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Need to buy a used car and I can't figure out which ones are safe and reliable


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I am looking to buy a used car for $15,000 or less, if possible.  I have been trying to research cars sites online and have ended up even more confused than when I started.  One website will lists safe and reliable cars and another site may have some of those cars listed as not so great.  So it becomes confusing if you're not a car expert yourself, so I'm hoping to get some good, solid feedback on what used cars would fit the bill for safe and reliable with either no recalls, or minimal type of recalls.


I loved the Suzuki brand of cars but am not willing to buy it used when Suzuki no longer sells autos in the U.S. anymore, as it's getting harder to find dealers that will service with genuine Suzuki parts.  I also like the Subaru Forest, used, not brand new, but I hear Subaru has a lot of transmission problems, so I don't know. 


Anyway, if anyone can help advise on which car makes and models, and model year as well, I'd appreciate it.  I also would like to get either a AWD or 4WD with good enough ground clearance for months when it snows.


Thank you.

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3 Answers

If you are looking at the Forester, I recommend looking at the third generation 2012 and 2013 models that are NOT turbo. Prior to this, Subaru had head gasket issues. And after this generation, they went to the notorious CVT transmission.  So 2012 and 2013 would be the sweet spot, assuming it checks out. If you can drive a manual transmission, a fourth generation Forester may be decent. 

Also consider the later years of the 4th generation RAV4. And the later years of the 4th generation CRV. 

Thank you, Kaizen. Appreciate the reasons why you recommended the 4th generation RAV4, as well as the CRV. I've been reading a lot lately on cars since I'm hoping to buy a used one, and am learning that some generation of a particular car model can be better than other years for any number of reasons. I never realized that before so it's helpful to know which generation, thank you. I'll also look into the 2012-2013 Forester, although Consumer Reports lists like 11 recalls, I think, on the 2013 model, I think. But I will definitely look into all your recommendations and go from there. Thank you for taking the time to help! Appreciated.


I would stick to Toyota RAV4 or Honda CRV. 

Thank you, yaser! As mentioned above, I'm still cautious about Toyota's and Honda's right now. I know they last a long time, which is really nice. But they do have their issues too so I'm finding I had an easier time buying a car when I knew absolutely nothing (lol), did not do any research, and simply chose the car on its looks, low mileage, price, color, but ended up buying 2 cars that turned out to be absolute gems. I was definitely lucky because those are not the smartest parameters to measure the quality and reliability of any vehicle! 🙂 Thank you again for your help as well. I appreciate your feedback too!

Every manufacturer has cars that have common issues, some of them serious engine/transmission issues. For each model you find, you should do your own research and have your own mechanic check it before purchase.

Posted by: @clarence

with either no recalls, or minimal type of recalls.

What do you have against recalls?