Is there a good website(s) or resources for used car reviews?

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
Topic Author
Calico
Posts: 292
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2015 5:45 pm

Is there a good website(s) or resources for used car reviews?

Post by Calico » Mon Apr 08, 2019 5:47 pm

I am looking for a new (for me) car to buy before August 2020 because I am giving my 15-year-old Vibe to my daughter to use. So I need something for me.

It takes me a long time to research and make a decision when it comes to big ticket items. And I haven't bought a car in 15 years now. The combination of the two means even though this purchase may be a year away, I need to figure things out now (and besides, I may buy before a year is up if I find a really good price/sale on any of my choices).

I am considering both new and used. Two cars I am looking at, Toyota Corolla hatchback and Honda Civic Hatchback don't really seem to depreciate enough to entice me to buy used. They are also about the same price. So those I am considering as new. I really like the reviews done by Tom Voelk as he seems to focus on the stuff that's important to me.

But two others I am looking at, Mazda 3 hatchback and Chevy Cruze hatchback do depreciate and I am considering 2017 models (which would be about $10k less than the Toyota and Honda new). I can find reviews, but they were written in 2017 when the car was new. I found some information but some sites rate the car really well and others not so much. For example one sites gives the Mazda a 4 star rating but another a 2 star rating. I don't know what sites are really reliable information. Do you have any good sites or resources to use when shopping for a used car? I am mainly interested in reliability and any potential issues the car has had.

Marylander1
Posts: 176
Joined: Sat Jan 04, 2014 3:18 pm
Location: Baltimore & DC

Re: Is there a good website(s) or resources for used car reviews?

Post by Marylander1 » Mon Apr 08, 2019 6:12 pm

I use Consumer Reports.

Marylander1

delamer
Posts: 7571
Joined: Tue Feb 08, 2011 6:13 pm

Re: Is there a good website(s) or resources for used car reviews?

Post by delamer » Mon Apr 08, 2019 6:13 pm

Consumer Reports has reliability for used cars, both overall and different systems/parts (electrical, etc.).

An online subscription is the best way to view all the info.

User avatar
RickBoglehead
Posts: 2991
Joined: Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:10 am

Re: Is there a good website(s) or resources for used car reviews?

Post by RickBoglehead » Mon Apr 08, 2019 6:15 pm

CR may be free through your library.
Avid user of forums on variety of interests-financial, home brewing, F-150, PHEV, home repair, etc. Enjoy learning & passing on knowledge. It's PRINCIPAL, not PRINCIPLE. I ADVISE you to seek ADVICE.

quantAndHold
Posts: 2969
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2015 10:39 pm

Re: Is there a good website(s) or resources for used car reviews?

Post by quantAndHold » Mon Apr 08, 2019 6:22 pm

Specifically, the April issue of Consumer Reports is all about cars.

averagedude
Posts: 593
Joined: Sun May 13, 2018 3:41 pm

Re: Is there a good website(s) or resources for used car reviews?

Post by averagedude » Mon Apr 08, 2019 6:28 pm

Not really a lot of resources out there where they have your best interest in mind. If i was going to trust a resource, it would be CR.

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 19810
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: Is there a good website(s) or resources for used car reviews?

Post by dm200 » Mon Apr 08, 2019 6:47 pm

Marylander1 wrote:
Mon Apr 08, 2019 6:12 pm
I use Consumer Reports.

Marylander1
Yes

Topic Author
Calico
Posts: 292
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2015 5:45 pm

Re: Is there a good website(s) or resources for used car reviews?

Post by Calico » Mon Apr 08, 2019 7:08 pm

As much as I seem to ask for help with consumer products here, that's a good idea (Consumer Reports). I just looked and the digital edition is affordable (I had it in my head that CR was expensive to subscribe to and I don't know why). Thanks for the tips!

graeme
Posts: 23
Joined: Mon Apr 04, 2016 8:50 pm

Re: Is there a good website(s) or resources for used car reviews?

