Hyundai Accent, Ford Focus, Nissan Versa and Sentra: Your Experiences

Have recently been thrust into the market for a used car, I’m interested in any opinions and experiences that anybody has about small cars in general and about the four models listed in the title in particular. What I’d like to know is just basic experiences: how often do they break down? How many miles can I expect to get out of them? Do they ride smoothly? Are any of the features such as air conditioning prone to trouble?

Wife bought a Hyundai accent, used, at 9k miles. Didn’t last to 100k, and there were near-constant problems after about 20k miles. First was a speed sensor that went, which caused it to never shift above first gear. Then there was a barrage of diag codes - small evap leak, cylinder 4 misfire, etc, etc. Had to replace the intake manifold gasket, spent nearly $1000 on other troubleshooting (replace the canister close valve, a few other things that escape my mind at the moment). Finally around 100k miles the transmission was slipping so bad it was becoming dangerous.

My best friend also has/had an Accent he bought used. Worked fine for a while, but then it too started falling apart. I dont know as many details, but I do know the oil dipstick tube came loose from the pan, which was nice. I ask him about it, and his response is always a terse ‘It’s a piece of shit’.

I’d rather pedal a Huffy than drive a used Hyundai at this point. Although another friend of mine has an Elantra that he bought new, and he really likes it.

Hmmm…my brother has a 2004 Focus, which he bought new. I’d venture to guess he’s got a little over 50k miles on it. No problems reported thus far, just regular maintenance.

Any reason you haven’t listed any Toyota products? I’ve been driving a 2005 Corolla for five years now, and I have zero complaints about it.

Before I got into teaching, I ran a courier service. We used Sentras exclusively. Each one would get to at least 150,000 before I had to do a lick of repair to any of them. If you keep the valves adjusted and are prompt with the fluid refills and changes, the suckers run forever. We had 7 of them up over 500,000 before we sold them for new ones.

eta: That was 25 years ago. They might have gone downhill from then. I don’t know one way or the other.

I have a 2002 Hyundai Accent hatchback. There’s been nothing but routine maintenance, and you can fit a HECK of a lot of stuff in the hatchback. It was 4 years old when I bought it.

I had a used Sentra once (I think it was an '02), drove it for about four years before trading it in. Good car - reliable, adequate power for highway driving.

I have a '97 Sentra with ~65k miles. I’ve had to do a few repairs - mostly maintenance-type things like brakes, but I did have to replace an alternator and whatever the hunk of the ignition system is called…thing kept stalling out on me. But it’s mostly been quite reliable.

I drove a 1997 Hyundai Accent for about 7 years, bought it used in 2001. Downsides: The gas gauge stopped working shortly after I got it. No air conditioning. It got broken into using a pair of child’s scissors as a key. Two of the defrosting wires in the rear window didn’t work. The upsides: minimum 30 mpg at all times, regardless of highway or city driving, speed, road conditions, etc. That thing went forever on a tank. Also very small, could fit easily into parking spaces that SUVs had to drive right past.

Just that there aren’t many in my price range. If I say a Corolla for under $12,000 and it had fewer than 50,000 miles, I’d snag it in about two seconds.

I was given an Accent as a loaner car to drive for a few day this past February. All thing considered, it’s not a bad little car but I did have some issues. Something about the driver’s seat just didn’t fit my somewhat… ample frame. I could not get comfortable. Much of that was due to somewhat poor headroom, my relatively long torso and stumpy legs compared to my overall height and my preference for a strongly upright seating posture. This is a very personal issue and you may not have this worry.

My other issue with the car was absolutely abysmal snow/ice handling. Better tires would have helped but I bet it would still be sub-average.

How about a Pontiac Vibe? It’s essentially a Corolla/Matrix, but I wouldn’t expect it to have the Toyota used car premium pricing.

That said, I don’t really know much about the things.

Ah, I see. Well, for what it’s worth, you’ve got my vote of confidence for one.

Come to think of it, my driver’s side door lock just went funny - weeks after the five year warranty ran out. They’re crap after all! :slight_smile:

In addition to whatever anecdotal evidence you get here, you might want to do some research someplace like

I have a 2006 Accent (purchased new), and I haven’t had any major problems with it. If it’s well taken care of, with oil changes and the necessary replacements over the life of the vehicle, it seems to run well. The only thing that’s a little scary is driving in extreme winter conditions. If the school district that I work for doesn’t call a snow day with the really nasty weather, getting to work involves a lot of fishtailing and driving very, very slowly. I think I’m most impressed by the mileage–I’ve driven from central Massachusetts to Scranton, PA, starting with a full tank and ending with maybe a quarter tank.

Drove an 03 Nissan Sentra* (which was awesome until it was totaled) and then an 06 Nissan Sentra. I loved them both. I would still be driving the '06 but when the economy went south my wife and I decided to sell one of our cars in order to cut back. The Sentra had held it’s value better (lower milage etc) so it was the car that got sold.

Another good place to check is when I bought my ranger I researched the hell out of it, and on carsurvey all the people who owned the same make/model/year said the only problems they had were transmission & electrical. And after I got mine those were the only problems I ever had.

My boyfriend has a 2008 Accent (automatic), bought new. It has almost 80k miles on it. He has never had a single problem with it.

I had a 2008 Accent (standard), bought new. I had about 12k miles on it. The only problem I had with it was a pickup truck and 55 MPH. Two cases of whiplash, some chemical burns from the air bags, seat belt burns and a major case of panic attacks but otherwise, I’d say the Accent crashes pretty damn well.

My mom and stepdad have a Focus. I think it’s about 7 years old, bought slightly used. They’ve had nothing but problems with it.
After my accident, I was test driving other cars (I was avoiding the Accent for panic reasons - I got over it) and I completely fell in love with the Suzuki SX4 Crossover (totally out of your price range if you’re looking at Accents) and the Toyota Yaris. They were both a whole lot of fun to drive and I wish I had been able to buy one of them.