Most Reliable & Best MPG used Car
August 16, 2012 11:05 AM   Subscribe

UsedCarFilter: My budget is $8500...What is the most reliable and best MPG used car can i get? 90 percent of my driving will be Highway. Reliable and high mpg are a must. Thanks in advance.
posted by flipmiester99 to Travel & Transportation (22 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I bought a 2006 used Honda Accord VP back in March. Fantastic car, super reliable, good gas mileage and under $9k (*knock on wood* the only thing I have had to do is buy it new tires, but it runs like a dream). I highly recommend looking into a used Honda. I was also looking at older VW's and Mazda's, as they tend to be reliable, and not super high mileage for the price you're looking at. Make sure you get a look at the CarFax and any other history reports you can get your hands on (I called my bank and had them check the VIN of the vehicle I was looking at as well).

Also, a lot of used car buying is all about asking the right questions to determine reliability. You could get a dream car for nothing, but it may have had body damage or someone did something to the engine and it will go kaput in six months. Do your research and know what to ask, and cover your bases. AKA know what you're getting into. Edmunds and KBB can help with what to look for.
posted by bleachandink at 11:28 AM on August 16, 2012

Been looking at Hondas however they seem very high priced, at least in the DFW area.
posted by flipmiester99 at 11:30 AM on August 16, 2012

I was also looking at older VW's

Careful with that, in the $8500 range you are going to be smack in the middle of some not so great years for VW reliability.

Seconding the rest tho.
posted by Cosine at 11:32 AM on August 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

Been looking at Hondas however they seem very high priced, at least in the DFW area.

And why do you think that might be? ;)
posted by Cosine at 11:32 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Nthing the Honda. They are inexpensive, efficient as hell, and in the rare (in my experience) event that you have to do repairs, parts are also cheap.

I had a 1990 Honda Accord that had over 300K miles on it (mostly highway) and it still ran when I got rid of it about 3 years ago. I only got rid of it because a family member had a car with 65K miles on it they gave me (98 oldsmobile). Making that change off was the worst decision I've made. I've put more money in the oldsmobile in the same amount of time than I ever did the Honda.

Ive not priced in the 8K range, but 1 year old Civics run about 16K certified preowned, so I KNOW you can find an older one in the 8K range.
posted by Twain Device at 11:38 AM on August 16, 2012

Cause im sure everyone else is looking for one to....I guess what i meant to say is i find 2005s and older in my price range but when i get to 2006 and newer it goes a little beyond. How many miles should i be looking at on a used car? Under 130k? 100k?
posted by flipmiester99 at 11:38 AM on August 16, 2012

Honda. If you want a specific answer, then the 1990 Honda Civic CRX HF. If it's been well-taken care of, then it should get you good mileage and still be reliable.

If you don't want something that old, then I still recommend looking at Hondas. When I was looking for a used car, every car-savvy person I knew recommended a Honda.
posted by Redfield at 11:40 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Have you tried Car Rental Sales?

Here's a listing of a KIA with Enterprise. I had a great experience buying a car from Enterprise. I liked it so much I did it twice.

My parents got their Camry from Carmax, but I didn't see anything there in your price range.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:42 AM on August 16, 2012

Oh, and just to pile on the Honda bandwagon. We have two, and I love them!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:43 AM on August 16, 2012

How many miles should i be looking at on a used car? Under 130k? 100k?

Really depends on the car. On a Honda, no worries. And the mileage is much more important than the age of the car. If I had your money a 4-8 year old Civic/Accord would be very high on the list, maybe a Corolla too if you can stand the boredom.
posted by Cosine at 11:46 AM on August 16, 2012

I just sold my 2007 Toyota Yaris hatchback for a little over $6000 and it was a flawless car. I never had a single problem with it and the gas mileage averaged around 37-40 mpg depending on how I drove it. It had a decent amount of pick-up and was quite huge on the inside. My husband is 6'9" and he fit in it. I loved the hell out of that car and the only reason I got rid of it was that I wanted a sports car this time around and something slightly larger for my husband's sake.

Still, it was a damn good car.
posted by teleri025 at 11:59 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Votes here for the Toyota Matrix/Pontiac Vibe. I have an 03 I paid about 6k for last year, and it's been a great car -- and ridiculously good on gas.
posted by liquado at 12:18 PM on August 16, 2012

I own a 2007 Yaris that I paid $8700 for two years ago.

If reliability and MPG are your priorities, the Yaris is a great car. I mean, it's not the most comfortable thing in the world, and it's certainly not the flashiest, but it starts up every day and gets in the upper 30s for gas mileage. The only repair my car has needed (well, except for the extensive body work after I got rear-ended, and new tires at 60K miles, and KNOCK WOOD) was for the ABS brake sensors which were corroded due to road salt: this would not be a problem in Texas, I assume.
posted by mskyle at 12:20 PM on August 16, 2012

nthing Hondas. I've got 120K on my 2006 Element. To date, it has needed tires and a headlight. Breaks and clutch are still original. And yeah, that's why they're in demand in the used market. My second choice for reliability would be Toyota. I would avoid VWs, they are not low maintenance and are pricey to fix.
posted by doctor_negative at 1:54 PM on August 16, 2012

honda, acura, toyota. Any model with good MPH that has a legacy of more then 6 years or more and preferably still in production. Those are your best options.

