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Old 11-27-2009, 04:55 PM   #1
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Purchasing a new fuel efficent car.

Hi all, ever since my 01 chevy malibu started getting 200 miles to the tank for unknown reasons, I am now in the market for a very fuel efficent long lasting car. I'm looking at cars from 2001-2008 with a $7500+/- price range. I would like to get over 30mpg highway. From what I have been told, honda is the most reliable and most fuel efficent. I drive over 50 miles a day, the miles add up.

I have been looking at the later Chevy cobalts, because of the nice price tags.

Any suggestions?

Thanks!

-Dan
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Old 11-27-2009, 07:17 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by kracka View Post
I have been looking at the later Chevy cobalts[...]Any suggestions?
Um... Don't do that?

Seriously though, brands generally hold their value over time because they're still reliable. If you want a reliable car, you'll end up paying for it. Used Cobalts are cheap because they're no longer expected to be reliable... They've passed or are at least nearing the 60k mile life span typical of US automakers' products.

If you want reliable, look at Toyota or Honda. A used Yaris, Corolla, Fit or Civic should all be good bets. If you're looking at Hondas, avoid leather and keep in mind that 100k miles is just broken in.
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Old 11-27-2009, 08:50 PM   #3
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I personally avoid Toyotas and Hondas, because they're so overpriced both new and used. I was helping a friend shop for a car recently. She had only $2500 to spend. My criteria were the car had to be OBD-II compliant, and have less than 120,000 miles on it.

My friend's $2500 could get her a 12-15 year old Honda or Toyota with 150,000+ miles, an 8-12 year old Hyundai or Kia with 100,000+ miles, or an 8-12 yr old Chevy with 70,000-90,000 miles on it. We found her an 8 yr old salvage title (accident) Chevy with 60,000 miles.

I tend to look for off brand Asian cars for the best combination of price and reliability - Nissans, Mazdas, and Hyundais.
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Old 11-27-2009, 11:16 PM   #4
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Any OBD-II car you buy is probably going to be far more reliable than any car from the "good ol' days"...since most new cars have 5-7 year notes on them, they need to last long enough to pay them off.

$7500 ought to be enough to find something fairly modern and reliable.

I've looked around at a lot of cars in junkyards...I've seen a number of Toyotas and Hondas with over 400k on the clock...I've also seen Geo Metros with over 300k. Haven't seen any Chevy Cobalts, but most (not all) Chevrolets had less than 200k.

In any event, find something you like, you are comfortable in and, if you are driving over 50 miles per day, has good mileage AND a good radio.
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Old 11-28-2009, 04:22 AM   #5
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Considering the faster depreciation of American cars, I wouldn't expect them to have as many miles on them when they go to the junkyard. A car goes to the junkyard not because it's beyond repair, but because its repair cost is approaching its replacement cost - why put an expensive repair into a car if you can get the same car in working condition for not much more?

So, if a $500 repair is the last straw, that would be a 500,000 mile old Honda or a 200,000 mile old Chevy.

That depreciation makes American cars a better deal for the low-budget used buyer. In this day and age (certainly since Cobalts have been on the market), Honda and Toyota keep their market value because of perceived reliability, not actual results.

The only gotcha is making sure that the previous owner(s) cared for it the same way they would have cared for a Toyota.

People buy Toyota for that reputation; they're more likely to be the sort of people who follow or exceed the maintenance schedule, and with the depreciation issue they are more motivated to do so. A Chevy is more likely to be bought by somebody who has decided to ignore that reputation and doesn't care and therefore may not have maintained it well.
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Old 11-28-2009, 06:34 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by theholycow View Post
That depreciation makes American cars a better deal for the low-budget used buyer. In this day and age (certainly since Cobalts have been on the market), Honda and Toyota keep their market value because of perceived reliability, not actual results.

The only gotcha is making sure that the previous owner(s) cared for it the same way they would have cared for a Toyota.
Do you have some evidence to back up that claim? A quick google search came up with this:
Quote:
Consumer Reports ranking, by Automaker brand, problems per 100 vehicles:
Subaru 8
Honda 9
Acura 10
Toyota 10
Hyundai 11
Infiniti 11
Lexus 11
Audi 12
Mini 13
Ford 15
Pontiac 15
Cadillac 16
Chevrolet 16
Chrysler 16
GMC 16
Jeep 16
Mazda 16
Saab 16
Dodge 17
Mercury 17
Volvo 17
Buick 18
Nissan 19
Saturn 19
BMW 21
Volkswagen 23
Mercedes-Benz 25
Lincoln 26
I recently did the timing belt and water pump on my sister's '01 Accord with 130k miles on it. The valve train and inside of the valve cover had a pretty good brown coat on it, so it seemed pretty obvious to me that they hadn't been keeping up with the oil changes. Even the work I was doing on the car was 20k miles overdue. The car has started to burn oil (about a quart every thousand miles or so), yet when I did compression and leak-down tests, they came back with factory-fresh numbers of 210-220 psi and under 3% leakdown. That leads me to believe that Hondas (and probably Toyotas as well) handle maintenance neglect better than their domestic counterparts, and that at least contributes to their greater reliability.
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Old 11-28-2009, 07:12 AM   #7
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I've never heard of a modern American car burning oil with a mere 130,000 miles. I'm surprised that the Honda was.

