Should we buy this 2007 Camry SE as a beater car?

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
Topic Author
kurious
Posts: 95
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2016 12:39 am

Should we buy this 2007 Camry SE as a beater car?

Post by kurious »

Hello Bogleheads,

Thank you in advance for your guidance.

We want to decide whether or not to buy a 2007 Camry SE. Following are the details:

- Odometer reading: 127,200
- Asking price: $5,000 (the seller found out about our budget through a mutual friend)
- Location: Boston
- 4 previous owners
- Checked Carfax and Autocheck reports. No accidents
- KBB value for "fair" condition is $5,090.
- Our budget is $5,000 meant to be for car + repairs. Can do + or - $500.
- I and DW are very new drivers and this will be our first car. The primary use will be to gain experience driving and gradually go on inter-state trips

In the pre-purchase inspection at a mechanic, 3 issues were identified:

1. Rack and pinion need repair - Estimated $800-$1,200
2. Stabilizer links on both sides need to be repaired - $125
3. Airbag might need reprogramming (Snap on computer code :B1650 Occupant Classifying System). Might need to involve dealership. At high end, the price might get as high as $1,000

- In addition, they expect the exhaust pipe/rear axle between mufflers to need replacement in 1-2 years. It could cost up to 1,000 depending on the extent of replacement necessary. I am a car noob. I thus don't remember the part exactly but do remember the price :-)

Some good things:
- For a 14yo car, it seems to have lower (127k) than average (143k) mileage
- The original parts have not been replaced
- No issues reported with the engine and the transmission
- I was concerned about the infamous Toyota oil leak issue but that does not seem to have afflicted this car


I have the following questions:

1. Based on the information above, I am unwilling to pay $5k for the car. The max I am willing to spend is $3,200 although that figure could change a bit based on your feedback. If the seller doesn't agree, I plan to walk away. Is this car worth buying for $3200? Is it worth buying for more or less?

2. Is there a car forum where I should post this information and ask for advice in addition to Bogleheads?

3. Are there other factors that I need to consider?

Thank you once again for your guidance.

kurious
Last edited by kurious on Sun May 16, 2021 12:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.
02nz
Posts: 6694
Joined: Wed Feb 21, 2018 3:17 pm

Re: Should we buy this 2007 Camry SE as a beater car?

Post by 02nz »

Question is probably moot. Since KBB value is $5K, in this market the seller would have a very easy time getting that or something close to it.
GmanJeff
Posts: 758
Joined: Sun Jun 11, 2017 7:12 am

Re: Should we buy this 2007 Camry SE as a beater car?

Post by GmanJeff »

It's an older car which is wearing out from age (e.g., various seals and other components which deteriorate with age alone) as well as from mileage. You'll have other repairs to make over time, as well as routine maintenance to perform. You may wish to wait until you have a more robust budget before purchasing a car if cost is your primary driver, vice safety or any other considerations which may also favor a more modern and consequently likely more expensive vehicle.
Kagord
Posts: 688
Joined: Fri Nov 23, 2018 1:28 pm

Re: Should we buy this 2007 Camry SE as a beater car?

Post by Kagord »

My 1995 Camry, bought new, has 270K miles, I don't consider it a beater, it's been many times more reliable than the newer cars I've owned. I expect mine to last 5-15 more years (I buy and hold forever). So, this one you're mentioning is still new and not even broke in yet.

This being said, I really don't recommend the Camry because they last too long, and become very boring to drive. For instance, you can't buy cassette tapes at record stores anymore, I wish it had the high tech CD player that new 2022 cars come with.
02nz
Posts: 6694
Joined: Wed Feb 21, 2018 3:17 pm

Re: Should we buy this 2007 Camry SE as a beater car?

Post by 02nz »

Kagord wrote: Sun May 16, 2021 11:07 am My 1995 Camry, bought new, has 270K miles, I don't consider it a beater, it's been many times more reliable than the newer cars I've owned. I expect mine to last 5-15 more years (I buy and hold forever). So, this one you're mentioning is still new and not even broke in yet.

This being said, I really don't recommend the Camry because they last too long, and become very boring to drive. For instance, you can't buy cassette tapes at record stores anymore, I wish it had the high tech CD player that new 2022 cars come with.
That's tongue-in-cheek, right? Many (probably most) cars on the market now have already gotten rid of CD players. Neither of my two most recent cars (2018 and 2020 model years) has one.
User avatar
Watty
Posts: 22696
Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:55 pm

Re: Should we buy this 2007 Camry SE as a beater car?

