Buying a reliable (Used) car



I am a teacher who comutes about 2 hours a day on a major interstate. I need to buy a inexpensive, reliable, great milage car. My Honda needs to have the head gasket replaced. I have been having major repairs every month, over $500.00 per month. I don’t know anything about cars.


Get ahold of either the April 2009 Consumer Reports magazine(annual auto issue) or the 2010 Consumer Reports Buyer’s Guide. These publications list automobiles in different price categories that the subscribers to Consumer Reports consider reliable in diffeent price categories. These publications also warn of vehicles that have been unreliable.

After limiting your categories, go on a search for the reliable models. When you spot a good candidate and the car is comfortable for you to drive, have an independent mechanic check the car for problems. The amount charged is a good invetment to avoid a car that may have potential problems.

Finally, set aside $500 or so for repairs that may crop up.


Thank you.
I looked on line on the Consumer report. I featured the HOnda Civic and Honda Accord for the small car as being reliable. The Family car recommended was Toyota Echo, Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. Are you familiar with any of these types of cars?


I can vouch for Corollas; we have owned two. My wife used to commute similar to yours and the Corollas (manual transmission) suited her needs. The Civic and Accord (and Camry, for that matter) would also suit your needs. I did all the major services (less timing belt and valve lash adjustments) on the Corollas, which made them very economical. Based on CR, you are having far more higher than average issues with the CRV if you are spending $500 per month on maintenance/repair issues.

The Hyundai Elantra is also a good car, and should serve you well.


Civic and Corolla will be good, I’d avoid the Echo, too small for all the hours you’ll put in it.


By a Crown Vic at a police car auction or an e-Bay dealer (search "p71 Crown Victoria) and for $3K-$4K you can buy a 4 or 5 year old highway patrol car with around 100K miles that will run another 100K miles with almost absolute reliability and lowest possible maintenance expense. Safe, Secure. Comfortable. Mileage? They get 22-26 mpg on regular fuel. Not “Great”, but so what?? You are spending $500 a month to keep that Honda on the road. That will move the Vic 3300 miles down the road…

With cars, really, the only thing that matters is cost per mile to operate, period. NOTHING else really matters. The taxpayers paid $35K for those cars…You can have one for 10% of that and enjoy the remaining 50% of it’s life…Cheapest possible cost per mile…


The CRV is a 2001 and I bought it brand new. I have replacd the timing belt, the radiator, part of the exhaust system and now the engine gasket is threatening to go (engine light on). The service department suggested today I get another car. Everyone told me it was a reliable car. So now I need to some good advise. The manual transmission wouldn’t work in this traffic because it can be stop and go interstate traffic. I need to have something that will not break down. The gas prices at $4.00 per gallon were a monthly killer.

I have heard good things about the Camry. Thank you.


Is there a specific year that is better than others? What milage should I be concerned about? Is there some way to see how the car was cared for or taken in for regular maintenance?


Tell us how much you are willing to spend on a car. We can help you find a new or used one. Just remember that if you take out a loan, you will pay a few hundred a month just for the loan. A $10,000 loan for 3 years will cost you $300 per month. If you refer putting it into buying another car instead of repairing the CR-V, great.

Personally, I’d go for a compact car like a Corolla, Civic, Mazda3, Cobalt, or Focus. You can save a lot of money up front in a used car if you buy a decent car that is not too popular. The first 3 on the list are popular and priced accordingly. The last 2 are not as popular, but still have decent, if not market-leading reliability. I’ve bought less popular but serviceable vehicles for years now and never make up the difference between purchase prices compared to Toyotas on my list. This is no knock on Toyotas, just a comment about how expensive they are when bought used.


Thank you. I would be concerned about the maintenance and mpg. It seems that with the Honda I hit a certain milage and everything started falling apart, litterally. Would this happen the the Crown Vic? Thank you and I will look into this, it sounds like a good price. I am concerned about the milage though. When gas reached $4.00 per gallon it was a pretty tight budget.


When do you draw the line and say I just can’t keep paying for these repairs and hoping that finally it is ok? I have had faith in my car but financially this is getting rough.

I haven’t gone looking on the lots for cars yet. I don’t know what to look for and I wanted to get a good idea what would be the best way to make a decision.


Do you mind telling us how many miles that car has on it? Maybe I missed it, but that is unusual unless it has a lot of miles on it. Reminds me of the Datsun I bought in the early 80’s. The odometer said 39,000 miles, but it must have been 239,000 miles the way it broke down.


I have a 2008 Accord EX-L with 4 cylinder. I regularly achieve 33.0 to 33.5 miles per gallon on the highway. Mixed driving (75% highway) is about 29.5 miles per gallon. If you don’t mind some roach noise, which is usual for Hondas, and want to spend in the $17,000 to $19,000 range then a 2008 Accord is a good bet. Also, the 2008 is a new body style and is extremely comfortable. Reliability has been excellent for the 24,000 miles I have owned the car. With the EX-L you get an 270 watt radio system with in-dash 6 CD player. Great Sound! It also has sunroof, leather seats and heated seats. E-mail if you have any questions about my car. Good luck!


Since you don’t know what you’re looking for, now is a good time to go looking. Your car is still running, so that gives you a chance to shop around and test drive a bunch of vehicles. Make sure you have a list of “must haves”, “would likes” and “don’t wants”.

NEVER go to a dealership desperate for that new vehicle. They’re trained to smell this scent coming from car buyers and will take advantage of said person.
NEVER decide on a vehicle based on monthly payments


If low overall cost of ownership is important, I would buy a new Hyundai Accent. This is an excellent car with a good repair record. I rented one last year for 2 weeks and it was great to drive and easy on gas. Besides, they cost less new that a used Honda or Toyota.