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  • avatar zaken1 09/04/11 1:56 am PST

    The life expectancy of a well designed Japanese engine will commonly be between 150,000 and 200,000 miles. But the automatic transmissions begin to fail at around 140,000 miles; and that can be a major cost to repair. If this concerns you; you can avoid this problem by only buying a vehicle with a manual transmission. They are listed in the parts catalogs for these models. However, I doubt that you'll find a Sienna or Odyssey with a manual transmission. What does this say about the values of the people who buy those vehicles? You may be more likely to find a Pilot with a manual transmission; but it still would be very difficult to find. So this is what you're up against. Unless you must have 4 wheel or all wheel drive; I would also avoid vehicles with those features; because it complicates repairs, reduces fuel economy and adds many parts to the vehicle which can potentially fail.

    Since most people drive about 12,000 miles per year; if you hope to have 4 or more trouble free years of service, and decide to get a vehicle with an automatic; I would try to avoid any with more than 110,000 miles on them.

    If this becomes too impractical to fit into your budget; you still might be able to achieve a similar goal by buying a smaller vehicle. Toyota manufactures the RAV4; which is a smaller vehicle of this type, and costs considerably less. I have high regard for this model; which has grown larger in recent years (along with its price tag).

    Toyota also manufactures a still smaller line of vehicles called Scion. There are two wagons in that line; the xB and xD. The xD is a more recent model (2008 and newer); and may still be too expensive for your budget; but the xB is larger than the xD, has been sold since 2004, and is priced considerably lower in used versions; see the following Edmunds link: (http://www.edmunds.com/scion/xb/2005/?s
    u...
    ). These vehicles cost about $15,000 to $17,000 NEW.

    Whatever you do; please follow our long standing advice, and do not buy ANY vehicle; regardless of how it is represented or warrantied, without first having it thoroughly inspected and evaluated by an experienced, honest, professional mechanic or a diagnostic center like the ones the AAA operates nationwide. The cost of this service will be more than offset by avoiding pitfalls and potential regrets. There are all too many used vehicles out there which were reconstructed after being wrecked; or were bought at an auction after having been stolen, stripped, or abused; or were repaired by unskilled or unscrupulous people. You wouldn't want to own one of those; believe me.

Answers

  • zaken1 09/04/11 1:56 am PST

    The life expectancy of a well designed Japanese engine will commonly be between 150,000 and 200,000 miles. But the automatic transmissions begin to fail at around 140,000 miles; and that can be a major cost to repair. If this concerns you; you can avoid this problem by only buying a vehicle with a manual transmission. They are listed in the parts catalogs for these models. However, I doubt that you'll find a Sienna or Odyssey with a manual transmission. What does this say about the values of the people who buy those vehicles? You may be more likely to find a Pilot with a manual transmission; but it still would be very difficult to find. So this is what you're up against. Unless you must have 4 wheel or all wheel drive; I would also avoid vehicles with those features; because it complicates repairs, reduces fuel economy and adds many parts to the vehicle which can potentially fail.

    Since most people drive about 12,000 miles per year; if you hope to have 4 or more trouble free years of service, and decide to get a vehicle with an automatic; I would try to avoid any with more than 110,000 miles on them.

    If this becomes too impractical to fit into your budget; you still might be able to achieve a similar goal by buying a smaller vehicle. Toyota manufactures the RAV4; which is a smaller vehicle of this type, and costs considerably less. I have high regard for this model; which has grown larger in recent years (along with its price tag).

    Toyota also manufactures a still smaller line of vehicles called Scion. There are two wagons in that line; the xB and xD. The xD is a more recent model (2008 and newer); and may still be too expensive for your budget; but the xB is larger than the xD, has been sold since 2004, and is priced considerably lower in used versions; see the following Edmunds link: (http://www.edmunds.com/scion/xb/2005/?s
    u...
    ). These vehicles cost about $15,000 to $17,000 NEW.

    Whatever you do; please follow our long standing advice, and do not buy ANY vehicle; regardless of how it is represented or warrantied, without first having it thoroughly inspected and evaluated by an experienced, honest, professional mechanic or a diagnostic center like the ones the AAA operates nationwide. The cost of this service will be more than offset by avoiding pitfalls and potential regrets. There are all too many used vehicles out there which were reconstructed after being wrecked; or were bought at an auction after having been stolen, stripped, or abused; or were repaired by unskilled or unscrupulous people. You wouldn't want to own one of those; believe me.

