We have been hunting high and low for a suitable car to buy for our oldest daughter. We researched and looked at several makes and models including Dodge Avengers, Neon and Stratus, Ford Escorts and Taurus, Nissan Maxima, Mercury Cougars ('99-'02 years only), and quite a few Hyundai models. We ended our search within the Honda family because of their proven reliability and lasting value. We bought a Honda Accord EX V6 Coupe.
Originally, we intended to go with a four cylinder. The savings in gas alone was our motive. She will be going to college soon and will be commuting. However, the smaller cars with smaller motors come with big price tags. Our target price was originally $3000. We had to raise the limit because you just cannot touch a good reliable used car in decent shape at three grand.
Every day we scoured Auto Trader and Craigslist for listings that met our criteria. The numbers of cars available sorely disappointed us. Once we went to see the cars in person, they were all ragged out. Even cars that boasted low mileage were very rough around the edges.
One Thursday night I came across a new listing on Craigslist for a Honda Accord EX V6 Coupe, the two-door version of the sedan. The vehicle looked good in the images and a little sporty. The mileage was a little higher than what we wanted and the car was a V6. The color was not exactly what I wanted for my daughter, San Marino Red ("race me" red in my book). However, the price was awesome and below value for this model and year car. We emailed.
The next morning I went to look at the car. I was amazed how nice this car looked for its age. The car had no signs of ever having bodywork. There were only minor scratches and dings on the exterior. The interior only had two major flaws a crack in the trim and a tear in the driver's seat.
Mechanically the car seemed sound. The engine oil as well as the transmission fluid was clean. The belts, wires, and hoses looked good. Moreover, the motor sounded great, no knocks, squeals, or sounds that make you cringe. I asked to drive the car.
We had met at a major highway access shopping center. I was able to drive the car up to speed (I actually surpassed 80 before I knew it, as the car drove so well). The suspension was tight and felt good. The brakes were quiet and tight. The only issue I found was a slight pull, which I figured could be alignment or tire pressure. (After purchase, we found the pull to be tire pressure related.)
Before actually meeting with the seller, I did my research. He was asking a very fair price, well below retail and trade-in according to NADA and right on the money for a private seller (from Kelly Blue Book). There was no need to haggle with the seller because he listed the true value for the car.
I bought the car.
As for value for the money, I say we really got a great deal on the Honda. This car is solid. The body and doors do not rattle. The doors close as if you were shutting a door on a brand new car. There is no pull, shimmy or shake when driving. Above all else, the car is clean unlike many of the others we looked at.
All of the research I did before buying the car told me the 1998 Honda Accord EX V6 is a reliable vehicle. Consumer Reports did mention some issues with the engine and emissions along with transmission problems giving it a slightly lower rating. I believe for what we paid below retail we can make up the difference.
Since we have had the car, two issues have come up. The check engine light has come on. Did you know you must click the gas cap three times when replacing it after fueling or it will throw a code? Apparently, this is a common problem with the Honda Accords. Luckily, we have a code scanner to help us figure out if we have a major problem or a minor fix.
When the fuel cap code came up another popped up too, P1738 for the second gear pressure switch. After doing some research, we found we could fix this ourselves. The pressure switch is in an accessible location and should be cheap (some say $73 for the part). We have not really gotten into this because the code only comes up when the teen puts gas in the car and fails to click the cap enough times. We have noticed the car is somewhat slow to shift to second gear when it is cold. However, we read several forums mentioning this and they mostly point to the pressure switch issue.
We are taking the car in to have the timing belts (there are two on this model), alternator, and water pump changed. The previous owner had no idea when this was done last. Our goal is to make the car last and this type of general maintenance is a necessity with any car at a certain mileage. My husband knows the mechanic through his brother and he will be asking him about the pressure switch just to be sure.
Overall, the Honda Accord EX V6 Coupe is a sweet little car. I had the opportunity to ride in the back seat and found it to be quite comfortable. I really love the leather seats too. In fact, I have already decided the next car we purchase for the family should have leather. I think this car will last through our daughter's college years and beyond, as long as she keeps it up and out of harms way. The gas mileage on it is not as bad as I thought it would be for a V6 either, it gets between 27 and 28 highway.