Affordable Used Cars Are Still Available . . . If You Wait for Them

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Not all used cars are expensive cars – you just have to know where to look for them. And how to wait for them.

A friend of mine recently did just that. He found an early 2000s Ford Fusion with about 72,000 miles that looks like it has 20,000 miles for about $8,000 – which he was able to pay for in cash. 

As opposed to getting in hock for a new car – average transaction price, $32,000 – and paying monthly for the next six years or so. This being precisely why, historically speaking, many financially-savvy people avoided “buying” new cars – which inevitably became used cars, anyhow.

Why not just start out with one – and skip those payments?

Well, because used cars got almost as expensive as new ones, courtesy of the shortage of new cars – courtesy of the controlled demolition of the supply chains upon which new car manufacturing depends. Courtesy of that thing up in DC – or at least the things pulling the talk-cord coming out of its back. (For battery charging applications,
Innotec’s DC Generators are designed based on the battery bank size. One of the
most common battery bank sizes for mobile equipment has been the 48VDC bank.)

That plus waning interest in new cars, regardless – of which there aren’t very many left to choose from. The majority of “new cars” are those things styled crossovers – as useful as the paper bags at the supermarket checkout counter and just as emotionally involving. Yet they have all-but-taken-over the new car market – and not entirely because of the market. It is true lots of people buy them. This doesn’t mean they would, if they had an alternative.

Large cars with large trunks once were that alternative. Also the wagons based on them. They had room for people and the things that often come with people, i.e., their stuff. With bench seats, one of these could comfortably transport six, including the driver – and also whatever they needed to bring with them, in the trunk. 

The government all-but-formally outlawed that alternative, via the regulations pertaining to “fuel efficiency” that had the same effect. Sedans got smaller – especially in the trunk – on the theory perhaps that buyers wouldn’t notice this downsizing. It affected even the largest, most luxurious models – such as those made by Mercedes-Benz, BMW and so on. They were big in between the axle center lines – but had (and still have) pinched-short trunks without much space, relative to their size.

And so it was that crossovers filled the hole that had been created. Also trucks and SUVs, which gave buyers the large sedans they wanted, with 4WD added to the mix.

Anyhow, there aren’t many sedans left now – especially in the ever-thinning ranks of the affordable/mid-sized class. Former big-sellers such as the Ford Taurus and Fusion aren’t sold at all anymore. New, that is. 

But my friend found a great deal on a used one. 

He found it, largely, by waiting – and then, acting.

The waiting consisted chiefly in regularly scanning the used car classified; in particular, the off-the-beaten-path ones.

Not eBay.

You are also unlikely to find a good deal on any used car – and forget a used truck – by scanning dealer ads. Many of these are begging people to sell them their used cars – in order to make up for the inventory of new cars they haven’t got to sell, courtesy of that thing up in Washington. You can imagine what they’re asking for them. In fact, it’s not necessary to ask – because it’s being broadcast from the proverbial rooftops that used car prices are up something like 30 percent over the past 12 months.

Shopping for a used car at a dealership – this includes the big box retailers of used cars such as CarMax, et al – is like going swimming with sharks, your pockets stuffed full of bleeding hamburger.

Forget them. Don’t even look at their ads; it will only depress and demoralize you. Instead, look for the not-well-put-together ad, placed in a local auto trader or similar, ideally by an elderly person or someone acting on their behalf. Such people are generally not sharks. They are just looking to sell a car they no longer need – or which is no longer being used by the owner, who may have grown too old to drive. It may be a kind of boring car. Those often being the kinds of cars purchased – when new – by older people.

Like my friend’s new (to him) early 2000s Ford Fusion.

cc-05-11-22_EP on KMED     

It was owned by an older lady whose family needed to sell it because the older-lady owner could no longer drive it. She hadn’t been driving it much, either. Seventy-something-thousand-miles on the odometer of a nearly 20-year-old car works out to something like 3,500 miles a year. Possibly, to church and back on Sundays. It was literally the proverbial “little old lady’s car” – and thus, the perfect car.

My friend waited for just such a car to pop up in the for-sales. And then he acted. Immediately. There is no time to wait – in a market like this (of a piece with the real estate market). When you find what you’re looking for, do not wait for someone else to find it.

My friend didn’t. He was ready, cash in hand.

And thus, he now owns a car that could pass for new or nearly – just without the sticker shock and attendant monthly in-hock. It’s also a car without “connectedness” or “assistance,” which makes it something well-worth paying a lot less than new car money for.

. . .

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  1. Well, thankfully we can still get mint-condition low-mileage great-looking 06 Toyota Camrys on Craigslist for $1200 from some chick who’s being deployed to Afghanistan….just send the Ebay gift cards, and the car will be shipped to you for free in three days! 😀

  2. Some electronics genius needs to start design/build replacement modules and controls for these soon to be old cars. Maybe turn around rebuilds of your serviceable units.

