The High-Mileage Used Car: Yes or No?

September 25th, 2012
1997 Honda Accord

200,000 miles? Might as well aim for 400,000 in one of these!

For sale: 1997 Honda Accord. Power everything. Sunroof. Air conditioning. CD player. Cloth seats. Great condition! $3,000.

I had to call, just out of curiosity. It seemed like a decent deal. But one detail wasn’t mentioned…

Me: What’s the mileage?

Seller: Oh, mileage doesn’t matter. It’s a Honda. These things run forever.

Me: Right, but what’s the mileage?

Seller: Well, just past 200,000.

Me: Ouch. That’s a lot. Proper maintenance?

Seller: Regular oil changes, timing belt done at 170,000, tires and brakes done as needed.

Me: Everything else is stock?

Seller: Yes. Like I said, these cars run forever. I use it as my daily driver, no troubles.

Me: Hmmm…

The Accord is one of those cars that will easily go 200,000 miles and most likely happily chug its way up to 300,000 with very little in the way of expensive repairs. Or it’ll send a rod through the block, and that’ll be that. The safe bet, though, is to assume a car like this used Accord, while advanced in age, still has plenty of go in its giddyup. Regarding the price, similar CarGurus used listings are priced at about $2,000, which seems more reasonable. For that, I think the Accord would be a fine around-town commuter.

Many other cars that have reached the 200,00 mile mark do so on their last set of wheels. A Pontiac Grand Am that’s churned through the odometer twice? No thanks. An old Ford Explorer? Better keep mine closer to the 100,000 mark.

For real longevity, look to the usual suspects from Honda and Toyota, along with the diesel versions of the Volkswagen Passat and Jetta. I’ve also seen Subaru Foresters crest the 200K mark and wouldn’t hesitate to buy a high-mileage used one that’s been well cared for.

Then again, I’ve seen vehicles that have no business topping 200K get there through proper maintenance and care. In these modern times, it’s not unrealistic to assume any car can pass the 200,000-mile mark, it’s just a matter of how good of shape it’ll be in when it gets there.

Have you purchased, or driven, a car that passed 200,000 miles?


Find Used Cars in Your Area at CarGurus

Used Honda Accord
Used Pontiac Grand Am
Used Ford Explorer
Used Volkswagen Passat
Used Volkswagen Jetta
Used Subaru Forester

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  1. Dave
    | #1

    Bought a 1984 S10 Blazer and drove it 275,000. The man that bought it from me drove it another 3 years+. Currently driving a ’99 Suburban with 186,000 that I plan to drive another 50-60K+. Also had a 1994 Accord with over 250,000. Father-in-law still drives it!

  2. Randy
    | #2

    In the past, Honda engines that I’ve seen the inside of were so well built that I’d have no fear of them going 200K or more with good maintenance. Their transmissions and drive trains are a different story, though. (and bodies) Diesels have to be built very ruggedly to survive and tend to live long lives, although there are a few brands that are notorious for making crap. Trucks with frames, cars with good corrosion protection and simple designs (like those primitive pushrod engines) tend to do very well. Would I buy one? No, I can afford not to. I guess I prefer new and shiny over old and well used.

  3. Normand Cullerton
    | #3

    I’ve had multiple Volvos that have gone 200+ My 1978 244dl was sold with 375000K miles My Current V70 has 205K on it, and just made a 3000 mile round trip to FL and back with out a hesitation. there are cars that can go and go, and then there are not. I would buy a high mileage Volvo, Subaru, Mercedes, and VW any day!

  4. Joe J
    | #4

    I think my car is on the list of cars that have no business reaching 200K, although I’m seriously hoping it gets there because (as a college student) I can’t afford a replacement at the moment. I’m the primary driver of a 2001 Buick Century with 155,000 miles on it at the moment, and based on my past experience with it, I wish my parents bought a Honda 11 years ago instead of a Buick. This car had its transmission completely rebuilt back in 2003; gotta love that GM quality control. It’s actually due for service again, at first just regular maintenance (oil change, brake job), but just this morning the low coolant light came on and off several times, so now I have that to worry about.

  5. Geo
    | #5

    I have a 1999 dodge caravan wity 239000 miles. Still runnng great

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