The best and worst used cars

FRESNO, Calif.

And there are other popular used cars that can wind up in the shop. Consumer reports' reliability information on nearly 250 models identifies the most likely problems.

Jon Linkov of Consumer Reports said, "Car problems don't happen randomly. From the millions of car problems our subscribers report each year, we identify key trouble areas."

For instance, the Ford Focus -model years 2003 through 2006 -shows problems with the alternator, ignition switch, and battery. And owners of Dodge Grand Caravans from 2003 through 2006 complain about the power steering, tie rods, water pump, and air conditioning.

The v6 Honda Accords from 2003 and 2004 have a high rate of transmission failure. And many accords from 2008 through 2010 experience brake problems.

And the 4-cylinder Toyota Camry from 2008 suffers excessive brake wear.

Linkov said, "Of the 17 trouble spots we look at, brakes are the biggest problem with used cars beyond normal wear and tear. Brakes are definitely something you should check carefully before you buy."

And whatever used cars you're considering, consumer reports say always get it checked by an independent mechanic.

Consumer reports identify the best used cars for the price. For under $10,000, good choices are the 2009 Pontiac Vibe, the 2008 4-cylinder Hyundai Sonata, and the 2004 Acura TSX and Toyota Rav4.

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