Even When Going Pre-owned, It Pays “Literally” to Do Your Homework Before Deciding on Brands to Buy

by Christopher Boyle

LONG ISLAND, NY – If you’re looking to tighten your belt and save a few bucks when it comes to purchasing a new automobile, it can make sense to turn to the option of a used car. After all, they’re cheaper, and with recent advances in automotive technology and manufacturing, cars are lasting much longer these days.

However, if you’re looking for a less expensive option for a vehicle, going with the lowest price tag alone won’t help; sure, you’ll save a few bucks in the here and now, but what if your newer ride ends up breaking the bank down the road as issues creep-in and bills from your mechanic pile up? You’re going used to save money, not pile up debt, after all.

Clearly, even when going the pre-owned route, consumers should do their homework and find the make and model that not only serves their day-to-day purposes and fits into their budget, but that also feature a reputation for reliability and inexpensive repairs on the occasion that something does go wrong.

When it comes to the manufacturers that produce the most reliable vehicles, Toyota and Honda are routinely the ones to beat, with the least number of check engine light issues – and, correspondingly, subsequent engine repairs as a result – throughout their life spans when compared to most other major automakers. Following-up that duo are Nissan, Audi, and Volkswagen, making for a top five makes of the most reliable vehicles that you can find. In addition, Buick, Hyundai, and Jeep also rank very highly in terms of mechanical dependency. If you’re looking to keep out of the local garage as much as possible, those brands are a safe bet for any pre-owned vehicle purchase.

But regardless of their reliability, even the best-made car ever will eventually encounter some kind of issue that will require a visit to your local grease-monkey, and car owners are no stranger to visiting their local garage praying for the best but often encountering the worst…especially when it comes to their repair bill. However, there are several vehicle manufacturers on the market that are well-known for putting together models that register near the bottom of the heap when it comes to their average repair costs; the trick is to find one that sits equally on both the reliability and cheapness of repair lists.

These vehicles have been researched in regard to the average repair costs for issues relating to the dreaded “check engine” light appearing on a consumer’s dashboard. Among all major automotive brands, Hyundai was the king of cheap repairs, with an average of $306 per garage visit when it comes to check-engine-related repair costs. Closely trailing Hyundai in terms of low-cost fixes was Mazda ($310 per visit), Kia ($317), Chrysler ($336), Dodge ($341), Infiniti ($352), Jeep ($352), and Chevrolet ($353).

Of course, issues regarding a check engine could run throughout a near-endless variety of issues, ranging from the cheapest, most common symptom – a loose gas cap, which may cost nothing to fix – to something truly wallet-breaking, such as a faulty catalytic converter (typically costing well over $1,000) or, if you’re truly unlucky, the replacement of the cylinder head assembly and spark plugs – clocking in at an average of nearly $2,500 – and the coup de grace: a full engine replacement, coming in at a bank account-slaying $7,000+.

So, when it comes to repair costs, it pays – literally – to do your homework before deciding on a brand to buy.

Of course, the makes and models listed in this article are not to be taken as gospel; feel free to look around and see for yourself which used cars figure into your lifestyle and needs. Once you have done that, head on over to CarMD.com, where you can punch in your prospective purchase’s vehicle identification number – or the year, make, model and mileage – and get a comprehensive report that covers maintenance procedures, typical repairs and their average frequency/costs, recalls due to safety-related concerns on the part of the manufacturer, and any pertinent technical service bulletins.

In addition, CarMD also has a Vehicle Health Index, which features an up-to-date listing of vehicle makes and models which currently require the fewest trips to the garage and boast the lowest costs of repair on the occasions when they do encounter a mechanical problem. The Index is based upon a vast amount of data collected between the 1996 through 2016 model years, encompassing repairs for 4.7 million new and used cars, so you know you’re getting a comprehensive report each and every time.

So, used cars are certainly the go-to standard these days for individuals looking to save money, but don’t simply assume that you’re getting off cheap if you go used; unless you do some research into your decision, your used car purchase could be one of the costliest decisions you’ll ever make. Make sure you’re buying quality and you’ll (hopefully) enjoy many worry-free – and repair-free – miles in the years ahead.

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