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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Guys,
Wanted to consult with you:
I'm looking to buy a 04-05 model (4X4, of course). It's a good generation for this car, and right on my budget.
Obviously, with the age comes serious mileage. Even in normal use it stacks up to 140-150K.
My question is - if you found a well maintained one - What would be your mileage limit, and how much would you pay for it?
My basic options are to spend 5-5.5K from a private seller with a 130-140K, or to pay a bit more - 6.5-7K from a dealer for around 100K (even found really nice with 74K - but the guy wants 7.5K for it).

Thanks!!
 

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Where most people equate an odometer number as THE indicator of a vehicle's condition and value I much prefer to buy by assessing the actual condition and using a high odometer to get the price down.

Example: Last month I was helping a friend with a family of 5 (or 6? I lost track!) buy an '07 Honda Odyssey. We looked at and test drove two we found on Craigslist. The lower mileage one was literally used up. It looked good but the driver's seat was jammed, the window didn't work and the sliding door didn't either. Like my friend said, "All the things my wife would use most!" The price was good and it could all have been fixed but if the owner (it was being sold by a car flipper) neglected those items what else was neglected? We passed.

A few days later we found a one owner '07 with 210K ("normal" would be 130K). All the pictures looked good so we were in his driveway the next morning, the first ones to look at it. We did my usual mash-the-gas test drive and then found a rough road for my body integrity test. Passed both. All windows, doors, seats, HVAC, etc. worked fine. When the owner showed us a stack of service records and the name on them was THE BEST independent mechanic in our area, the only thing left was the price and the 210K helped a lot there. Next time I saw her my friend's wife said, "I think it's the best car I've ever owned." Guess I did my job. :)
 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Where most people equate an odometer number as THE indicator of a vehicle's condition and value I much prefer to buy by assessing the actual condition and using a high odometer to get the price down.

Example: Last month I was helping a friend with a family of 5 (or 6? I lost track!) buy an '07 Honda Odyssey. We looked at and test drove two we found on Craigslist. The lower mileage one was literally used up. It looked good but the driver's seat was jammed, the window didn't work and the sliding door didn't either. Like my friend said, "All the things my wife would use most!" The price was good and it could all have been fixed but if the owner (it was being sold by a car flipper) neglected those items what else was neglected? We passed.

A few days later we found a one owner '07 with 210K ("normal" would be 130K). All the pictures looked good so we were in his driveway the next morning, the first ones to look at it. We did my usual mash-the-gas test drive and then found a rough road for my body integrity test. Passed both. All windows, doors, seats, HVAC, etc. worked fine. When the owner showed us a stack of service records and the name on them was THE BEST independent mechanic in our area, the only thing left was the price and the 210K helped a lot there. Next time I saw her my friend's wife said, "I think it's the best car I've ever owned." Guess I did my job. :)
I completely agree with everything you wrote.
However, the mileage is also a factor on other elements like effect on later sale, regular service maintenance etc.
So, assuming that both of cars passed your test - would you go with lower price and higher mileage, or the other way around, higher price and lower mileage?
 

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I completely agree with everything you wrote.
However, the mileage is also a factor on other elements like effect on later sale, regular service maintenance etc.
So, assuming that both of cars passed your test - would you go with lower price and higher mileage, or the other way around, higher price and lower mileage?
The difference between the two Odysseys in this instance was night & day and the first one didn't pass my road test. Its VSA (Vehicle Stability Assist) error light was on and it pulled hard to the right on the wet road I test drove on. Had some fun with that one! Was actually able to scare the hard core car flipper guy! He had no maintenance records and I wouldn't have believed anything he told me, but that didn't matter because the car had obviously been used up not kept up. Actually, that's an important distinction between buying private or from a dealer. Even if a dealer has records he's not going to show you them because they'll have the owner's name and he doesn't want you calling them. He'd rather just BS you.

As for resale value, my criteria is could I sell it for what I just paid for it? If I that answer is yes, I'm okay with anything I could get years later. That's not likely when buying from a dealer but emotions can legitimately intrude there too, maybe more so with women than men. I was happy when my friend liked the deal we got on the Odyssey - and happier when his wife liked the car itself.

Another emotion example: A lady friend of the family was looking at an '07 Civic at the Honda dealer and asked me to check it out for her. I did and pointed out some negatives. Then I found an '09 Civic same color and for the same price which we went for a test ride in. It had higher mileage but I thought it was the best choice. She bought the two year older one because of some emotional attachment and loves the car. (And her husband was smart enough to let her do it even knowing it wasn't the best deal.)

So, assuming I'm keeping the vehicle for another 100K where say 20-30K isn't going to make any difference, and everything else is equal I'd go for higher mileage and lower price.

But on the emotional side I'm trying to find THE car not just A car.
 
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