What is a great used first car?

Beetle

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4 people at work have owned them for years (2 bought used) not had any issues with batteries and it's cheap easy (by 3rd party) to get bad cells replaced, you don't replace the whole battery.
Yes my sister did the same thing to keep cost down dealer was a rip off good advice
 

Deacon

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Honda and Toyotas are going to retain their used car value better than the stuff from the USA (and to some degree a lot of other Japanese or Korean brands). Which means an 8 year old 4 door Accord/Camry is going to cost more used than an 8 year old POS Chevy Malibu or Ford Fusion ( I think I got the sizes/models right) even if the cars cost about the same when all 4 were sold new.

With newer models, YES the H or T is worth the premium price. Better durability and generally comparable priced or less inexpensive replacement costs. Often lower labor costs are lower with HorT because the traditional Big 3 don't care about repair costs and their engine compartment designs reflect the same.

One thing in this equation, set a budget and then compare what you can find in your local area rather than seeking a specific brand or model. Maybe your market is heavy Toyota, which might drive down selling prices a bit, so choose what you can find versus falling in love with a specific brand/model. Same thing with model years. Both H/T change their major car designs ever 5 years, so that one year newer model might see a big jump in selling price... or two adjoining years might have just a small difference in which case I am seeking a lower mileage car than not.

At some point, brand and durability claims go out the window. If your budget is $1500, your budget is $1500 and what you can find that somewhat works is far more important than seeking specific brands.

Oh, and paying your local trusted mechanic to look over the car is a good thing. Also listen to their advise about labor costs associated with specific repairs, if it takes 1 hour to replace the alternator on the H/T and 3 hours to do so on the Ford, those kinds of things can eat up your repair budget.


PS: Everybody has a bias. My current car is a Honda Accord. So was the prior car.
I can’t like this whole post enough.

the battery replacement can be expensive
it's cheap easy (by 3rd party) to get bad cells replaced, you don't replace the whole battery.
Definitely a good call for a useful, economical car. Go camping in it, and you can pack it full of gear. Commute in it, and it will sip fuel even with a heavier foot (relative to others). If you can find an otherwise perfect one that just needs a battery replacement, and you don’t mind doing it yourself, you can sometimes find killer deals from people afraid of the cost. Sure, it’s not going to deliver the thrills in the corners, but they’re not bad cars. Most of the anger towards them are at the bad drivers :)
 

Beetle

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Any Japanese car is your friend : but specifically Honda and Toyota in terms of reliability.
Camry is to accord.
As Corolla is to civic.
You can’t go wrong with either.
Mazda 3 or 6 is a good car too.
Drive each.
Make sure you maintain and service them and they will last you a very long time.
“V6 only” is what that was like a few years ago.
These days many 4 cylinders are attached to a Turbo and make the same power as the v6 contenders but with better fuel efficiency .
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Honestly take a look at new Hyundai and Kia. They aren’t built like shit anymore and they have the same tech available and come with good warranties.
Any Japanese car not so sure Mitsubishi made a lot of oil burners not good high mileage cars and tried to save face by offering 10 year warranty on new stuff and Nissan quality has been sliding after Renault take over some models not so good others are excellent and Mazda was low but has steadily improving and getting better ever year.Generalization on corporate home nation
Does not guarantee a good product. But the most consistent high reliability auto makers have been Toyota and Honda . Honda having a tech edge Toyota reliability.
 

Boozehound

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Mazda 3s ride a bit stiffer but not rough at all. For that they handle superbly. The Civic is next and the Corolla last. That's coming from a Corolla owner. Soft ride and quieter but for me it was about good enough handling, the 5 speed manual, and cost of ownership. Nissan and Mitsubishi don't compare. Nor do the domestics. That's coming from a guy with 3 Fords, but none are front-wheel drive or economy oriented.

Also, the last 6 speed manual I drove was a dog. Sixth was useless below 100 and it took a lot of road to get there. The 2.4L Accord Sport 6 speed was snappy without the problems (cost) that turbos bring. Ditto the 3 and the 6 although I'd certainly take the larger 4 cylinder in the 3. Corolla only if cost of ownership is top priority.
 

bluehemi

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Toyota corolla or a regular honda civic, stay away from turbos or used hybrids, expensive to repair
 

Token

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I'm a student and currently do not own a car. I'm looking towards Toyota Camry or a Honda Civic because I've heard that Japanese cars have the best reliability. I'm looking for something that is cheap to maintain (whether that means cheap repairs and more frequent, or one long-term costly repair), quick (I only driven V6's and my friends say that you won't go back), and looks (who does not like flexing their car?).

I don't know if the answers should be separated into categories but I'm open to any thoughts and discussions.
There are probably as many answers (opinions) to this as there are people that will answer.

The "Japanese cars are more reliable" is a hold over from the late 1970's to 1990's, sometimes true today, sometimes not. If you want / prefer Japanese that is fine, but being Japanese does not automatically make it more reliable.

Get something with a manual transmission if possible. Yes, manuals can be a pain in heavy traffic, but the long term maintenance cost is much lower for manuals than automatics. The transmission fluids don't have to be changed as often. When a clutch goes out it is much less expensive than an auto trans rebuild. And manuals can go much further before mechanical problems start to manifest.

