My 1984 Escort died at 70,000 miles. Escorts used to only last a little longer than that if I remember correctly. I was told when I bought my 1997 Escort that it would last until about 120,000 miles then it probably would start to die (so to speak). I would plan on getting a new car at about that mileage whether it’s 2003 or 2004. Make sure that you have enough savings to get one before that mileage hits your vehicle. You should always be prepared for the car to die. I think this salesman was referring to the engine mostly but I can’t really remember other than him saying the car wouldn’t last much past 120,000 miles.
I do agree though that you should get a vehicle with low mileage like your second vehicle rather than buy new. If the market in your area shows proper depreciation. The 1984 Escort was almost new (8,000 miles) but it was cheaper than brand new. My current car was new. I would get a 2-3 year old car now if I had to buy another car. Prices are better where I live now. I only have 35,000 miles on it and plan to keep it a while. I got the new one because my other car had died and the car dealers in my area wanted way too much for a used one with a lot of miles. I went to several new dealers and at the time paid $12,000.00 instead of about 1/2 less for a used car with a lot of miles. At that time it was a better deal (no maintenance for 3 years) for me but now it should be better getting a 2-3 year old model. Compare price, mileage and whatever before making a final decision.