Post by Watty »

kurious wrote: Sun May 16, 2021 10:51 am Some good things:
....
- The original parts have not been replaced
That is actually a bad thing.

Replacing these will vary by car model but some parts like a starter, water pump, fuel pump, alternator, fan belts, brake master cylinder, power steering pump, etc are more or less a normal maintenance item in a car that is almost 15 years old. Even if the mileage is not excessive just the age can cause some of these to need to be replaced.

These could still last for many more years before they need to be replaced but it would have been better if the prior owner had replace something a few years ago and the replacement would likely outlast the car.
Topic Author
kurious
Posts: 95
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2016 12:39 am

Re: Should we buy this 2007 Camry SE as a beater car?

Post by kurious »

Thank you everyone for your feedback. It is incredibly helpful as usual.

Some additional info:
You may wish to wait until you have a more robust budget before purchasing a car if cost is your primary driver, vice safety or any other considerations which may also favor a more modern and consequently likely more expensive vehicle.
As new drivers, we do value safety as much as cost and reliability. The primary motivation behind getting this old car is to practice and develop our driving skills before we purchase an expensive vehicle. We live in a crowded area with street parking where dings and minor damages are very common. We thus want to work with an inexpensive and reliable vehicle before we get good at this. It's similar to how high school students get beater cars to drive locally before they get newer vehicles.
Question is probably moot. Since KBB value is $5K, in this market the seller would have a very easy time getting that or something close to it.
Quite possibly. If they do that, we'll just wait. We are not in a pressing hurry to buy.
This being said, I really don't recommend the Camry because they last too long, and become very boring to drive.
Boring is good for us! I don't want to think about the car once we've bought it. If we want thrill, we'll just rent a new vehicle for a day or so.
For instance, you can't buy cassette tapes at record stores anymore, I wish it had the high tech CD player that new 2022 cars come with.
We're considering adding two gadgets:
1. A modern head unit
2. A back up camera

kurious
7eight9
Posts: 1901
Joined: Fri May 17, 2019 7:11 pm

Re: Should we buy this 2007 Camry SE as a beater car?

Post by 7eight9 »

I guess it all could be much worse. | They could be warming up my hearse.
Whipsnap
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Apr 03, 2021 9:02 am

Re: Should we buy this 2007 Camry SE as a beater car?

Post by Whipsnap »

I doubt they'd take $3,200 if they're asking $5,000, but I don't think I'd pay what they're asking with the mechanical issues. Maybe $4,000. The low mileage is definitely appealing, but those repairs aren't cheap and should definitely be factored in to what you pay. Maybe try your offer and see if they'll come down on the price at all. If it runs well I'd probably be willing to meet them in the middle around the $4k mark I mentioned. Toyotas seem to run for quite a while and you'd probably have a pretty reliable car after the repairs.
Topic Author
kurious
Posts: 95
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2016 12:39 am

Re: Should we buy this 2007 Camry SE as a beater car?

Post by kurious »

I doubt they'd take $3,200 if they're asking $5,000, but I don't think I'd pay what they're asking with the mechanical issues. Maybe $4,000. The low mileage is definitely appealing, but those repairs aren't cheap and should definitely be factored in to what you pay. Maybe try your offer and see if they'll come down on the price at all. If it runs well I'd probably be willing to meet them in the middle around the $4k mark I mentioned. Toyotas seem to run for quite a while and you'd probably have a pretty reliable car after the repairs.
Yeah, that's been my thinking as well. I have never bought a car before, hence I have a bit of analysis paralysis. I've posted on other fora as well and the guidance has ranged from "offer $3k and be ready to walk away if not met" to "look at leasing options", "don't buy a car with these many known issues", and "don't buy a car with an airbag issue".

I thought I had done my due diligence but I am lost again.
Camry and Solara Forum --- https://www.toyotanation.com/forums/cam ... -forum.15/
Thank you! It is very helpful.
linuxizer
Posts: 1688
Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2008 7:55 am

Re: Should we buy this 2007 Camry SE as a beater car?

Post by linuxizer »

If you're able to plug it in at home and are just using it for around town trips for now, try a Nissan Leaf SV or SL instead? Should be able to get a 2013 with 11 bars on the battery meter for a little more than that. The car will last forever. The only question is how long you'll be able to live with the dwindling range. And you'll have newer safety features, Bluetooth, backup camera, etc.
illumination
Posts: 1477
Joined: Tue Apr 02, 2019 6:13 pm

Re: Should we buy this 2007 Camry SE as a beater car?

