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Discussion Starter #1
I need some advice. I am looking at buying a used Solara, probably a 1999-2001 model, under $6k. I've seen them here and there, but they are few & far between and are of higher mileage. One in particular stands out- a 1999 v6 manual tranny with 178,000 miles.

I've owned two Toyotas now and they've been excellent cars, but they have also been under 110k. Should I even be considering a high mileage Solara? I will have it checked by a reputable mechanic before I buy, but what are the "trouble spots" I should be looking for? What kind of maintenance should have been done for this mileage? How's the v6 engine and manual tranny?

I'd appreciate some advice, I like to hear from the actual owners, not a dealership trying to sell me on something.

Thanks in advance!
 

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We have a 2000 Solara convertible but it has a 4 cyl as we love the Toyota 4 cyl's. As for the rest of the car it is very easy to work on and maintain. When purchasing a used car, check these things... Make sure you take it for a good drive on the highway and see if it bounces over bumps, if so then you will need shocks. Also try braking hard to see if it pulls one way or another, if there's anti lock brakes see if they work well cause they could cost lots to repair. Look on the underside for rusted floors, gas and brake lines as well as gas tank rust and leaks. Another test I like to do is turn the wheels one way all the way and slowly back up, if you hear a clicking noise coming from the front end then you'll need new CV joints...try this with the wheels turned the other way as well. Look under the oil cap, if there is sludge build up on the underside of the cap then chances are they did not do regular oil changes on the car. Pull the dipstick and see what color the oil is and if it is low. Check out the rad for leaks and see if the fins are deteriorating. Get any service records you can and ask the owner if they did regular service like oil changes, transmission oil change at about 60,000 miles, timing belt change every 60,000 miles (I think it's 60,000). And above all make sure you find a reputable mechanic that you can trust and stick with him, just like your family doctor knows you your mechanic will know your car and therefor be able to diagnose problems faster and easier if and when they happen.

So good luck looking for that car, the mileage of the one your looking at seems kinda high but it is a Toyota and if it was properly maintained then go for it but don't pay too much. Tim
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the reply! I'll definitely check the stuff you listed. I didn't know about the backing up thing, interesting. I did get a bunch of maintenance history from Carfax, and tomorrow I'm going to call the local Toyota dealership to see if they might be able to pull up any more for me. I also plan on taking the car to my mechanic for the final inspection before I hand over the cash. The last car I thought I was okay on has turned out to be one sad little neglected 2001 rustbucket. Even a piece of some sort of metal had fallen off the car just off of the exhaust system in the rear. I have a feeling I really don't want to know!

Here's the scoop on my 1st choice of car: its a 1999 v6 manual tranny with 178,000 miles. Its had 2 owners. The first owners were extremely religious about bringing the car in every 3 months or a tiny bit past for servicing. They had the oil changed, stuff lubed and inspected, etc. They put on 89k before they sold it in 2003. The second owners don't have the maintenance history on Carfax unfortunately, and it looks like they drove around 16,000 miles a year. Their address shows them as being in the more "rural" area of the city, as well as the first owners. The dealership selling this car bought it off of another dealership because it was older with high miles. Apparently they thoroughly inspect the cars they buy and handpick the creme of the crop. They're asking about $4200. It has leather seats, a Bose audio system, moonroof, and its a red metallic. Did these cars come with Bose stereos or speakers? And no keyless entry, although can I add that by just getting a fob off eBay?

I was interested in another one, a 1999 with 139k, but the dealership was telling me earlier there was someone in there looking to buy it, so I'm not sure if its still available. It has an accident on the title, and the car seemed to pull ever so slightly, but that could be just bad tire alignment or something too. It was very basic with cloth seats and a general radio. It also had a couple of dents on the body that were a bit ugly. They were asking $5900 and there is no way I'd pay over $4000 for that one! Maybe all fixed up $4500.

Is there a way to tell how old the timing belt is? It may be one of those things I just might replace. My mechanic does extremely cheap labor, but he seems to really know his cars. I never did the timing belt on my Camry. I bought it around 85k and sold it 10k later. Some sort of belt was squeaking underneath the hood but the dealership never mentioned a problem to me, so I let it go. How about the water pump. Is that a must to have replaced at a certain mileage?
 

