This Dealership Proudly Selling A 344,591-Mile Honda Accord Junker For $2,200 Shows The Sad State Of Used Cars

Used Car Ad

If you’ve tried to buy a used car anytime in the past year or so, you probably quickly learned how much car buying sucks right now. Some cars are hard to find and so many of them are priced into the stratosphere. Even beaters can’t escape this crazy car buying market. Another example of this can be found in Texas, where a Toyota dealership is selling a worn down 1993 Honda Accord with 344,591 miles. For $2,200.

As often reported, the COVID-19 pandemic created a perfect storm for high car prices. Between chip shortages and demand outstripping new car supplies, dealerships and buyers alike have been storming to used cars. Prices on many used cars have, like many other things in this economy, risen dramatically, leading to some frankly wild headlines and even wilder dealership listings. Look no further than our own reports about the state of the used car market. Just this morning, my colleague Thomas wrote about how Nissan will sell 10-year-old certified pre-owned Altimas. Or perhaps more incredible is the fact that Nissan is apparently willing to give its Certified Select CPO branding to non-Nissans, too.

Not even the very low end of the market is safe from this madness. Cars that may have been $500 in the past can be far more expensive now. Even my favorite kinds of cars, German ones known for dubious reliability, have seemingly spiked in price. And now we have another example of how bad things are. Take a look at this 1993 Honda Accord LX that is actually being sold by a Toyota dealership.

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This comes to us thanks to Zerin Dube on Twitter. The dealership, Vic Vaughan Toyota of Boerne in Boerne, Texas (the dealership pronounces that like “Bernie”) actually had this car listed on its website. The listing has been taken down, but I called the dealership to confirm. I spoke to Aaron, the dealership’s Used Car Manager, and while Aaron wasn’t sure if the car was still for sale, he confirmed to me that the listing was real and the dealership was indeed selling this car.

Our conversation was short, but I asked Aaron a few questions about the car and the dealership’s used vehicle sales. He wasn’t sure where the car came from or anything about its story. However, Aaron tells me that the dealership sometimes gets cars like these to sell to buyers that need some cheap transportation. I asked how the dealership determines what cheap cars to sell, and he told me that the dealership will sell any car that can pass Texas inspection. Sure enough, the Honda is good until December.

Finally, I was also able to ask Aaron about how these types of cars are selling nowadays versus before the market went crazy. And he told me that he believes that they’re selling more super inexpensive cars like this Honda today than the dealership did in the before times.

So, how far does your $2,200 go with this Honda?

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This is a fourth-generation Honda Accord. The fourth-generation of Honda’s family hauler sedan brought the vehicle into the mid-size. Its design is more evolution than revolution over its predecessor. The rad 1980s-style pop-up headlights were gone, as was the hatchback. SAE International notes that Honda did more than just eliminate pop-up headlamps, as it engineered headlights that had totally clear lenses to improve lighting efficiency.

Also new is an all-aluminum 2.2-liter inline four. In an LX like our car here, it’s making 125 HP. That’s not a ton of power, but at least it gets to the front wheels through a five-speed manual. Honda’s cars from this era were known for their good engineering and it shows.

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Ok, well, maybe not in this car. It has 344,591 miles on its odometer and has the scars to show for it. The hood started losing its paint long ago. Its bumper has lost pieces here and there. And there’s what appears to be a rubber seal on the ground. It’s unclear if that seal belongs to this car, but it helps make for a perfect visual of a hard-working Honda.

The left side hasn’t fared much better, with the bodywork wearing the dents and crinkles of some past mishap. The rear of the car looks cleaner, where the worst damage is a crinkle and some rust under the left taillight. And by clean, I definitely mean damage. The dealership didn’t bother washing it before snapping photos.

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Considering the rest of the car, the right side is surprisingly clean. If this were a Facebook Marketplace listing, this is the side that would be the first picture.

We’re not given interior photos of the car, but from the outside it appears that the headliner is intact. This car probably got many different people to all kinds of places over its nearly three decades on this planet. If it could talk, it probably has so many stories to tell. And I bet that despite the looks, it probably still runs well.