    Or, redesign to a mechanical or mech elec hybrid for example HVAC controllers.

    My 1991 Silverado has electronic HVAC lucky for me it still has full functionality!

    I can see a semi civilized Mad Max future for my 2018 Grand Cherokee with the dead flat screen ripped out and replaced with a DIN radio and above that a set of knobs for the heat and AC. Throw in some toggles for the heated seats! And don’t forget the “in hand” nav system, a paper map.

  3. Question: Will fuel thefts increase or decrease when fuel prices increase?

    Perspiring minds want to know.

    The cartels in Mexico steal oil from pipelines all of the time, gots the know-how.

    Black markets will arrive soon and are here. Gotta get ‘er done one way or another.

    Get those gUkes. The only good gUke is a dead gUke. Get your war on. Um, gets expensive and when can it stop? Every war machine from tanks to jets need oil, no oil, looks like clubs and swords and maces after that. Back to stone throwing events. It’s all to die for then.

    Nuke the gUkes!

    Those evil, wicked, mean, and nasty hydrocarbons are to blame. Yeah, right.

    Atlantic cod in the fishing waters off the coasts of Iceland is 80 percent of Iceland’s economy.

    Russia produces 10 million barrels per day of crude oil, half of it gets exported. A fungible commodity influences the price substantially when 5,000,000 barrels are sanctioned, little good it does except to increase the price to nosebleed heights.

    Russians use oil to make it happen there, 5 million barrels for Russians to have an active economy is what it takes. Whoddathunkit?

    Highest revenues for oil trades for Russia ever. No drop in demand, supply issues are a problem. Moscow is in the driver’s seat, me thinks. Making out like bandits.

    Who is getting hurt here? Always a war going on somewhere it seems. Gotta pay for the wars everywhere somehow.

    At, the definition of insouciance has a photo of Chief ShitForBrains and that’s it.

    Gotta make a U-turn to change the way things are.

  4. I’m still trying to get the auto shop to tell me if they’ll fix my Ranger or not. It’s been there nearly 2 months, and they just never seem to “get to it”.

    I’m told it will be soon, but what a time. That said, I haven’t many alternatives. Most shops just look at the pictures and tell me it’s “totaled”. Bullshit. It still drives. Just needs the frame straightened a few inches.

    I see similar trucks selling for $5,500 or more. Mid ’90s Tacomas are selling for $17k. My 1990 Chevy is probably worth $20k! Absolute insanity.

  5. Was looking at a Focus ST a dealer had advertised on an auto-trading website last week. Price was in the upper half of the book-of-blue’s price range. Ad disappeared on Saturday and I figured it had sold already. It showed up again yesterday, same dealer, with two grand added to the price!! Seriously?!?

      • It looks like the Focus dual-clutch transmissions with the problems are the automatics. All of the Focus STs are 6-speed manuals — FTW!!!

        Just one more reason that all my vehicles are manuals!

  6. Just bought an ‘07 BMW 3 series with 70K miles for $5400. Non accident, flawless, no fault code, car. I know the owner, so it a trusted transaction which they gave me a good deal on. Other than requiring premium fuel which is $6+/gal here in Cali, I feel like I got a great deal.

    Hoping to convince my dentist to trade the BMW + an agreed upon amount of $, for his 1994 Mercedes Benz 500E, which he’s owned since new. I’ve been trying to buy it off of him for a while.

  7. CarMax Confirms Demand Destruction As Used-Car Prices Tumble
    Demand destruction is when prices get so high that consumers are hit with an affordability crisis. That is precisely what is happening with the used car market.

    New earnings data from CarMax, the nation’s largest retailer of used cars, showed the number of used vehicles sold for the quarter ending Feb. 28 declined 6.5% while prices were at record highs. Average car prices rose 40% during the quarter, or $8,300, compared with a year ago.

    A substantial increase in used car prices over the last year and the recent surge in interest rates could be the catalyst for what has recently sparked demand destruction as buyers go on strike, thus cooling red-hot prices.

    “From an affordability standpoint, you’ve got interest rates going up, inflation, you’ve got the Ukraine-Russia war. There just a lot weighing on the consumer right now.

    For “the lower credit spectrum customer, certainly, we feel affordability has maybe often priced them out of the market,” Bill Nash, Carmax’s CEO, told investors on a conference call.

    Last week, the Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index, a wholesale tracker of used car prices, dropped 3.8% in March from February, the largest monthly decline since April 2020 (only Feb 2007 and two prints in the fall of 2008 were worse before that).

    • All those authors (Like the anonymous twits who author Zerohedge, and who seem to bat about .050) seem to be failing to make an important distinction: The statistics they quote are primarily for late-model cars. Yes, the demand, and thus the prices for late-model used cars is likely decling, and will continue to, because those cars are expensive/almost always financed, and a nightmare to repair once out of warranty- so basically there is a limited market for them, who are willing to spend a lot of money for cars which are not very durable and which will need to have a lot of money put into them for however long the buyer owns them.

