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Thread: Do you trust Consumer Reports?

  1. #1
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    Question Do you trust Consumer Reports?

    I am seriously considering the 1998-2001 nissan altima. While doing some research I found that the reliability rating for the altima was only average (3/5) for 2000/2001. 2001 engine was below average (2/5).

    So, can I trust CR with these ratings? Do you?
    I still see quite a few on the road, and for sale, today. Plus Altimas are known for thier reliability...
    I was wondering what the community's take was on this.

  2. #2
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brandonjin View Post
    I am seriously considering the 1998-2001 nissan altima. While doing some research I found that the reliability rating for the altima was only average (3/5) for 2000/2001. 2001 engine was below average (2/5).

    So, can I trust CR with these ratings? Do you?
    I still see quite a few on the road, and for sale, today. Plus Altimas are known for thier reliability...
    I was wondering what the community's take was on this.
    Well, CR's definitely biased toward imports - and certain brands, too.

    A better - more objective way (because it's factual and based on specific problems, not subjective opinions) to research a car is to check whether it has an unusual record for things like recalls and customer complaints. You can find this info on the DOT/NHTSA web site at http://www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov/recalls/ or search www.lemonlaw.bbb.org

    Also look do a Google search of the car you're looking into. Type the make/model and "lemon" into the search box and see what pops up. This will dig up owner/consumer complaints about the car. If you find a lot of them, then obviously, beware.

    On the Altima specifically, I can tell you that both the four cylinder and the optional V-6 are highly regarded engines that have proved their durability.

    I'd look for a four w/manual transmission if it were me shopping... because it'll cost a lot less and the performance/gas mileage is very good. Plus, it'll probably cost less to insure.

    Finally, my best advice:

    When shopping a used car - any used car - the most important thing is not make, or model, or mileage... it is condition. And that will vary from car to car. A worn-out Corolla is a worse buy than a pristine & well-cared-for Cavalier, even if the Corolla started out as the better car.

    Before you buy, have the car inspected by a mechanic you know is competent and whom you can trust. make it a condition of the sale. If the seller balks, you do not want that car. Trust me on that. A proper inspection will cost you $75 or so but it is worth every single penny.

    And: Don't get emotional; I know it's hard sometimes when it comes to cars, but try to be like Mr. Spock and base your decision on logic.

    Do this, and you will end up with the right car, whatever it happens to be!

  3. #3
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    When looking at the NHTSA site, you'll want to read the individual complaints about the systems you're worried about (engine, in your case), and not just look at the number of complaints.

    What I've seen is that people will sometimes use the site to rant about a problem that was traceable to something they did or didn't do (change the oil? Why? The car is supposed to be reliable, dammit!) or something totally not related to the vehicle itself.

    I found one where the owner lodged a complaint against the rear suspension of his pickup because the trailer he was towing broke. Duh! It's the trailer that broke, not the truck!

    Chip H.

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    Ok thanks guys. This really helps.
    I found another site while researching, car complaints.com
    http://www.carcomplaints.com/Nissan/...01/index.shtml
    That doesn't look promising.

    I also use this site to judge reliability... theres a huge difference between the two.
    http://consumerguideauto.howstuffwor...n-altima-2.htm

    What do you think?

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    The name of the site says it all -- "Car complaints"

    You're not going to go there to say all is well with your car and that you simply love it.

    From what I've observed, the Altima is pretty reliable, especially considering what people put their cars through. I'd buy one.

    Chip H.

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    True, True...

    I have seen plenty of positive reviews online, so I'm still considering it.
    Theres no such thing as a perfect car.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chiph View Post
    The name of the site says it all -- "Car complaints"

    You're not going to go there to say all is well with your car and that you simply love it.

    From what I've observed, the Altima is pretty reliable, especially considering what people put their cars through. I'd buy one.

    Chip H.
    Cars like the Altima and the Civic might be okay, but I would have it thorougly inspected. My perception is many owners of Japanese cars don't really take too good care of them and drive them until the wheels are ready to fall off. I see too many low end Japanese cars being sold for huge money that are frankly unreliable worn out pieces of crap. I used to enjoy going car shopping with friends. Not these days. People want a small fortune for their worn out cars and won't back off a penny. I saw some guy try and sell a 1997 Civic for 3500.00. It was dirty, the tires worn, the engine light was on and it had 17" wheels. I told my friend to keep going.

    They act like their 15 year old Civics and even their 10 year old Kias are a pot of frigging gold. I don't get it.

    I second what Eric says. Condition is way more important than make at this point. If a car has gone on for 8-10 years in good shape, it will likely last longer. In addition, look at who owns the car, not just the brand. That may be more telling than anything else.

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    Quote Originally Posted by swamprat View Post
    Cars like the Altima and the Civic might be okay, but I would have it thorougly inspected. My perception is many owners of Japanese cars don't really take too good care of them and drive them until the wheels are ready to fall off. I see too many low end Japanese cars being sold for huge money that are frankly unreliable worn out pieces of crap. I used to enjoy going car shopping with friends. Not these days. People want a small fortune for their worn out cars and won't back off a penny. I saw some guy try and sell a 1997 Civic for 3500.00. It was dirty, the tires worn, the engine light was on and it had 17" wheels. I told my friend to keep going.

    They act like their 15 year old Civics and even their 10 year old Kias are a pot of frigging gold. I don't get it.