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Glad to help. Actually it is a good idea to just change the timing belt when you get the car if you don't have any record of when it was last changed. You are right about the water pump as it is somewhat cheap to purchase a water pump and have it changed while doing the timing belt. You may want to change your other belts as well while your into the job unless they have been changed already. I also wanted to mention that you might as well get your mechanic to change out your transmission and differential oil as it is almost certain they never did that either. Anyway, cars are expensive to run but for me it's all the joy of driving a nice car that makes it all worth the while. Let us know how things go. Tim
 

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Discussion Starter #5
& Timing Belt Questions

Looking at some other threads, it looks like the timing belt should be done at 180k, so I might as well plan to replace it if the inspection doesn't show it had already been taken care of. Is this something I can do myself, or do you need to take it to a mechanic? Just curious, I see the belt itself is quite cheap actually. What's the difference between a 1 yr warranty, a lifetime warranty and a "covered" belt? I'd hope the 1 yr would make the recommended mileage, and the lifetime belt should be replaced at the regular interval, correct? There's a $25 difference between the 1 yr and lifetime. I don't see how they make a "covered" belt that would last any better than the rest, but I could be wrong.

I cannot wait to test drive the car, it will either be today or tomorrow. The salesman sounded quite genuine when I talked to him, and he said how flawless the car was. The only bad is its missing a button off the radio. I'm thinking of putting a new radio in anyways, since I use my mp3 players often. It also has Bose speakers, which intrigues me. You just can't put nice speakers in and leave a crappy stereo! ;)

If it looks good, I'll buy it for around $4k. I've got a 3 day cooling off law where I live, so I'll take it to my mechanic the next business day to be looked over thoroughly for $50 (cheap insurance!). My bf can do the preliminary inspection at the dealership, I'm not too concerned. It looks like we're looking for maintenance issues mostly anyways.

And the scariest part of this is, a local Subaru dealership wants to buy my car for Edmunds & Nada value, which is what I need in order to make this whole thing happen. Things are lining up amazingly well for this to be my car, but we'll see. Its a red metallic, and I swore off red cars after my poor Celica was constantly being run into, scratched & vandalized! Actually, it seems to be a Celica thing; they ALL have body damage. How about the Solaras, does anyone have those types of problems?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
i got to test drive the car, finally! there were a couple of small broken things in the interior and a few scrapes on the exterior. it also had bald tires, so just those things alone made the car worth less than the asking price. we found a small sheen of oil on the back of the engine, although we're not sure if was only due to a rough test drive. my bf thought the tranny felt a little off. he said it seemed to be slightly hesitant getting into gear. i thought the slight stutter when i drove was due to me under revving it. does anyone know if either the engine or tranny oddities are signs of a serious problem? we're not sure of the oil but we're wondering what a tranny fluid change would do. just that alone is warrantying the immediate full inspection by my mechanic. we're getting the full scoop from him before any decisions are made. it may have 178k and be cheap, but i still want to know what i'm getting myself into.

this is the 2nd solara i've tested, and it blew me away! the first one seemed a little sluggish and not as tight steering. the cloth seats weren't comfy either. but the 178k car was like a mercedes! super cozy & peppy, and it seemed to handle better than my awd subaru! actually at 40k more miles, it made my car look like a POS! i think i would be very happy with this solara, but it all depends on the mechanics report.

if anyone has any ideas about the engine oil or tranny, please share!

is anyone a member of solaraguy either? i am having errors trying to register and would love some help getting on the forum!
 

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Hey, regarding solaraguy forums (which are great, i just became a member recently for the same reason as you, im buying a solara, getting it tuesday :p )
When you go through the registration make sure you read the part where you type in the numbers, you dont type what in the picture, you type in SOLARA
I had the same problem, good luck with the car, il see you on solaraguy (same nick)
 

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Hey, regarding solaraguy forums (which are great, i just became a member recently for the same reason as you, im buying a solara, getting it tuesday :p )
When you go through the registration make sure you read the part where you type in the numbers, you dont type what in the picture, you type in SOLARA
I had the same problem, good luck with the car, il see you on solaraguy (same nick)
Yeah, I did just that after whatever I entered got rejected. ;) But when it accepts what I typed in, it does not send me the confirmation email I can click on to activate the account. I tried with three different emails and I still haven't gotten the confirmation. Did you have any problem with that? I find it really odd, I've never had a problem with any forum before!
 

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yeah I tried that also and still no dice. i didn't have a problem joining two other forums, just that one. its like their system just doesn't send the confirmation email. i cannot find out how to find or message the forum administrator to get his help since you need to be able to log in to do that. you're the only one that i've talked with. this stinks!! :-( would you mind helping me out? I'd sure appreciate it! it looks like a very informatomive forum.
 
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