09 Accord v 2012 Sonata Second Car decision

Hey there,

We are sending my kid to college and decided to buy him a car… the top two choices are a 09 Accord with 113k miles, automatic transmission and a 2012 Sonata 109k miles. Both have the 4 cylinder engines… and automatic transmissions.

The honda was a 1 owner vehicle and the hyundai was a two owner vehicle.

All things considered what direction would you lean and why?

Any feedback or insight would be great.

Thanks for your time.

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Your best move is to have each one checked by a local shop to see if there are any problems . That will not prevent problems but will put the odds in your favor.


Avoid the Sonata, it has the trouble prone Theta II engine. There is a warranty extension on the engine block, result of a class action lawsuit but best to avoid that car. I doubt you would be told that after spending $150 on a pre-purchase inspection.

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The engine in this car is not the 2.0 L Theta 2 but the 2.4, 2.4L DGI PZEV engine in it…

Does that make a difference in your opinion?

The 2.4L non-turbo Hyundai engine has a very high failure rate. That said, they do have extended warranties on them now. It almost always suddenly dies, stalling the car. The dealers here are very backed up on engine replacements, with a 2-3 month wait time. If the engine has already been replaced, it might be ok. I would lean towards the Honda.

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Both engines are involved;

"Applicable vehicles with 2.0L Turbo and 2.4L GDI engines may experience the Check
Engine warning lamp illuminated with DTC P1326. Follow the procedure to inspect the vehicle and replace the engine or update the engine ECU software based on the inspection results."

Service bulletin;

HMA TSB (nhtsa.gov)

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How bad was the failure rate out of question…

Check carcomplaints.com

I don’t know which is worse;

I work in the used car business, and see several dead Hyundai/Kia’s a week with this issue. It is very common.

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Thats crazy… What percentage of engines did they have to replace?

Also, do you like nissan’s or another brand you think holds up well. Will be checking out the honda hard obviously.

Get a Toyota :smiley:

If you’re looking in this era, I would be weary of any Nissan with a CVT. They aren’t particularly robust, especially if fluid isn’t changed regularly (with those I’d do every 30k miles). Toyota’s from this era were generally good as long as you avoid the 2AZFE 4 cylinder engines, those were oil burners (inferior piston rings IIRC). My 2009 Focus was totaled in an accident at the end of 2020 and had over 215k on the odometer. Avoid Ford sedans from 2011 on, they were using a really problematic dual clutch automatic transmission. Really, though, with any used car you’re considering, it’s worth spending $100-150 to have a mechanic that you trust make a thorough inspection of the vehicle. It won’t catch everything, but it should catch some major stuff.

A Camry would be a good option.


Would a scion tc be ok…2012

+1, but rather than characterizing Nissan’s CVTs as not “robust”, I think it is much more accurate to say that they are problem-prone and have a high failure rate. Since the OP is interested in buying a 9-10 year old used car, unless he can get hard copies of maintenance records proving that a Nissan had its trans fluid changed every 30k miles, I would recommend staying away from the Nissan in question.

Just like other Toyota products, they are–usually–very reliable and durable. The exception to that “rule” is the Toyota 4-cylinder engine that was used in Rav-4s and Corollas around 2008-2010 (I’m not sure of the exact model years, but I’m sure that some other forum members do know the specific model years.)

In any event, whatever the OP decides to buy, it really needs to be inspected by a competent independent mechanic’s shop prior to purchase. The $100 or so that this will cost could potentially save thousands of dollars in repair costs later on.

I’d definitely go with the Honda, after a good pre-purchase inspection, of course.

One thing to note about the Scion tC… it’s a nice car, but also just a two seater. Admittedly it has a hatchback. But I tend to think a 4 door car is better for college kids. It’s easier to get friends and stuff in and out of than a 2 door coupe.

I’m looking at an 09 accord today. Has side scrape damage. $1500 runs fine

Maybe yes, maybe no…
According to NHTSA:
Many teens are distracted by the addition of passengers in the vehicle. Any distraction is a dangerous distraction. Taking eyes off the road even for five seconds could cost a life.

I have only had two accidents in my life. One was because I was driving too fast for conditions, and the other one was because I was distracted by one of my teenage friends who was sitting in the back seat. Luckily, this happened at low speed, so the only damage was a dented hood and grille on my father’s Plymouth. That same distraction at higher speed could have had more serious consequences.

I think the TC is a great choice for a college kid. Smallish, efficient. Reliable. It’s a hatchback which makes hauling the kid’s stuff to and from the dorm easier. Cheap enough that no one will cry too much when it gets damaged in the student lot. Which it probably will. Good all around choice, but make sure to have whichever one you’re looking at inspected by a pro to rule out any potential problems - even the most reliable car can be killed by a negligent owner.

This may be a better representation of the general feelings on here about the Nissan CVTs:

I agree with @VDCdriver on this one, Scions were made by Toyota and generally reliable and durable.