Post by graeme » Mon Apr 08, 2019 7:59 pm

Forums for specific vehicles many times illustrate common issues and solutions. The user reviews about specific vehicles on Edmunds.com can be helpful as well. If there have been issues, it's many times discussed.

rgs92
Posts: 2427
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2009 8:00 pm

Re: Is there a good website(s) or resources for used car reviews?

Post by rgs92 » Mon Apr 08, 2019 8:07 pm

Actually, youtube is good for this. Just look up the car you want and see someone doing a video of it.

iamlucky13
Posts: 1248
Joined: Sat Mar 04, 2017 5:28 pm
Location: Western Washington

Re: Is there a good website(s) or resources for used car reviews?

Post by iamlucky13 » Mon Apr 08, 2019 11:34 pm

I'm researching similar myself at the moment. So far, Consumer Reports seems to have the best organized information on their reliability surveys. JD Power and US News also both have some reliability data, but I haven't explored it in depth yet.

I also don't know how far back the latter two track reliability, but Consumer Reports says their latest survey includes vehicles as old the 2000 model year. Summary information on their reliability ratings is here:
https://www.consumerreports.org/car-rel ... ility-faq/

As a side note, I get Consumer Reports free through my library, but information like this is one reason I think I might start subscribing online from time-to-time, because this data does not collect and sort itself. I doubt whatever fee the library pays for a Consumer Reports portal covers the cost in proportion to how I use it.

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 19810
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: Is there a good website(s) or resources for used car reviews?

Post by dm200 » Tue Apr 09, 2019 8:48 am

iamlucky13 wrote:
Mon Apr 08, 2019 11:34 pm
I'm researching similar myself at the moment. So far, Consumer Reports seems to have the best organized information on their reliability surveys. JD Power and US News also both have some reliability data, but I haven't explored it in depth yet.

I also don't know how far back the latter two track reliability, but Consumer Reports says their latest survey includes vehicles as old the 2000 model year. Summary information on their reliability ratings is here:
https://www.consumerreports.org/car-rel ... ility-faq/

As a side note, I get Consumer Reports free through my library, but information like this is one reason I think I might start subscribing online from time-to-time, because this data does not collect and sort itself. I doubt whatever fee the library pays for a Consumer Reports portal covers the cost in proportion to how I use it.
As a CR subscriber, you can also get (for an added fee) online access to even more such information.

tydas
Posts: 33
Joined: Thu May 03, 2018 2:28 pm

Re: Is there a good website(s) or resources for used car reviews?

Post by tydas » Tue Apr 09, 2019 9:52 am

For what its worth, J.D. Power is paid by auto manufacturers so I would not expect them to be objective.

User avatar
dm200
Posts: 19810
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 2:21 pm
Location: Washington DC area

Re: Is there a good website(s) or resources for used car reviews?

Post by dm200 » Tue Apr 09, 2019 9:54 am

tydas wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 9:52 am
For what its worth, J.D. Power is paid by auto manufacturers so I would not expect them to be objective.
I agree.

The CR annual issue (book form) sent at the end of the year also has the used car reviews and recommendations - highlighting the best and the worst in each category.

Topic Author
Calico
Posts: 292
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2015 5:45 pm

Re: Is there a good website(s) or resources for used car reviews?

Post by Calico » Tue Apr 09, 2019 12:25 pm

Thanks again!

I subscribed to Consumer Reports and looked at all my car choices. I am pretty happy that the 2017 Mazda 3 is better rated than my new car choices and is very reliable (mainly because as a used car it's also the least expensive option on my list). I also enjoyed driving a 2018 last summer and just like the car in general. I was a bit unsure about it's potential reliability. "Everyone" knows Toyota's and Honda's are reliable, but wasn't sure with Mazda. Don't get me wrong, I like the other two cars as well, a low mileage used Mazda with more features at about 35% less than the cost of the other two (and possible lower insurance and property tax rates) make it more appealing. Plus I won't worry about door dings and scratches in parking lots (which is going to happen where I live).

