Used cars, how old is too old?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by dornoforpyros, Jul 3, 2006.

  1. dornoforpyros macrumors 68040


    Oct 19, 2004
    Calgary, AB
    So I'm looking to buy a used car for about $4,000, I've been looking at mid 90's VW Golfs & Honda Civics. I'm just wondering how old is too old when considering I just need a basic set of wheels that isn't going to up and die in the next two years.

    I've seen some ads in the paper for 91's at like $1,800 which I suspect is just asking for trouble, but would a 94 be that much better? First car purchase and I'm a little intimidated, macs are so much easier to buy :p

    Also any idea on what a decent amount of KM's is? So far I've been trying to keep it in under 200/km (kilometers for all the yanks)
  2. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    Avoid the VWs at all costs (my bias). Major problems with stalling 4 - 8 times on start-up. Had a mid-80's Rabbit. Neighbor had a mid-90's Golf - same $&@^ problem.

    With any 90's car, inspect carefully for rust rot, esp. around the wheel wells and lower panels (salt on roads)
  3. Toreador93 macrumors regular

    Sep 14, 2003
    It really depends on the car. But I believe the Honda will outlast most cars built in the last 20 years. Honda civics generally have little problem going over 200k miles (315k km).

    I would suggest joining a couple forums of the cars you're interested in, as long-time owners will be able to give you a better report.

    Also, you want to check what work has been done to the car already. For example, if you get a 200k km vehicle that hasn't had a timing belt/chain replaced, plan on having to do it very soon.
  4. blackfox macrumors 65816


    Feb 18, 2003

    I've had lots of old Volvos (from the late 70's) - and they have been dependable.

    Remember that older cars are often simpler than their modern brethren, which can translate into cheaper and easier repairs.

    More importantly, if you find a 25 year-old car with only 150K on it (possible), then you know that it has been driven lightly (under 7K/yr).

    I always loved early 90's Honda Accords, not to mention pretty much any year of the Volvo 240 (1976-1993). Dependable.

    (K = 1000 miles [to avoid confusion] )
  5. SpookTheHamster macrumors 65816


    Nov 7, 2004
    Old VW's are cool cars, but they aren't the most reliable. Some old Golfs have a problem where the fuel pipes can corrode and leak, which isn't exactly safe.

    Civics from the 90's are good cars, and will last an age. Old Volvo's are built like tanks, and they have the old-school cool thing goin' down.

    There's no such thing as "too old", I drive a 30 year old BMW and it's not too bad.
  6. iGary Guest


    May 26, 2004
    Randy's House
    Stick with the Honda's.

    As long as it isn't burning oil, the timing belt has been maintained, and every thing else is in workable order, it will run for ages. I had a 91 Civic hatchback and drove it until the wheels basically fell off.
  7. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    Stick with a vehicle that is known to be relatively problem free and reliable.

    Cheap/reliable/frumpy starts with a Crown Vic and gets a bit more expensive when you go to some of the FWD vehicles. But there are still some FWD vehicles that can match that vehicle for the extreme low cost of repairs -- and the known reliability.

    If you choose a Mercury Marquis with 100-150k miles on the odometer, it shouldn't cost much at all to put another 100k miles on the clock -- and it will probably run like crap at times (aka plug wires, and tranny fluid), but should always start and get you there.

    If you get a Honda you might be looking at a vehicle with closer to 150-200k miles, and it should still be as reliable as the tanks with a bit more style.

    Edit: Most of the "reliable" cars should be capable of 300k miles easily, with a few maintenance items on the outside of the engine on the way there.
  8. mactastic macrumors 68040


    Apr 24, 2003
    Thousand dollar car it ain't worth nothin'
    Thousand dollar car it ain't worth ****.
    Might as well take your $1000,
    and set fire to it.

    $1000 car ain't worth a dime,
    You lose your $1000 every time.
    Oh why did I ever buy,
    a $1000 car.

    $1000 car is gonna let you down,
    More than it's ever gonna get you around.
    Replace your gaskets and paint over your rust,
    You'll still end up with something that you'll never trust.

    $1000 car's life was through,
    'bout 50,000 miles 'fore it got to you.
    Oh why did I ever buy,
    a $1000 car.

    A $1000 car ain't even gonna roll,
    til you throw at least another thousand in the hole.
    Sink your money in it, and there you are
    the owner of a 2,000 dollar 1,000 dollar car.

