Older used car with low miles or newer used car with higher miles

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Calico
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Older used car with low miles or newer used car with higher miles

Post by Calico » Fri Aug 02, 2019 7:09 am

I am still keeping my eye on the used car market. Family and friends laugh at me because I've been doing this for two years now, but my 15-year-old car is still running fine so I don't need or want a replacement yet. I just want to be prepared when it's time so I stay on top of things.

Because it's taking so long for my car to give me signs it needs to be replaced I keep looking at different cars, different models, but basically my short list are cars like a Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Mazda 3, Subaru Impreza... you get the idea. I've also looked at Subaru Crosstrek (which is basically a higher sitting Impreza). So far, the Mazda is my favorite of the bunch after test driving all of them. But for the right price, I can be flexible. My budget is $20k and it will be cash.

I am noticing when I comb though used car sites that every now and then I will find an "older" used car with very low miles at a pretty decent price. For example, right now on Carmax there is a 2014 Mazda 3 touring with 37K for $14,700. That's about 7,400 miles a year. Roughly what I put on my current car now. On the flip side there is a 2016 touring with 57k for $16,000. Or on Carvana there is a 2014 touring with just 27k on it for $14,800. But there is a 2017 touring with 25k on it for $17,900.

So what's better, lower mileage and cheaper (but older) or higher mileage and slightly more expensive (but newer)? I can see the pros and cons of both. I tend to lean towards newer with higher mileage but am I right?

Looking into my question using Google the answer seems to come out to what is better depends on the car's history. Well, I most likely won't really know the car's history when I go to buy. So I am just wondering what your collective experiences are. Or if you have any opinions on it.

sjt
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Re: Older used car with low miles or newer used car with higher miles

Post by sjt » Fri Aug 02, 2019 7:16 am

If you're looking at different years, it's possible that the engine / transmission / etc could be different and have problems only certain years. Looks like the cars you are shopping would all be 2nd gen Mazda3's with skyactiv engine. Assuming no major recalls or problems, I suppose it's possible the tech would have changed - maybe even safety features.

For me, I'd rather have an older car with lower miles. It's my perception that cars wear out due to mileage, not age. For someone who puts a lot of miles on, this may be worth considering. But you seem to drive less, so I think by the time you'd hit 200k miles, you'll be ready for your next car anyway
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Cactuscoug
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Re: Older used car with low miles or newer used car with higher miles

Post by Cactuscoug » Fri Aug 02, 2019 7:22 am

A newer car will have newer technology . . .meaning safety.

I would check C.R. for it's reliability ratings for any given-year's model.

We recently bought a 2015 Prius with only 6500 miles. Love it!

Smoke
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Re: Older used car with low miles or newer used car with higher miles

Post by Smoke » Fri Aug 02, 2019 7:27 am

lower mileage and cheaper (but older)
Arguing for the sake of arguing is something I am not going to engage in.

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Re: Older used car with low miles or newer used car with higher miles

Post by carolinaman » Fri Aug 02, 2019 7:27 am

Car models typically have major changes every few years: i.e. a new engine and power train, redesigned body, etc. In the intervening years, there may only be minor tweaks in the car. Whenever these new models occur, they may be a major improvement or they may be a big step backwards. You need to do some research to determine when major changes occur in a given model. Comparing different years of the same model may have more differences than just years and miles. You can find this information by reading reviews of specific models on car sites like Edmunds.com. This info can help you refine your selection.

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Re: Older used car with low miles or newer used car with higher miles

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Fri Aug 02, 2019 7:33 am

Be sure you know the warranties based on both miles and time. Oh, and for the Korean makers, look at what a non-new buyer gets for warranties, because it's not what new buyers get. As mentioned, features may have changed with newer model years of the same vehicle. If the generation changed, a newer car could be a completely different car from the older one. Or a major engine change may have occurred in the trim level you're interested in. Think of a CR-V. Do you really want the 1.5 turbo that has the fuel diluted oil issues? In that case, perhaps I'd rather have the 2015 EX than a 2017 EX.

In the Subaru lineup, the 2017 Impreza and 2018 Crosstrek went to the new FB20 direct injected engine. Maybe you think that's good....maybe you think that's bad. Of course, with both of these cars, do a good search of new as you're likely going to find that you can get one brand new for about the same money as a 2 year old one.
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Re: Older used car with low miles or newer used car with higher miles

Post by MI_bogle » Fri Aug 02, 2019 7:52 am

If you're only putting 7K miles a year on your car, I wouldn't sweat the difference between buying a car with 30 or 50K miles.

