Help – I Need To Buy a New Car

Reader Question
Hi Austin,

I really like your site – thanks for writing all those helpful articles. I feel like I am much more educated on auto mechanics than I was 5 hours ago. 🙂

My question follows: I tallied up how much my 98 VW Golf (177,000 KM) has cost me in repairs over the past decade (not including regular oil changes and new tires) and I arrived at a figure of just over $6,000.

According to my records, every year I have taken the car into the shop for repair work — everything from a broken cassette deck (twice actually), to a broken water pump, new muffler/resonator, new heater core, new struts/shocks/, new wheel bearing, new tie rod and CV joint, new timing belt, new spark plugs/wires, two new ignition coils, master cylinder work, etc. etc. etc. Is this “normal” maintenance on a car or does this sound a bit excessive to you? This is my question.

I’d really like to find out if my vehicle repair history would classify as “normal” or a little excessive because it will help me determine if I will ever buy another Golf. I have heard that VWs are not reliable and my experience with the Golf kind of supports that.

If I don’t get another Golf, I am going to buy a Toyota Yaris. Since Toyota’s are considered one of the most “reliable” cars out there does that mean that I can expect to cut my repair bills in half over the next decade with a Yaris??? Am I making sense?

Thanks! And Happy New Year!
Nancy K.

Hello there Nancy,

thanks for the kind words. I am not a big fan of VW just because of the less than great maintenance records of many of my customers. I think your repairs might be a little more than normal. You almost never go wrong with Toyota, although I am not familiar with the Yaris, still its Toyota.

The Camry has been on my top list of car recommendations for years. I can say 1 very important suggestion, make sure the vehicle was manufactured in Japan…this will be evident by a “J” as the first letter to appear in the VIN code. Your dealership can also tell you this info….a Japanese built vehicle has a much better maintenance and resell record than vehicles assembled elsewhere.

I also like the Honda Accord and the Kia Rio both are great cars…the Rio is a pretty slick little car with a nice price tag, although the resale value with the Honda and the Toyota will hold up better than the Kia.

My top list would be

1. Toyota Camry – Japanese
2. Honda Accord – Japanese
3. Nissan Maxima – Japanese
4. Kia Rio – Korean – Actually this tops my list for value and maintenance record. We have a Kia Sedona mini van…second one, and we love them. Kia is going to really take market share soon.
5. Hyundai – Korean

The Kia Rio is a very nice car….actually ALL Kias are pretty nice, you would be surprised. The price is nice too.


Austin Davis

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