Are you suggesting that Honda and Toyota owners are less likely to maintain properly? I guess some might have the attitude "It's a Honda/Toyota, it's indestructible", but more buy it because they think it's the responsible choice and they're responsible people (who would maintain properly).

The cited survey numbers represent minor issues in the first few years of a car's life, not how many miles it gets before catastrophic failure. This thread is about buying used cars, where all those kind of bugs have been worked out already.

However, if you want to look at that sort of thing, you'll see that it's all about the owners. Badge-engineered models vary greatly by their target market once you look at model data (even though they're built the same, the owners treat them differently) - and cars from GM and Ford beat Honda and Toyota in some segments.

Here's a post I made on another forum:
Quote:
Originally Posted by theholycow View Post
JD Power surveys show that American companies really have picked up their slack.

http://www.jdpower.com/autos/ratings...tings-by-brand
Ford and Honda are tied in overall, powertrain, body/interior, and features/accessories quality. Honda has the advantage in mechanical quality, however it's not enough to give them an advantage in overall quality.

http://www.jdpower.com/autos/ratings...ry/midsize-car
Ford Fusion, Mitsubishi Galant, and Chevy Malibu are the winners. Chevy gets the award.

http://www.jdpower.com/autos/ratings...act-sporty-car
Mazda Miata. Toyota's Scion tC is barely any better than the VW GTI.

http://www.jdpower.com/autos/ratings...gory/large-car
Pontiac leads strongly and has the award. Mercury comes in second and third with two models. Nissan, Ford Taurus (which should get the same as the Mercury Sable), Toyota, Chevy, and Buick stand in the middle, with Dodge, Dodge and Chrysler bringing up the rear.
I posted that in April. Looking at ratings now, here's some lists from the first link regarding just brand names. There are dozens of brands represented but I've only posted the top brands here.

Overall rating: Lexus, Porsche, Cadillac, Hyundai, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Ford, Chevrolet...The only Asian name better than Cadillac is Lexus.

Overall mechanical quality: Lexus, BMW, Buick, Mercedes, Porsche, Toyota, Acura, Audi, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Ford, GMC, Honda...Lexus again, above Buick this time. American names come in between Toyota and Honda.

Powertrain quality, mechanical: Lexus, BMW, Buick, Mercedes, Volvo, Acura, Audi, Cadillac, Chrevolet, Chrysler, Ford, GMC, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, Jeep, Lincoln, Mercury, MINI, Nissan, Porsche, Saab, Saturn, Scion, Subaru, Toyota...American names beat Honda, and you have to go way down the list to reach Toyota.

Nissan is conspicuously absent from the top positions. Lexus gets the top spot in all those categories; do you think Toyota-branded cars only get rejected Lexus engines/transmissions and that's why their mechanical powertrain quality is so low-ranked? AFAIK they don't have an entirely separate line of engines/transmissions designed by different folks and produced in different factories.

So, is JD Power more or less reliable than Consumer Reports? Personally, I don't buy into either of them. If you want to trust their data, though, the best results you can get are that the whole issue is very muddy, not clearly cut-and-dry like the prevailing reputations are.
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Old 11-28-2009, 08:19 AM   #8
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Get an 04-07 Malibu Maxx. 24.5 if the wife drives it, can get up to 40+ on the highway when driven correctly. MUCH more fuel efficient than the 01 model.
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Old 11-28-2009, 09:02 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theholycow View Post
Are you suggesting that Honda and Toyota owners are less likely to maintain properly?
No, I'm suggesting there is a wide range of maintenance responsibility within each brand's owner population... That there is relatively little correlation between maintenance practices and vehicle brand. There would be a few obvious exceptions in extreme cases, such as classic cars, or high end luxury and super-cars in the $100k+ price range... Ferrari, Lamborghini and such.


Quote:
Originally Posted by theholycow View Post
The cited survey numbers represent minor issues in the first few years of a car's life
But that's what we're talking about here, isn't it? "The first few years" falls within the '01-08 range, does it not?


Quote:
Originally Posted by theholycow View Post
However, if you want to look at that sort of thing, you'll see that it's all about the owners.
Yeah, I guess if the owner never drives the thing, it can't fail.


Quote:
Originally Posted by theholycow View Post
Badge-engineered models vary greatly by their target market once you look at model data (even though they're built the same, the owners treat them differently) - and cars from GM and Ford beat Honda and Toyota in some segments.
... What? Vary in what respect? How is the target market gauged? What Model data? What goal are you defining to rank these brands?


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Originally Posted by theholycow View Post
Originally Posted by theholycow
JD Power surveys show that American companies really have picked up their slack.
All those JD Power links are ranking cars by "quality", which is a highly subjective measure.
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Old 11-28-2009, 12:21 PM   #10
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Hi guys,

I think I have found a good car at a local used car dealership.

2004 Honda civic lx with 152,000 for $6000 in excellent condition...that seems like a reasonable price, but of course i'm posting here to make sure i'm not getting ripped off.

Planning on getting this.

Thanks,

-Dan
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