It'd take you 14 years to put an additional 100K miles on your car and by that point you'll probably be wanting to buy a new one. Whether it has 130K or 150K at that point seems trivial

I'd worry much more about making sure the transmission/engine/whatever of that year's model is reliable, and making sure the individual car has a good carfax and maintenance history

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Calico
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Re: Older used car with low miles or newer used car with higher miles

Post by Calico » Fri Aug 02, 2019 7:56 am

The reason the Mazda 3 is my favorite is the model I am looking at (2014-2018) is highly related by Consumer Reports and reliable. Plus they don't have CVT engines (I am not fond of CVT). I am not as familiar with the other cars models on my radar, but I try to keep an eye on them every now and then. For example, I saw a Subaru Impreza with a for sale sign by a private owner recently, so I checked it out (looked at it a bit in the parking lot, looked at the price, and Kelly Blue booked it). I also determined it was way over priced for the year, miles, and the condition I saw it in, so I didn't bother calling about it.

Anyway, thanks for the opinions so far! I guess I was worried older, but low mileage, used cars might have been driven in stop and go city traffic (that's my car right now, very low miles, but my commute is rough. I maintain it well though, so it doesn't give me issues). I wonder if I can figure out where a particular car was driven based on a carfax report. I'll have to look into that.

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David Jay
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Re: Older used car with low miles or newer used car with higher miles

Post by David Jay » Fri Aug 02, 2019 8:02 am

I love 3 year old cars with 100,000 miles. This can only be accomplished by driving a lot of highway miles. And they almost give them away.
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Re: Older used car with low miles or newer used car with higher miles

Post by Omalley » Fri Aug 02, 2019 8:13 am

First decide on the make/model/year that you want to own. Then, based on your low annual miles driven, find a very high mileage vehicle (25-30k miles per year) at a presumably lower price. You will bring down the average annual miles driven over your time of ownership.

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Re: Older used car with low miles or newer used car with higher miles

Post by Nowizard » Fri Aug 02, 2019 8:15 am

Like all things that have no certain answer, you determine what is important. Since the basic decision of used over new has been made, you have made your "Stock/bond" decision pertaining to ratio. After that, it is "asset choice." Personally, which asset to purchase (Toyota, Mazda, etc.) would be heavily influenced by whether the older vehicle (No front-end load) or the newer one (Front-end load with good appreciation history) had the most safety features since you are going to keep whatever you purchase for a long time.

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Re: Older used car with low miles or newer used car with higher miles

Post by runner3081 » Fri Aug 02, 2019 10:02 am

Calico wrote:
Fri Aug 02, 2019 7:56 am
Plus they don't have CVT engines (I am not fond of CVT)
Small nitpicky point. The transmission is CVT, not the engine.

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Watty
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Re: Older used car with low miles or newer used car with higher miles

Post by Watty » Fri Aug 02, 2019 10:42 pm

Calico wrote:
Fri Aug 02, 2019 7:09 am
But for the right price, I can be flexible. My budget is $20k and it will be cash.

I am noticing when I comb though used car sites that every now and then I will find an "older" used car with very low miles at a pretty decent price. For example, right now on Carmax there is a 2014 Mazda 3 touring with 37K for $14,700. That's about 7,400 miles a year. Roughly what I put on my current car now. On the flip side there is a 2016 touring with 57k for $16,000. Or on Carvana there is a 2014 touring with just 27k on it for $14,800. But there is a 2017 touring with 25k on it for $17,900.
For comparison you can get a new Corolla LE for a bit over $16K(plus tax and registration) if you can get a good deal. I bought one last year.

It would have a lot of the new advanced safety features that the older cars likely would not have and it would have a full warranty.

One advantage of shopping for a new car is that they are basically a commodity and you can pretty much negotiate a price over the internet without having seen the exact car. Here is a post where I outlined the process that I used.

viewtopic.php?f=11&t=239526&p=3746230

KandT
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Re: Older used car with low miles or newer used car with higher miles

Post by KandT » Fri Aug 02, 2019 10:58 pm

A person like you will be fine either way. You are disciplined and detailed. What I would propose is that you may be better off putting the last two years of research and test driving cars into another way to increase your income. It sounds like if you added up all the hours and effort you could have moved a small mountain. In the end the decision will be trivial to your finances and modern cars are pretty darn good if you stick with the brands you described.

graeme
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Re: Older used car with low miles or newer used car with higher miles

Post by graeme » Fri Aug 02, 2019 11:01 pm

Benefits of older used car with low miles: cheaper registration costs, cheaper insurance costs, better known model issues, better support in forums for fixes since issues have likely been solved.

