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Reliable used cars?

I’d love some advice on reliable used cars. I am driving a 92 Saturn that has been a trooper. It’s not pretty or fancy, but it has been reliable.I need somethng that gets okay milage and I can’t spend more than 10K. Suggestions?

Used Corolla, Civic or pre 2002 Chevy prism. This assumes the cars as well maintained and driven well. That can be a MORE important factor than the make you buy when shopping used and less than $10k. All things being equal, I feel safe recommending Toyota/Honda products. They cost more, but you get what you pay for.

If you have been happy with a Saturn, a low mileage used Hyundai Elantra will be great. It’s an outstanding value for money, since the public has not caught on yet that these are good cars.

A friend of mine bought one (a 2002) 4 years ago and it has been completely trouble free.

Just get one that has had proper maintenance and has not been beat to death. With a used car, the current condition is far far more important than the make or model when it comes to reliability.

Pretty much any Japanese car – Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Mazda, Subaru (only if you really need AWD) and the higher end – Lexus, Infinity and Acura. Hyundai has come a long way over the past five years. $10,000 buys a 2006 - 2008 very nice, one owner, low mileage (<30k) Hyundai Sonata – probably the best deal in a used car.


Two Tone, Did You Happen To Notice That MPLS Drives A Domestic Badged Car That Has Been A Reliable “Trooper”?

Your list looks like all Japanese names. I’d recommend sticking with Domestic brand names. I’d recommend one, but more information is needed. We need to know how it will be used, how many people it should hold, small, medium, large, 2-door, 4-door, wagon, expected MPG, etcetera.


OP implies that he would be happy with a car similar to his Saturn, which is a compact model. Since he got great service out ofhis Saturn, he would probably also be reasonably happy with a Chevy Cobalt or Pontiac G5, although I would not recommend either one as good value for money.

A 2006 Cobalt LT would cost about as much as a 2004 Civic LX. According to Edmunds, the cost for repairs and maintenance over 5 years on these two cars is similar: $7775 for the Cobalt and $8253 for the Civic. A 2006 Civic LX would cost about $3000 more than the 2006 Cobalt, and would have 10% lower maintenance and repair cost ($7000). I know you don’t like this resource, but it seems to me it’s a reasonable estimate.

Based on these numbers, the Cobalt costs less than the 2006 Civic and would have around 25,000 miles less than a 2004 Civic. It seems like a reasonable alternative to me if the OP likes the car.

For the first 100,000 miles there would be very little difference, I agree. The basic difference is the next 200,000 miles, which the Cobalt likely will never see, but a Civic can easily achieve in a cost-effective manner.

My mother-in-law has a Pontiac Sunbird (like a Cavalier), and it has served her well since she does not drive a lot and got a good price on it.

Like most cars, I think that proper maintenance is more important than inherent design problems. In any case, Cobalt hasn’t been around long enough to have many cars over 100,000 miles; the first model year was 2005. I suppose that your guess might be correct concerning longevity. I guess we’ll see over the next 5 to 10 years.

The most VALUE and reliability for your money, a Crown Vic. Absolutely the lowest cost per mile to own and operate. Avoid the ones with air-ride rear suspension.

Agree about the reliable and cheap to fix part. I don’t agree with gas at $4/gallon that it’s an economical car to drive.

The Cobalt is an improvement over the Cavalier, but still not one of GM’s brighter lights. The main difference is that the CIVIC and COROLLA are a business and family workhorse all over the world, while GM looks upon the Cobalt as a kid’s or senior’s car.

“The main difference is that the CIVIC and COROLLA are a business and family workhorse all over the world, while GM looks upon the Cobalt as a kid’s or senior’s car.”

Isn’t that a comment on our society and not necessarily the auto manufacturer? I certainly look at our Cobalt as the kid’s car. It seems to me that GM would be perfectly happy to sell the car to you or me as a commuter car or for any other reason. And they offer it as a very well optioned ride if you are willing to get the LT2. Since buying the Cobalt LT1, I’ve found it to be a lot better car than I expected. I would use it as a commuter car, except that I like my Accord EX V6 more. Even Honda recognizes American society’s interest in larger cars. Look at how the Civic and Accord have grown over the years. The Accord is considered a full size sedan or coupe now; not the midsize it was for many years. The Civic is at least as large as an early 1990s Accord. That’s society talking, not the automaker.

Consumer Reports does an entire edition about thisi very subject annually. You can get one at the local bookstore. It compares vehicles, has reliability data, prices, etc.

If you can work with a coupe, a brand new 2009 Hyundai Accent goes for $9,970. Haggle on the price a little and maybe you can walk out the door with change in your pocket. You can even upgrade to a better one, assuming that you have a thousand or 2 set aside in your budget for unforeseen repairs.

I’ve had excellent luck with the Ford Taurus. I’m on my third now – got it for $600 on Ebay, with 94K on it. It’s just about to turn 160k. Had to replace the fuel pump at one point, and more recently, had to go for new brake drums & exhaust system. Other than that, it’s just been absolutely reliable, as were my previous 2, both of which went well over 200k. They’re cheap, ubiquitous, easy to find parts for in junk yards, and don’t demand the high resale prices of foreign cars.

Agree, jt; GM found that in Canada, people spend less on cars, and the Cavalier was the best selling vehicle until the Civic took over. GM offered it with all the goodies that larger cars had.

Wherever I travel, I see Civics and Corollas endure incredible punishment as taxis, fleet cars, etc., under brutal driving conditions. That feedback is invaluable to the manufacturer, and it makes those two cars what they are.

As a result, GM does not expect a Cobalt to accumulate 350,000 miles and the engineering will be applied accordingly. Again, my mother-in-law does not care if her Sunbird will go 300,000 miles, since she only has 45,000 on it right now, just past her 92nd birthday!

Personally, if I was made to chose between an Accord and a Cobalt, I’d take the Cobalt, since I don’t need a car the size of a Camry or Accord. I would also make it last 300,000 miles with tender loving care!