      Conversely, OLDER used vehicles are going to at the very least stay at current elevated prices; and more likely, even go higher precisely because of the above: i.e. as fewer people can afford to buy the late model cars, or simply don’t want to obligate themselves to years of payments in a grenading economy; as more people want cars that will last longer without expensive repairs, and for which they don’t have to carry comp and collision, etc. they will increasingly seek out the older cars. I believe that this is exactly what is happening, and either the data doesn’t show it, because typically detailed sales statistics were not typically kept for older vehicles, since they were traditionally avoided by the car sales industry….until now- or, even if there is such data, the pundits viewing it are not sufficiently versed in the overall market so as to look for the story that the data is really telling.

      $8K being heralded as a bargain for an old mid-sized blasé sedan with a crappy CVT tells me all I need to know about the state of the market……

      • nunzio

        Some of the older analog cars like the MK3 golfs will probably become popular because they are well engineered, very reliable, the engines are bullet proof, there is lots of parts available, they are simple to fix, they are inexpensive to buy, pre 1996 is better, no air bags, for a few hundred dollars you can do a simple repair and keep the thing running, in a new car if a computer goes you are looking at thousands of dollars to fix it.

        There is a whole other market: collectible cars, if you want an idea of prices go to Those are the cars I like, no depreciation, plus the possibility of appreciation.

        • Completely agree, Anon. (Except perhaps for Bringatrailer being a good barometer- as vehicles that are bought sight-unseen are not really representative of the market). But yes, maybe more people will catch-on to the advantages of older cars….or just discover the benefits when they are forced to buy ’em ’cause they can no longer afford the late-model crap.

          • bringatrailer is the collector car market, you can search for a vehicle you are interested in and see the history of auction prices over years, so it gives you a feel of where prices are.

            bringatrailer is a good place to sell cars, there is buyers with lots of money on there, the comments section is educational, there is people on there with lots of knowledge on certain cars. the prices on there are probably higher then what you can sell for on your own, cars sell for crazy high prices on there sometimes. Used car dealers sell lots of cars through bringatrailer.

            craigslist and marketplace have some of the low end junkier cars, bringatrailer has better quality cars, the best collector cars, #1 grade, go through the high end auction sites for big money.

            • **”bringatrailer is the collector car market”**

              This is why it’s so hard to get accurate numbers on older car sales. Bringatrailer represents only a very small segment of a small segment- basically cars that are cherry picked, and then purchased by people sight-unseen, on pure faith. -Like that famous Youtuber who bought a hacked-up rebuilt Superbird/Daytona for $130K- It’s no more indicative of the older used car market than is Barrett-Jackson…it’s largely fantasy world for adult toys [Not…not those kind].

              It’s hard to get actual data on older used car sales, as the older the car, the more likely it will be sold privately, or through a small independent BHPH lot….and neither such category of seller belongs to an organization which reports and compiles the sales figures. Ironically, most used car data comes from new car dealerships and rental companies, who traditionally don’t touch anything older than 7 years…and more typically, not older than 4 (Even less for the rental companies) -although, now, what with the scarcity of new and used vehicles, the dealers are starting to deal with old vehicles. I was shocked last year, when taking my ’00 Excursion to the Ferd dealer to diagnose an A/C problem no one could figure out, that they actually wanted to buy it…and for twices as much as I had paid for it 6 years ago… (And it’s not a diesel).

              tl;dr: We’re in uncharted territory, and traditional statistic gatherers/interpreters, if they can’t interpret what they are seeing in real life, just don’t “get it” because the extant statistics do not yet exist to tell the full story. And that is true not just of cars, but of so many other fields as well, as the economies of the world are being crashed…errr….”reset” to usher in the tyrants communist monolithic one-world government. (All hail our Zionist masters!)

              • Re: collector car market

                Run of the mill generic boring cars (appliances) depreciate a certain percentage as soon as they leave the dealership and every year, down to scrap value…$100.00?

                Collector cars are a different story, for various reasons they are worth far more then they theoretically should be. For example an old 356 Porsche shouldn’t be be worth much it is so old, but some are being bought at up to $250,000.00, because they are a collector car, people will pay those prices, because they are desirable for various reasons. Another example Mk1 VW golfs shouldn’t be worth much they are so old, but VW Mk1 GTI’s are selling for crazy prices, like $20,000.00.

                Collector cars is the only market I am interested in and invest in, I like the older analog cars, I hate the new over weight computerized cars, plus there is a chance to profit in collector cars.

                there is a ton of collector cars on bringatrailer, but the very best high end stuff goes through the high end auctions like Amelia Island.