And I now I also know that even though the 2017 Mazda is good, the 2016 and 2015 had more issues and are a little less reliable. They are still good choices, but I think that I will avoid those models. The Cruze got knocked off my list for certain. It's not bad, but it's also not as good as the other choices and isn't much cheaper than the Mazda 3. I'll still consider the new Corolla and Civic as well, but I am leaning heavily on a low mileage, used 2017 Mazda 3.

The fun part was I was actually able to compare all of my car choices to my current car's rating as well since they have reviews and ratings for a 2005 Vibe. Basically anything I get is going to be better than my current car (which is also a CR best pick).

Thanks again for the suggestion.

iamlucky13
Posts: 1248
Joined: Sat Mar 04, 2017 5:28 pm
Location: Western Washington

Re: Is there a good website(s) or resources for used car reviews?

Post by iamlucky13 » Tue Apr 09, 2019 9:14 pm

dm200 wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 8:48 am
iamlucky13 wrote:
Mon Apr 08, 2019 11:34 pm
As a side note, I get Consumer Reports free through my library, but information like this is one reason I think I might start subscribing online from time-to-time, because this data does not collect and sort itself. I doubt whatever fee the library pays for a Consumer Reports portal covers the cost in proportion to how I use it.
As a CR subscriber, you can also get (for an added fee) online access to even more such information.
My library actually provides online access. I log-in via the library website, but then I can access, as far as I know, everything Consumer Reports has online from my own computer. My reason for subscribing would solely be to ensure the future availability of this kind of information.
Calico wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 12:25 pm
And I now I also know that even though the 2017 Mazda is good, the 2016 and 2015 had more issues and are a little less reliable
If I understand right, that's data for the 2016 and 2015 model years taken from the 2018 survey, so you're looking at reliability data for cars that have 1 year of use on them versus cars that have 2-3 years of use on them. That may be a factor in the differences.

Also make sure to look at the categories the problems occur in. Between a car with a high rate of issue with convenience features, but low rate of drivetrain issues, and one with a low rate of convenience feature issues and a medium rate of drivetrain issues, I'd personally pick the latter.

Topic Author
Calico
Posts: 292
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2015 5:45 pm

Re: Is there a good website(s) or resources for used car reviews?

Post by Calico » Wed Apr 10, 2019 8:32 am

iamlucky13 wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 9:14 pm
dm200 wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 8:48 am
iamlucky13 wrote:
Mon Apr 08, 2019 11:34 pm
As a side note, I get Consumer Reports free through my library, but information like this is one reason I think I might start subscribing online from time-to-time, because this data does not collect and sort itself. I doubt whatever fee the library pays for a Consumer Reports portal covers the cost in proportion to how I use it.
As a CR subscriber, you can also get (for an added fee) online access to even more such information.
My library actually provides online access. I log-in via the library website, but then I can access, as far as I know, everything Consumer Reports has online from my own computer. My reason for subscribing would solely be to ensure the future availability of this kind of information.
Calico wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 12:25 pm
And I now I also know that even though the 2017 Mazda is good, the 2016 and 2015 had more issues and are a little less reliable
If I understand right, that's data for the 2016 and 2015 model years taken from the 2018 survey, so you're looking at reliability data for cars that have 1 year of use on them versus cars that have 2-3 years of use on them. That may be a factor in the differences.

Also make sure to look at the categories the problems occur in. Between a car with a high rate of issue with convenience features, but low rate of drivetrain issues, and one with a low rate of convenience feature issues and a medium rate of drivetrain issues, I'd personally pick the latter.
I will look at things more closely over time, but they include 2019 models for the new cars, so I am not sure. What's interesting is they rate the reliability of 2019 cars less than the used 2017 in some cases (but I think that's based on prediction). For the 2016 and 2015 models of the Mazda 3 they seem to have major brake issues and minor interior electronics issues. Of course, they also say my current car has really bad exhaust issues and climate control issues (and I've never had a problem aside from the decorative trim around the tail pipe falling off after 11 years). So perhaps I am just picking nits. All of the cars I am looking at: used Mazda and new Civic and new Corolla are all "recommended" by CR.

