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Overall reliability of 2003 Hyundai Elantras?

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Apr 10, 2014, 7:26 AM

Post #1 of 6 (1108 views)
Overall reliability of 2003 Hyundai Elantras? Sign In

So, my 1993 Olds Cutlass is starting to spring too many problems and is drinking too much gas for the daily commute. I need to replace it with something, but my budget is limited...hoping to spend less than 4k on a "new" used car.

Saw a 2003 Hyundai Elantra (Automatic trans, 2.0L 4 cyl. engine) for sale, with 96k on it, that might fit the bill for a back-and-forth car to take daddy to work. However, our local mechanic isn't thrilled with Hyundais and recommends sticking with either Honda or Toyota for cars of that era.

Any of y'all have any thoughts about this?

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
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Apr 10, 2014, 8:13 AM

Post #2 of 6 (1101 views)
Re: Overall reliability of 2003 Hyundai Elantras? Sign In

You want a "new" car for $4,000 bucks - you are dreaming. I'm not able to promote one brand over another on the used market which will matter a ton on how well it was cared for. Whatever you find you want to consider have it inspected by YOUR mechanic as a pre-purchase requisite and if seller doesn't allow that skip that one and move on.

Things can happen by surprise to anything but you can rule out a lot first and not jump out of a frying pan into a fire most of the time.

If your trusted mechanic suggests some place or model I'd consider that a lot in your choice,



Apr 10, 2014, 8:23 AM

Post #3 of 6 (1094 views)
Re: Overall reliability of 2003 Hyundai Elantras? Sign In

Hah, when I say "new", I meant "new to me." Hence the quotes. I know I'm not going to get anything wonderful for the amount of money I have to spend. Really I'm just looking for opinions on the overall reliability of the brand.

Getting any vehicle checked out by a mechanic is a prerequisite before I part with any cash.

Thanks for your input.

Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Apr 10, 2014, 8:58 AM

Post #4 of 6 (1091 views)
Re: Overall reliability of 2003 Hyundai Elantras? Sign In

Right, check out any with YOUR mechanic. Owner/seller has the right to go and you pay for the inspection. I didn't mean or think you meant 'new' as in new and you can get lucky or not. Some seller's knew why to sell and some have put in so much $$ they gave up and just some dinky problem may lurk? Used is used no matter the reputation unless on the top 10 worst it's back to each car one by one.

Your price range doesn't help but bad cars are out there for many times that also. Some have hidden accident damage that wasn't fixed so well or a host of things.

Most mechanics and shops should go thru a check list checking out a car. Tires good and match. Evidence of poor maintenance or repairs and so on.

Ask if it's ready and will pass your place's inspection and if codes have been cleared which can make you wait to get it all legal if you do buy it or find some nightmare being covered up. Used is used. I don't believe in pricing cars that old as it would be all about real condition by that age.

Does seller have repair records and has routine services been done? It's rare to get a used car that isn't going to need something soon or right away so the costs of the unexpected of the best out there has to be considered.

#1 already said is have it checked out FIRST. What is your current car worth do you think? Will your mechanic buy it from you?

Whole thing can be hard work and take time to swap out used for used so make the time and do the homework now, not after the thing is yours,


Hammer Time
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
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Apr 10, 2014, 10:01 AM

Post #5 of 6 (1084 views)
Re: Overall reliability of 2003 Hyundai Elantras? Sign In

I wouldn't put a Hyundai in the same league as a Honda or Toyota either but they are still not a bad car. The price isn't comparable with Honda or Toyota either so you buy what you can afford. Hyundai isn't that bad.


We offer help in answering questions, clarifying things or giving advice but we are not a substitute for an on-site inspection by a professional.

Veteran / Moderator
nickwarner profile image

Apr 10, 2014, 10:02 AM

Post #6 of 6 (1080 views)
Re: Overall reliability of 2003 Hyundai Elantras? Sign In

I would agree with your mechanic. A Honda or Toyota is a better built car and a Hyundai is cheap right off the factory line. Big thing with any car is how it was maintained and driven. A Civic owned by a commuter and taken in for regular maintenance would be a good buy, one owned by a 22 year old that thinks he's going to be in the next Fast N Furious movie would obviously be a money pit.

A car that sold for $25,000 brand new is likely to be built with better materials than something that sold for $17,000. Personally, I'm not a fan of Korean cars, but some people have had good luck with them. Whatever car you look at buying, be sure to let your mechanic get a look at it before laying down any cash on it.

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