And there are other popular used cars that can wind up in the shop. Consumer Reports' reliability information on almost 250 models identifies the most likely problems.
Car problems don't happen randomly. From the millions of car problems Consumer Reports' subscribers report each year, Consumer Reports identifies key trouble areas. For instance, the Ford Focus 2003 through 2006 shows problems with the alternator, ignition switch, and battery. And owners of Dodge Grand Caravans from 2003 through 2006 complain about the power steering, tie rods, water pump, and air conditioning.
Even Toyota and Honda, which tend to be more reliable, have model years that are trouble-prone. The V6 Honda Accords from 2003 and 2004 have a high rate of transmission failure. And many Accords from 2008 through 2010 experience brake problems. And the 4-cylinder Toyota Camry from 2008 suffers excessive brake wear.
Of the 17 trouble spots Consumer Reports engineers look at, brakes are the biggest problem with used cars beyond normal wear and tear. Brakes are definitely something you should check carefully before you buy. And whatever used car you're considering, Consumer Reports says always get it checked by an independent mechanic.
Consumer Reports identifies the best and worst used cars . Among the best for under $10,000-the 2009 Pontiac Vibe, the 2008 4-cylinder Hyundai Sonata, and the 2004 Acura TSX and Toyota RAV4.
The Problem Solvers contacted BMW, Honda, Toyota, Chrysler (Dodge) and Ford for their response to Consumer Reports problem ratings on their perspective vehicles. We received the following responses:
From Maurice Durand at Toyota:
"Consumer Reports rated the 2008 Camry 4cyl. as better than average for reliability, while noting only minor shortcomings. It also predicts the entire 2013 Camry model line-up (4cyl, V6, and Hybrid) as much better than average for reliability, its highest rating."
From Elizabeth Weigandt at Ford:
"Ford is absolutely committed to top quality and customer satisfaction. We recommend that customers with any questions on our products either contact their dealer directly, visit our website or call 1-800-392-3673."
Chris Martin at Honda gave a detailed response to the report about both the 2003-04 Accord transmissions and the reported brake issues with the 2008-2010 Accords.