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Re: Older used car with low miles or newer used car with higher miles

Post by California88 » Fri Aug 02, 2019 11:34 pm

I heard up thru 2015 it was pretty easy for "people in the business" to alter a car's mileage - so I'd want to see stuff like mileage at smog checks, oil changes etc.

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Re: Older used car with low miles or newer used car with higher miles

Post by mortfree » Sat Aug 03, 2019 4:17 am

A newer used car (< 3 years) with low miles (< 25,000 miles). Why settle?

With a cash budget of 20k and the makes/models you are interested I would just buy a brand new car. But that’s what I do.

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Re: Older used car with low miles or newer used car with higher miles

Post by Nissanzx1 » Sat Aug 03, 2019 6:05 am

Many buyers get hung up on mileage. I have found high mileage cars to be a tremendous value. The key is to make sure you are buying from the individual owner that has the actual receipts (or a logbook) of services performed. My daily driver has 285K and really runs very well.

Make sure you read up on CVT transmissions and understand if you are willing to accept risks associated with them. Research the specific models you are considering and see where owners are having failure points.

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tadamsmar
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Re: Older used car with low miles or newer used car with higher miles

Post by tadamsmar » Sat Aug 03, 2019 6:16 am

The book "Drive it Forever" said that engine life is measured in the number of cold starts.

The carfax will tell you something about the car's history, like whether the car spent its life in a cold or warm climate.

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Re: Older used car with low miles or newer used car with higher miles

Post by JoeJohnson » Sat Aug 03, 2019 6:21 am

tadamsmar wrote:
Sat Aug 03, 2019 6:16 am
The book "Drive it Forever" said that engine life is measured in the number of cold starts.

The carfax will tell you something about the car's history, like whether the car spent its life in a cold or warm climate.
Cold starts just mean the engine isn't at operating temperature. All climates will be below operating temperature.

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tadamsmar
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Re: Older used car with low miles or newer used car with higher miles

Post by tadamsmar » Sat Aug 03, 2019 6:54 am

JoeJohnson wrote:
Sat Aug 03, 2019 6:21 am
tadamsmar wrote:
Sat Aug 03, 2019 6:16 am
The book "Drive it Forever" said that engine life is measured in the number of cold starts.

The carfax will tell you something about the car's history, like whether the car spent its life in a cold or warm climate.
Cold starts just mean the engine isn't at operating temperature. All climates will be below operating temperature.
This is just based on "Drive it Forever". They recommended engine heaters for colder climates, but not for Florida, if I recall correctly.

But I think cold starts still account for most of the wear in Florida.

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Re: Older used car with low miles or newer used car with higher miles

Post by peaceseeker » Sat Aug 03, 2019 8:01 am

I come from a region where winter brings road salt, so I consider how many more/less winters of salt exposure a car has had. This matters even if you live in a warm climate if you are looking at cars that may have been registered elsewhere. You can keep them clean and take good care after you own them, but if stuff has gotten rusty, the damage is done.

Old vs. new may also have some differences in terms of initial costs to own at those mileages such has needing new tires initially, fewer miles until big maintenance stuff is needed, higher cost to register newer vehicle vs. older, etc. Small stuff, but it adds up. There's also some calculators out there to compare total cost of ownership by estimating maintenance, mileage etc., but I doubt the spread between what you're considering is much. Good luck on your search.

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Re: Older used car with low miles or newer used car with higher miles

Post by jlawrence01 » Sat Aug 03, 2019 9:46 am

Watty wrote:
Fri Aug 02, 2019 10:42 pm


For comparison you can get a new Corolla LE for a bit over $16K(plus tax and registration) if you can get a good deal. I bought one last year.

It would have a lot of the new advanced safety features that the older cars likely would not have and it would have a full warranty.

One advantage of shopping for a new car is that they are basically a commodity and you can pretty much negotiate a price over the internet without having seen the exact car. Here is a post where I outlined the process that I used.

viewtopic.php?f=11&t=239526&p=3746230

What dealer? What location? What model year? I need to buy a new car soon.

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Will do good
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Re: Older used car with low miles or newer used car with higher miles

Post by Will do good » Sat Aug 03, 2019 9:57 am

David Jay wrote:
Fri Aug 02, 2019 8:02 am
I love 3 year old cars with 100,000 miles. This can only be accomplished by driving a lot of highway miles. And they almost give them away.
Good insight, didn't think of that.

