Advice needed: 2003 Corolla low mles, good buy?

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Hi guys. Don't post much but read a lot. Question: I have a chance to buy a 2003 Corolla from a resident in assisted living. Hasn't been driven in around 18 months. I put a battery in it and it fired right up. Expired plates = no test drive. Wants 5k for it. Has only 36k miles. Worth taking a chance? Anything I should be concerned about? Price sound reasonable? Joe
 
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1,673
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new jersey
It has extremely low miles, which is great! The price is amazing, usually for 5k your looking at something over 100-150k miles. IF you can get a test drive it would be ideal, but it sounds like a great deal.
 
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1,209
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CA
It should be ok. Steal for 5k and 36k miles. I'd refresh all of the fluids, check the belts, hoses, etc. But wow, yes I'd jump on it - JMO! Hard to find a deal like that these days where compact cars are earning premium pricing.
 
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I owned a 2007 Corolla...same generation. It was an excellent, zippy little car. One of the best I've owned in terms of low cost of ownership and fun to toss around. However, and this is a big however. Take a LONG test drive in it before you buy it to make sure you're comfortable with the seating position. Most professional reviews of this car note the weird driving position, and it's true. The steering wheel does not telescope, and the pedals are pretty shallow in the foot well. Designed for short people apparently. If you have long legs, you may find the driving position awkward. I learned to live with it in my car. Mine was a manual, so I was working a clutch as well, which didn't make that aspect any better (but it was entertaining to drive). You'll either like it or you won't...don't make a mistake of buying it without a thorough test drive.
 

Joe72Mart

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NE Ohio
I might be able to take it up and down some back roads. Won't be able to get it up to freeway speed. I moved it some, obvious brake rotors rusty and noisy. Motor sounded good. Will the tires be flat spotted from sitting so long in one place?
 
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Austin, TX
My biggest concern would be the old fuel in the tank, hopefully it was regular gas and not E10. Tires might be shot too from sitting otherwise it sounds like a dream used car find.
 

Joe72Mart

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Hokiefyd: thx for the advice. Also thx to all those who replied so quickly. Long test drive may be problematic with expired plates. Also owner has dropped insurance, but pretty sure my insurance would cover me.
 

JRed

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Heck yeah I'd do it. Get some fresh fuel in it, change the oil, drive the flat spots out of the tires, change the belts, change the transmission fluid, and you're golden. What a steal.
 

Joe72Mart

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Someguy I put 5 gallons of fresh 93 octane in it before I started it. Just in case gas in tank was too stale. I drove a 1988 Chevy Sprint for 150k miles so I'm kinda used to uncomfortable driving positions!! I'm 6'2" and had to slouch to drive the Sprint!
 
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arkansas
The advice you have been given is excellent. I had a Corolla in the '70s and it was a great little car. If you buy it and do all the things suggested and discover it is not the car for you then sell it. You can get everything you have in and then some. Compact cars with good gas millage and a reliability history is going for a premium price.
 

Joe72Mart

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Thx for all the advice and quick responses Bitogers. Owner has to get rid of it because the assisted living center she resides at frowns on vehicles parked with expired plates. In Ohio, when you buy plates, you also have to sign a form saying you have insurance. So rather than throwing money away on plates/ insurance, would rather get rid of it. (Can't drive anymore). Owner also says she has service records for the car. Owner doesn't want to advertise in paper or Craig's and have strangers and tire-kickers bothering her. She's a real nice, polite and friendly person. I enjoy just sitting and talking with her. Family all out of town. Opportunity to buy came up because her center was repaving the parking lot and she had to move the car. My uncle lives there and asked me to give her a hand. Joe
 
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Can't think of any reason not to buy that car as long as everything works (remember to check the A/C as that can be one of the more problematic things when a car sits). It is a great car for the money, and it should last a long time. Maintenance records are a rare find on a used car and just make this an even better deal. Plus, it sounds like the owner does really need to sell it, so you are helping her out too.
 
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OR
Add me to the 'buy it' camp. I do the maintenance on my folk's '03 corolla automatic. 245K so far on the engine and original trans. Repair items so far- plugs, tires, struts, pcv, Oil changes @ 6K on whatever on sale conventional. Transmission fluid changes every 75K w/ Castrol Import. A really, really solid car. Gas milage is not as indicated by the factory... more like 25city/31hwy.
 
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Colorado Springs
I know this is.........illegal, but I'd throw the plates on it from your car and thoroughly test drive it to make sure the engine runs good and the trans shifts good, there's no obvious suspension thumps etc. Always give any car you're thinking about buying, a good workout. Check the fluid levels and condition etc. If everything checks out, I'd jump on that car in a heart beat. Corollas are easily 300,000 mile cars with basic maintenance and they hardly ever, if at all, have persistent problems like head gaskets.
 
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825
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TX
I would certainly buy it; the Corolla's are wonderful cars. My '99 has almost 130k and it has never failed me. I wouldn't hesitate to buy another. Maintenance is very easy and they are extremely durable cars. The 2003 redesign looks very nice and fixed the oil burning issues seen with the '98 to '02 Corollas. All of the above recommendations are spot-on in regard to the maintenance to do.
 

Joe72Mart

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156
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NE Ohio
Thx again for the great advice bitogers. I'm going to give her a visit tomorrow and probably take my checkbook. Will try to take for an extended test drive, maybe using my plates as suggested. Will offer to take her along, but I doubt she's able to accompany me. She's on an oxygen generator and in a wheel chair. Car does need some detailing work. Sun has oxidized the paint. Other than some minor interior stains, all looks good on top. Will crawl underneath to check status. You guys recommend running a Carfax? I'd rather not "waste" the money. I understand carfax misses a lot of stuff anyway. I've been underneath enough cars that I can possibly recognize any collision damage/repair. I'll also ask her if it was in any fender benders. She doesn't seem to be the type to cover up any hidden defects. Just a nice lady, wish more people were like her. thx again for all the quick responses and great advice. Bitog is a daily read for me and is one of my toolbar icons. I've learned a lot from you guys. Appreciate it. Joe
 
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