Still, three years ago, this car would have probably been less than $1,000. But this is the reality that we’re in now.ย [Editor’s Note: I’m all for dealers selling old high-mileage cars. It’s just wild to see a car this crappy framed like it is in the top photo, with the dealership shown proudly in the background. You’d think this car would typically be relegated to the back lot, and sold to the mechanic’s 16 year-old nephew. -DT]. Recent data suggests that the used market may be beginning to cool down. Hopefully it does, and we can go back to lovingly enjoying these cheap cars on the cheap.

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72 Responses

  1. That makes me so sad! We sold my dad’s 91 Accord EX in pretty good condition for $500 a few years after he passed away because no one but me liked driving a manual and I live overseas, it was just sitting 10 months of the year. That car did have a bit of rust around the fenders but mechanically super solid and just around 100,000 miles at that time. I leaned how to drive with that car when we lived in Taiwan and then god a bit better at shifting when we moved to Beijing. After 8 years outside the US it was shipped back to the states when my dad left the state department. That car had stickers and maps for parts of China on it and I wish I had kept it for Radwood, it had a lot of stories to tell.

  2. Having worked with several of the inventory & website programs, this type of thing is one of the more entertaining aspects. This was probably a sincere ad because the body is still together and it does probably run fine, but many many dealers have cars like this slip through without even realizing.

    Often my favorites were dealers in northern states like PA and MI pushing cars with extensive, visible rust and/or damage, yet with the similar generated dealer background. Sometimes even listed as mechanic’s special! This Accord is pretty tame as it still has matching OEM wheel covers and all body panels are the same color.

    Sometimes, the cars end up on the site because the dealer’s systems automatically push them through before they can change them to wholesale status. Lot guys or inventory managers will sometimes take a couple quick pics for internal use and those might slip onto the site (might be part of the appraisal process too). Even for trades they are keeping, they’ll have these pics up before they prep them for the lot – not unusual for the old owner’s things still inside, all the takeout containers and car seats and air fresheners and more.

    Usually they’re all paired with an automatically generated vehicle description too, one of my all-time favorites was some rusty early 00s Dodge – “ONE CLEAN DODGE! WILL NOT LAST!” …sort of truth in advertising?

    1. Interesting. Where I work, using Auto/Mate and DEP, I think things default to our wholesale lot first. I get asked about shooting a car (I’m the photographer and only my photos will make it to the site, nothing that service takes will be public-facing) and I go, “Uh, it’s not on my list,” then lo-and-behold it’s marked to the wrong category.

      Though now that I think about it, I suppose the reverse does happen. And I say, “Are we really going to sell a 2009 Elantra with 97,000 miles?” and I get told, “Oops, that’s getting wholesaled, gotta move it over,” or, “It’s under 100k, innit?” (Though I wouldn’t take more than a single “New Arrival, Excuse My Appearance, More Photos Coming Soon” shot of a car in the Accord’s condition.)

      So I guess, since I only deal with the DEP side, I have no idea how Auto/Mate works and defaults, all I know is I need to talk to someone with access to change the status there so it pushes to the DEP site correctly ๐Ÿ˜›

      1. Yeah, sounds like fewer points of failure in the process there. I think a lot of dealers just don’t think about how things are set up until they notice an issue, then it’s everyone else’s fault, even if it’s how it’s always been.

        Heck sometimes it could just be the photographer getting paid per car or ‘% of inventory with photos’, so yes that rusty Ford Five Hundred is getting a full complement of photos.

    2. It never occured to me that the dealer website would be so automated. Seems like it would be as simple as a checkbox in a particular car’s dataset to enable/disable inclusion on the website and avoid things like that.

      1. They do try to build a number of those backups in. Merchandising their inventory is one of those things dealers often don’t want to invest of time or energy in (and some dealers are so large with such big inventories that it is a bit of a endless chase), so if they don’t have some in-house on it, there’s several companies that handle it for them. Some programs will automatically tie the photos of a car to the VIN as soon as they’re taken, and then the site and their other listing sites (Autotrader etc) get those pics in regular feed intervals. Those auto-uploads have resulted in some interesting background scenery like ‘offensive’ song lyrics on the radio screens or a dealer employee posing with the car flipping the cameraman the bird.