                • Yes, Anon- but I thought what we were discussing here was over-valuation of older run-of-the-mill transportation appliances. Collector cars have always been disproportionately high relative to the pedestrian older transportation car market. Thing is, as of late, the value of the older pedestrian transportation vehicles has been the segment that has risen in value almost exponentially….as late model stuff is leveling-off or declining, and as collector stuff is [probably- I don’t follow that segment much] stagnating. This is unprecedented. Formerly, the average 20-30 year-old vehicle were beaters for teens, alcoholics, the terminally poor, and those of us who just appreciated cheap self-sustainable transportation; now, those same cars are becoming more desirable to the mainstream, as new cars become more unaffordable or unavailable, and late-model used ones become less viable due to being clusterfucks of electronics and proprietary software which has a very limited shelf life.

              • Calculating used car values

                Run of the mill generic boring cars (appliances) depreciate a certain percentage as soon as they leave the dealership and every year, down to scrap value…$100.00? just use a calculator, simple. This doesn’t work for collector cars.

                Another easy method: just do an internet search, enter the year, make and model for sale and you will get 100’s of examples, collector cars the same thing……

      • Like the anonymous twits who author Zerohedge, and who seem to bat about .050

        you are right (were right) they are perma bears from 2009 to 2022 pretty much went straight up…they were wrong 95% of the time..

        but……..different story now, way more money to be made shorting this pig then long

        SQQQ looks good, up 83% since the end of march, up 100% in 2022……everything else not so much…..

        • Yep, Anon. But when it’s so blatant that even the masses catch on (That the short is the sure bet) it’s probably too late….or at least so obvious that it doesn’t need to be pointed out.

  8. $8K for a nearly 20 year-old run-of-the-mill generic car? Uh…that might be affordable…but DAYUM, it sure ain’t cheap! Pretty sad actually, for a car that sold when new in the low $20K’s….. This just illustrates how true it is that cheap used cars are vanishing- …and that the dude had to wait for it….if he hadn’t had been patient and diligent and lucky, he would have had to pay even MORE! I mean, this is just scary.

    My late evil sister spent her life driving few-hundred-dollar beaters. Really makes me pine for the days when such was an option…even if ya didn’t need to drive such cars, justy knowing that ya could if the need ever arose…if something happened and ya had to start all over again, or if you were young and just getting started, you had a means of independence and a way to get to work for a week or two’s paycheck…..

    Just another aspect of life that is gone and not going to be coming back…..

    • 2000 ford fusion msrp new $23,000
      residual value 10% = $2300 wholesale price
      dealers used to add about $3500 markup so retail = $5800
      in this market markups could a lot higher

      Re: cheap used cars, you used to be able to buy used cars from towing companies cheap….

      • Dealers never even used to mess with 20 year-old cars…much less mark ’em up $3500. That used to be the province of buy-here-pay-here lots, which would get the cars for a few hundred bucks and sell ’em for a few grand- the down payment being equal to what the lot had into them…the rest, i.e. the amount being financed, was gravy. It was rare to see anything older than 7 years on a dealer’s lot, unless it was something like a Vette. Junkyards didn’t even want most vehicles over 7 years old, ’cause there wasn’t enough demand for parts, since nobody’d do collision work on older cars. Now all that’s changed (Except that junkyards have largely disappeared).

        • dealers……used car dealers……..who said new car dealers??

          new car dealers would keep cars that were in good shape, recondition them and sell them on their used car lot, mostly newer cars, probably very few older cars.

          yes new car dealers have used car lots as part of their business, it used to be more profitable then the new car lot, money was made on used cars, service and parts, not on new cars. (these new $100,000 pickups are a different story = huge profit now)

          Older cars, trade-ins cars in not near perfect condition would be sold by the new car dealers to the used car lots. The used car lots would sell the older stuff.

          Re: pricing $3500 is roughly what a new car dealer or a used car lot would add as a mark-up to the used cars, the car could be worth $1500 or $15000 wholesale it would get the same mark-up generally. If the wholesale value was maybe $500 the used car dealer would still try to sell it for at least $2500 this gave them room to bargain and buyers would think they got a good deal.

          That article said early 2000, no year of fusion was given.

          residual value for a 2006 fusion is 10% = $2300 wholesale price
          dealers used to add about $3500 markup so retail = $5800

          I have worked in sales at several new and used car lots so I probably know something about the business, have you ever worked in the business?

          here is some for sale near that price

          • **”I have worked in sales at several new and used car lots so I probably know something about the business, have you ever worked in the business? “**

            Actually, yes…I have- in pretty much every aspect of the automotive trades/business, from salvage to managing a small lot (As a favor to the owner- a friend)….and I still currently work part-time as an online sales manager for a business that sells [mostly]commercial vehicles.

            What I say comes from my own personal knowledge and observations.

