It seems like every month there’s a record sales story playing out on dealers across the United States. Yes, 2015 was the best year ever for the U.S. in terms of new car sales. No less than 17.5 million vehicles were sold and, of course, the Ford F-Series pickup truck took the best-sold crown.
For the 34th year in a row, the full-size workhorse with a Ford badge up front proved yet again that the pickup truck is still king of the hill compared to passenger vehicles.
Low gasoline prices and regulations that distort the new vehicle market in favor of domestic trucks made the Toyota Camry sedan come in fourth in the best-selling new vehicle rank (361,111 units versus 780,354 units of the Ford F-Series).
That’s more than double of what the most popular new car could do in 2015. Two other pickup trucks moved more units than the Toyota Camry did – the Silverado (600,544) and the Ram (451,116).
The Corolla came fifth on the list. The question is, though, what are the best-selling second-hand cars in the U.S.? You’d be surprised to know that the Ford F-Series came in fifth.
Most statistics and research on the subject show that four-door sedans are the sweethearts of the second-hand market. Another thing you should probably be aware of is that the best-selling used cars are white or gray. The last thing I want to mention before running down the list is that popularity doesn’t always equate with a dependable car.
The second-hand market is full of surprises, which is why it is of utmost importance to do your homework before spending your hard-earned dollars on a used car. Without further ado, let’s get down to business.Nissan Altima
A quick search on AutoTrader shows the scope of the Nissan Altima’s popularity on the used car market. Tens of thousands of Altimas are available and roughly two hundred examples have more than 200,000 miles on the odometer. What does this mileage mean in terms of consumer advice?
The fourth cheapest model in the Nissan lineup after the Versa Sedan, Versa Note, and Sentra is also one of the longest-lasting. Not bad, not bad at all for a front-wheel-drive mid-size sedan with tough competition such as the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, and the Chevrolet Malibu.
The sweetest balance between price and condition is offered by the fourth-generation Nissan Altima. On the other hand, the third generation (L31 – 2002 to 2006) Altima with the 2.5-liter QR25DE four-cylinder engine is known for excessive oil consumption and catalytic converter failures. Toyota Camry
For the 2016 model year, the Toyota Camry matured into a fine mainstream automobile. But a starting price of $23,070 sans destination isn’t exactly what those in the market for a cheap & cheerful Camry are looking for. The cheapest Camry I found online costs $999. It is a 1997 model with 220,000 miles and an expired PA inspection.
The ones that’ll start on first key turn go for $2,500 or more, which is still incredibly cheap for a mid-size car that will soldier on provided that you change the oil every 5,000 miles or so. Speaking of which, are you curious to find out what classifies as the most common Toyota Camry problem?
According to our friends over at RepairPal.com, the most common issue with the XV30 (2001 to 2006) Camry and the XV40 (2006 – 2011) Camry is a power steering leak from the pump or the hose. As for the second most common problem, that comes in the guise of a failed oxygen sensor. Chevrolet Malibu
The first and second generation of the Chevrolet Malibu are cool cars, full stop. But with the third-generation Malibu, the bean counters messed everything up and turned a cool car into one of the worst cars to come out of the Malaise Era.
From the 1997 model year, the Malibu changed for the better by adopting a front-wheel-drive chassis and a transverse engine layout. Yes, it became just a dime-a-dozen family car and a favorite among airport rentals. If you’re interested in a second-hand Malibu, start your search with the 2008 model year (seventh generation) and go as far north as you can.
Keep in mind that the seventh-generation Chevrolet Malibu is part of a recall campaign. 2007MY through 2010MY examples equipped with the four-speed auto have been recalled over a condition that could make the cars roll when in park. If you’re set on a Malibu from these model years, don’t forget to check if it has been repaired. This VIN search tool will come in handy.Honda Civic
After three mid-size sedans, time has come for a compact model to make our top five list of the best-selling used vehicles in the United States. Provided that if you aren’t ashamed of the “VTEC kicked in, yo!” stigma perpetrated by one too many boy racers, the Honda Civic is an honest point A to point B vehicle.
Hatchback, sedan or hybrid, the Civic family comes in many shapes and sizes. Keep away from the 2001 and 2006 to 2008 model years, though, because these cars are riddled with problems. More to the point, 2001 Honda Civic is prone to transmission failure and the 2006 to 2008 models are widely known for cracked engine blocks and excessive tire wear.
If the budget allows you to, go for the 2011 model year. $7,000 should be enough to find a tried-and-true example. Cheaper alternatives come in the form of the 2005 and 2000 model years. Be wary of rebuilt salvage cars, though. These rattletraps may appear safe and sound although they’re just fool’s gold.Ford F-150
Would you believe that the F-Series is now at its thirteenth generation? And boy does the latest F-150 deliver, as you can read in our review of the SuperCrew XLT 4×4 2.7 EcoBoost V6. The thing is, modern trucks have lost that spartan feeling of the workhorses from days gone by. If you’re looking for such an F-Series, look no further than the 1996 model year XL. Too old?
Then how about a rear-wheel-drive XL SuperCab from the 2009 model year? These babies are tough as nails and they’re pretty reliable according to data from CarComplaints.com. For those who want a fast F-150 to get their dopamine flying, a used 2010 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor can be bought for $25,000 or so.
What you need to know before you spend your dough on a second-hand Ford F-150 is to check the suspension system for unwelcome clunking or clicking sounds. Other things to look out for is the faulty cam phaser of the 5.4-liter Triton V8 that equips the 2004 through 2008 model years. As a rule of thumb for this generation of the F-150, avoid the 5.4 and go for the more reliable 4.6-liter Triton V8 engine.Editor’s note:
Present-day generations pictured, older generations featured in the photo gallery.