Post by illumination »

You might want to find a better one, 4 previous owners is usually when cars can get really neglected. Are the cosmetics good?

FWIW, some of the prices the shop is throwing around (like $1,000 to fix a section of exhaust) sound sky high high to me. I'd also be surprised if you really need a new steering rack. Sometimes when shops do these inspections they go overboard because A) they want the work, B) they don't want you coming back if something does have an issue after you purchase it.

If you can get it for $3,000 it's probably a good deal, but in my experience you are way better off "over paying" for a well kept, used car than getting the cheapest price. I'd rather buy a nice one for $5,000 than one that hasn't already entered "beater" territory. One extra shop visit can easily make up the difference.
squirm
Posts: 3457
Joined: Sat Mar 19, 2011 11:53 am

Re: Should we buy this 2007 Camry SE as a beater car?

Post by squirm »

I'd pass on it.
Topic Author
kurious
Posts: 95
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2016 12:39 am

Re: Should we buy this 2007 Camry SE as a beater car?

Post by kurious »

Are the cosmetics good?
Yes, some minor cosmetic issues but nothing major.
If you're able to plug it in at home and are just using it for around town trips for now, try a Nissan Leaf SV or SL instead?
I can't. I live in a rented apt on the second floor in a crowded neighborhood.
I'd pass on it.
Very interested in your reasons for passing.
If you can get it for $3,000 it's probably a good deal, but in my experience you are way better off "over paying" for a well kept, used car than getting the cheapest price. I'd rather buy a nice one for $5,000 than one that hasn't already entered "beater" territory. One extra shop visit can easily make up the difference.
Noted. The way I see it, I am willing to sell this car for junk if the annual maintenance costs exceed a certain threshold. I will consider the 5k (3k for purchase if the seller agrees and 2k in the fixes) as sunk cost and get a newer and more reliable car next time. The fact that it's a relatively low mileage Camry in decent condition (plus the fact that I have spent a fair amount of time researching it) is very tempting from a buying standpoint.
Tingting1013
Posts: 1412
Joined: Mon Aug 24, 2020 5:44 pm

Re: Should we buy this 2007 Camry SE as a beater car?

Post by Tingting1013 »

You are thinking about the cost of cars completely wrong. But don’t feel too bad because you are not alone.

The cost of a car is not how much you pay for it upfront. It’s how much it depreciates on you + the out of pocket maintenance it costs you. From this perspective you are probably better off buying a much newer car.
sc173
Posts: 5
Joined: Sun May 16, 2021 8:27 pm

Re: Should we buy this 2007 Camry SE as a beater car?

Post by sc173 »

The 2007-2009 Camry had the lower power 2.4l 2AZ-FE engine, which was known for developing oil burning issues due to pistons that don't seat properly. It starts to get bad around 120k and often continues to get worse until the car is drinking oil.

If you can find a 2010 or later model, you'll get the much more reliable and proven 2.5l 2AR-FE, which bumps the HP up to 178. I have this engine in my 2017 Camry and love it, plenty of power, and after 12 years in service across many different models, there seem to be relatively few issues reported with this engine.
Rudedog
Posts: 336
Joined: Wed Aug 01, 2018 3:15 pm

Re: Should we buy this 2007 Camry SE as a beater car?

Post by Rudedog »

I have a 1989 Camry as a beater car. 32 years old. All three of my daughters drove it growing up. 140,000 miles. Thing starts and runs well. The exhaust has been replaced several times. It needs the suspension work that you noted on the 2007, however I don't want to spend any more $$ on it. I had a guy offer me $ 2,000 for it a few months ago, but I didn't sell it. If I was you, I would not buy a car that had four owners, one or two would be OK.
Greentree
Posts: 162
Joined: Sun Jul 28, 2013 9:34 am

Re: Should we buy this 2007 Camry SE as a beater car?

Post by Greentree »

Used cars are tough right now. This will probably work out ok, but personally I prefer used cars with 1 or 2 owners. I like to meet the owner and make a judgement (admittedly a guess) about how they took care of the car. 4 owners and you don't know who owned it in between.

