OT: Used Car Advice

Submitted by MGrether on June 3rd, 2013 at 12:13 PM

So my 2001 Honda Civic's transmission just bit the dust. Cost of repairs is significantly greater then the value of the car. 

Any thoughts of good used vehicle makes & models? Especially anything with more then three seats, as we have two small children, with the strong potential of adding more.


Frito Bandito

June 3rd, 2013 at 12:22 PM ^

If you're looking for good gas mileage a Cruze is a nice option. I buy american because thats just the way i am. like anything a little maintenance goes a long way. the biggest thing is whatever you're looking at buying make sure you take it to a mechanic you trust to look over it.

EZ Bud

June 3rd, 2013 at 12:23 PM ^

Low mileage Certified Pre-Owned BMW 3 series. Check out the 328xi touring for a more family oriented vehicle.

Tough to answer without budget constraints. What do you value in a car, How much do you enjoy driving?


June 3rd, 2013 at 1:33 PM ^

This is true for recent models 2011 on, because the 3 and 5 series redesigns were pretty underwhelming while Audi's own redesign of the A4 and A6 were absolutely stunning. If he's looking at used he's probably gonna end up with a 2010 or older so the BMWs are still as good a pick as the Audis. 

This of course is also just my opinion. My wife convinced me we needed a new car last year so we got a 2012 A6 and I will say it is by far the best car I've ever owned, my only regret is that we didn't step up to the A7. 

Frito Bandito

June 3rd, 2013 at 12:37 PM ^

As a mechanic I would strongly suggest you look away from BMWs and Mercedes. You'll go broke fixing them. We just did a $2400 converter system on a 325i. Early to late 2000 nissans too. Their manifold cats are junk and incredibly expensive to replace.


June 3rd, 2013 at 1:41 PM ^

Care to define "late" on the Nismo's? I have basically scratched anything up until 07 off my list as I have read about a multitude of problems with those years.  

I have been looking at 08 on up Murano's and Maximas and while the CVTs seem to be hit/miss at least Nissan pushed out the warranty to 120k. 


June 3rd, 2013 at 2:49 PM ^

German car ownership is a labor of love. I'm very leary of nice German cars after the mid-90's when they stopped engineering great cars and started engineering how many doo-dads with control modules they could stuff into something. Also, the e30 is the last BMW i truly love for styling so i'll just keep buying those.


EZ Bud

June 3rd, 2013 at 12:54 PM ^

I 100% agree a 3 series would be too small if the OP had a third kid. I advised a CPO because all major repairs are covered for 6 years or 100,000 miles. I would recommend a CPO for any used car, for that matter. I just can't imagine enjoying an SAV or SUV. Guess I should keep my family small haha


June 3rd, 2013 at 1:10 PM ^

Definitely only get a 3 series if you can get a CPO with an extended warranty. I have a manual transmission, 4 door 335, which is awesome, but has also been in the shop a few times. If it wasn't still under new car warranty I would be out 5K+ at this point. The non turbo cars are more reliable but not as fun. Oh and pay attention to replacement tire costs, it can add a lot to total ownership costs.

EZ Bud

June 3rd, 2013 at 1:48 PM ^

I have a 2006 330i sedan, so I was able to avoid a lot of the HPFP failures that the turbo 335 had. That being said, my CPO saved me a couple grand. I also ditched the run flat tires because of rough ride and replacement cost. I'm at 114,000 and she still runs great. I am now crossing my fingers and knocking on wood.


June 3rd, 2013 at 7:12 PM ^

I haven't had any of the HPFP problems but I have had a waste gate replaced, 2 coils and all 6 injectors replaced under warranty. Still the best car I've ever owned perfect handling and crazy fast. I've had the m performance power kit on and m perforce exhaust since I've had it. Im too worried about reliability to keep it past 100k, but I only have 36K on it now so a ways to go yet. I agree the run flats aren't too comfortable, but are amazingly 'grippy'. Even with traction control always on, I think the last set of rears lasted about 15K.

ND Sux

June 3rd, 2013 at 12:23 PM ^

LOL'd at "...with a strong potential of adding more."  Are you bragging about how strong your swimmers are, or what? 

I work for an automotive supplier so I never buy foreign, but I am amazed at how long my daughter's used Honda Civic has lasted. 


June 3rd, 2013 at 1:27 PM ^

Honda or toyota. Srsly...you will havelots of stuff to carry. Also when you have extra people you wont have to take 2 cars.. They're reliable, big but not as obnoxious as expiditions, etc. Low mileage hondas are best value, reliable, with room so youre not cursing about fitting people or crap in something too small. And you can still park them (unlike those big ass monsters the testosterone driven families drive that are too manly for a van).


June 3rd, 2013 at 12:23 PM ^

How's the rest of the car? If the engine body an interior are good it may be worth a transmission rebuild. Shop around I had a transmission on a Dodge Dakota and Olds Intrigue rebuilt and both were under 1000$. Automatic trans.

It may be worth it in the end to spend the money to keep the ole girl running another 3 years or so instead of incur a new car payment.

If you have worries about other aspects of the car then of shop around.

When our intrigue got destroyed by a rogue wheel/tire missile on the highway I bought a 99 Camry with 200k miles on it.

Everything about it was great. Ran like a dream perfect leather interior. Now it's got 240k miles and we've not had one problem. Paid 2800$ cash out the door from a dealership. My second Camry and ill own more in the future I'm sure.