        Part of the issue is that there’s so many different programs that ‘talk’ to one another but not always very well. Which is a little surprising since now so many of these companies are owned by a single large company, but little seems to be done to tie them together better.

        Some dealers want to show the wholesale pieces to beef up their inventory and at least try to get a lead on a car, like someone just looking for a cash car for example.

  3. These Accords were wonderful when new, and they had a chasis that would outclass most modern cars, but at least in Toronto, they aged poorly. By the ten year mark they would need many broken or worn parts replaced, if the whole car wasn’t already condemned by rust.
    Rust was a serious issue on most 90s Japanese cars, but these Accords seemed to need a lot more repair than an equivalent Toyota.
    Any modern Honda or Toyota is a thousand times more reliable and cheaper to run.

    1. I’m surprised they didn’t at least try to clean it up a bit. If the dealer has a body shop they could have spent a few hours pulling the major dents and shooting a coat of paint on it to help justify the $2K price tag.

  4. Most dealers have a few beaters on the lot for just the reason the Boerne dealer said, sometimes people need a cheap ride. What usually happens is they get a reasonably mechanically sound car in trade and put it on the lot until the next auction comes around.

    Of course, I doubt many are going to auction with the demand for used cars these days.

  5. This article kind of shows the laziness in today’s journalists. The pics CLEARLY show that the word “wholesale” on the window. A lot of inventory management systems automatically push out any vehicle they enter into their CRM out automatically. Some dealers take pics of EVERY trade for wholesale purposes. Chances are they “showed” the customer $2000 for the trade, put the $2000 in as the trade price, while ACVing the car at $1. The program automatically update the sales websites with any newly landed vehicle they take in regardless of whether they actually plan on selling it to the public or not. This is by design from the CRM companies. They market based off of traffic. They realize cheap cars, whether they sell or not, whether they are nice or not, will bring in the most “clicks”. Chances are if someone calls to try to buy this car, they will say “sorry it’s not for retail” because most dealers don’t want to deal with the hassle involved with selling these cheap junks retail.

    1. You have some interesting info that escaped not only the author and (I guess) everyone else reading this, but even the guy working on the dealership. And this is a website that welcomes reader participation, so you are on the right place to share it.
      That being said, did you REALLY needed to open it with a totally gratuitous attack to the author? Please, feel free not to tell me, since it looks like you dispense a side order of kick to the face with every answer ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. Clearly, this comment shows laziness in today’s commenters. The insight into how the CRM works is helpful and there’s some truth to that, but Mercedes called the dealership and was hung up on multiple times until she got someone on the phone to confirm they would sell the car. Maybe read the article next time?

  6. Pro Tip: Skip the big dealerships, and either buy private party, or from a small hole in the wall dealership. I bought a 2011 Chevy HHR LT1 with 105k miles on it back in December of last year for $2500 in Denver. It was super clean, had only a few minor hail dents and a spot where the prior owner’s wife had run into something and crinkled the passenger fender just above the headlight (he’d clearly replaced the hood with a salvage one as it had a pinstripe and the rest of the car did not) and was mechanically sound. I used it for my courier driving and put 44k on it in 7 months with only being stranded twice, once because the original ACDelco battery finally gave up the ghost, the other time because I was a dumbass and ran it out of fuel; sadly, got totaled in July at 149k miles. Insurance gave me $5390 for it after my deductible. Ended up in an ’11 Jetta Sportwagen 2.5 S with a stick, which unfortunately has a decent amount of rust, but is otherwise solid, for $3500 out here in Ohio. Needs new brakes, and cosmetically is a bit sad on the lower panels, but it was a one owner that was meticulously dealer serviced until the rust made it fail inspection in NY, and otherwise is a solid spacious car that gets low 30’s on the highway. I’ll eventually grind off the worst rust, paint the rockers in spray on bedliner, and drive it until it dies.