User avatar
Stinky
Posts: 737
Joined: Mon Jun 12, 2017 11:38 am
Location: Sweet Home Alabama

Re: Is there a good website(s) or resources for used car reviews?

Post by Stinky » Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:00 am

Calico wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 12:25 pm
Thanks again!

I subscribed to Consumer Reports and looked at all my car choices. I am pretty happy that the 2017 Mazda 3 is better rated than my new car choices and is very reliable (mainly because as a used car it's also the least expensive option on my list). I also enjoyed driving a 2018 last summer and just like the car in general. I was a bit unsure about it's potential reliability. "Everyone" knows Toyota's and Honda's are reliable, but wasn't sure with Mazda. Don't get me wrong, I like the other two cars as well, a low mileage used Mazda with more features at about 35% less than the cost of the other two (and possible lower insurance and property tax rates) make it more appealing. Plus I won't worry about door dings and scratches in parking lots (which is going to happen where I live).

And I now I also know that even though the 2017 Mazda is good, the 2016 and 2015 had more issues and are a little less reliable. They are still good choices, but I think that I will avoid those models. The Cruze got knocked off my list for certain. It's not bad, but it's also not as good as the other choices and isn't much cheaper than the Mazda 3. I'll still consider the new Corolla and Civic as well, but I am leaning heavily on a low mileage, used 2017 Mazda 3.

The fun part was I was actually able to compare all of my car choices to my current car's rating as well since they have reviews and ratings for a 2005 Vibe. Basically anything I get is going to be better than my current car (which is also a CR best pick).

Thanks again for the suggestion.
This is what Consumer Reports is best at - objectively rating cars from different manufacturers, over a range of model years. I've used CR as a primary source of information for my car-buying decisions for many years, and have been pleased with the results.

The only time that I slipped was when I bought an used Jeep Grand Cherokee for my son - over my better judgment and over the advice of CR. I paid dearly for the mistake of buying that Jeep. Never again!
It's a GREAT day to be alive - Travis Tritt

User avatar
msi
Posts: 429
Joined: Sun Feb 17, 2008 11:15 pm

Re: Is there a good website(s) or resources for used car reviews?

Post by msi » Sun Apr 14, 2019 4:23 am

Calico wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 8:32 am
iamlucky13 wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 9:14 pm
dm200 wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 8:48 am
iamlucky13 wrote:
Mon Apr 08, 2019 11:34 pm
As a side note, I get Consumer Reports free through my library, but information like this is one reason I think I might start subscribing online from time-to-time, because this data does not collect and sort itself. I doubt whatever fee the library pays for a Consumer Reports portal covers the cost in proportion to how I use it.
As a CR subscriber, you can also get (for an added fee) online access to even more such information.
My library actually provides online access. I log-in via the library website, but then I can access, as far as I know, everything Consumer Reports has online from my own computer. My reason for subscribing would solely be to ensure the future availability of this kind of information.
Calico wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 12:25 pm
And I now I also know that even though the 2017 Mazda is good, the 2016 and 2015 had more issues and are a little less reliable
If I understand right, that's data for the 2016 and 2015 model years taken from the 2018 survey, so you're looking at reliability data for cars that have 1 year of use on them versus cars that have 2-3 years of use on them. That may be a factor in the differences.

Also make sure to look at the categories the problems occur in. Between a car with a high rate of issue with convenience features, but low rate of drivetrain issues, and one with a low rate of convenience feature issues and a medium rate of drivetrain issues, I'd personally pick the latter.
I will look at things more closely over time, but they include 2019 models for the new cars, so I am not sure. What's interesting is they rate the reliability of 2019 cars less than the used 2017 in some cases (but I think that's based on prediction). For the 2016 and 2015 models of the Mazda 3 they seem to have major brake issues and minor interior electronics issues. Of course, they also say my current car has really bad exhaust issues and climate control issues (and I've never had a problem aside from the decorative trim around the tail pipe falling off after 11 years). So perhaps I am just picking nits. All of the cars I am looking at: used Mazda and new Civic and new Corolla are all "recommended" by CR.
I've noticed that CR tries to play it safe with a lower predicted reliability rating when a car gets a major refresh, as the Mazda3 did for 2019. If you don't need or want AWD (first year of offering that in the new model) or any of the new features, then you're probably better off with the 2017.

