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View Poll Results: your preference:
80s-90s car with unusual low miles 16 44.44%
mid-2000's with higher miles 20 55.56%
Voters: 36. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 04-05-2013, 04:55 PM
 
9,985 posts, read 5,621,259 times
Reputation: 5555

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I've been searching Auto Trader, Ebay and Craigslist for a couple weeks
pretty hard, ready to make what will be my first vehicle purchase in 15 years.
I am in my 40s and my first car was only a few hundred bucks. I know cars
well, the models, the makes, what to be wary of in each, what to look for,
experience with domestic and foreign.. but only in older models.
My familiarity years are early-70s to mid-90s.
Which means I basically know nothing about vehicle trends in the 2000s.
Here is my quandary. I don't want to spend anymore than $4000, $5000
absolute max. I don't see anything remotely trustworthy or acceptable
for less than $1000 considering I will be driving some long trips, and don't
have time to do big repairs. I have noticed that I can get vehicles made
in the 2000s within my price range no problem, but they usually have a
lot of mileage, most well over 100k. BUT.. I have found some hidden "gems"
like a 1995 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera with just 17k miles in perfect condition
(asking $4995) and a 1993 Buick LeSabre with only 51k (asking $2800).

In general, being stored ok, driven by 1-2 owner "grandma doin' shoppin" drivers,
would you prefer a early-mid 1990's car with 15-50k mileage or a mid-2000s car with
100-140k for the same price ? I'd like to hear what others say.

If anyone has any recommendations, I prefer mid/large sedans. Price range up to $5k
and under 75k miles. Keep in mind I'm not talking about 60s or 70s cars here,
I love them but plan on doing some long trips and don't want to "go there" on this
purchase.
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Old 04-05-2013, 11:11 PM
 
27,462 posts, read 20,615,116 times
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i dont care about mileage, i care more about condition. i have seen high mileage cars in poor condition, and in excellent condition. same with older low mileage cars. my taurus wagon for instance has just under 140,000 miles on it and i wouldnt hesitate to drive cross country with it. i have seen cars though that i wouldnt get in let alone try to drive down the street.
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Old 04-06-2013, 01:24 AM
 
Location: The Brat Stop
8,355 posts, read 5,175,925 times
Reputation: 2279
OP, if you know of a friend who is a automotive tech, or is a mechanic, take him/her with you when looking.


Things to look for would be rust through of rocker panels-trunk-floor pan.

Noises, belt squeal, unusual engine noises, knocking-ticking. Things to check, engine oil for cleanliness and proper level, pull the transmission dipstick and give it smell test-does it smell burnt, check the coolant-is it clean or dirty and rusty appearing, check the power steering reservoir, is the oil clean or a dirty brown and burnt smell, check the brake master cylinder-is it full-is the fluid clean, check the accessory drive belt/s- are they cracked, weathered, check the hoses, are they pliable or hard-stiff, give a listen at the exhaust tailpipe, does the engine have any misfires, does the engine idle or run rough.

If/when you have the opportunity to drive a prospective vehicle, note how the engine powers the vehicle, note how the transmission shifts, note how effective braking action is when slowing for stops.

Sometimes, you can't have the best of both worlds, unless you get really lucky, and sometimes, it depends on how much you're willing to spend.

E.G. Our budget was $2,200.00 when van-pickup truck shopping.
This is what we found among all the heaps from classifieds and craigslist. {1999 Chevrolet cargo van, $1800 cash, asking price was $2200}
The cons: Bumper rust, rocker panel rust through on the left side, driver seat patched with iron on fabric, and 206,000 miles. A diamond in the rough.

The pros: owner religiously changed engine oil and filter at 4,000 mile intervals using Mobil 1 synthetic, transmission was well maintained, recently had a brake job, and all of the 206,000 miles were highway miles, not stop and go city. A trained pair of ears near the tailpipe revealed no misfires, and a smooth pattern, the nose detected no foul exhaust odors like high HC's, no rotten egg smell, and no service engine soon light illuminated. This vehicle passed my state's vehicle emissions test.

You have to decide if you have a limited amount of money to spend. Ask yourself if you want something dependable and not so nice looking, to go from point A to B, or do you want something rust free that's in the repair facility 50% of the time?

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Old 04-06-2013, 07:39 AM
 
9,985 posts, read 5,621,259 times
Reputation: 5555
thanks Jive, good post.. although I already knew that stuff, other readers
who don't do those things should take notice.
I hope you don't take it the wrong way when I say I would never buy
a van with over 200k miles. I mistrust any American-made vehicle with
over 120k miles. Wish you the best on having it for 4-5 years without
any major problem. That would be cheap effective transportation with
van benefits for only $400/500 a year.