    I second what Eric says. Condition is way more important than make at this point. If a car has gone on for 8-10 years in good shape, it will likely last longer. In addition, look at who owns the car, not just the brand. That may be more telling than anything else.
    Thats why I'm open to domestics as well.
    A 1994 honda accord lx is about 4000 on an autotrader search, while a 2001 pontiac grand prix gt is the same price.

    I would love to take the safer, more advanced, and newer pontiac, but the only reason I wouldn't get one is because CR's ratings show it is unreliable.

    I thought that the 3800 V6 was one of the most reliable engines out there...

    So, do you trust consumer reports? Are these readings accurate? I can't tell you how much I'd love to drive in a Pontiac grand prix coupe.

  9. #9
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brandonjin View Post
    Thats why I'm open to domestics as well.
    A 1994 honda accord lx is about 4000 on an autotrader search, while a 2001 pontiac grand prix gt is the same price.

    I would love to take the safer, more advanced, and newer pontiac, but the only reason I wouldn't get one is because CR's ratings show it is unreliable.

    I thought that the 3800 V6 was one of the most reliable engines out there...

    So, do you trust consumer reports? Are these readings accurate? I can't tell you how much I'd love to drive in a Pontiac grand prix coupe.
    The GM 3.8 V-6 is a good engine in terms of durability and upkeep costs; it's just been slammed for its lack of refinement, because it's an older (pushrod/OHV) design whereas most new cars (and virtually all imports) have OHC engines, which are considered smoother, especially at higher RPMs.

    It's the rest of the Grand Prix I'd be concerned about. Things like power accessories crapping out on you (and leaving you with a big bill). Probably the interior will be more cheap-looking and the car will be noisier and have more squeaks, rattles and leaks. The paint will probably not look as good - and will fade sooner... etc.

    Still, if you find a nice one that's clearly been treated well - if the price is right - then I'd go for it...

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    "Still, if you find a nice one that's clearly been treated well - if the price is right - then I'd go for it... "
    Its good to hear you say that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brandonjin View Post
    Thats why I'm open to domestics as well.
    A 1994 honda accord lx is about 4000 on an autotrader search, while a 2001 pontiac grand prix gt is the same price.

    I would love to take the safer, more advanced, and newer pontiac, but the only reason I wouldn't get one is because CR's ratings show it is unreliable.

    I thought that the 3800 V6 was one of the most reliable engines out there...

    So, do you trust consumer reports? Are these readings accurate? I can't tell you how much I'd love to drive in a Pontiac grand prix coupe.
    That's a very good question to which I don't have the answer. I have a friend who has a 2004 Grand Prix with the Supercharged engine. Its pretty much of a gas guzzler, but it drives fairly well. With a FWD transverse mounted V6, you have to expect motor mount trouble and whatnot, but if it has been well maintained, I'd chose it over a 1994 Accord. In fact, the 1994 through 1998 Accords were the "decontented" versions that the Japanese were trying to foist on us. "Decontenting" meant cheapening the car where you don't see it. The the thing is, though after a number of years, you do see the results of their efforts. Among those things, they reduced wire gauge sizes and cheapened switchgear and things like power windows.

    If you are looking for a low bucks, reliable easy to maintain car, you should look at a 2001-2004 Saturn L-Series. I own a 2001 L100. I have 184,000 miles on mine and it still runs like new. Have not had to replace axles on it. About 20 percent of Hondas on the road need new front axles at far less mileage and age. It gets about 25 city and about 30 highway (if I keep it under 80). It runs on regular.

    The great thing about the Saturn is that it easy as heck to work on. I do most of the maintenance and repairs myself without any trouble at all. I plan on keeping it till the wheels fall off, which could be a very long time.

  12. #12
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swamprat View Post
    That's a very good question to which I don't have the answer. I have a friend who has a 2004 Grand Prix with the Supercharged engine. Its pretty much of a gas guzzler, but it drives fairly well. With a FWD transverse mounted V6, you have to expect motor mount trouble and whatnot, but if it has been well maintained, I'd chose it over a 1994 Accord. In fact, the 1994 through 1998 Accords were the "decontented" versions that the Japanese were trying to foist on us. "Decontenting" meant cheapening the car where you don't see it. The the thing is, though after a number of years, you do see the results of their efforts. Among those things, they reduced wire gauge sizes and cheapened switchgear and things like power windows.

    If you are looking for a low bucks, reliable easy to maintain car, you should look at a 2001-2004 Saturn L-Series. I own a 2001 L100. I have 184,000 miles on mine and it still runs like new. Have not had to replace axles on it. About 20 percent of Hondas on the road need new front axles at far less mileage and age. It gets about 25 city and about 30 highway (if I keep it under 80). It runs on regular.

    The great thing about the Saturn is that it easy as heck to work on. I do most of the maintenance and repairs myself without any trouble at all. I plan on keeping it till the wheels fall off, which could be a very long time.
    Good call on the Saturn L-series. They're bland - and didn't sell especially well - but they are very solid, good cars that will give you excellent value for the dollar.

    I have no doubt you could find one in good shape for half the price of a same-year Corolla or Civic.

    PS: While the 3.8 liter V-6 is a fine engine, stay away from the supercharged version unless you enjoy high maintenance costs, awful gas mileage and a short life for both the engine and the transaxle.

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