My husband and I are first time car buyers (we’ve bought cheap cars off classifieds before without doing any research, but this time we’re doing a lot of research because we need something reliable). I’m extremely analytical but also inexperienced, which means I don’t know how much weight certain pros and cons hold. So I’m posting here in the hopes of gaining some perspective.
We impulsively bought a 2014 Fiat 500L without doing a lot of research. We noticed some transmission issues during the test drive, but didn’t think it was the biggest deal. In the following days, those yellow flags became red. There’s 2 recalls related to this issue. Of all the Fiats, this one is the least popular and multiple people in Fiat forums said their tranny failed quickly. One person said the recall remedy didn’t fix the issue (software update). It’s a dry clutch tranny, and I called a transmission mechanic and he said it’s pretty standard to just replace it for 6k instead of repairing it.
Anyway, that’s a dealbreaker for us so we told the dealership we’re returning it for an exchange. They’re being a pain in the butt about it of course.
If anyone here is well versed in the legal and burecratic intricacies of auto sales, I’d like to post about that too (just don’t want to clutter this post).
For an exchange we’re now looking at a 2007 Toyota Yaris or a 1998 Honda Accord. They both have extremely high ratings on Edmunds. I looked up their recalls too on NHTSA. I’m wary and confused because the Fiat doesn’t have any open recalls on Carfax, yet it still has the exact issues described. I find it irritating that Carfax won’t say “xyz recalls were resolved on x date”, instead it just says no recalls. So I feel like the issues could still be there even if Carfax doesn’t mention them. Is this something to be concerned about?
Frontal Air Bag Inflators May Explode/Rupture
Power Window Master Switch may Melt
Driver’s Air Bag may not Deploy
Seat Rail Spring Failure
Seat Belt Retractor Sound Insulator
Load Carrying Capacity/GVWR Modification Labels
Air Bag Inflators May Rupture or Underinflate Bag
FMVSS 108/Aftermarket Combination Lamps/Side Reflectors
Honda/Ignition Switch: If operator doesn’t shift into park before removing key and engage e brake, vehicle could roll.
The Accord has 19 recalls, but 16 of those are just repeats on different dates of the lamp/reflector issue. Why would that happen?
The Yaris recalls sound riskier than the Accord’s, and in consumer complaints it was mostly that the airbags didn’t inflate at all in a crash, and the air bag light kept turning on.
Kind of ironic, we want an older vehicle because they tend to be more reliable, easy to repair, and last longer. Yet the 10 year period for free recall repair is up for them, so we’d have to pay for that. If these issues even exist in the vehicles we’re looking at, how complicated and expensive might it be to repair them? Are independent mechanics able to fix these issues? Would I be able to fix them myself? How risky are these issues in the first place? etc.
Could the Accord have less recalls partially because it’s older?
Recalls aside, what do you guys think about these vehicles in general?
The '98 has more mileage, but might be better built, it’s really a toss up.
My husband is also cautious of the '98 because it’s a Sold As-Is vehicle, so they don’t service it before selling it. Is that something to be concerned about?