  9. This car market is an absolute clusterfuck. I had a 2003 Lexus ES300 that had developed an engine tick. I was going to try and get it fixed and keep it going, but no shop will repair the cylinder head. There was one, but he wanted like 2k to do one side. Crook. I could have tried to do it myself, but then if I messed it up, the thing would be a boat anchor. It was there I started looking at another car. I looked at Accords, Acuras and Lexus. I ruled out Lexus because of their non repairable 1ZMFE engine. Screw that. There was a pretty sweet deal on an Accord manual sedan. I almost bought it but I wanted to get rid of my car first. In a normal car market, I could have pulled it off. But I almost had the car sold and then the deal fell through. Then I got a bunch, an assload, of lowball offers. I told many to go bite a bag of dicks. My car was in otherwise very good shape. Clean, clean interior, newer tires, newer suspension. Everything solid. I was getting ready to sell my car to my girlfriends friend’s daughter. Little bitch didn’t want it, so I dropped my price and sold the car for $3500 with 209k miles. It seams everyone can get 3k for their absolute crap besides me.

    In any case, I had my eyes on a 2012 Acura TL. $8500. I tried the car. It shifted kind of funny. I thought transmission. Everything else worked good. The owners daughter drove the car back and forth to Arkansas to get brainwashed at college. It had 177,000 miles. I thought it wouldn’t immediately sell. Anyway, I tried others and they were junk. Ernesto’s Used car type units. Other people were selling junk. I went back and found this thing ready for me. I bought it for full price because others were now being advertised for 10k plus.

    No one is willing to negotiate. Every car is junk. I paid too much for mine, but it is in otherwise excellent shape. Did a drain and refill twice on the transmission and it drives like a champ now. Since Hondas transmissions are pretty good to teh point of failure, you are good changing even old trans fluid. I made a bet, I gambled and think that I won.

    I like this car. It goes like a missile and has the reflexes of a bobcat. Very quiet and fast. Just like it should be.

    In a better market, I would have paid $6500-7k for this car, but so it goes.

    • Swamp, how is the 1MZFE unrepairable? My understanding is that it is one of the best engines out there, period. I had one. The engine and transmission are smooth as glass.

      I agree the car market is garbage. I’m glad I have what I bought 8 years ago, during more normal times. Bought a 9 year old vehicle for 5k. The same vehicle, despite being 8 years older, is going for around 7k now.

      • What these repair places do is they are only interested in making money on easy, simple, quick repairs, anything complicated, that needs diagnostics, or parts must be hunted down/not available, or might take too much time, or cost the customer too much or is a complicated pain in the ass, where there is too many unknowns, the techs won’t do it.

      • The valve train uses those stupid stupid solid lifters and valve spring combo along with the cam. It’s a single overhead cam for each bank, but the bad thing about it is that a valve ticking is more likely to be caused by a worn cam lobe over anything else. The lifters are non adjustable. They are those bucket lifters. You can’t really put a shim in them and they are unlikely to cause failure as much as worn crap. I liked that engine at first, though it was a little slow, I hate it now. Scotty Kilmer can go eat a bag of dicks with his wife’s lexus. Mine was the exact same car. Got my Acura TL now. Got acceleration and gas mileage now.

        If I didn’t have this issue with my car, I could have sold my car for around 5.5. I paid 5.8k.

      • Yeah, I know. I did well. It would have cost me about $3k MINIMUM to replace the engine, which is the only thing that these lazy mechanics do these days. The

        • **”which is the only thing that these lazy mechanics do these days.”**

          It’s not lazy mechanics; it’s that these modern engines have so much needless high-tech crap on them, that just the parts alone for a rebuild are crazy expensive- not to mention the labor. Rebuilding an engine is a lot of labor, even on an older simpler engine; with these uber-complex engines, it’s magnitudes worse- just setting up the valvetrain timing is a nightmare, and even often requires special proprietary tools -and that’s just for one formerly simple step in the assembly process. Not to mention that the average simply doesn’t possess the requisite skills to deal with all of this new highly delicate complex stuff.

          Gone are the days when someone even like myself could rebuild a Ford or Chevy V-8 for a few hundred dollars in the bed of a pick-up.

          The reality is, that with today’s ridiculous turbo-charged VVT’ed direct-injected (yada yada) engines, even if one finds a willing and able mechanic to do the job, they will likely be looking at a bill of $10K or more…and few people are willing to pay that. Even the large national businesses that remanufacture engines have ceased doing so for a lot of these engines….as it is just too expensive, and thus few are willing to pay for it; and ditto transmissions too- ‘specially CVTs.

          This is government-mandated planned obsolescence under the guise of ‘fighting climate change’. They’ve made it so that cars are becoming disposable; you buy one and (once out of warranty) when it breaks, you throw it out….and thus they have functionally already mandated used cars out existence, because even if they did not [pass so much as one more law restricting ICE vehicles, fact is, there will be no viable 10-20 year-old vehicles left by 2030.

          Tl;dr: It costs too much. Who’s gonna spend $10K to rebuild the motor in their 10 year-old jalopy?

