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Q: Advice on purchasing my first car

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Hello, I would like to get my first vehicle, but I know very little about cars. I have started reading up on cars, trying to figure out the most reliable makes & models.I want a car that will last me for years, hopefully.

My plan: a used car, maybe made in 2011 or over with low-average kms. Budget: $10,000, willing to go up to $15,000 if I absolutely love the car. Preference: midsize SUVs, midsized sedans, or compact car.

Cars I like: Hyundai Elentra/Sonata, Kia Optima, Nissan Altima/Sentra, Mazda 3. My friends have advised Honda & Toyota as the most reliable cars. I think mechanics are more knowledgeable about cars. If you were purchasing your first vehicle today given your extensive knowledge but on a budget with a focus on reliability, what car would you buy? It doesn't have to be one of my preferences. I included that just for info. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

A: Since this is more advice than a technical ...

Since this is more advice than a technical question, I’ll share my experience. Mind you, ANY CAR, even those with good reliability records can have problems. Honda and Toyota are generally reliable. What usually steers me away from Honda is they’re always in the Top 10 stolen cars. Also, what steers me clear of late model Nissan’s is the CVT transmission. I personally do not like the driving feel of the CVT and some are prone to reliability issues. Others seem to run well.

Currently in my driveway is a 2012 Kia Forte SX 5 door with 82,000 trouble free miles and a 2015 Hyundai Sonata Sport 2.0T Limited with about 6000 miles. Prior to the Kia was a 2008 Hyundai Sonata 2.4 ltr. We traded it with 120,000 trouble free miles for the Forte (Kia and Hyundai are the same company). Hyundai/Kia has come a long way in the past 8-10 years and from my own experience, I don’t think you can go wrong.

Mazda 3 is a fun car. A friend of mine has a 2012 and it’s been trouble free. A close friend purchased a 2007 Sonata over a year ago and she loves it. Her mom liked it so much that she bought a 2013 Sonata Limited. Also, my sister-in-law just last week also bought a 2013 Sonata and is also loving it. And for the record, NO, I am not a Hyundai or Kia salesman or mechanic.

I suggest contacting a certified technician, like one from YourMechanic, when you finally find a potential candidate for you new car. We can provide a pre-purchase inspection of the used vehicle to pinpoint any issues the car may have to give you some piece of mind and so you know exactly what you’re investing your money on. Best of luck!

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