I'm just finishing up college and starting to get used to the idea of
not being poor, and am trying to buy a used car. I understand that
Hondas are an excellent choice for good mileage/low maintenance, and
I'd like to get a car that I can keep for at least 5-10 years. Looking
around in the newspapers, it looks like the Hondas available for $3000
or less (my budget) are usually ~1990 Civics and Accords, usually
around 160k, but occasionally I'll spot e.g. a 1994 Civic with 70k for
$2500. Since you guys are the Honda enthusiasts, I thought I should
probably ask: is there anything I should be especially aware of when
buying a used Honda? What about those especially low-mileage deals--is
that the reward for patience or is there likely to be something wrong
with the car? Is it reasonable to expect a Honda to still be reliable
at 160k? How much is it reasonable for a '90-ish Honda owner to expect
to spend on maintenance? Any recommendations for where to find a good
mechanic for a pre-buy check?
(If it makes any difference, the car I buy will be a manual
Max, you get an A+ for asking all the right questions. Problem is, you
have asked too many questions in one post. Why not remember the old adage:
"you get what you pay for"(some of the time anyway). Why not consider a 6
to 8 year old Honda Civic in the $5 to $7k price range. Why not buy it
from a Honda dealer with a warranty? It will cost you more in the short
run but will likely save you money in the long run. You will likely have
improved reliability and lower maintenance costs. Good luck.
Go on-line and find all the '92 and'93 Accords neer you and check them
out. Might find one for sale by owner that has the info on what has been
done with timing belt and brakes and the like. Should be $2500 or less.
Contact me if you are worried about rust. I can tell you where to look.
I can pretty much guarantee that any car you buy today for around $3K
won't be the car you are driving 10 years from now. Plan on no more
than a few years. Those 1990 Accords crush like tin cans in crashes.
Deals that look too good usually are. Often those less expensive cars
are salvage title cars that someone has repaired. Sometimes the repairs
are OK and the car will last. But more often the repairs are only so-so
and things start to go wrong.
Since you guys are the Honda enthusiasts, I thought I should
For any car in your price range, regardless of make, the thing you are
trying to find is a well maintained car, preferably a one-owner car.
Good luck with that.
A well maintained Honda or Toyota should be good for at least 200K
miles. You are correct that you will need the help of a qualified
mechanic to figure out whether or not you have found a well maintained
car. Generally, if you can find a used car, with complete service
records, being sold by an individual who bought it new, it should be a
good one. But these cream puffs usually stay within the owner's family.
There's always someone needing a good, cheap used car.
Maintenance costs? At least $500/year. Repair costs? Add another $500
to $1000. Expect to pay thru the nose for the first year or two in
order to bring the car up to snuff. Then annual ownership costs should
decrease a bit.
Yeah, it makes a difference. Plan to pay for a new clutch within a
Look for Toyota Corollas and Nissan Altimas. These cars are less
desirable because of boring exterior styling and they're not much fun
to drive. However, they should deliver good service for a few years.
You will pay a premium for older Civics because they have a sporty
feel. Older Accords and Camrys simply hold their value because they
last so long.
FYI: my mother just got rid of her 1996 Buick LeSabre. Had around 50K
miles on it. Worth around $3K according to Edmunds.com. This car will
probably last another 100K miles with routine maintenance. Old lady
cars are still the best used cars.
With my 1996 used civic experience I would recommend you to check
especially the transmission (manual or automatic). If you notice even
little shifting problem simply do_not_buy it. You might have to spend a
lot on fixing the transmission.
For an auto transmission car, do a road test especially to check
transmission behavior when turning (left or right). Also check
transmission behavior by slowing down slowly to 20-25km (but not
stopping) and trying to accelerate (slowly, quickly) to speed up. These
are out of my first-hand experience with my first car bought about 4
months ago. I had to do a major overhaul of the transmission recently.
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