    • Re: ticking sound, these engines don’t have no adjustment needed hydraulic lifters…
      maybe it just needed valve adjustment…………..was valve adjustment ever done?

      The 1MZ-FE has aluminum cylinder heads with four valves per cylinder and dual overhead camshafts. The exhaust camshafts are driven by a timing belt, while gears on the exhaust camshafts drive the intake camshafts.

      The intake valve diameter is 34.0 mm; exhaust valve diameter – 27.3 mm; valve stem diameter for both is 5.5 mm. The engine was offered in non-VVT-i and VVT-i versions. 1MZ camshaft specifications for the non-VVT-i series: duration – 228/228 deg (intake/exhaust), valve lift 7.85/7.60 mm (intake/exhaust). VVT-i engines have intake duration of 236 degrees and exhaust duration of 236 degrees.

      There are no hydraulic lifters in the valvetrain.

      ATTENTION: Valve adjustment is necessary every 60-80k miles (100,000-150,000 km).

      • If you mention valve adjustment to anyone who works on these, they will give you a blank stare. Same with head replacement. It would need a replacement engine. Oklahoma and Texas, especially Texas, has terrible mechanics. I don’t dare try and fix that kind of thing.

        • If you mention valve adjustment to anyone who works on these, they will give you a blank stare……how stupid are they?

          There are no hydraulic lifters in the valvetrain.

          ATTENTION: Valve adjustment is necessary every 60-80k miles (100,000-150,000 km).

          the condition of motor oil is critical for the 1MZ-FE, because it is prone to oil gelling (engine sludge issue), especially inside the intake manifolds. It is important to use good quality oil and do the required maintenance in time.

          The early MZ engines had poor knock control. The reliability of the knock sensor is low. Bad sensor causes a power reduction and rough acceleration. Toyota fixed that problem on the 3MZ-FE engine by installing a new flat-type knock sensor.

          VVT-i components are a headache also. It leaks with oil or fails, causing shaking operation and drop of power. The engine with failed VVT actuator sounds like a diesel.

          If it is valve clearances, here is the procedure…put different shims to adjust clearances…

          I have a Lampredi 4 cyl. engine I will be doing the valve adjustment myself, it uses shims too………

        • Hi Swamp,

          If it’s just a valve adjustment, it’s not a difficult job, as such. The big difficulty, probably is accessing them to adjust them. This usually entails removal of the cam cover – and that’s often the biggest/toughest part of the job (plus reinstallation). Beyond that, it’s mostly a matter of checking clearance and then making the fine adjustment to bring the “gap” into spec. You might look into what’s involved and consider doing the check yourself. If it turns out you have a too lose valve (or several) and they can be adjusted back to spec, you’ll be all set for practically no money and just the cost of your time and effort!

          • Hi Eric

            This engine has shims, you use different thickness shims to get the clearances back to spec, this one is easy, on some engines the camshafts had to be removed, i have a Lampredi 4 cyl. it uses shims like this Toyota engine, The Porsche 924 turbo I have has a screw you turn to adjust the valve clearance an easier design to work with.

            The VW/Audi 4 cyl. 1.8 20 vt is easier it has hydraulic lifters, no adjustment.

            Here is pictures and the procedure for the Toyota 1MZ-FE engine….


        • I feel your pain swamp. Everything is bad out there. Quality of all products and services is diminishing. You lost what I feel is a good vehicle by not having a good mechanic to go to.

      • ANY engine with VVT is a nightmare/ticking time-bomb/functionally irrepairable……

        Pre ’04 Ford Tritons (4.6, 5.4, 6.8): Great engines that’ll easily do 500K miles without breaking a sweat. I currently own three, and have been driving nothing but for the last 23 years.

        ’04 and up Tritons went to VVT… =complete garbage. I would never have one.

          • Dayum, Brandon- I didn’t even know that (04-drive-by-wire)- Now I’m really glad that my cut-off year is ’03. Hmmm…now I wonder: The Excursions stuck with the reliable 2-valve (non-VVT) 6.8 till the end of their run in ’05- I wonder if they were drive-by-wire after ’03? (Or was it just the 4.6’s, in the vehicles that offered them?)

            It’s really sad how they could ruin such good injuns. I mean, I could see if they made an entirely new engine, and it was junk- but to screw up a once very reliable and very durable engine just by tacking more needless crap onto it….tsk tsk tsk. Like ya say, Brandon, the quality of EVERYTHING is turning to crap- from physical goods to services. I met a Mexican dude in the supermarket last year who was ranting about how bad things are here. He was like “They used to say the streets of America were paved with gold, but I can get better things where I came from than here”.

            You’re lucky, in a way, that you’re young enough to not have experienced how great things were in the 60’s and 70’s, ’cause it really is sickening to remember what we used to have, and to see what we have now.

            • Nunzy ol’ boy, looking at old footage is like watching a fictional movie. Stuff from say the 50s to the 90s. Hell even the 2000s seem like the 90s now. I can only imagine what life must have been like back then, just as I can only fantasize about what life in the Star Wars movies must be like.

