Further Reader Minivan Bleg

You guys were great the last go-round, so I figured I’d solicit further advice.
Here’s the situation: We’re looking at an ’06 Honda Odyssey. Y’all (and others) were convincing in your arguments and I’ve decided that loyalty to ancestors is great, but when it makes you neglect your current family, it needs to be gently placed aside.
So we’re looking into this particular Odyssey (side note: I absolutely hate typing that word. Henceforth, it shall be The Honda) and the dealer’s website offers a free Carfax for all used vehicles. I clicked through and noted that The Honda has had only one owner, 22k miles and is listed as in good repair. It also notes that in July ’07, it was in an accident in which front and side airbags were deployed. It’s a Honda Certified vehicle, which should count for something, but now I’m very disinclined to pursue it, as driving a formerly-crashed vehicle just doesn’t seem wise to me.
So, what say you? Is it okay to pursue a car that’s been in more than a simple fender-bender? Or should I stop now and look elsewhere?

10 responses to “Further Reader Minivan Bleg”

  1. Agent Orange Avatar
    Agent Orange

    I personally don’t know how Honda’s certification reflects on the crash issue but would research that on forums or something. As a side note, my sis and bro in law looked at the Toyota and Honda and ended up going with the Toyota.
    I have a Consumer Reports membership if you need additional info.

  2. Doug Avatar

    Why’d they go with the Toyota? Most reviews I’ve read say it’s overpriced and a rough ride…

  3. Andy II Avatar

    To your first question:
    No, I wouldn’t buy it. 22k miles in less then 2 years? It’s been ridden hard. Do you know how long the dealer has had it? Maybe all those miles were put on in one year. For the airbags to deploy the car had to be going or hit by a car going >25mph. My Honda was totaled by a 25mph collision. Airbags costs 4 grand each to replace; I’m surprised it wasn’t totaled by the previous owners. I guess the bodywork + the airbags was less than a replacement because it was less than a year old when the accident happened. But the previous owners did get rid of it. I am speaking from a bad carfax experience. My 2003 Mazda Protégé had a crystal clear one owner report. I got the car and took it to the Mazda dealer for an oil change. I got a call with a quote of over $6000 for maintenance items. The car looked like it had never been serviced. The place I bought it only warranties against non-maintenance items like the engine & transmission but not things like the timing belts, tires, water pump, brake pads, rotors, & rear calipers. I took it to Midas to fix the brakes because when I tried, the wheels were rusted on and I couldn’t get them off myself. Their 5lb sledge worked. Anyway – my recommendation is to stay away from anything that has been reported in an accident. And bring a mechanic or ask to take it to an independent mechanic before you buy ANY used car. I would spring for a new bare bones Kia than a Honda that’s been in an accident. How do you know they repaired the airbags properly – what are you going to do, test them? How do you know the structure wasn’t bent or weakened? Cars are designed to crush now.
    To your second question:
    A Toyota may ride rougher if you drive it back to back with a Honda but I guarantee it does not ride “rough”. If you think so, take a Lotus Elise or a Mini S out for a test drive afterwards. It is definitely more cush than my little Protégé. My nephews have no problem passing out in their car seats in my sister’s Toyota. Overpriced? I don’t know. The Honda LX is about 26,500 while the Toyota LE is about 27,000. I know 500 is a lot but over a 60 month loan, it’s only $8/mo. My other suggestion is the Mazda 5. It is smaller but at 21,500, it looks good. For mpg, the Toyota claims 17/23, Honda claims 16/23, and the Mazda is 21/27 since it is car based.
    My own note:
    The price on minivans is going to be hard to negotiate now because of gas prices. Everyone is moving down from their Expeditions to minivans or wagons to get better mpg. Sara just got a new Honda Civic 4-door since someone hit her old car in a parking lot and we went to two Honda dealers just to find one. The first place had a waiting list for hybrids that went out to the end of August and a regular one you couldn’t get until the beginning of August. The second place we went only had one that they sold to another dealer but since we were there, the sold it out from under them to us for sticker price. They weren’t expecting any more, hybrid or regular, until August either.
    There’s my 2 cents, no where’s my change!

  4. Doug Avatar

    @Andy II
    In re: moving down from SUVs, at least based upon lot stocks, they’re going down to sedans, etc., and not to minivans. Minivans are still considered “trucks” by official gov’t standards and the jump from 14 MPG to 16 MPG that you’re likely to see isn’t very significant.
    As to your other points, though — that’s pretty much what I was thinking. The thing is Honda Pre-Owned Certified, but I too worry about frame damage and airbags.

  5. Andy II Avatar

    While it looks like they do check quite a bit, I would still be leary. Frame damage is not specifically checked, but if it was really bad, it would show up in the steering effort test. At worse, your tires will wear faster and have fun on ice. Air bags are checked to see if the light is on and if they look OK from the outside. Since the car is so new, most of that stuff will be fine.

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