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Buying a Camaro with 100k Miles (A Bad Idea?)

Buying a Camaro with 100k Miles

A higher mileage car is a gamble.

High mileage means wear and tear. But it doesn’t necessarily disqualify the car you want from being a solid purchase.

You will have to do your homework though – looking into those areas that don’t get looked at often – to make sure you don’t end up with a lemon.

I’m speaking from experience when I say this is especially true for performance cars like Camaros.

I love Camaros.

I owned two used 1987 Camaros before I was 21. I’m currently in the market for a used late model Camaro and a third-generation project car.

These are some things I consider when buying a Camaro with 100k miles.

1. What Are Your Plans with Your Camaro?

image source: Barnfinds

My love for Camaros started back in high school when a friend of mine purchased a 1984 Sport Coupe with an Iron Duke four-cylinder motor and four speed manual transmission for his first car.

Although I’ve had two third gen Camaros of my own, I didn’t have the time or money to put into them like I wanted. Which is one of the reasons why I’m in the market for a new third-gen project car.

I’m also in the market for a used late model Camaro because for me these late model Camaros are incredible cars that show how far Camaros have come since they were introduced in 1967.

Knowing what you plan to do with your Camaro will help you set a budget for how much you’d like to spend.

For instance, with the project car I don’t want to spend much on it since I don’t care if it runs or not. I don’t even care if it has an interior. I’m basically just looking for a shell.

Kinda like yellow one in the image above.

2. V6 or V8

The same doesn’t hold true for the late model Camaro, though. That one must have everything intact, which means it’s going to cost more.

Which also means I’ll have to do more research to ensure I end up with a good one.

The latest model isn’t only offered as a V6 or V8. They also come with a four cylinder like my buddy’s third-gen Camaro.

Even though the four bangers offered in the latest Camaros are way more potent than the four pot that came in Camaros of the 80s. I’m not interested in a late model four-cylinder Camaro.

For the longest time with the introduction of the sixth generation Camaro, I was considering the V6 with a manual transmission. My first Camaro was a V6 – the second was a V8.

Although the new V6 makes way more power than even the old V8. There was a certain occasion that came with driving that 80s V8, even though my brother was able to beat me in a drag race with his four-cylinder Honda Civic.

The new V8s are a rush to drive. I’ve never been the type of guy to say a muscle car must have a V8 – I’m still not. But there’s a certain feeling of exhilaration that comes from driving modern V8 sports cars that I can’t deny myself.

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3. Manual or Automatic Transmission

Manual or Automatic Transmission

Which brings us neatly to transmission choices.

In the 80s automatic transmissions were sold as a luxury item. I remember an automatic transmission being a big deal for the introduction of C4 Corvettes.

But even through the early 00s, the manual transmission was reserved for enthusiasts who were able to eek out better performance numbers than automatic transmissions.

Today, however, with the incredible amount of technology supporting them. Automatic transmissions can shift faster than any of us can shift a manual.

The latest Camaros are upgraded with a wonderful 10-speed automatic transmission that can shift gears at lightening quick speeds. And if you absolutely must shift the transmission yourself, they even offer paddle shifters.

But like my dad, I taught myself how to drive a manual transmission. My second and third cars had manual transmissions.

I love manual transmission.

For me there’s nothing like the feeling of doing the shifting yourself – it’s a visceral experience beyond compare. And that’s why I choose a manual for both Camaros.

4. Consider the Current Values

When buying any vehicle used you want to get a feel for the current values. Anyone with their finger on the pulse of the automotive industry will tell you that these values shift and change with the seasons.

No joke.

Performance cars like Camaros tend to be more expensive during the spring and summer months than in the fall and winter.

Secondly, there are different values for these Camaros depending on what generation you’re after.

For instance, when I was a teenager – when I bought my first and second Camaro – you could get a third gen for a song.

Today?

As people my age are snapping them up left and right for their own projects and nostalgia, you’ll be hard pressed to find one regardless of mileage for less than 15 grand on sites like Cargurus.

5. Understand What Your Payments Should Be

Even the fourth generations are starting to show an uptick in price. Considering the current value of the Camaro you’re interested in will help keep you from overpaying.

Because nothing robs the joy of the acquisition of a car you really want more than finding out weeks or months later that you could have gotten the same car (or better) for a cheaper price.

Has this happened to me?

You bet. Doing this kind of research will serve you well whether you’re buying the car cash or making payments.