Also verify with the Car complaints website. Their is a 2002 camry model that sucks. So double check your year and model with the website
posted by couchdive at 3:12 PM on August 16, 2012

VW Passat Wagon TDI?
posted by roboton666 at 5:40 PM on August 16, 2012

there are a lot of good cars in your price range. More important than mileage or age is condition, but this is also the hardest to judge. You are going to get the most for your money on a private sale over craigslist probably (although local classifieds still exist). If you are not a car guy you need to take it to a mechanic (and due to the nature of the question you probably are not). A honda, mazda, toyota or ford for that matter that has not been well maintained and been abused is going to be a problem car with a short lifespan left in it. Some cars are more prone to being abused than others. The more doors and more boring a car (say accords and camry and non police crown victorias and the like) the less likely it has been abused. Some great tell tales are to look under the seats at the hard to reach areas and see what kind of puke, french fries and such are caked in there. The more you find the more likely it is to be abused. Do all the tires match and are the same size (preferably the size the car came with)? you can find the factory tire size on a little panel on the door panel usually on the drivers side, if you check the pressure and it is pretty close to what that little panel says you are might also be in good car territory. Are the tires worn evenly across the tread or is the inside or outside worn more? (the depth of the tread won't be even-and be very careful about a used car for sale with all new tires-usually the only private saler who does that is hiding something. Do all the lights work?(both the interior and exterior-take a friend to check turn signals and brake lights). Open up the trunk and check the tire pressure and condition of the spare. Are there any large or uneven gaps in the panels around the car? (like the door isn't straight or the gap around the door isn't even top to bottom). Even if you buy a car off a lot get it checked by a knowledgeable friend or a professional. Just assume you only have like 8200 to spend on car and the rest is for paying the mechanic and getting it registered. Another great way to get a good deal is look for an older car that is way cheaper than your 8500 that is basically sound but needs some reconditioning-like maybe a new drivers seat or few small dents or cracked windshield or maybe has peeling paint or something and use the difference in price for getting the car back into good shape. This is usually only recommended for car guys though. BTW the most expensive and most likely major thing to fail in used cars are automatic transmissions. Get a manual, cheaper to fix, more fun to drive and usually better gas mileage. The only way I would get an automatic is if commuting in heavy traffic (like LA or such) every day.

As for something specefic-A second generation Honda CRV, Honda Element (might be tough to get a good one in your range), and civic or accord. Toyota Yaris, Camry, Corolla or pickup (if so inclined). Nissan altima or older maxima (a really great undervalued car), older infiniti (more interesting) or lexus (usually more reliable and boring). A recent ford focus or Kia made after 2008 or so if you like any of them (the souls are great little cars but might not have come down much yet). I would really stay away from anything unusual like a diesel volkswagen (or really any german car). They aren't bad cars but can be VERY expensive to repair and require more maintenance than most domestic or asian cars.

If i had 8500 to buy a car right now I would get either a honda S2000, Toyota MR-s or mazda Miata. However these are all two seat sports cars and are just now dropping into this price range. for a family car I would get an older fully loaded accord (preferably V6), and not worry too much about age or mileage if the car was in good shape.
posted by bartonlong at 7:33 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I know a ton of people who've been very happy with the Mazda 3. No doubt there's lots to be said for Hondas and Toyotas, but I think people are paying a reputation premium, too.
posted by ambient2 at 1:02 AM on August 17, 2012

What are yalls thoughts on a 200-2003 VW Golf?
posted by flipmiester99 at 11:54 AM on August 17, 2012

In 2005 I bought a 1999 Volvo S70 (70K miles, excellent condition) for $5000 from a dealer who gets cars at auction and sells them for $600 over what he paid, no matter what he paid. I spent $600 for a new O2 sensor and new tires. I still have this car, 7 years later, and have had very few problems with it. It rides like a dream, has a lot of power, leather interior, the AC still works and has the original muffler and battery. The car now has 170K miles on it and runs as quietly as a new car. I get 27 mph on the highway. Would highly recommend this car.

Buying it from an auction can be very worthwhile, as this car was listing for 12K-14K. Used Honda's were more expensive, but I don't think a Honda Accord can match a Volvo S70 by any stretch.
posted by waving at 1:17 PM on August 17, 2012

VW are one of the most expensive vehicles to fix because:

1. expensive parts
2. German - over-complicated everything and it doesn't mean it will last longer
3. VW is set on to sell the most vehicles in the world now so they might not be as reliable as they used to be (remember what happened to Toyota when it did that?)
4. Mechanics for imports usually charge extra

Sometimes parts and service are cheap at a dealer but rarely.

If I were to get a VW I would get the very base diesel car with a standard transmission. Less stuff to break and manual gearboxes are usually bulletproof.
posted by AdamG8GXP at 11:25 AM on August 30, 2012

Another trick that I use when buying a used car is setting aside funds to replace engine/transmission, new or used with labor. This way I can just do it when it is needed.
posted by AdamG8GXP at 11:27 AM on August 30, 2012

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