I like used cars and have never bought new, though with the way things are now, you might consider it. A new Corolla can be had for less than $20k. Otherwise, I would look for used cars with fewer previous owners.
an_asker
Posts: 3300
Joined: Thu Jun 27, 2013 2:15 pm

Re: Should we buy this 2007 Camry SE as a beater car?

Post by an_asker »

02nz wrote: Sun May 16, 2021 11:17 am
Kagord wrote: Sun May 16, 2021 11:07 am My 1995 Camry, bought new, has 270K miles, I don't consider it a beater, it's been many times more reliable than the newer cars I've owned. I expect mine to last 5-15 more years (I buy and hold forever). So, this one you're mentioning is still new and not even broke in yet.

This being said, I really don't recommend the Camry because they last too long, and become very boring to drive. For instance, you can't buy cassette tapes at record stores anymore, I wish it had the high tech CD player that new 2022 cars come with.
That's tongue-in-cheek, right? Many (probably most) cars on the market now have already gotten rid of CD players. Neither of my two most recent cars (2018 and 2020 model years) has one.
Kagord probably hasn't been in a new vehicle in a decade ;-)

:sharebeer
an_asker
Posts: 3300
Joined: Thu Jun 27, 2013 2:15 pm

Re: Should we buy this 2007 Camry SE as a beater car?

Post by an_asker »

Watty wrote: Sun May 16, 2021 11:19 am
kurious wrote: Sun May 16, 2021 10:51 am Some good things:
....
- The original parts have not been replaced
That is actually a bad thing.

Replacing these will vary by car model but some parts like a starter, water pump, fuel pump, alternator, fan belts, brake master cylinder, power steering pump, etc are more or less a normal maintenance item in a car that is almost 15 years old. Even if the mileage is not excessive just the age can cause some of these to need to be replaced.

These could still last for many more years before they need to be replaced but it would have been better if the prior owner had replace something a few years ago and the replacement would likely outlast the car.
I am not really sure if seller aka owner #4 can certify that parts have not been replaced. For instance, one would assume that the timing belt got changed at least at 100k. Maybe OP was referring to major components such as engine, transmission, etc.

That said, when we got rid of our 19-year-old Camry a couple of years ago, we hadn't done about half of the replacements you have listed.
LetItRide
Posts: 49
Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2015 3:36 pm

Re: Should we buy this 2007 Camry SE as a beater car?

Post by LetItRide »

I got rid of my 2007 Camry three years ago as it had an excessive oil consumption issue (and many others faced the same issue). The problem report for the 2007 Camry "spiked" up abnormally as compared to the previous and subsequent years (can't remember the website that had that info). Also, when I took my car in for service, they said the it is not excessive to burn 1 quart of oil every 1000 miles! I couldn't believe that statement! Anyway, the best thing for me was to get rid of that model year of the Camry.
Topic Author
kurious
Posts: 95
Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2016 12:39 am

Re: Should we buy this 2007 Camry SE as a beater car?

Post by kurious »

In the interest of closure:

- We offered $3k for the vehicle that the seller declined. He was able to sell his car for more elsewhere.

- We have decided to not pursue another car at this time. Instead, we've signed up for a couple of ride sharing services to get a good sense of driving a variety of cars as well as costs associated with our car usage.

- For insurance, we will purchase non-owner auto insurance. I found out today that such a thing exists.

- Most importantly, I dumped the money we had been saving up for the purchase into our 2 fund portfolio. I don't think any car will provide the kind of satisfaction that I get from building wealth slowly.

Cheers!
Finridge
Posts: 848
Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 7:27 pm

Re: Should we buy this 2007 Camry SE as a beater car?

Post by Finridge »

kurious wrote: Tue May 18, 2021 9:50 pm In the interest of closure:

- We offered $3k for the vehicle that the seller declined. He was able to sell his car for more elsewhere.

- We have decided to not pursue another car at this time. Instead, we've signed up for a couple of ride sharing services to get a good sense of driving a variety of cars as well as costs associated with our car usage.

- For insurance, we will purchase non-owner auto insurance. I found out today that such a thing exists.

- Most importantly, I dumped the money we had been saving up for the purchase into our 2 fund portfolio. I don't think any car will provide the kind of satisfaction that I get from building wealth slowly.

Cheers!

Good choice! Especially putting the money into your portfolio.

When you do buy a car, I'd recommend something newer with more up-to-date safety features.

At a bare minimum, you should get something with electronic stability control. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electroni ... ty_control
Post Reply