              But you know, I am much happier right now than I was in 2020. I really can’t complain. Yeah we’re almost in WW3 and everything is more expensive, unavailable, and shittier, but I can enter buildings without the holy rag again. I can see faces again. I didn’t get the injection and didn’t have to sacrifice for that decision. I’m trying not to take it for granted.

              I don’t know about the 5.4s and 6.8 because I’ve been scared away from any ford V8 with the name triton. Or anything with 3 valves. I’m into the panther cars which is why I know a bit more about the 4.6. I know that in the explorer and panthers 2004 was the first year of drive by wire. Maybe in the 2004 mustang they kept the throttle cable since there was only one year left of that generation.

              Actually, to figure out if a car has a throttle cable, what I do is search the internet for an image of the throttle body. I typed in “2004 ford mustang 4.6 throttle body” and see that it still used a cable, so 2004 is not a universal cut off date for all of the Ford 4.6s.

              I just hate the idea of drive by wire. I’m fairly convinced that it’s “safe”… but I still hate the artificiality of it. I think vehicles with throttle cables are just more alive, responsive, and feel better. When you slowly increase your press on the pedal, it smoothly increases its speed. On drive by wire, it does what it wants, until you go past a certain threshold, then it downshifts. Like wtf, I wanted a gradual increase, not a lugging then downshift.

              I think the latest vehicle I’ve seen with a cable was an 07 Ford Focus, a vehicle I would not particularly want. I’m in a constant search for when I have space for excess vehicles, how new can I get and still get a cable? Throttle cable presence is based less on the year of the car and based more on the year the engine was introduced. The earlier it was initially introduced, the longer it had a throttle cable. Basically any new engine design introduced in 2002 or later was drive by wire, based on my research.

              Anyway, even that 4.6 annoys me. I hate plastic intake plenums. It’s cheap crap. Give me metal. Like drive by wire, I know it mostly works, but I just don’t want it. It’s impossible to find something that checks all the boxes/that satisfy all my idiosyncrasies.

              As for the Mexican, all I can say is, import the third world, become the third world.

              • Aww, glad to hear that you’re able to enjoy yourself more lately, Brandon! For what ever time we’re here, this is the time we get, so I always try to make the best of it and enjoy it, -and that’s a lot easier to do the less one is connected to the world/society. It was just much nicer when we had a functional society, and at least a good segment of the population at least had some sanity, and at least some basic values in common.

                Yes! You are wise to avoid the 3V Tritons. Had a friend who had a Navigator with one….and it blew up. Rather than taking my advice, he decided to replace the engine….and before long, that one blew up too (Whike he was on a road trip, on vacation, no less!).

                Theoretically, I don’t like plastic intakes either…but ya can’t have everything- and I’ve never had a problem with one, so I can’t complain (And I’ve owned at least 6 Tritons). Most engines since the 90’s/early 00’s have at least some plastic components- so at least going with a Triton 2V allows one the option of a good range of solid vehicles with solid engines.

                The 3V’s sure don’t go 300+K miles without any engine work, as all of my 2V’s have. (Well…my current ones only have around 200K on ’em…just broken-in)

  10. A local online car and all things for sale website has plenty of vehicles for sale. Dealerships advertise on the site because there is a lot of traffic.

    Have to have a pickup sooner than later, can haul ashes. Some prices are reasonable for the age of the pickup, you can see how it goes as far as interest in the truck by the number of views.

    Easy to detect climate change, just watch plants and shrubs. May 10-11 in 1987 lilacs were in full bloom, peak bloom. Every year since then the lilacs have bloomed at a later date. This year, May 12, the lilac leaves are about an inch in length and a good 10 days before the lilacs begin to bloom. An apparent cooling trend the last 35 years, an observation that holds some water.

    Warmunistas will try to convince with facts, figures, studies, but never concrete information from field observations. You can’t rely upon someone who doesn’t know what is in front of them in plain view. They talk about the climate, but want you to do something about it. Not hearing any of it. Go pound sand.

    The asparagus will be nascent shoots in about 12 days, so it will be time to go pick some from the patch.

    As a reminder, all of the ingredients in beer contain all of the nutrients to keep you alive. Hops contain humulin lupulin which is also helpful for general health and welfare. You can’t go wrong.

    Somewhat of a panic going on in the market. Can’t sell now, besides, the gov will extract its pound of flesh on capital gains, you have to be very careful.

    Make tax day and election day the same day – Billboard out in western Montana

    Getting to be a sad situation over there.

  11. You have described the purchase of my ’99 Miata 10AE in ’14, 42,000 miles for $5,800. (Yes, it needed a new convertible top, but was otherwise very good at 15 years old.) It now has 75,000 miles and is apparently worth more than I paid for it. I just enjoy driving it, and it’s not for sale.

