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  1. #1
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    Car mags: Old car with low miles OK?

    I'm in the market for a car, and I have found a couple older (10+ years) cars with really low miles on them. My question is whether the car will be as reliable as it was when it was new. Does anything in a car get old from years rather than miles/hours? Gaskets, seals, and belts? The cars have been garaged for most of their lives, and were only driven a couple thousand miles a year by their old-folks owners.

  2. #2
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    I would only really be worried about tires, the rubber can dry out & crack. Check them out before driving it, but if they've been driving it semi-regularly I would hope they're replaced them recently.

  3. #3
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    Tires, basically all wear items should also be replaced, fluids, battery, probably belts, make sure it was serviced properly. But other than that if it all runs fine it probably is fine.

  4. #4
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    how long did the rig sit without driving? fluids can lose their properties if let to sit too long, gumming up the works.

  5. #5
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    i'd jump on 'em, do what the above posters said, particularly fluids. Replace ALL fluids.
    Neil Young said Harvest put him right in the middle of the road, so he headed for the nearest ditch. I think we've kind of just gone ditch to ditch to ditch a lot of the time.

    Patterson Hood of the DBT's

  6. #6
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    I bought a 1970 Chevy Monte Carlo in mint condition in 1993 for $300. It had 30,000 miles on it, most of them to church at about 15mph. I drove the AlCan with it a few times, sold it when it had 150,000 miles on it for 6 times what I paid, and never did anything more than tires and fluids and belts.

    Not really answering your question but your thread made me nostalgic for my own low-miles, old folks ride.
    "Buy the Fucking Plane Tickets!"
    -- Jack Tackle

  7. #7
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    Newer cars, and your 10-or-so year old cars qualify here - shouldn't have any major problems with gaskets, at least not gaskets that aren't easy to replace. I would however replace any accessory drive belts (alternator/power steering/AC/etc.) And look closely at the tires. If the tires show any signs of cracking they need to be replaced.

    Whenever I buy any used car I always replace all the fluids in it as a matter of course. That way I know it's been done and I know when. I've owned a lot of cars and only one was newer than 10 years old. Most have been in the 15-20 yo range, some older.

    I would not hesitate to buy an older, low mileage car that has been well maintained, especially if the owners have thorough maintenance records.
    ...Some will fall in love with life and drink it from a fountain that is pouring like an avalanche coming down the mountain...

    "I enjoy skinny skiing, bullfights on acid..." - Lacy Underalls

    The problems we face will not be solved by the minds that created them.

  8. #8
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    When you say all fluids, we are talking about wiper fluid, right?

    So, all fluids, check anything rubber, and should be good? Sounds good to me. As far as maintenance records go, there are only about 30K miles on them, so they didn't need much maintenance. And they were driven regularly, just not very far.

  9. #9
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    Yep. Be sure to give it a good test drive. To me, that's really the best way to tell if I want to buy a vehicle or not. If it's clean, has been well maintained (records show regular oil changes, etc) and it runs smooth and strong with no weird noises/hesitations/vibrations/loose or pulling to one side in the steering/pulling or pulsing in the brakes/etc. then I'd say it's good to go.
    ...Some will fall in love with life and drink it from a fountain that is pouring like an avalanche coming down the mountain...

    "I enjoy skinny skiing, bullfights on acid..." - Lacy Underalls

    The problems we face will not be solved by the minds that created them.

  10. #10
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    Built 10 years ago = new.

  11. #11
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    Seconded on the maintenance records (dealers stamps including oil changes etc.) also including recall work because it’s a good way to verify that the odometer hasn’t been tampered with unless you are absolutely sure about the owners; even then, it’s worth checking because a lot of routine maintenance has both a mileage and a time limit (I’ve seen timing belt change recommendations for every 60K or 6 six years)—whichever comes first.

    Even though the car has been garaged for most of its life, and was only driven a couple thousand miles a year by their old-folks owners… I would also look closely for UV damage as well as off color paint (from a collision repair) because a good detailing can hide things that only become apparent under different or bright sunlight. Otherwise, a low mileage minty fresh used car with 30K at a good price is $$$$

  12. #12
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    I just recently bought an older car for cheap with the same plan of spending less to own a car that will last. My family and I also run an antique restoration company so we have some experience identifying problems, which helps find decent cars worth buying. Everyone has given good tips so far about the tires, fluids, rubber seals, belts, etc.
    Make sure to:
    Look for cracked tires.
    Check the brakes.
    Change the oil (slick 50 is a good idea for older cars).
    Have the transmission inspected, and fluid changed.
    Look under the car where it is parked for any leaks.
    Replace any seals, rubber tubes, belts that are visibly in poor condition.
    If it has an airbag, make sure it works! (If not $1000+ to fix and won't pass inspection without it.)
    Look for rust hole that may cause the car to fail inspection.

    Go into this purchase with the expectation of spending a little money in the first few months to fix any minor problems. There is a risk of the car not lasting a while, but compared to the cost of a newer car is worth it.
    Ελευθερία ή θάνατος
    "Great moments are born from great opportunity."

  13. #13
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    I'd get a Carfax on each of them, just to make sure things are 100% legit (I'm sure someone on here or someone you know even has an account and can run the report for free). But otherwise, no worries..

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by davieboot View Post
    When you say all fluids, we are talking about wiper fluid, right?
    actually was thinking particularly about brake fluid, which can pick up water/moisture, then the first time the brakes get hot, you boil the fluid, and voila, barely any brakes! [yep, happened to me with an old Benz diesel, on the 400 in ATL, at rush hour...]
    Neil Young said Harvest put him right in the middle of the road, so he headed for the nearest ditch. I think we've kind of just gone ditch to ditch to ditch a lot of the time.

    Patterson Hood of the DBT's

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Patches View Post
    Built 10 years ago = new.
    No shit. I've never owned a car newer than 10 years old.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tye 1on View Post
    actually was thinking particularly about brake fluid, which can pick up water/moisture, then the first time the brakes get hot, you boil the fluid, and voila, barely any brakes! [yep, happened to me with an old Benz diesel, on the 400 in ATL, at rush hour...]
    In my mind, all fluids means:
    Brake Fluid (drain, replace, bleed)
    Engine Oil (replace with manuf. recomended weight)
    Transmission oil/fluid (replace)
    radiator coolant (drain, flush, replace)
    differential oil (drain, replace)

    this is in order of importance.

  17. #17
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    I was joking about the wiper fluid thing. The fluids will be replaced if I pull the trigger.

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