    If you've only got a $1000.
    You ought to just buy a good guitar.
    Learn how to play it it'll take you farther,
    than any old $1000 car.

    If a $1000 car was truly worth a damn,
    then why would anybody ever spend ten grand.
    Oh why did I ever buy,
    a thousand dollar car.
    -The Bottle Rockets
  9. D0ct0rteeth macrumors 65816


    Mar 11, 2002
    Franklin, TN
    I have a uncle who has a 97 Neon with almost no miles on it (I believe about 30,000)

    Its in perfect condition, It has just been sitting in a garage in Arizona and just driven to church once a week.

    PM me if your interrested. It may be worth flying out here and driving it back. I'll be happy to forward your info to him.

    Its not the sexiest car in the world, but its def the best bang for the buck around.
  10. xsedrinam macrumors 601


    Oct 21, 2004
    '94 Honda and '95 Toyota with good maintenance record (i.e regular oil changes, timing belts) I'd trust for kids' college cars. We picked up two for our kids their freshman years. Both had 134,000+ miles (now over 150,000). They've run trouble free for them now for two years.
  11. homerjward macrumors 68030


    May 11, 2004
    fig tree
    what do you have right now?
    my mom and i have been sort of looking at used cars (the one i have now is not exactly safe) but we cant afford anything newer than what ive got so we figured it wouldnt be worth it to get something older.
  12. OutThere macrumors 603


    Dec 19, 2002
    It's all about the mileage and the last owner.

    I'd be careful buying anything with more than 80,000-120,000 miles.

    If the last owner is a 20 year old member of a punk rock band who has donuts and skids all around their yard, don't buy it. If it's a 90 year old grandmother, buy it. :p
  13. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    All depends on the vehicle, if the punk rock band member actually maintained the vehicle -- it would be worth a shot.

    Beats getting a vehicle with few miles, rusty fluid in the radiator, and oil passages that look like jello molds. Along with smoke out the ass, due to improperly seated rings.

    These days, changing the fluids and running the vehicle hard enough to seat the rings is a must -- have to beat on some cars to keep them from being oil burning buckets of crap. aka, actually need to put some miles on the vehicle to keep from rotting due to moisture in the oil.
  14. SpookTheHamster macrumors 65816


    Nov 7, 2004
    Don't buy cars from old people; their hearing isn't always up to scratch, so they won't be able to hear tell-tale noises of Bad Things before it's too late. Also, old people tend to ride the clutch constantly, so you'll have worn down plates. The oldest you should go is about 60-65.
  15. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    Yeah, who's more likely to maintain a car ---- a male in his 20s, or a 74 year old, legally blind grandmother of 14?? ;)

    And the car isn't too old if your parents look at the car and don't say things like, "Your father made out in a car just like this on our first date."
  16. Pistol Pete macrumors 6502a

    Pistol Pete

    Jan 6, 2005
  17. MultiM macrumors 6502


    May 9, 2006
    TO. I've moved!
    In Calgary get the car, whatever it is, inspected by a licensed mechanic. It's worth every dime. Lots of used cars brought in from other provinces that are rusted to ****! It happened to me and I managed to dodge a couple of bullets (and rust buckets) before making a commitment. PM me for a VERY reliable and honest mechanic before you make a decision. I know what it's like to buy a used car in Calgary. The one I finally decided on I have had for 10 years now and it purrs like a kitten.
  18. Lord Blackadder macrumors G5

    Lord Blackadder

    May 7, 2004
    Sod off
    If you are looking for maximum reliability, stick with a car that is no more than 5-6 years old with less than 100,000mi (the less the better). This is far from a hard and fast rule, but is the best I can say without writing a book here.

    Watch out for older but very low mileage, grandma-driven cars. Even though they have low mileage, they are probably due for certain time-sensitive (as opposed to mileage sensitive) maintainience. A good example of this is the replacement of belts and hoses. Over time they oxidize and become brittle, no matter how many or few miles are put on the car. Corrosion may also affect these cars very rapidly if grandma kept it in a garage and you don't.
  19. dornoforpyros thread starter macrumors 68040


    Oct 19, 2004
    Calgary, AB
    nothin! hence the need for wheels :p

    No thanks, I'm not to keen on a neon and I wouldn't wanna deal with the hassle of getting it across the border.

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