June 3rd, 2013 at 12:26 PM ^

mileage @ 50+, solid, well-built, reasonable price, run forever and ever.  best mileage years are '01 to '03.   I had an '02 that was high 50's mpg in the summer, 50 in the winter (different fuel).   Sold it with >210K miles on it and it was still running perfectly.  bought an '06 at auction for $5K because it was a bit bigger and was pretty nice with stereo, sun roof, etc.  this one only gets mid-high 40's mpg, but a great riding, solid, quiet car. 


June 3rd, 2013 at 12:49 PM ^

Agreed. The Jetta SportWagen is a good looking car. I've got a 2010 Golf TDI, and while the mileage isn't quite 50+, when it's not freezing outside I get a solid 40 and change around town, high 40s on the highway. I've only had mine a few months, but from everything I've heard, the engine will long outlast the rest of the car if taken care of properly. Doesn't hurt that at the moment diesel is cheaper than gas as well!

Fun to drive, torquey (sp?) even at relatively low RPMs so passing on the highway almost feels too easy, and the JSW has a TON of space. Also, since the diesels are a little rarer in the states, they supposedly hold their value pretty well.

That said, you can't really go wrong with a Camry or a Civic if they have enough space for you.


June 3rd, 2013 at 12:27 PM ^

awfully small for a family of 5. I'd recommend going with a Camry if you like Honda. Although, if you're rolling with 3 kids (all likely in car sets/ boosters) you might need a van or SUV... So many options. The Odyssey is nice, the Pilot might also fit the bill.


June 3rd, 2013 at 12:32 PM ^

Funny, I would've pointed you toward something like a Honda. I've been a GM guy all my life. I like buying American, but mostly because I maintain/repair them myself and parts are (were) cheap. In the future though, I'll be looking in the neighborhood of of a certified used Toyota, Honda or Nissan (or their luxury variants), or maybe a BMW or Mercedes if I can find a crazy good deal. Sad to say it, but with the exceptions of possibly some Cadillacs or Lincolns, I don't think domestic companies are keeping up with the quality of foreign cars anymore. Not only that, but the domestics are becoming much less domestic and the foreigns are less and less foreign.


June 3rd, 2013 at 12:41 PM ^

First, I'll agree that the lines are quite blurred between "Foreign" and "Domestic" at this point. Again, I work for a worldwide auto supplier so I see lots of it firsthand.

That said, when it comes to quality, all I will say is do your research and drive multiple vehicles. Most preconceptions aren't valid anymore. I'd say that the new wave of Ford/GM/Chrysler vehicles are up to par with most of the competition, especially for the price.

I personally drive a German car (when I bought 4 doors and 3 pedal configurations didn't exist elsewhere) and will probably buy another when it's time, but not without doign lots of research and spending time in vehicle. If you're thinking Camry, drive a Mazda 6, Fusion, and Malibu. See what works for you, what you like, and your budget.


June 3rd, 2013 at 1:03 PM ^

Honestly all automakers make decent cars now. Save for the penalty boxes, all cars nowadays are built using the most modern manufacturing processes and controls. They can't afford not to. Gone are the days when assembly line workers would hammer misshapen panels to fit. 

Ford's cars are all basically designed in Europe now (fusion, fiesta, focus, escape, cmax are all originally Ford Europe's designs). So are Chrysler's, they took Fiat's platforms for their cars. GM's making less drastic moves but their mechanicals are as reliable today as they were years ago (car may have rusted to dust but the engine runs smoothly). 

To the OP, I think you should look at some wagons, or even minivans. There was just a user's review on the cmax, basically said it's a fine car but he would've preferred the Passat TDI. http://oppositelock.jalopnik.com/2013-ford-c-max-the-not-jalopnik-review-510999801

As an aside, I would go to VW keeping in mind that their electrical systems are notorious for their undiagnosable errors and some of their suspension components such as control arms and joints are weak. Caveat emptor and so forth.

You really need to be looking at something that will hold your whole potential family. So look at wagons and minivans. 

Shop Smart Sho…

June 3rd, 2013 at 1:24 PM ^

While the building process might be indistinguishable between foreign and domestic, the materials certainly aren't.  You'll still get better materials in a European car than you will in an American.  I say this despite owning a '10 Challenger.  While I wouldn't be able to get equal performance in a Euro car for the money, the interior quality would be much better.  


June 4th, 2013 at 10:46 AM ^

I absolutely love the way they drive and feel, but they are very hard to work on and do have many electrical problems. My family has owned a lot of them, and a lot of us have had to spend a lot of money to keep them running. I have since moved on to Mazda and have not looked back. My Mazda speed 3 has been great with very little user cost. Mazdas are fun and reliable for the most part so recommend taking a look.


June 3rd, 2013 at 12:33 PM ^

2010 Chevy Malibu.. Runs great, good mgh, and Looks nice.. I went with the LTZ because I wanted a V 6, but the base model still isnt bad and got good reviews from Consumers Report.. Best of Luck


June 3rd, 2013 at 12:35 PM ^

I work for an Auto Supplier and my favorite place for vehicle research is Car and Driver. They're Ann Arbor based, but they also have a great buyers' guide: http://buyersguide.caranddriver.com/

For used cars, depending on your budget etc I can make recommendations, but if you're looking for more kids, don't hate on minivans. They may not be sexy, but they're amazingly practical and if you're like 96% of SUV buyers, a minivan will have all the capability you need.