6. Buy from a Reputable Seller

Buy from a Reputable Seller

I’m going to try not to be overly prescriptive here:

For some people it makes sense to purchase their Camaro from a private seller. For others the transaction is more feasible with a dealer.

But if you want my opinion, you’re better off purchasing from a private seller.

The first Camaro I purchased was from a dealer: It was a V6 Camaro with red and black interior and a muffler that needed to be changed immediately.

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In hindsight there’s no way I should have purchased the car for what I paid for it. It needed immediate work; I hated the color of the interior; and the air conditioning didn’t work.

But I wanted a Camaro. I put a lot of money into it until I could no longer afford to pay to keep it on the road. Six months later I was forced to get rid of it.

The second time around, I did more research and was handsomely rewarded for the effort: Not only did this Camaro come with a V8. But the air conditioning worked.

The couple I purchased it from was selling because their son was off to college, and he didn’t need it. The husband and wife had intimate knowledge of the car. And were able to answer any question I threw at them.

Not only did I buy the Camaro for less than I did at the dealership. But the man helped me change a part he knew needed to be changed a few weeks later when I could afford the part for free!

7. Don’t Be Afraid to Shop Around

Winding up with that first Camaro that cost me more than it should have was no one’s fault but my own – idiot tax.

The dealership saw a naive kid with more money than common sense and took advantage of him – happens all the time.

For the second Camaro I purchased I set my budget and gave myself time to look around. When I wasn’t seeing what I wanted in my area, I broadened my scope.

I had to drive further away to pick up my second Camaro. But the drive home was sweeter knowing that I got more than what I was bargaining for in a good way this time.

This is good advice whether you’re buying from an individual seller or from a dealership – take time to shop around.

Whether you’re buying cash or financing. You owe it to yourself to shop around for the best deals.

The truth is there are great deals to be had all over the place. You just have to be willing to shop around. Never feel like you have to buy something which is the mistake I made with the first Camaro.

8. Get a Feel for the Car You Want (Try Out Different Option)

Get a Feel for the Car You Want (Try Out Different Option)

So, you already know that you should have an idea of the kind of Camaro you’re looking for, which will coincide with how you plan to use it.

This next piece of advice goes along with that, though it’s perhaps more useful if you’re purchasing a late model used Camaro than one from an earlier generation.

This is your dream car – I would hope – so I say try out different options.

For instance, maybe you thought you wanted a 2SS which comes with leather interior. But after trying out the 1SS with cloth interior, you actually prefer it more.

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It’s the same with me: maybe I think I want a late model Camaro with a manual transmission. But after test driving an example with an automatic, maybe I’ll change my mind.

It’s like food: The fact is you don’t really know what you like unless you’ve given yourself the chance to experience it. Give yourself the opportunity to try out different models before you settle on a model.

9. Beware of Common Issues for Your Year

No car on the planet is perfect.

It doesn’t matter if its used or new. Foreign or domestic. Sports car or commuter. A car, truck or SUV. Every vehicle like every man, woman and child has issues.

So, the real problem is what issues are you willing to deal with? And which issues are you not so accommodating about?

Some of the early V6 fifth gen Camaros from 2010-2015, for instance had timing chains that stretch and need to be replaced (this was common to V6 GM engines of the time).

The active lifters in some 2010 to 2011 V8 SS Camaros with 6.2-liter engines collapse causing a ticking noise; rough idle; hesitation under acceleration; and overall poor engine performance.

Likewise, common issues with sixth gen Camaros from 2016-2023 include chips in the paint caused by GMs application of thin paint.

These cars also tend to eat spark plugs. You’ll likely want to get them changed every 40,000 miles. Engine mounts are another thing to watch out for in the latest Camaros.

10. Check the Carfax

I can’t stress this one enough – check the Carfax. It will tell you a lot about a Camaro before you go through the trouble of going to check it out physically.

The Carfax my wife and I got for our Ford Fiesta told us about all the maintenance, accidents and events the car experienced, which made us confident about purchasing it.

A Carfax also gives you some idea about the Camaros value.

Once you’ve decided on a Camaro based on Carfax information, now it’s time to see it in person. Start with your own inspection. Then I would follow up with a PPI (pre-purchase inspection).

There’s nothing like having a third party with professional knowledge about these cars give your prospective choice an objective once over.

I’ve done PPIs several times before pulling the trigger on a car. For example, mechanics were able to catch things I didn’t notice on a Panama Green 1996 Mitsubishi 3000GT I was very intent on buying – I decided against purchasing the car after their report. Saved a lot of money.

In my opinion, a Carfax and PPI are invaluable to any used car purchase.