Used cars to avoid

Over time there are posts with replies as these transmissions are notoriously bad, this engine is prone to sludge, head gaskets are a common failure point etc. I have looked for a site but can’t find one that describes problems by manufacturer and vintage. CR does not really go into enough detail as the type of problem to decide if it is a vehicle I would want to deal with as far as would I be willing to tackle that repair, or preventative maintenance.

I need a car in June for daughter returning from college. I was looking at a honda for a reasonable price that had had a lot of work done, for occasional overheat, but still had an intermittent overheat issue. I have not decided to move forward on the car yet, and will find out how overheated, and get a compression test etc. If you have a great 2k car between Milwaukee and Chicago let me know. It is a 93 honda prelude, 135k, 1 owner special.

Hoping thermostat, or fan.

I have replaced the radiator and I would say 90% of the coolant hoses as well and still it has an issue. This issue is not consistent sometimes it will overheat others it will not

It is not the specific transmission or other problems, but rather it is the result of poor maintenance.  Sorry but this is going to be difficult to determine if the car has had proper maintenance or not.  While the specific weak points may vary from one make to another, they all have problems. looking at a used car?.  There is just no way of knowing what kind of maintenance it has had.

check for information on reliability. There is no data for the Prelude, but they do provide some data back that far. For instance, the Accord has data back to 1991.

CR goes into better researched detail than you’ll ever get on a subjective forum. How much detail do you expect in a survey ? It’s the luck of the draw when you buy used as ANY car can experience failure in any area. All you can expect is tendency and CR does a much fairer job than any publication I can think of.

I Have Been A Loyal CU (CR) Subscriber For Many Decades (five years at a time), But With All Due Respect, The Only Thing That Their “Used cars to avoid” Lists Have Done Is To Create Lots Of Fantastic Used Cars At Bargain Prices.

The best cars I’ve ever owned, that have needed almost nothing in 2 or 3 hundred-thousand miles of reliable, economical service (with far less maintenance than most people are accustomed to), have been on their hit list. I might add, with pride, that they have all been American badged cars (big 3), headquartered right in the good old U.S.A. and with American names.

Thanks CR for keeping the prices down and enticing people to buy little Asian cars.

America, What a Country !


The problem with CR is that they do no research on automobiles. Their opinion is based on responses they get from polling people who are subscribers.
With any response there is going to be a lot of room for interpretation.

Look at various comments bashing the Chrysler 2.7 as being prone to oil sludging and then compare that with the post from a few days ago where someone is bringing up the oil sludge issue on their 2.7 and all the while (in their words) referring to the vehicle as high mileage, has been poorly maintained, 2000 miles over the oil change interval, etc.
The person who posted that even referred to the engine as being notoriously sludge prone.

You do pose a kind of tough question to answer though. The biggest issue is that one seldom ever hears half the story regarding a complaint so many of those complaints should be taken with a grain, or many grains, of salt.

I will say it again, CR needs to seperate the “my CD player skips” type complaints from the “I use a quart every 500 miles” type. I seem to remember it is just "how many times did your car need repaired during the last (blank) time period. With no distinction in the seriouness of the issue.

I just thought,perhaps a skipping CD is a serious issue to some. I once forgot to order a radio for a customer and the Service writer did not check with me before he told her to “come on down”. In the middle of the shouting match I replied “it is not like I left a tire loose is it”? They sent me home after that.

My doctor wanted me to go look at a car he wanted to buy, I asked what kind of car and it was and he replied it was “a late 70’s Mercedes”, lost a lot of respect for that mans judgement over that one. My point is one should surely avoid old German luxury cars, they cost a fortune to keep up. All bets are off if it is a 911 though, spend away on those, they are great cars to drive.

No one says that CR is infallible. But who better to tell you the history of car makes over time than owners. Certainly not the publications with adds for the cars they “test” strewn all over their pages. If there were a national poll of all the independent mechanics, maybe that would be more influential to some. One one has done it.
At least we are finally admitting we’re referring to American cars as those headquartered in the US and have American sounding names from the “big three” and not necessarily built here. Or is that the big 2.5 with Renault half owner.
Yes, CR does separate the “my CD skips issues” from transmission and obviously weighs it differently.

Unless there has been a very recent change, CR does indeed break down failures by category, and I do not believe CD player is in the same category as engine burns oil. Have you actually read the April issue of CR?

Too much on my plate at the moment to add CR.

The reliability data presented at and (NOT to be confused with CR) is based on reports from mechanics, not owners. They also report costs for the common problems as well…

As for the “2.5” comments - it is Fiat that is part (25%) owner of Chrysler, not Renault. And while they aren’t necessarily built here, they are FAR more likely to be built here than any “import” brand… and GM and Ford still both build more vehicles in the US than they sell in the US…

Personally, I could care less where the companies are headquartered… but I believe that if they get x% of their business in the US, they should have x% of their employees in the US. GM, Chrysler, and Ford all meet this… none of the other companies come close.

Ooops, sorry for the Renault/Fiat faux pas . A dope slap is in order.
I read that GM is now the largest seller of autos in China. Of course they are probably made there. But, at least we’ll have Chevy logos on more cars over there than Kias.

Watch out for old complex technologies that are no longer used.
Caddies, Lincolns, Mercedes, Beemers etc that, in their time, had state of the art, high tech, or unique gadgetry will now be a veritable money pit of obsolescence.

Again, the problem with CR is that many times the complete story is never told.
Guy buys a new VW and at 17k miles the engine is trashed due to no oil and dangling connecting rods.

After weeks of cursing at us, VWOA, and VWs in general by this guy he finally admitted that he had the oil changed at around the 7k miles mark and the hood had never come up since.
I wonder how he would have responded to a CR poll?

Or the new SAAB owner (a doctor) who complained to no end that the rear hatch leaked water like a sieve ever time it rained. We could not make that rear hatch leak with a water hose or even the pressure washer back in the detail bay. I actually got in the back of that one with a flashlight while someone put the pressure to the hatch seals. Nothing. After 2 months of complaining the good doctor then says, “well, not a big deal. Maybe I’m imagining it”. If CR polled this guy before that 2 months was up wonder what he would have said.

One could also factor in the following. If someone looked at BMWs as being more problematic than a Honda Civic does that mean that BMWs are really worse than Honda Civics, or is it because the BMW is much more high tech, has many more bells and whistles which may be prone to failure as compared to the Honda?

What I would like to see CR do is poll real world techs at the new car dealer level as they are the ones seeing warranty issues and premature, or alleged premature, problems day in and day out.
I’m sure techs will not pull any punches when they state they see this, that, or the other on a regular basis.

So all Toyota owners change their oil and others with worse reliability don’t. That explains everything. It’s all a scam. When you compare a high tech BMW with a civic, you also have to compare a Lexus with the same extra bells and whistles. I think a visit or a conversation with someone who has toured their facilities might be helpful.

OK4450 took a lot of time and thought into the reply, and I think you Dagosa should from your time here appreciate the response as I do.

I agree, but I fail to see the point. I concede that there are many inept attempts to maintain a car that don’t show up in all of their stats, but to skew them all and say they aren’t evenly distributed is to explain away the legitimacy of every one of their published conclusions. The entire history of their reports makes there findings relevant . Ok is finding fault with but a small sample which I could agree but only a small one.
I apologize for over reacting.

yes…you can really get a review of the car by…its of great help!

Carfax is NOT infallible. Just because a carfax report doesn’t show a car had an accident, doesn’t mean that it didn’t. Carfax is only as good as what’s reported to it.