Looking for a reliable used car


#1

I know there is no way of knowing which car will be reliable and which car will not but I am hoping for some suggestions for some of the more historically reliable options out there. I only want to spend about 10k and I have been looking at a 2005 Honda civic with about 47k on the odometer. What are your thoughts?


#2

The Civic you are looking at will likely be a good candidate, as long as you can get maintenance records and there is no evidence it has been abused. In other words, don’t buy it if it is being sold by a young person who has installed a body kit, giant spoiler, and/or a “fart can” muffler. Your only caveat would be to make sure you are prepared to replace the timing belt, water pump, and timing belt tensioner within the next year. It will be due based on age, which is just as important as mileage, so don’t put off this necessary bit of maintenance. Timing belt failure on this car will cause thousands of dollars in severe engine damage, a lot more than the $500-800 timing belt job.


#3

Consumer Reports puts out an annual issue covering used car reliability, so that’s one source you can use.


#4

The Civic is generally a reliable car. It is an '05 so maintenance and repairs bills will increase as the car ages. So, don’t expect perfection; but you can expect reliable from a Civic of this model year and miles. I have an '03 Civic, manual transmission, that is very reliable and few repairs to date at 106K miles.

If you get this Civic and it has an automatic transmission get the transmission serviced every 30K miles and assume the previous owner has not had the trans fluid changed unless there is a service receipt stating otherwise. Also, use Honda brand fluids in your Civic. You don’t need to use Honda service dept. but I buy Honda fluids and have my independant mechanic do the work.


#5

I’m with lion9car. Get a copy of Consumer Reports Annual Auto Issue and read the section on used car “Best Bets.”

You will also want to read the “Used Cars To Avoid” section.

The Annual Auto Issue is loaded with useful information for the used car buyer, including a list of reliable used cars separated into price catagories, and reliability information for most makes and models. Good stuff!


#6

Toyota Corolla is another choice and better without the pesky timing belt to change out at 100k miles.

I think 06+ Civic Honda woke up and started using chains.


#7

If the owner only changed the oil once or twice in 47k miles along with ignoring everything else then it’s anybody’s guess.

Reliability is more about how the car was driven and maintained rather than the badge on the back.


#8

I agree this is an important factor but if you had say a Toyota Corolla and a Dodge Neon and both were neglected, the Corolla would be the better option of the two. Anytime you buy a used car you have to have it examined for neglect and take everything into consideration but some cars have a reputation for failure and some have a reputaion for reliability and that is what I am asking about.
I am looking for feedback from people on the experience they have had with their cars and which ones they have gotten the most reliability out of.
For me…I know that I will never buy another VW ever again. I purchased one brand new in 2001 for 17k, took care of it (always had it maintained) and the thing was just terrible. I had nothing but problems with it from 2002 until today. On the other hand, I had a 1987 chevy cavalier, it had 50+k on it when I got it, Paid $800 for it, put another 65k on it and the thing ran great up until the day I donated it. Could they both be flukes? Sure… but I’m not going to take any chances so I plan to stay away from VW’s as long as there are other brands well known for their reliability.


#9

You asked for feedback and that’s what I’m offering and I’m offering it as someone who has seen far more cars than the majority on this forum. It’s offered as a “foreign” car mechanic of many decades who has worked for VW, SAAB, Fiat, Subaru, Honda, and Nissan on the new car level and everything else including the above on the self-employed independent level.

I don’t put much credence into “reputations” for one reason. Reputations are made based on internet whining which may or may not have substance to it, publications such as Consumer Reports which is simply a poll of paid subscribers and limited in scope (along with no followup as to whether a complaint is justified or not), J.D. Power (who got caught taking money to skew stats at one time), and magazines such as Motor Trend and their hokey Car of The Year awards. *

The problem with many is that if a VW suffers a premature problem the attitude will be that it’s “typical of the make”. If the same thing happens with a Honda then the attitude will be that it’s a mutant problem or will be swept under the rug without discussion.
For every VW on the rack that I’ve seen with a premature problem there has always been a Honda, Subaru, etc on the rack next to it awaiting a repair for a premature problem also.

*To illustrate the idiocy of these publications let me point out Motor Trend for a moment.
A couple of years ago MT published an article stating that the (at the time) new Mustangs for 2009 or 2010 were now equipped with LED taillights. According to MT this would save over 10 gallons of gasoline a year during normal 15k miles per year driving. Bxxxxxxx.
I actually emailed MT and they stood behind this bunk. They had no answer to my question about why everyone’s vehicle mileage was not skyrocketing during the daytime when no lights at all were in use.

My daughter has an '05 Mustang and we put some upgraded LED taillights on that car as a dress up feature and her gas mileage did not improve one iota because of it.
This is the kind of published tripe I’m talking about and it makes one wonder how many people are going to read that crap, rush right out and buy a set of 300 dollar LED lamps to improve their fuel economy; and will be convinced beyond all doubt their mileage did improve after doing so.


#10

Look at click and clacks most hated cars list…bec of never seeing them in the shop hate.

My fav is ANYTHING From HONDA baby…96’ and up
Toyotas
Nissans
etc…come in 2nd, but not in quality really…just preference