Cars are the second largest expense that most people face. So you don't want to waste your money in the automotive arena when you're buying a used vehicle.
J.D. Power has announced the results of its 2016 Vehicle Dependability Study, which looks at reliability after three years of ownership among 2013 models.
Here are the most and least reliable used cars
Overwhelmingly, cars are so much more reliable than they used to be. That's the good news. Yet there are some big differences and gaps in reliability still to be found. For example, the Ford brand didn't have it together in 2013. After weathering the Great Recession, Ford made a return to reliability on the 2012 Vehicle Dependability Study. But the nameplate has steadily slipped since then. This year Ford is all the way down to second from the bottom. (Last place "honors" go to Dodge.)
Who has been consistent for years and years when it comes to three-year reliability? Lexus. They take the top spot again this year for the fifth time. Rounding out the Top 5 for reliability this year are Porsche, Buick, Toyota and GMC
Clark's longtime advice has been to buy a three-year old used car and hold it for three to four years. Buying used ensures that somebody else eats the depreciation, which is a huge loss in value a new car incurs the minute it drives off the dealer lot.
Read more: How to buy a used car
When you are ready to buy, be sure you do the following
Arrange your used auto financing first. Look at credit unions, online banks or even traditional banks. Only take dealer financing if it beats any other offer you have. Of course, I would love for you to pay for an affordable used car completely in cash!
Make sure the used vehicle is worth what you're paying. Check Edmunds.com, KBB.com or NADA.com for the true market value so you come up with a feel for the price. You can also use CarGurus.com, which lets you put in your zip code and the make/model of the vehicle you're interested in at their website. They'll comb through some two million listings available on published databases and rate the vehicles available for sale with notations of "great price," "good price" "fair price" and on down.
Check the vehicle number. Run the VIN though CarFax.com to find out if it's a flood vehicle or if it's been in a horrible accident.
Have the used vehicle inspected by an independent mechanic. One of the key things to know about buying a used car is that you buy "as is." CarFax alone is not enough of a check; you need to take this additional step. Never rely on any representations that the salesperson makes about the car, be it a commissioned employee at a dealership or an independent seller in your neighborhood. Need to find a good mechanic? Here's how to get started.
Check out your no-haggle buying options. It can be tough to find a diamond in the rough and weed out the lousy deals. Try Carvana.com, which has a 7-day no questions asked return policy. It's kind of like the Carmax of the online used car buying world.