David Althaus
Posts: 28
Joined: Wed Feb 14, 2018 8:05 pm

Re: Is there a good website(s) or resources for used car reviews?

Post by David Althaus » Sun Apr 14, 2019 7:16 am

While CR may be the best out there let's not forget their car of the year award to Tesla that had to be rescinded within months. They too are susceptible to "What I wish to be true will become so." Another option--just look at two or three year old Toyota or Honda products (Lexus and Acura included depending on your desired trim level) and go from there. 99.99% of the time you will not go wrong.

All the best

DAve

User avatar
sunny_socal
Posts: 1881
Joined: Tue Mar 24, 2015 4:22 pm

Re: Is there a good website(s) or resources for used car reviews?

Post by sunny_socal » Sun Apr 14, 2019 7:18 am

Here's some free advice, no need to read magazines! :wink:

- Japanese brands are generally good. [1] Toyota [2] Honda [3] The Rest [4] Korean. Great for medium/compact cars and crossover SUVs.
- American brands are ok. For large trucks & SUVS they are great, I'd avoid compact cars.
- German/Euro brands are terrible, but drive MUCH better than Japanese or American cars. Don't go here unless you have time or money.

The best way to get feedback on individual models is to sign up for the related forum. People will give first hand feedback on vehicles. For example, Honda Pilot forum:
https://www.piloteers.org/forums/

Volvo Forum:
(2016 XC90 and later)
https://forums.swedespeed.com/forumdisp ... SPA-2016-)

I don't care for CR and 'car' magazines/websites are paid shills.
Last edited by sunny_socal on Sun Apr 14, 2019 7:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
sunny_socal
Posts: 1881
Joined: Tue Mar 24, 2015 4:22 pm

Re: Is there a good website(s) or resources for used car reviews?

Post by sunny_socal » Sun Apr 14, 2019 7:19 am

David Althaus wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 7:16 am
While CR may be the best out there let's not forget their car of the year award to Tesla that had to be rescinded within months. They too are susceptible to "What I wish to be true will become so." Another option--just look at two or three year old Toyota or Honda products (Lexus and Acura included depending on your desired trim level) and go from there. 99.99% of the time you will not go wrong.

All the best

DAve
This. No need to overthink it.

Hulu
Posts: 151
Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2014 7:55 pm

Re: Is there a good website(s) or resources for used car reviews?

Post by Hulu » Sun Apr 14, 2019 9:22 am

It's easy to overthink. Something reliable, with inexpensive repairs and is crashworthy. I like US News and the Lemon Aide guide.

bowtie
Posts: 343
Joined: Sun Jul 20, 2014 11:41 am

Re: Is there a good website(s) or resources for used car reviews?

Post by bowtie » Sun Apr 14, 2019 8:07 pm

I read somewhere on the thread about car forum comments - you can research your vehicle let's say Toyota Avalon, truck, etc. Lexus, Mazda, etc. on its own individual forum and read about owners' experiences/problems/fixes.
Also I found Edmunds tended to have honest reviews with a 1-2 paragraph story about the person's choice and if they would purchase it again.
I liked using things other than CR because when I used their ratings I got so obsessed with all those ratings, circles, half circles black and red and the like.

pdavi21
Posts: 894
Joined: Sat Jan 30, 2016 4:04 pm

Re: Is there a good website(s) or resources for used car reviews?

Post by pdavi21 » Sun Apr 14, 2019 8:14 pm

Depending on how used a vehicle you are looking at, the year, mileage, ownership type, car size, and engine size, may be more useful reliability indicators than make/model.

Consumer Reports is the only one I can think of, but I personally don't trust them.
"We spend a great deal of time studying history, which, let's face it, is mostly the history of stupidity." -Stephen Hawking

Post Reply