When it comes to purchasing a used car, everyone has personal preferences regarding vehicle features and benefits.  Some of the top thoughts on used car shopper’s minds are: gas consumption, cost to own (mechanical and parts costs), reliability factor of the make/model, safety rating, and potential resale value. But the biggest concern is often the question of how well the vehicle was taken care of by the previous owner(s).

The economic downturn in 2008 resulted in skyrocketing demand for used cars and an increase in used car prices.  Fortunately, this trend is starting to reverse itself as demand for used cars has slowed.  However, there are several factors besides price that come into play for used car shoppers.

Fortunately, there are several industry resources that can be helpful for finding the best performing and most reliable used cars.

Earlier this year, Consumer Reports compiled a list of some of the best and worst used cars to date. Findings were based on factors such as pricing, reliability, and performance. At the $10,000 price-point, Toyota Prius (2004-07) was noted as being both “efficient and roomy”, while the Toyota Matrix (2005-07) was noted as being “quite versatile”. In the Sedan category, the Acura TSX (2004) was noted as being “responsive, quiet, and enjoyable to drive”.

Another great resources is Forbes 10 Most Reliable Used Cars. This list is compiled from data provided by both Consumer Reports and J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study Results, as well as customer satisfaction surveys. Per Forbes Contributor Jim Gorzelany, “Eight out of the 10 models on Forbes’ list of most reliable used vehicles from the 2008 and 2009 model years came from Japanese brands,” Gorzelany said. “While recent models from the Detroit “Big Three” have certainly made significant leaps in both initial quality and long-term reliability, those designed and built prior to the economic collapse still apparently fail to hold up as well as the (best performers), Asian imports,” he added.

Forbes’ list includes the, Acura TL (2008-09) which received top grades for “long-term durability, owner surveys, quality, and performance testing”.  Also on the list are the late model (2008-09) Ford Fusion because the, “sedan has held up really well over the years” and the Toyota Prius (no year provided) which got high marks in fuel efficiency and reliability.

Although many used import cars ranked high for reliability on industry lists, it’s also important to factor in repair cost when considering the total cost of car ownership.  In other words, even though a car may need to be repaired less frequently, the total cost of those repairs, could still exceed that of a less reliable car.  Often with either big or small repairs, domestic cars are less expensive to repair in terms of parts and labor than imports.

“Unfortunately, buying a used car is typically a far more perilous decision to make, particularly with regard to a vehicle’s mechanical condition,” shares Gorzelany. “One otherwise comparable pre-owned car may have logged an excessive number of miles than another, or may have been largely neglected by its owner.” In essence, when it comes to purchasing a used car many struggle with these and many other ‘unknowns’.


A Note From CARCHEX About Extended Vehicle Protection Plans

An extended vehicle protection plan can be a good way to protect your used car investment and help calm a few of the “unknowns”.  When selecting an provider, it’s important to check the company’s rating and accreditation with the Better Business Bureau, its overall customer satisfaction rate, and its rating with additional independent organizations such as ShopperApproved. With used car extended vehicle protection, you get additional peace of mind in protecting both your investment and your wallet, but make sure the plan you choose is the best one for your specific needs. Visit CARCHEX and get a fast, free online extended vehicle protection quote today.


About The Author

Diana Merrill Claussen is a native Floridian who resides in the truck capital of the world, Texas. With over 200 published articles, and a penchant for fast cars and big trucks, this “Female Truck Expert” loves getting the most out of the Texas terrain and even on tracks as often as she can. She loves writing, but is passionate about motoring! Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.