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Stinky
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Re: Older used car with low miles or newer used car with higher miles

Post by Stinky » Sat Aug 03, 2019 10:06 am

Smoke wrote:
Fri Aug 02, 2019 7:27 am
lower mileage and cheaper (but older)
I like this answer.

Whether you buy the 2014 or 2016, it will be a huge technological improvement over your current 2004 car.
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Re: Older used car with low miles or newer used car with higher miles

Post by THY4373 » Sat Aug 03, 2019 10:32 am

I tend to buy higher mileage newer cars. Something in the 70-80k range generally and usually 3-5 years old. I keep them until they are 15-18 years old. I am not a huge driver (work from home most days) so the cars basically get too old before they are used up by mileage use. Hence why I tilt towards age vs mileage. If you put more miles on a car you may prefer older but lower mileage.

THY4373
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Re: Older used car with low miles or newer used car with higher miles

Post by THY4373 » Sat Aug 03, 2019 10:34 am

Will do good wrote:
Sat Aug 03, 2019 9:57 am
David Jay wrote:
Fri Aug 02, 2019 8:02 am
I love 3 year old cars with 100,000 miles. This can only be accomplished by driving a lot of highway miles. And they almost give them away.
Good insight, didn't think of that.
That has also been my theory however with Uber and the like that theory may be less accurate than it once was.

chevca
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Re: Older used car with low miles or newer used car with higher miles

Post by chevca » Sat Aug 03, 2019 10:35 am

OP, I think you're wasting way too much time and energy studying and following something you don't need to study or follow. Look for a new car when you need a car. This is not something that needs to studied, followed for years, or "be ready" for. Find better things to do with your time. :happy

chevca
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Re: Older used car with low miles or newer used car with higher miles

Post by chevca » Sat Aug 03, 2019 10:45 am

tadamsmar wrote:
Sat Aug 03, 2019 6:16 am
The book "Drive it Forever" said that engine life is measured in the number of cold starts.

The carfax will tell you something about the car's history, like whether the car spent its life in a cold or warm climate.
I was curious so looked it up, and my search showed this was written in 1997, or at least published then. And, brags about folks breaking the 100k mileage club.

No offense, but the age of many BHs really shows by how stuck they are on some unwritten rules about things. Cars and especially engines have changed so much since all the unwritten rules were in play it's not even funny. Between roller cams, tighter tolerances, synthetic oil, and many other things, the newer engines are about the last thing one needs to worry about. Sure, there can be failures and bad ideas like the Honda issues recently. But, most engines will run forever nowadays. Things like transmissions, suspension, and electronics are a bigger concern than engine life (with routine maintenance).

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Re: Older used car with low miles or newer used car with higher miles

Post by garzjoh » Sat Aug 03, 2019 11:24 am

My preference is older vehicles with low mileage, no accidents, single owner, no corrosion, and a high production model with history of low cost maintenance.

The other caveat with getting an older vehicle is you need to stay on top of maintenance issues. They are generally very cheap to address for high production models , but will crop up due to the age of the vehicle. Making sure the vehicle has no corrosion generally keeps this to a minimum, but time has a funny way of affecting rubber/plastic.

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tadamsmar
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Re: Older used car with low miles or newer used car with higher miles

Post by tadamsmar » Sat Aug 03, 2019 11:26 am

chevca wrote:
Sat Aug 03, 2019 10:45 am
tadamsmar wrote:
Sat Aug 03, 2019 6:16 am
The book "Drive it Forever" said that engine life is measured in the number of cold starts.

The carfax will tell you something about the car's history, like whether the car spent its life in a cold or warm climate.
I was curious so looked it up, and my search showed this was written in 1997, or at least published then. And, brags about folks breaking the 100k mileage club.

No offense, but the age of many BHs really shows by how stuck they are on some unwritten rules about things. Cars and especially engines have changed so much since all the unwritten rules were in play it's not even funny. Between roller cams, tighter tolerances, synthetic oil, and many other things, the newer engines are about the last thing one needs to worry about. Sure, there can be failures and bad ideas like the Honda issues recently. But, most engines will run forever nowadays. Things like transmissions, suspension, and electronics are a bigger concern than engine life (with routine maintenance).
Does thermal expansion no longer change tolerances?

Where did you get the "forever" figure for modern engines? Looks like 200,000 miles is a good estimate.

That book claimed engine life exceed 500,000 miles if cold starts were avoided. I don't recall if that was based on a field test.