  • sjel 09/05/11 12:18 am PST

    Thanks for your reply! Much appreciated. I considered your words and that gives me a real ball park idea of what to expect. I'll take a look at the Scion xB. I think I'll pass on the Pilot. We live in Wisconsin so AWD or 4WD is nice but I don't need it and I've experienced the cost of repairs on 4WD so I'll check out the Scion and focus on the Sienna or Odyssey with FWD. We have a Suburu Forester, I was looking for something with a little more elbow room for longer trips and additonal passengers. I don't have a mechanic in my area. You've convinced me but how can I find a AAA mechanic or, if I can find one locally, how do I get a vehicle to the mechanic? I live about 35 miles or more from most dealerships.
    Again, thanks for your input. It really helps to know a base level of what to expect.

  • zaken1 09/05/11 2:47 am PST

    Thanks for your confidence. You will get better prices if you avoid dealerships and buy a car from a private party. Look for vehicles which are being sold by the first or second owner. People seem to feel more comfortable when buying from dealerships; but the fact is that dealerships often get the used cars they sell from auctions; and auction cars often have been abused or neglected. Dealerships also have been known to lie or misrepresent the vehicles they sell; more often than we'd hope for. If you must buy from a dealership in order to use a trade in, or to use their financing; then it can't be avoided; but you'll pay more that way.

    When I mentioned AAA diagnostic centers; I was referring to dedicated facilities which do nothing but evaluate used cars. These facilities are only found in cities, and there might not be one near you. If there is one; any dealership that is serious about selling you a car might protest that an inspection "is not necessary;" but they should let you take the vehicle to a mechanic or diagnostic center to get it inspected if you insist on it. If they refuse; then tell them they just disqualified themselves from your consideration, and leave.

    You might be able to use the services of a mobile mechanic to come to the dealership or the place where a vehicle is for sale; and evaluate it there. I used to work that way myself. Since you don't currently have a mechanic; I can recommend a few; if you post the city and state where you live. I'll try to find both mobile mechanics and regular ones; but I may not be able to find both types. Please also indicate how far you'd be willing to travel, in order to find a vehicle.

    There are many websites which list used vehicles for sale; both by dealerships and by private parties. Some are better than others. If you're able to consider private party vehicles; let me know and I'll also include recommended websites.

  • sjel 09/05/11 10:23 pm PST

    I decided to focus on a 2004-2006 Sienna after considering what you said and looking a little further. I will check into the AAA auto centers. I suspect that there will be one in 2 of the larger cities I'm looking in. I'm not opposed to buying from a private seller, I'm not aware of any sources for private sales except Craig's List which hasn't had much to offer. Any websites you could recommend would be great. I've used the autotrader link on Edmunds.com but that's not really yielding much in the way of good leads. I've found a few leased, wrecked, and auction cars already and a few lies. One vehicle I tried pulled to the right and vibrated when applying the brakes coming down from higher speeds. Salesperson said the dealership fixed it, I tried it, it seemed okay but wanted a mechanic to look at it. "Oh, you don't need that. We do a 160 point inspection". Oh really? Then why did it pull and shimmy on the first trial and then, you wouldn't mind if I had it inspected, right? lol I'm still drawn to that vehicle but decided to pass. It just didn't feel right. Not technical, but sometimes one should pay attention to those sixth sense kind of things. There will always be more coming down the pike. Is it possible that there will be more available with the new model years soon to arrive?

  • zaken1 09/06/11 2:16 am PST

    To find used cars in your area; try

    (www.cars.com);

    (www.vehix.com);

    (http://carsforsale.com/);

    (http://autos.yahoo.com/used_cars.html)

    (http://cars.oodle.com/)

    Some of these sites allow you to limit the search to private party vehicles; some allow you to specify a range of distances you're willing to travel.

    I would not expect the market to change much when the new models come out; there are not that many people who can afford a new car these days.

    Let me know if you need more sites.

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