'07 Toyota Yaris or '98 Honda Accord: Recalls

Hello All,

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?

YARIS: www.nhtsa.gov/vehicle/2007/TOYOTA/YARIS/4%252520DR/FWD#recalls
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

ACCORD: www.nhtsa.gov/vehicle/1998/HONDA/ACCORD/4%252520DR#recalls
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?

I would not consider a car old enough to drink alcohol if it was a person as daily transportation unless I needed a really cheap car.

Both the Yaris and the Accord are good cars but choose newer not older. If you are concerned whether the recalls have been done, get the VIN from the car and call a dealer, tell them you want to buy a car and ask them if the recalls have been done. Or better yet, pay the dealer to do a prepurchase inspection on the Yaris and check the recalls then. Then you will have both condition of the car and the recall info.

We recommend a prepurchase inspection by your mechanic… not the dealer’s… on any used car you want to buy.


Additionally, rather than the theoretical reliability of those cars, the OP should be much more concerned with how well a 15 year old car or–especially–a 24 year old car has been maintained by their many previous owners. If you hang around this forum for a while, you will see that most expensive repair problems are almost always the result of owners who didn’t maintain their car properly.

Buying a car this old immediately puts the purchaser in the position of having to be prepared for a lot of upcoming repairs, and that means setting-aside a nest egg for those inevitable repairs. But, a pre-purchase inspection by a reliable mechanic can spot some of the big-ticket repair items before a ticking time bomb of a car explodes in the buyer’s wallet.

And, as to…

“As-is” means no warranty of any kind, and it would be very unusual for a dealership to provide a warranty on a used car more than… let’s say… 5 or 6 years old. Since you seem to be focusing on cars that are quite old, you have to realize that all of them will be “as-is” vehicles.


I’d also choose the Yaris, just check that all the recalls have been completed on that particular car. I bet there’s next to no used car out there that hasn’t had one (or several) recalls.


Is a 2014 Fiat not worth more money than a 1998 Accord or a 2007 Yaris? How will this trade / return work exactly?

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I believe the OP has a little confusion about recalls. A car can have very significant problems that result in service bulletins or expensive repairs, but no recall is ever issued.
Also, a line of cars can have a good repair history, but still get a disaster. That is why the independent inspection is necessary. You are buying a specific car, not the “average” car.


@Scrapyard-John yes, the Fiat is 13k, Yaris is 6k, and Accord is 4k.
That is part of the legal/burecratic aspect we’re not sure about. We opted for in house financing on the Fiat. We put me as the primary owner, but they called the next day and said we need to resign paperwork since my husband has a job and I’m unemployed. We haven’t resigned yet.
When we were first looking at cars with them, they said banks won’t finance older cars with us since we’re first timers.
But now we dug our heels in and said we want an older car, so they are looking into it. They said the Yaris is financeable, so I don’t know if that rule with banks can be pushed and they’ll try that.
If they won’t go with that, we’re prepared to pay with a credit card. Not ideal, but we’re backed into a corner since we already made a deal with them. Our down payment and trade ins plus the credit card should cover it. I already checked that the dealership accepts our credit card.
Yep, we’re totally clumsy noobs :upside_down_face:

Also we foolishly went to the wrong dealership. We went to Hundai and my hubby hates Hundais. We went there because they had another Accord and it hadn’t been updated that it was already sold. But we let the salesman lead us by the nose to other cars instead of leaving.

I guess that I don’t get the point here.
If you are buying a used car, how does it matter whether that dealership sells new Hyundais, or Hondas, or Kias, or… whatever brand? Nobody is going to provide a warranty on really old used cars, so any worry about the dealership not being able to provide skilled repairs on the used car that they sold you is just not valid.

As long as you skip the “buy here, pay here” used car lots, it doesn’t really matter which new car dealer you buy a used car from.

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You are not looking at this as you should. If you want bank financing then you should talk to your own bank or credit union . Also the title should be in both of your names ( John XXX and/or Maria XXX ) . Many times in house loans can be better than your own bank because banks just don’t want to loan money on old vehicles .


Should the title be in both our names but not the loan?
He applied with our credit union but they haven’t gotten back to him in a couple weeks. They estimated 4.99%, but the in house was able to do 3.99%.
We’ll follow up with the credit union, hopefully we can work that out beforehand.
So from what I understand, it’s best to get preapproved by your bank/CU so you have more control over the situation, but it’s good to see if a better rate can be acquired in house. Correct?

I think that is pretty much correct, except “in house” financing is usually a higher rate. The bank may not loan money on a vehicle over a certain number of years old, but the bank’s rate is usually lower than the dealership’s rate from what I’ve seen.

“they called the next day and said we need to resign paperwork since my husband has a job and I’m unemployed. We haven’t resigned yet.”

This, to me, sounds like you could return the car, ask for your down payment back, and walk away from this deal if you decided to do so. But I’m not a legal expert.

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We thought about completely unwinding the deal. But since we’re not car or legal experts, we’re in over our heads. And I’ve talked to a lot of car guys about this and they say basically what you said. That it seems like we might be able to completely walk away but they’re not sure. It sounds like murky, risky, drama filled waters to go that route.
We’re basing the risk off the idea that breaking an auto contract could cost up to 4k for us, due to taxes, fees, etc.

Not a full time practice . Since dealers can get a fee for using certain lenders the APR might be better than a persons bank or credit union . I even got 0 % on a new vehicle through the manufactures loan branch.

Really a bad idea , your credit card could have an APR of 20 percent or more.


I’m getting a job soon, so if we go the credit card route I’d put all my income towards it and pay it off before the 0% APR ends.

Again, don’t go paying for a car with a credit card. Very bad idea.

Credit card interest is calculated very differently from fixed rate interest, like on auto loans. Interest accrues even during the 0% promotional period. IF something goes wrong in your life, and you can’t pay off the loan before the promo period ends, you’re going to be in deep financial trouble.

A buddy of mine tried this one, thought he could “outsmart” the local bank. Turns out things didn’t go the way he thought, and instead went the way friends and family tried to warn him against.

Just my two cents.


That’s on a new one, financed through the auto manufacturer (GMAC, Ford credit, etc) though, right? I don’t think it’s the same finance group when you buy an old used one. But I’m not certain. I do know they came at me with over 10% apr a few years ago at a Ford dealer on a used truck. I own my house, zero debt, etc. I was like “where’d that rate come from?” The guy said it was their “standard rate” on used vehicles. I know on new trucks, Ford Credit was offering 0% or 3.5% plus rebates at the time.

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If you want something reliable, I’m afraid I think the cars you’re considering are too old. Also, I personally could never spend $6,000 on a 15-year-old version of an $18,000 car. Finally, you seem to be too focused on recalls, whereas the problems you’ll probably encounter will just be basic parts failures due to age or mileage, especially if all maintenance wasn’t done on schedule.

Regardless, count me in on the opinion that you want to get a pre-purchase inspection by your mechanic.


@lion9car Ok, I see your points.
The thing is, we looked at newer vehicles on their lot and many just didn’t have good ratings and are overburdened with glitchy electronics. So we’re going with the idea that something older will be less complicated and last longer.

I looked into crash safety ratings for the Yaris and it isn’t rated very well. Would that be a factor in your decision?

Would you guys consider keeping the Fiat? It’s totally functional, but the engine revs without proportionate acceleration and is slow to shift, esp in the cold. Someone in a Fiat forum said their tranny completely failed at 4k miles.