I got 250,000 miles out of a Nissan Sentra that was parked outside in NC in the 1990s. But I installed an engine heater and had a long commute. The engine actually never failed but I failed to take care of the radiator.

chevca
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Re: Older used car with low miles or newer used car with higher miles

Post by chevca » Sat Aug 03, 2019 11:40 am

My claims aren't based on field tests either. :happy

But, the 'rules' for engines of old are next to useless with modern engines. Feel free to think differently though.

And no, heat still does the same thing it's always done. But, things are built with tighter tolerances nowadays.

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Re: Older used car with low miles or newer used car with higher miles

Post by Momus » Sat Aug 03, 2019 11:47 am

It goes with how many miles YOU use per year.

#1 If you use a lot of miles a year, go with older low mileage car.
#2 If you use a lot less mileage than average person <12k/yr, go with high mileage vehicle.

In both instances, you save money. For you, I'd suggest #2. Since you really don't use a lot mileage, when you try to sell it, your car is considered normal mileage (high mileage now + your low mileage use) AND you get the benefit of newer car + new techs.

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Re: Older used car with low miles or newer used car with higher miles

Post by tadamsmar » Sat Aug 03, 2019 1:08 pm

chevca wrote:
Sat Aug 03, 2019 11:40 am
My claims aren't based on field tests either. :happy

But, the 'rules' for engines of old are next to useless with modern engines. Feel free to think differently though.

And no, heat still does the same thing it's always done. But, things are built with tighter tolerances nowadays.
The book said that breaking in a car wears in some tolerances at engine operating temperatures, but they are somewhat out of tolerance at colder engine start temperatures causing additional wear. But it does look like synthetic oil performs better during cold starts (from my quick searches).

I know that a lot of it is out of date. I have a maintenance checklist from the book that says to replace the carburetor every 100,000 miles! I no longer use that old checklist.

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Re: Older used car with low miles or newer used car with higher miles

Post by Watty » Sat Aug 03, 2019 2:51 pm

jlawrence01 wrote:
Sat Aug 03, 2019 9:46 am
Watty wrote:
Fri Aug 02, 2019 10:42 pm


For comparison you can get a new Corolla LE for a bit over $16K(plus tax and registration) if you can get a good deal. I bought one last year.

It would have a lot of the new advanced safety features that the older cars likely would not have and it would have a full warranty.

One advantage of shopping for a new car is that they are basically a commodity and you can pretty much negotiate a price over the internet without having seen the exact car. Here is a post where I outlined the process that I used.

viewtopic.php?f=11&t=239526&p=3746230

What dealer? What location? What model year? I need to buy a new car soon.
Read the process that I used and then email a dozen or more dealers to find out which ones are willing to deal.

The car I bought was a new 2018 Corolla LE last year but it looks like you can still get a 2020 at round that price if you get a good deal.

The way I check this is to use the truecar web site (Do not give them any of your information.) I don't know if this link will work for my zip code

https://www.truecar.com/prices-new/toyo ... code=30062

Scroll down a screen or two until you see a price graph that has a box labeled, "Great Price ....)

Right above that there is a small blue line that says "What is this pricing information?" When you click that there will be a pop-up that has a bunch of text with information about the Vehicle Price Ratings including an section on Exceptional Prices. Be sure to scroll down that page since there is a lot more information farther down the page.

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Re: Older used car with low miles or newer used car with higher miles

Post by Momus » Sat Aug 03, 2019 3:05 pm

I bought a new Elantra 2019 limited for 17.5k + tax back in May. Got a steal :-D I put 6000 miles driving a gig job and made $7000 doing it. So basically, I got mine for about 10k + burning my time working part time for Uber/lyft/doordash hustling lol.

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Re: Older used car with low miles or newer used car with higher miles

Post by tibbitts » Sat Aug 03, 2019 3:11 pm

This is highly dependent on where the car has lived and how it's been stored. A couple of years outside in the sun in some places and the car will have suffered severe damage, even with zero miles. Like with people and sun exposure, the damage might not show up for a while, but it's been done.

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Re: Older used car with low miles or newer used car with higher miles

Post by Exterous » Sat Aug 03, 2019 10:20 pm

California88 wrote:
Fri Aug 02, 2019 11:34 pm
I heard up thru 2015 it was pretty easy for "people in the business" to alter a car's mileage - so I'd want to see stuff like mileage at smog checks, oil changes etc.
You don't even necessarily have to be in the business. No idea how many cars are this easy but when my wife's speedometer stopped working I went to a You Pull It junk yard and got a new cluster for her car for $17. It was maybe 10 minutes to pull the old one, put in the new one and *poof* her car had 50,000 less miles on the odometer

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