Celica runs fine at >350K and never had any major work (routine maintenance only). I’ve had VWs with >200K that ran fine aside from body rust; the drivetrains and suspensions were rock-solid.

There are some cars that that sort of mileage is an issue though. Pretty much any American car built more than 5 years ago (but less than 35 years ago) won’t last that long, period. Any car that hasn’t been well-maintained is going to be a problem, regardless. A Corolla… well, you almost have to try to kill them, especially the older ones. The one car I had that had less than 100K miles was a Corsica that blew the engine less than six months later. Ironically, it was also (at that point) the most expensive car I’d ever owned.

@Seek_Kolinahr You must have only owned American cars then. While you are correct that transmission problems suck, the only cars I’ve had tranny issues with were two Fords, a Mazda with a Ford transmission (the Ford CD4E was use in certain years/models of Mazda), and a Saturn (GM).
As for Toyota trannys, I slammed my Corolla from 2nd to Reverse at 35 MPH (not recommended!) and it never had a transmission issue even years later. And that Celica didn’t even need a clutch until almost 250K. We know that it wasn’t replaced previously since it is also a one-owner car.

SeventhSense's avatar

Sure but it depends upon the car. I would never pay book value for anything unless it was in high demand or collectible though. Talk up anything negative about the car and express that you’re taking a risk with it etc. and get a better deal. Never pay retail or book.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I would. The GM 3800 engines last forever. Look at cars. com and check how many GM cars are being sold with mileages well above 100000. They are fantastic deals.
Hondas at that mileage are disasters waiting to happen due to the interference engine design. The timing belt breaks and you are left with a pile of junk.

Nullo's avatar

After much deliberation, and with some advice from @jerv, I bought an ‘02 Corolla with 148,000 miles on it. No problems yet, beyond a tricky fuel gauge. That, and its four cylinders do not make for a proper manly-sounding car.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Depends on the car. A Mercedes diesel with that mileage is barely broken in. I have one with over 700K miles in virtually showroom condition.

Nullo's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land That must be a fantastic investment. How is it for reliability?

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jerv's avatar

@Nullo The faster Toyotas are known more for their handling than their power; they go fast by not slowing down for corners. Oh, and they keep going after other cars give up the ghost. The only “manly sounding” ‘yota I can think of is the old Supra.

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies I like mine to be quirky and in it for the long haul.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@Nullo It’s a 1961 190D, 720,000 miles, named Helga. She runs perfectly and has never left me stranded. Her “sister” is a 1972 220D, 650,000 miles, a bit of a rust bucket but totally reliable. We’re restoring a 1949 170D, should be on the road in a few years to replace the ‘72. I love the MB diesels, we also have a 79 Unimog (3 liter diesel 4WD) that is unstoppable in any conditions.

ragingloli's avatar

That is why you go to a car mechanic to check the car when you make the test drive.

GeorgeGee's avatar

I’ve owned and sold a Corolla at about that mileage. It was a good reliable car, it always started and got good gas mileage. I had it rustproofed when it was new, so there was no rust problem. With this and any older car you will have maintenance issues to deal with. Mufflers, brakes, tires, radiators, water pumps, etc… none of these last forever. If you’re smart about a purchase like this you NEED to see maintenance records. If they “don’t have” them, walk away. If they have been good about maintenance, you’ll find they have records of:
-Regular oil changes
-Tires replaced twice
-New brake pads after about 70K miles
-Timing belt changed after about 75K miles
If they can’t prove they changed the timing belt, personally I’d walk away, as it’s a sign they were pretty clueless “drive it until something breaks” type drivers.
If they have maintained it well and have all of the above documented, you will still have occasional problems, you will likely need to replace something expensive like the radiator and water pump within the first year, but that’s part of the cost of maintaining an older car.

silky1's avatar

No not a good idea to much mileage.

jerv's avatar

@silky1 Aww, come on! It’s barely broken in!

@GeorgeGee Correct. Once you get past 30,000 miles, there are things that people think last forever but are actually “wear and tear” items.
However, since not all of us can afford to buy a brand-new car every 2–3 years, it is inevitable that you may run into something like that. My ‘85 just had the struts replaced. I’ve replaced quite a few brake rotors and timing belts over the years. Clutches may last >200k miles if you don’t drive like an idiot, so most clutches only last ~75k.
And yet you have people that are all too willing to put a 6 year old car in the junkyard just because the odometer hit 6 digits. Fucking lazy snobs…

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@jerv I just prefer the older standards of craftsmanship, things that can be repaired vs thrown away and plug in a new black box. J’s S400 is totally intimidating under the hood; I’m afraid to do more than change the oil.

keobooks's avatar

I just bought a car with 150k miles on it. I knew the original owners and they had their little book with all of the maintenence logs. They also kept the car clean. It’s a very nice car and I got a good price. I did have to replace all the belts, but it was about time for that anyway.

jerv's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land Part of why I bought my ‘85 Corolla is that I had torn apart various bits on my old ‘87, so I know what is where and how to handle it. The other part is that it’s a Toyota, so it’s pretty tough and reliable to begin with; even moreso than the newer ones with their fuel injection and fancy electronics.

@keobooks Almost all used cars require some things to be replaced. Every car I’ve bought got new spark plugs and an oil change whether it needed it or not, Many also got brake pads/shoes, belts, and sometimes other things. However, if it needed major work then I left it alone unless the price was right.
My rule of thumb is that any car will cost at least $1000, even an old beater you get given to you for free. Newer cars require less work (part of why they cost more) but still need maintenance items. Unless you buy it brand-new, a car will always cost you more than the purchase price.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@jerv Same reason I like old M-B diesels. The basic design was unchanged for almost 40 years and many parts interchangeable.

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john65pennington's avatar

If it’s a Toyota Corolla, I say go for it. The engines in those cars are good for about 250,000 miles.

I have a Toyota Solara with 278,000 miles on it and it runs and drives perfect, still.

Check out everything on this vehicle, before you make the purchase. I would invest money in a Carfax, just to make sure and let a friend-mechanic check it over, first.

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