Well guys my mind is made up, I'm finding some low-use well-maintained
vehicles out there with under 75k miles from the 1980s and earlier 90's
that are what I'd rather have than the same price for something newer
with double the mileage.
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Old 04-06-2013, 08:48 AM
 
Location: West Michigan
12,085 posts, read 31,492,246 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowball7 View Post
I hope you don't take it the wrong way when I say I would never buy
a van with over 200k miles. I mistrust any American-made vehicle with
over 120k miles.
Time to update your bias. EVERY vehicle I have owned that has gone well over 200,000 has been American made, none of my imports over the years have lasted nearly as long or without larger issues than the American made iron has had. When it comes to vans or trucks, there isn't anything out on the import scene that will last as long.

As for your original question, I agree with rbohm. Condition is more important than either year OR mileage.
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Old 04-06-2013, 08:53 AM
 
Location: Las Flores, Orange County, CA
26,347 posts, read 77,182,895 times
Reputation: 17264
Newer car: More safety features. Does the old car even have air bags?
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Old 04-06-2013, 09:31 AM
 
Location: The Brat Stop
8,355 posts, read 5,175,925 times
Reputation: 2279
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowball7 View Post
thanks Jive, good post.. although I already knew that stuff, other readers
who don't do those things should take notice.
I hope you don't take it the wrong way when I say I would never buy
a van with over 200k miles. I mistrust any American-made vehicle with
over 120k miles. Wish you the best on having it for 4-5 years without
any major problem. That would be cheap effective transportation with
van benefits for only $400/500 a year.

Well guys my mind is made up, I'm finding some low-use well-maintained
vehicles out there with under 75k miles from the 1980s and earlier 90's
that are what I'd rather have than the same price for something newer
with double the mileage.
I believe ownership longevity depends on how a person treats and cares for any vehicle.
In my case, I think I was lucky to find what I did. The vehicle wasn't meticulously maintained IMO, but maintained in the important areas.

I once knew a fleet owner whose purchases for his fleet consisted of high mileage police cruisers, these were pretty well maintained until he began operating them, once he did, he didn't believe in regular maintenance at all, not even the basic, oil and filter changes.

BTW, I owned a 2001 Chevy HD Cargo van, it had the 6.6 turbo diesel in it. When I traded it in 2003, I'd racked up over 200K miles, but I maintained it well enough to drive expedited cargo from coast to coast.

Again, I'm placing emphasis on maintenance. Have you seen those old commercials on television? e.g, pay me now or pay me later {change your engine oil, not your engine}? A vehicle can have the best looking body of any around, but the mechanicals is what makes it go.

Good luck searching though.
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Old 04-06-2013, 09:54 AM
 
9,985 posts, read 5,621,259 times
Reputation: 5555
If American cars became reliable in the 2000s, I'm glad to hear it.

I don't know jack about cars in the 2000s.

Part of me hasn't decided yet. Part of me doesn't want an old car
even with low mileage just because I've never owned a relatively new
car. My way of thinking is that if it has over 75k miles it's an old car
anyway. This is the way we thought about them years ago.

Last edited by Snowball7; 04-06-2013 at 10:02 AM..
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Old 04-06-2013, 11:15 AM
 
Location: The Brat Stop
8,355 posts, read 5,175,925 times
Reputation: 2279
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowball7 View Post
If American cars became reliable in the 2000s, I'm glad to hear it.

I don't know jack about cars in the 2000s.

Part of me hasn't decided yet. Part of me doesn't want an old car
even with low mileage just because I've never owned a relatively new
car. My way of thinking is that if it has over 75k miles it's an old car
anyway. This is the way we thought about them years ago.
Something in decent shape for the amount you have to spend might be a big challenge to find.
I was going to suggest going to a dealer and looking at trade ins a few years old with low mileage, but that would probably be out of your budget.

Many of the cars mfd. in the 2000's are basically all electronic gadgetry. Bells and whistles. Power windows, security systems, power seats, much like the old luxury cars of the bygone era.

Car engines of the 2000's have progressed greatly though, better driveability and quality too. Some cars like the Ford Escort, and some Toyotas of the 80's had big problems with the overhead cam designs, in that timing belts and chains wore out quickly, broke, and caused big engine problems like bent valves and damage to the tops of the pistons.

Since you reside {correct me if I'm wrong} in RI, I would be especially watchful of rusty underbody, rusty brake and fuel lines, given the sea {salty} climate.
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Old 04-06-2013, 11:29 AM
 
13,702 posts, read 12,442,607 times
Reputation: 25833
I think it really depends on the specific car. Look at both, and maybe you'll find a gem. I sold my mother's car last year when she went to assisted living. It was a 1996 Subaru Impreza with 27,000 miles, and we sold it for $2500.00. She lived in the city and only drove it a couple miles to the supermarket and drugstore, anywhere further we drove her. She was good at maintaining the engine, too. The reason we didn't get more is the body was pretty ugly, from being parked on the street under trees for over a decade and her never getting it waxed. It was a darn good car for the money, though.
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