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Car in question is a honda prelude vti motegi 1997.

The mileage is at 64k. And its had few owners, past owner had for 11 years.

My concern should I expect a 1997 car(with low mileage) to be reliable i.e can I take it for long trips with the general expectation that it will not fail me?

Can I expect this without doing work on it such as timing belt, water pump etc since this are not required until later however does the age factor mean it needs to be done now.

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This question does feel a little like shopping advice so may end up closed.

To my mind, there are three possibilities that would explain why a 1997 car had covered so few miles;

  1. It's covered annually a relatively low number of miles each year. This is arguably the best scenario because it means it has been used regularly, albeit on short runs. If you have access to the annual mechanical inspection history of the vehicle the mileage ought to be recorded to back this up.

  2. It's done a normal number of miles for some years and then sat unused for some years. This is not a good scenario as putting a car into storage can, if not done properly, cause various items to corrode or perish. Again, annual inspection records ought to evidence this.

  3. It's not displaying the correct mileage. This could be for a number of reasons; e.g. the speedometer has failed at some point in the cars history or the recorded mileage has been altered in some way. In this scenario you may actually be looking at a car which has covered significantly more miles than are being displayed.

I personally own a 1997 car which falls into the 3rd category. When it was a few years old and had covered some 55k miles, the instrument binnacle failed and was replaced with a new one which effectively returned the mileage to zero. When I purchased the vehicle it was showing 97k miles, however the seller pointed out that the history file included a receipt for a new instrument cluster and that the actual mileage was closer to 150k. Sellers will not always be this forthcoming so be vigilant.

If the vehicle falls into either of the first two categories you have to consider that it will likely need to have a full service and a timing belt change. Many years ago my brother bought a fifteen year old car which had covered just 29k miles. The engine was coked up due to having never been run up to full temperature (it was owned by an elderly gentleman who used it on a Sunday to go to the local shops). The spark plugs were corroded into the head and one of them snapped at the lightest touch. The gear-linkage disintegrated because the rubber / plastic components had become brittle.

Conversely I also happen to own a 1998 car which has an indicated 206k miles and I have no reason to doubt this figure. This car has it's own maintenance needs but perished components are not one of them.

I don't know if I've helped you. My recommendation would be on a car of this age, ignore the mileage and have the car subject to a professional mechanical inspection. You can't skimp on service items just because the car hasn't covered many miles and unless the history file is complete and indicates recent servicing work, I'd change the timing belt and perform a full service as soon as practically possible after the purchase.

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Speaking out of personal experience, I'd say check for the 'diseases' of that particular modal.

Also judge the current owner, is it an old person, that just uses it for groceries and keeps it clean or a person that would use it daily on terrible roads, not caring about the car.

Low mileage doesn't guarantee that nothing will go wrong, but decreases the chances. Also, the car is fairly old (21 years). I'd definitely get it checked for rust and hoses that may need replacing.

I've had a car from 1997 ( Audi A4B5 ), bought for almost nothing that had 240.000KM on it and never had a problem (replacement parts aside like brake pads etc).

I'd bring a mechanic or friend that has knowledge, with you on your next visit.

Really do check for common issues online of the vehicle though!

I'm not a mechanic, just an enthusiast. Hopefully I've mentioned one thing that you may not have thought of! ;)

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