    • Used Miatas are often fairly cheap. People buy one because they’re sexy and a blast to drive. Then discover they aren’t going to carry much of anything more than groceries, and offer it up. I got an ’06 in 2019 with 33k miles for $8500.
      Unfortunately, I got to old and infirm to drive a manual anymore, and recently traded it off for an ’05 Accord.

      • A Miata is like having a 27 y.o. G/F (I’m 63). A blast to RIDE, but you look stupid on one. You ARE stupid if you depend on the Miata as a “daily driver” anymore than you depend on a young, hot woman to be faithful.

        • I’ve been ‘depending’ on a Miata as my daily driver for 31 of the past 33 years. (I was overseas for the 2 years without a Miata.)
          If you are not a large framed person, and you know how to pack, a Miata is quite useful and one of the most reliable cars. I have driven the US coast to coast and back about 10 times in my Miatas.
          Stupid? Nope.

          • A Miata is a GIRL’S car. End of story.

            Not that it’s BAD, mind you. One of my fondest memories is of a 25-ish, well-endowed blonde, with her top that BARELY covered her ample, visible “assets”, the car’s top, of course, DOWN, in her Miata. You just KNEW the car should have had a vanity plate that said, “Kept!”

            • Douglas, it is your memory that it is a girl’s car.

              I owned one for many years. It was a great base to work with to make it more of what it could be. Supercharged, upgraded brakes, lightened flywheel/performance clutch, stiffened suspension, etc, gave the car a lot more performance, and for me, on a budget. I got the car on the cheap for cash and upgraded it with mostly my own labor over time when my budget allowed. Many years of enjoyment and at the end of the day, even with the upgrades, more affordable than the vehicles that would have never existed if not for the Miata’s success like the Z3, S2000, and Boxster.

              Jay Leno’s (formerly his late brother’s) Miata is setup nearly like mine was.

              To skip to the good parts, 1:55 for the supercharged engine. 5:05 for Jay Leno driving and reviewing the Miata.

          • There is a super 7 owner that drives the thing daily, year round, most people take them to the track for a few hours then take it back home, a super 7 is half the weight of a Miata, you don’t get in it, you wear it, but it is more fun to drive then anything.

            Caterham super 7 daily driven…


        • Hi Doug,

          I had to giggle at your description regarding the Miata. My husband was playing golf with a buddy and his friend picked him up in his new Miata to show it off (this was probably two decades ago). My husband is 6’3″ and probably weighed about 230 pounds at the time. He was a weightlifter at the time and had these pretty decent size arms and shoulders. I laughed my ass off seeing my husband try to get into this car. He looked like a grown adult riding around on a tricycle or a big wheel. He was not amused that I was amused, and I got a glare before they drove off. Apparently, though it will fit two sets of golf clubs though. 🙂

    • 1999 Miata msrp new $20,095
      residual value 5% = $1004 wholesale price

      dealers used to add about $3500 markup so retail = $4504
      in this market markups could a lot higher

      1999 Mazda MX-5 Miata as low as $3,795 on

  12. ‘There is no time to wait – in a market like this (of a piece with the real estate market).’ — eric

    Still mostly true, as agents like to remind us. But bubbly house prices are headed full steam for an iceberg.

    Mortgage rates near-doubling from 2.75% to 5.25% have destroyed affordability. In turn, affordability leads existing home sales by about six months. B of A chart:

    The absurd Everything Bubble (stocks, houses, bonds, crypto, etc) that the Federal Reserve and Clowngress created with their ‘QE’ and ‘stimmy checks’ is now imploding like a Ukrainian apartment building.

    Mid-2023 may finally bring us cheap used cars, offered by unemployed sellers who can’t meet the payments no more. Thanks, Joe!

    • Hi Jim,

      Amen. I’m very glad my friend – who is the kid nephew of a long-time buddy of mine – snagged this deal. More so that he paid cash – and understands the burden of debt. He’s 20. All hope’s not lost!

    • There Goes The Housing Market

      Since the Fed is rushing to hike the US into a deep recession just so inflation will (supposedly) slide ahead of the November midterms, in line with Biden’s demands, the housing market is eager to comply with Powell’s and Biden’s handlers’ wishes, and is leading the charge into the economic abyss, as we discussed most recently here, and as the latest nationwide survey of new home builders confirms.

      Last week, Zillow’s dismal outlook stoked fears that rising mortgage rates would result in the next downturn. On Monday night, Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky warned: “this moment feels similar to late 2008 when we started” the online marketplace for lodging.

      • ‘Since the Fed is rushing to hike the US into a deep recession …’ — Anon

        ‘The Senate voted 80-19 to give Jerome Powell a second four-year run at the central bank’s helm.’ — CNBC

        That’s how gross, gobsmacking, economy-wrecking incompetence is rewarded by Clowngress.

        Because it makes their own breathtaking blunders look a little less bad by comparison.


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