Reader Question: ’03 Altima Mad Max Car?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply! 

Mark asks: Here’s my situation. I presently have a 2015 Ford Focus SE sedan with the sport package. I have no issues with the car, but I’m not sure it’ll last as long I will. IOW, will it last another 20 years or so? I’m not sure. I’m 61 going on 62, and would like to find an older, less techy, but good, solid car that’ll take me to the grave. With everything going on (e.g. the drive to eliminate ICEVs, control us, etc.), I think it’s important to get a good, solid, ICE car while one still can. I’m concerned that, if I keep my Focus, that by the time it dies, I won’t be able to replace it at all. Hence, I’m seeking an older, but solid car with low mileage. I think I’ve found a good candidate for that role: a 2003 Nissan Altima 2.5S with 68,809 miles on the clock. The dealer pics look good; the car appears to be in very good to excellent condition. I used to have a 2006 Altima 2.5S that I inherited from my late mother. That is to say that I have experience with this car, a 3rd gen Altima, and I think it’ll fulfill my mission requirements. Third generation Altimas are known for easily lasting 250K-300K miles. I’ll be contacting the dealer later. What are your thoughts?  Should I keep my Focus as long as I can, or should I get a late 1990s-early 2000s Altima, Camry, etc., something that’ll take me to my grave, or at least until I can no longer drive. Thanks in advance.

My reply: The Altima – especially an older one without a CVT automatic – is a solid car and a good choice, with one caveat.

The condition of the one you’re considering. This is the most important criteria, arguably, when shopping for any used car. A low-miles car that was not serviced properly could end up costing you more money than a higher-miles car that was very well-maintained (and cared for) by its prior owner. So, service history is important. So is an inspection of the vehicle by a neutral (and competent) person who can assess its condition. This latter is well worth paying someone to do.

So, green light on the Altima – assuming this Altima checks out!

PS: Why not keep the Focus? That way, you have two cars to get you through what’s coming and if one breaks down, you still have the other Also, your Focus is likely to go up in value, so it’s a way to protect yourself financially from the ravages of the Biden Thing and the “Fed.”

Hope this helps!

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