Bonus, manuals can be a lot more fun.

Avoid boosted motors if you can. Although today's turbos and superchargers are much better than those of the past, they, and their support hardware / electronics, are still wear items that will eventually fail. I have seen many NA motors run 300+ k miles with only minor or normal maintenance issues, doing that with a turbo is unusual. Since you are probably going to buy used someone else has already worn the goodness out of the boost system, do you want to buy a 90 k mile car that looks and runs fine only to have to replace the turbo at 120 k miles?

Avoid used hybrids. They are complex, can be expensive to repair, and by design will not run as long as a strictly ICE vehicle will. For example, the battery will have a finite life span. A one to three year old hybrid may be fine, a six to ten year old hybrid is just waiting for something to break.

Maker a list of "have to haves", "want to haves", "don't cares", and "I don't wants", features and abilities that you want or do not want. Have to have AC? Put it on the list. Have to have power locks? Put it on the list. This can help you filter cars down to what might work for you.

T!
 
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CobawLT2010

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Mazda 3 or Hyundai Elantra... done...

if you are wanting to go older and know how to tool any pushrod GM v6 just because of their ease to repair and bulletproof design. You would obviously need to check soooo many things if this route was taken though.
 
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snomad

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The Mazda 3 is the most fulfilling to drive economy car you will find. I would look at those. I think every suggestion made so far is pretty solid.
I have to agree. Many of my partners use Mazda 3's as their work cars. Another favorite is VW TDI's. I have two Mazda's, a CX_9 and a Miata. Very happy with both.
 

NorEaster18

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Ford Crown Victoria

There are parts for one in every single junkyard in the country. New parts are super cheap on the internet. Built like a brick sh*t house. You don't even need to keep up basic maintenance for it to run well (although it's highly recommended to not do this). Everything that has ever gone wrong has been fixed and documented on the internet. It's a fantastic car to learn to work on yourself.

It's huge and commands a presence on the road, and would probably fair well if in an accident should that happen.

If a nuclear bomb goes off, you can rest assured that the only things to survive will be cockroaches, Twinkies, and Crown Victorias.

It's the best appliance car ever built.
 

Randy at Radenso

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Honda Fit

Cheap to buy, insanely reliable, all parts are super cheap if anything ever breaks, awesome gas mileage, drives like a go kart, can fit so much in the back with the rear seats that go down, awesome crash test ratings.

The only negative is that it is slow but you can always K swap it and problem solved.. but that is a different discussion haha.
 
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ALS

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Toyota Corolla or Camry with the four cylinder, any transmission. Honda Civic regular automatic or manual transmission, stay away from Honda CVT transmissions, they tend to be weak if driven hard. Honda Accords with six cylinders are having issues with their CVT transmissions due to the increased HP.

As far as the Toyota's six speed automatic transmissions they are built proof. The newer eight speeds Toyota is still having some quarks with them but they are improving. The reliability is fine it just has shifting issues like hunting for the right gear that tends to annoy the driver.

Stay away from high mileage Subaru's especially the six cylinders, head gasket problems once past 100K miles. Heard the four cylinders don't have this problem as much.

Mitsubishi's again stay away from high mileage units they tend to cost money at 100K plus miles.

As others have also said avoid anything with a Turbo or hybrid battery if you're looking for low cost and reliability during ownership.
 

Beetle

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There are probably as many answers (opinions) to this as there are people that will answer.

The "Japanese cars are more reliable" is a hold over from the late 1970's to 1990's, sometimes true today, sometimes not. If you want / prefer Japanese that is fine, but being Japanese does not automatically make it more reliable.

Get something with a manual transmission if possible. Yes, manuals can be a pain in heavy traffic, but the long term maintenance cost is much lower for manuals than automatics. The transmission fluids don't have to be changed as often. When a clutch goes out it is much less expensive than an auto trans rebuild. And manuals can go much further before mechanical problems start to manifest.

Bonus, manuals can be a lot more fun.

Avoid boosted motors if you can. Although today's turbos and superchargers are much better than those of the past, they, and their support hardware / electronics, are still wear items that will eventually fail. I have seen many NA motors run 300+ k miles with only minor or normal maintenance issues, doing that with a turbo is unusual. Since you are probably going to buy used someone else has already worn the goodness out of the boost system, do you want to buy a 90 k mile car that looks and runs fine only to have to replace the turbo at 120 k miles?

Avoid used hybrids. They are complex, can be expensive to repair, and by design will not run as long as a strictly ICE vehicle will. For example, the battery will have a finite life span. A one to three year old hybrid may be fine, a six to ten year old hybrid is just waiting for something to break.

Maker a list of "have to haves", "want to haves", "don't cares", and "I don't wants", features and abilities that you want or do not want. Have to have AC? Put it on the list. Have to have power locks? Put it on the list. This can help you filter cars down to what might work for you.

T!
Excellent advice spot on👍
 

jkz

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Japanese cars are great , but if i had to choose id try my best to go to Toyota
 

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