The Best Used Cars for Buyers with Questionable Creditby Steve Cypher on Tuesday, March 12th, 2013
We slice and dice the latest list of the most dependable used cars from Consumer Reports in a couple of budget ranges to come up with the ones that make the most sense for auto loans for those buyers with problem credit
What we know
Car shoppers with bad credit should take a look at the list we’ve compiled from the latest Consumer Reports list of used cars before signing up for an auto loan.
At Auto Credit Express we base this opinion on more than two decades of helping car buyers with poor credit find those new car dealers that can offer them their best opportunities for approved car loans. It’s also the reason our website features a resource section that covers such topics as interest rates and new and used cars. Which brings us to today’s topic: the importance of choosing a reliable used car.
Choosing a vehicle
To begin with, to help offset the higher interest rates that come with higher-risk car loans, it’s important that buyers look at an affordable subcompact, compact or entry-level midsize car. These types of vehicles can save on interest, insurance and fuel expenses. In most cases, picking out a used car from one of those categories is even better. Consider this: according to Consumer Reports, the average new car “loses up to 47 percent of its value in the first three years.”
CR best and worst
Just this week Consumer Reports (CR) published the results of their latest Annual Auto Survey, based on subscriber survey responses covering over a million vehicles. The organization then came up with both the “best used cars” as well as the “worst used cars” in terms of reliability.
We then sorted through the report to come up with what we feel are the most affordable used cars in the two most affordable categories for car buyers with less than perfect credit:
The Best Used Cars
Less than $10,000
Pontiac Vibe 2009
According to CR, “This sensible wagon’s 2009 redesign brought standard ESC and stronger, more fuel-efficient engines. A twin of the Toyota Matrix, it has a flat load floor. Pontiac’s 2011 demise means that you can find the Vibe at a cheap price, and parts and service remain available.”
Hyundai Sonata (4cyl.) 2008
Consumer Reports states that “The economical and efficient Sonata has a decent ride, secure handling, and a responsive four-cylinder engine that returned 23 mpg overall.”
CR also listed the 2004 Acura TSX as well as the 2004 4-cylinder Toyota RAV4, but both of those vehicles are too old to be approved by most subprime auto lenders.
2011 Honda Fit and 2011 Mazda3
Consumer Reports remarks that “The Fit is an excellent choice among hatchbacks. It has amazing space utilization; responsive, agile handling; and a super-efficient four-cylinder engine that returns 30 mpg overall with an automatic transmission. For a bit more refinement, look for a Mazda3 hatchback or sedan.”
2006-07 Honda Accord (V6)
Consumer Reports felt that “The Accord is an excellent choice among used cars. Its smooth V6 engine is economical and strong, the ride is comfortable and compliant, and reliability is excellent. The four-cylinder version is nice but didn’t get ESC until 2008.”
CR also noted that a more luxurious option would be the 2005-2006 Acura TL although, again, we feel that most models of it would probably be too old or too expensive (the older the vehicle, the shorter the loan term allowed) for buyers with credit issues.
2006-08 Toyota RAV4 (4-cyl.) and 2005-07 Honda CR-V
Consumer Reports believes that “The 2006 RAV4 gained more interior room, a V6, and an optional third-row seat. The four-cylinder’s nimble handling, very good 23 mpg overall, and versatile cabin propelled it to the top of our small-SUV Ratings. The CR-V is a sportier, if somewhat noisier, alternative.”
Our own take is that both of these vehicles would be fine, although many buyers with imperfect credit might find them either at or over the upper ends of their budgets.
The worst according to CR
Since used cars with poor reliability usually mean more out of pocket expenses for owners, car shoppers, especially those with low FICO scores and/or on a tight budget, should avoid financing these vehicles.
To quote Consumer Reports, “Steer clear. These 2003 through 2012 models, listed alphabetically, have had multiple years of much-worse-than-average overall reliability, according to our Annual Auto Survey. That’s based on at least three years of data for each model listed.”
The vehicles that usually work for credit-challenged buyers that appear on the “bad” list include the Chevrolet Uplander, Chrysler PT Cruiser, Dodge Caravan, Dodge Grand Caravan and Saturn Relay.
The Bottom Line
Choosing a used car with a poor reliability record could end up being more expensive than necessary if you find yourself footing the bill for costly repairs in addition to your monthly car payment.
Another problem that buyers with poor credit scores face is finding a dealer that’s willing to work with them. That’s why here at Auto Credit Express we match applicants that have experienced car credit problems with dealers that can offer them their best chances for car loan approvals.
So if you’re ready to establish your auto credit, you can begin now by filling out our online car loans application.