    There’s definitely people out there that think their shitty beat up car is worth X amount over book value BeCaUsE tHe MaRkEt, but there’s just as many people out there who either don’t care or are oblivious to the elevated car prices. In particular, one can still find HHR’s, 3rd Gen Escapes/Mariners/Tributes with the 4 cylinder, and 2nd gen Sportage/Tuscons (which are from the pre Theta era and are actually quite reliable workhorses) with under 150k miles for under 5k in tolerable condition. One can also find facelift (2005-07) first gen Focus’s (which had the better upgraded Zetec motor) with relatively low miles in the 3-5k range, and they are durable, efficient and have all power and basic safety features. Interestingly, the short lived Elantra Touring wagon from 2008-2012 with the pre Theta 1.8 engine is also quite affordable, with many specimens under 150k going in the 4-6k range all day long. And of course, mid to late 00’s GM sedans like the Bonneville, Grand Prix, LaCrosse, Lucerne and the Panther platform vehicles can be had from elderly owners with 80-140k miles in that sub 6k pricepoint all day long.

    All of these are still new enough to get Credit Union financing if you don’t have cash on hand (CU’s will finance cars up to 15 years old) and have a sub $225 payment even with the increased interest rates and are all cheap to insure.

    If you’re willing to go with something a bit more unconventional in the used market, there’s still deals to be had. You just have to think outside the box and be ready to pounce on a good specimen quickly.

  7. This brings back memories of looking for my first car when I was in college. I looked at a darn-near identical car with 100k on it that was described in the ad as “like new”. Upon first inspection, I see dents, paint peeling, cheap mismatched tires, and a ratty interior. I only drove it because my dad and I had come a long way to look at it. I get moving, and none of the gauges work, either. What a joke. Still, that car was orders of magnitude nicer than this one and the same price almost 20 years ago! I settled on a very clean ’95 Saturn SL2 for less money, BTW. What a sorry state of affairs!

  8. Hah, you guys are reading this wrong. What is for sale is not a beat down car, but actually an INVINCIBLE one!
    Think about it, this car has zero fucks to give! You could drive anywhere without a care in the world about dents, dings, scratches and whatnot. You could park between any two monstrosities, because what could they possibly do to your car that hasn’t happened already?
    You can cheat on your spouse, be a dick to family, friends and colleagues alike, and good luck to them in finding a spot where even the most offensive scratch could be noticed.
    Also, who in their right mind will let their pampered SUV or CUV get even near this thing? No matter where you go, newer, more “respectable” cars will surely get away from you. This means right of way ALWAYS, ANYWHERE!
    $2,000 is a bargain!
    /s
    But seriously, where I live used cars were always expensive. $500 never amounted to anything other than tyres and a full tank of gas. I guess this is why prices haven’t gotten any worse after 2020.

    1. This is exactly why my Rav4 soldiers on. Using it daily is a completely anxiety-free experience.
      Even better, a vehicle in this situation is basically untouchable. I can park it millimeters from anything and nothing will touch, damage or ding it. One time I caught a lady slamming the edge of her door into mine. It didn’t leave a mark.
      My van on the other hand, which cost me decent money to buy, has been driven into twice on the same side while parked, requiring multiple claims and trips to the body shop. It doesn’t matter how hard you try to protect it or how far away you park, it gets a new mysterious ding, dent or scratch every few months.

  9. When I first moved to PHL I worked at a SE PA dealership that had a “value lot” and there was shit like this there quite often. They would have a once a year big sale and bring in at least one even bigger POS that would be on sale for under $1k just to lure folks in and the vehicle always sold, no matter how craptastic it was. I remember the one year it was a Mitsubishi Galant with the side mirrors held on with wood screws. One exterior door handle was missing, the seats were covered with duct tape, headliner was hanging. The owner of the dealership was quite an old fashioned racist ass too. He’d be inside and say something like, “its getting quite colorful out there, better hide the knickknacks.”

  10. Yep used market is stupid, just traded a 15 base 2.0 Jetta with a 5-speed for 10k (only added features were the mud mats and heater mirrors), and they turned around and sold it for more than I paid for it in 2015, that dealer has now sold that car 3 times lol.

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