Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: Advice on purchasing my first car

asked by on

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!

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!

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Starting problems even though I recently replaced the battery.

I would have a technician look at it and pull codes on the computer and diagnose the problem. It could have jumped timing or have a bad crank sensor or it could be a fuel pump problem, either way it...

Q: The car was rebuilt after a front end collision and looks new Ford Fusion se 2015 it looks new they listing it for 9000 is it fair

You should be cautious of purchasing a vehicle with a rebuilt title or has been in a major accident. The vehicle typically never gets back to 100% of what it was before the accident and the value for you will...

Q: Heavy shaking that stops at high speeds

Considering the mileage on your car, there could be some worn out pieces in the front and rear suspension. The links that attach the wheels to the body of the car have rubber pivot points that eventually lose their elasticity...

Related articles

What Causes Hoses to Leak?
While the largest part of your engine is mechanical, hydraulics plays a significant role. You’ll find fluids at work in a number of different areas. Your car's fluids include: Engine oil Transmission...
What are the Car Pool Rules in Hawaii?
Hawaii is widely regarded as a land of vacation and relaxation, and as such, its scenic roads and routes are far better known than the state’s freeways. But, as with all...
P2428 OBD-II Trouble Code: Exhaust Gas Temperature Too High Bank 1
P2428 code definition A P2428 trouble code signifies that the PCM has detected a problem in the exhaust gas temperature sensor circuit in bank 1, which subsequently contains the number one...