sardia wrote:My 2004 car is accumulating wear and tear and I want a better car.
I haven't gone car shopping in a long time and all this new fangled stuff is overwhelming. Standard advice is to get a used car, and pocket the depreciation savings. However these new cars have all these safety features that are only on the newest cars. I have about a year of car life left to take advantage of any market fluctuations or new advances. What would you guys do?
The old car will go to my parents.
The "big" security features are:
* Anti-lock brakes standardized
* Electronic Stability Control Standardized
* Traction control standardized
* Various Air Bags systems
* Rearview Camera
I forget exactly which years these were standardized. I'm thinking in the 2010 to 2012 era or so... except the Rearview Camera which came into effect like 2017 or so.
From the free-market side, there's also the advancement of crash-tests. Older cars were tested before the "Small-overlap Front Test" was devised. When a pole or other object hits only 25% of the car or less
, it misses most of the designed "crumple zone"... and also transfers the maximum amount of force directly to the driver. So there were a lot of cars that had 5-star ratings before 2012, but failed the newer "Small overlap Front Test".
The small-overlap Front Test is one of the "worst-case scenarios", and tons
of cars performed poorly with it. But if you think about it: small trees, small poles, and offset head-to-head collisions (ie: both drivers try to get out of the way, but still "clip" each other), its actually a rather common "real life crash scenario". It just... simply wasn't tested for before 2012.
I personally think that you should get a car that has Anti-lock brakes, Electronic Stability Control, Traction Control, and a Small-overlap Front Test. Those are the big "safety" advancements.
The Rearview Camera is obviously an important safety standard, but you're not going to find that on anything but a brand-new vehicle. IIRC, the rearview safety standard came into effect like... early in 2017. But if you get a used 2014 model or 2013 model, you'd get most of the important safety standards and also avoid a big "deprecation" hit.
Non-standardized "premium" features currently include blind-spot detection (beeps when someone's in your blindspot) and automatic braking (car will brake automatically if it detects a collision). These are only on higher-end vehicles though, but I guess you can look out for them.
What's this about japanese vs Korean vs American cars? Is there really a competitive difference in this day and age? Or is that just a previously outdated truism from the last decades? I googled it, and found a propaganda piece from JD Power and Ass. about how it's a myth, but there's just not a lot of data out there.
I was impressed by the Ford Fusion and Ford Focus, as far as reliability goes. I personally went with a Ford Focus Mk 3.
There seems to be a long-term transmission problem there... but if you go manual you completely avoid the problem. The only major issues on the Ford Focus's "reliability" score from Consumer Reports were:
* Radio (IMO... whatever)
* Automatic Transmission
I don't think there's a major difference in the "Sedan" or "Small Sedan" market across the board. If you get a Ford Focus, a Toyota Corolla, Mazda 3, Subaru Impreza, Honda Civic... you'll notice that everybody basically is making the same car from a size, safety, and maintenance perspective. Just check for specific issues in Consumer Reports for your model, and stay away from "New Revisions".
When a big model-change comes, there tends to be some reliability issues as the car-company is twerking their new production line. Ex: Ford Focus Mk2 to Mk3 happened in 2012. The information about the automatic transmission problem didn't really become well known until 2013 or 2014. I guess this only applies if you're planning on buying a 2017 or 2018 model.
I was looking at carmax for 2017 cars, and they're selling 2017 cars with 30k+ miles on them, which is crazy. Who the hell is buying brand new cars, and driving the hell out of them in a year, only to return them?
I have friends who change-out cars every year or two. It completely boggles my mind. They don't get 30k miles on them (maybe 15k/year), but otherwise... yeah... its baffling that some people are so prim-and-proper that they demand the newest generation of cars all the time.
Generally speaking, they lease
the car for those years, and then ultimately return the vehicle at the end of the lease.
sardia wrote:What's this about japanese vs Korean vs American cars? Is there really a competitive difference in this day and age?
Yeah. It's not universal, but the quality (will it break?) of American cars in general still lags behind the Japanese ones. (Kia, from South Korea, seems to be getting quite reliable too, though they are less well known.) My source is Consumer Reports, especially the reliability indices they publish in their April issues. They are sourced from questionnaires sent out to CU subscribers, asking about repairs to their cars. Consumer Reports is not ad-supported, and does not permit commercial use of their material*, which makes it more likely that their reports are unbiased. Car magazines are dependent on goodwill from car manufacturers for their income, so there's more than a little bit of pressure to shill for them. Reliability is just one aspect of car ownership; I find it pretty important though. And to me, a trend and history of reliability (in the company) is as important as the reliability of any particular vehicle from that company.
Consumer Reports is the best resource. The few $$ for quality information during car buying is important.
However, I say go one-step further and read up on specific
issues per brand. American cars seem to get lower-reliability scores overall... but when you actually dig into the details, it may or may not apply to your case. (IE: A Ford Focus with manual transmission basically is as reliable as any other car, since the only issues were Radio and Automatic Transmission).
Its a slight flaw in the Consumer Reports reliability scheme. The survey question they send out basically says "Have you sent your car to the shop in the past year??". But if you go to the shop to check on a radio issue or something minor, that still counts as a reliability problem.
Still, Consumer Reports is probably the best car resource in the USA. So I highly suggest getting a subscription for a month or two.
First Strike +1/+1 and Indestructible.