Need a little bit of help when choosing a used car? Check out what mechanics have to say about those they don’t see often and those they see on a regular basis when it comes to repairs and servicing.
Some of the Best
Honda Accord and Civic
I can vouch for the reliability of Honda’s value for money as I have owned three Accords and one Civic over the years, and all they have needed are regular servicing – never had any breakdowns. The mechanics I’ve had work on these have always had good things to say about them including how easy it is to work on them.
Toyota Camry, Corolla, and Prius
As far as ‘Green’ credentials go, the Toyota Prius has had the enviable top spot in the ‘Reliability Score’ category of Consumer Reports over a twelve year period. The Corolla needs no introduction as the best overall since the 1980’s, and the Camry for thirty years of reliable service on the road. These cars will go for hundreds of carefree miles.
Of all the Ford ‘F’ models, the F-150 is the one that shines the brightest. Production started in the 1940’s and it hasn’t let the industry down yet. Note that the popular models on this list are the ones that have been around for years – even decades. Short-lived model runs have a reason – usually that they have a bad reputation with mechanics in regards to repairs and the cost of sourcing parts, especially on rare models.
Some of the Worst
If you’re thinking about regular maintenance costs on top of repairs, then steer clear of any BMW model. These cars command a supreme price in parts and repairs, and on average cost at least $5,000 more than their nearest expensive rivals Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Volkswagen on yearly average to repair. Whenever I’ve visited local mechanics for a service, the cars I most often see sitting with their bonnets up or up on a hoist are BMW’s. While certain models are better than others, on the whole they are a money pit.
While I’ve owned a Fiat and it only required a new battery in that time, the most obvious problem with nearly all of them is the poorly designed passenger airbag that swells and splits the dashboard. Take a look closely at pictures of ones for sale and you should see at least a bump appearing. It’s a fault that didn’t get rectified by Fiat, but apparently “isn’t going to cause any damage” they say – perhaps not until you have an accident in it and it doesn’t deploy properly. As Fiat 500’s are small, they have everything tightly packed under the bonnet that makes working on them difficult – often a case of having to pull something out to get to another part, which takes time and labor costs.
Shaky transmission issues and infotainment problems rate highly amongst the gripes mechanics have with these cars. Just the mention of ‘Auto Electrician’ instantly conjures up high prices. Parent company General Motors haven’t provided a reimbursement program for the faulty systems, so are likely to still be in the used models for sale.
Remember that regular maintenance and careful driving are always key essentials when driving, but also for looking at when purchasing a used car (asking to look at logbooks, checking driver-side pedals and floor mats for uneven wear and tear). Personally, I owned a SAAB for six years and never had a problem with it, and even sold it at a profit. It might pay to have a chat with your local mechanic to get an idea of what he or she recommends and what to steer clear of. Even ask what their spouse drives – they wouldn’t want their beloved one stuck on the highway.