Sedans Test of Time Report

For the Fixya Test of Time Report, we have culled data from over 30 million Fixya users and their troubleshooting requests to find the most common problems with five of the best selling sedans in America: The Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Ford Focus, Honda Civic, and Toyota Corolla. Buying a car is a big financial decision – it's important to do the right research and be as knowledgeable as possible beforehand.

Every car is unique, and with that, has unique problems. We've created this report to keep consumers appraised on the most common problems with each of these top-selling vehicles, so that they can purchase with confidence. The report takes into account all models from the past 10 years, and is an assessment of the vehicle line itself (rather than by specific model year).

The report has multiple sections for each vehicle:

  • A list of the top problems experienced with each vehicle, as a percentage of the total problems for that vehicle.
  • A synopsis of each vehicle and major findings.
  • A breakdown of each issue with the most common problems and the most likely explanations for why these problems are occurring.

Taking into account the severity of the most common problems per vehicle, along with the ratio of cars sold to total problem impressions for each vehicle, Fixya has assigned a Test of Time score for each vehicle. The lower the number assigned to each vehicle, the higher the Test of Time score that particular vehicle received.

The Test of Time score for this report are as follows, along with the most standout issue, from best to worst:

Fixya Sedans Report

Disclaimer: This is not a scientific report, but rather meant to show general trends across each vehicle of the most common problems experienced by Fixya users. U.S. sales numbers are based on information from GoodCarBadCar.net.

HONDA ACCORD (935,907 total problem impressions)

Honda Accord Top Issues

Synopsis

As one of the best-selling vehicles of any category in America over the last two decades, the Accord's reputation and product have earned it multiple awards and made it a popular offering for commuters, families, and young professionals alike. It's price point is one of the highest in comparison to the sedans on our list, due to Honda positioning themselves as a somewhat more luxurious option than other vehicles.

However, as with any car, the Accord still has issues that potential and current owners should be aware of. Let's dive into some of the more common issues below:

The Issues

Transmission - Although more predominant in the mid-2000's versions of the Honda Accord, issues with the transmission are a problem that a large number of Fixya Accord owners have had with their vehicle throughout the years. Here are a few issues users have described with the Honda Accord's transmission:

  • Strange noises coming from the hood while driving
  • Warning lights popping up on the dashboard indicating an issue
  • Engine stalling while starting the vehicle
  • Slight delay in response time from the vehicle when increasing speeds
  • Gearbox feeling like it is disengaging while driving the vehicle

Solutions from Fixya Experts, as well as the initial users who reported the problem (who either took the car to a mechanic or looked at it themselves after receiving a solution), listed several possible reasons as to why these issues with the transmission were occurring. Although every issue and circumstance is going to be different, here are a few potential reasons your Accord could be having transmission issues:

  1. You could be experiencing malfunctioning shaft bearings, which could potentially be solved by tightening or replacing them. This is a tougher fix for anyone who hasn't spent much time underneath the hood of a car.
  2. Another possibility is malfunctioning solenoids that control line pressure within the transmission.

Headlights - Accord owners reported issues with the strength and functionality of their headlights, specifically while driving at night. Fixya users described the following issues with the headlights on their Honda Accords:

  • Lower than expected headlight strength and brightness
  • Lower than expected reflectors on their vehicles for night driving
  • Headlights dimming while driving
  • Headlights intermittently flickering while driving
  • The lights on their dashboard dimming significantly while the headlights were turned on

Fixya Experts offering their solutions, as well as the initial users who reported the problem (who either took the car to a mechanic or looked at it themselves after receiving a solution) listed several possible reasons as to why this was occurring. Lights can potentially be a quick fix, but here are a few reasons why your headlights might be acting up:

  1. There could possibly be malfunctioning wires that go from the battery to the car body. A quick inspection of these wires will let you know if they've been disconnected, and if not, it might be time to replace them.
  2. Another possibility for faulty headlights could be due to a blown fuse. If this is the case, you'll have to replace them.
  3. This could be due to malfunctioning alternators in the vehicle, in which case the alternators will need to be replaced.
  4. Misaligned bulbs and reflectors in the headlight of the vehicle can also cause limited brightness in headlights. A quick inspection of the bulbs will let you know if you need to simply readjust the bulbs, or if they need to be replaced.

Power Steering - When driving their vehicle, Accord owners on Fixya have reported several issues with the performance of their vehicle as well as the stability of their driving wheel. In relation to the power steering on their Honda Accords, Fixya users reported the following issues:

  • Fluid leakage below their vehicle, which after inspection turns out to be fluid from the power steering apparatus
  • Vibrating steering wheels at a specific range of vehicle speed (varies between users, but commonly occurs at the 60-70 MPH range)
  • The wheel attempting to turn back to the center position when executing turns at slow speeds (0-5 MPH range, like turning out of a parking spot)
  • Vibrating through the drivers side floor as well as the drivers gas and brake pedal (again the speed varies between users, but commonly occurs at the 60-70 MPH range)
  • The steering wheel vibrating when brakes are applied
  • The steering wheel slightly vibrating when the car is idling

Fixya Experts offering their solutions, as well as the initial users who reported the problem (who either took the car to a mechanic or looked at it themselves after receiving a solution) listed several possible reasons as to why this was occurring. Power steering issues are a bit more serious, but here are a few possibilities for why this might be happening:

  1. One explanation for this could be that your front brake rotors need to be replaced. Similarly, brake pads becoming run down can affect power steering. If this is the case, these pads should be replaced.
  2. This could be occurring due to power steering fluid needing to be flushed and replaced, or the power steering hose needing to be replaced due to deterioration.
  3. If you're experiencing a vibration in the steering wheel, your front wheels may need aligning. Alternatively, a vibration in the floor or the foot pedals could mean that your back wheels need to be aligned. In some cases, the CV axles might also need to be replaced.
  4. Another explanation could be attributed to issues with the power steering rack and pinion units.?

TOYOTA CAMRY (614,824 total problem impressions)

Toyota Camry Top Issues

Synopsis

Initially a true-compact vehicle, over the years the Toyota Camry has grown in size to join the legion of sedans that have become more and more popular in the United States (and, to a lesser extent, the world). The Camry is unique in how the vehicle is marketed and positioned across the globe—in a large amount of Asian countries the Camry is positioned as a luxury vehicle, while in the United States it is more aligned with other sedans.

As America's top-selling car for over a decade, the Camry is a popular choice in the United States and comes with an expectation of excellence. Let's dive into some common issues with the Camry and see what drivers should be cognizant of with the vehicle.

The Issues

Gas Pedal/Acceleration - Subject to some intense and widespread controversy from 2009-11, Toyota's Camry and Corolla vehicles experienced major recalls related to the gas pedal accelerator on their vehicles. Fixya users, along with a wide variety of media outlets, reported these issues extensively and likely created a situation where users who were experiencing general vehicle issues over-reported and attributed their problems to the gas pedal/acceleration recall.

Regardless of the number of reports however, issues with the gas pedal/acceleration were still a significant issue for Toyota Camry owners on Fixya. The various issues with the Camry's gas pedal/acceleration are as follows:

  • Gas pedal sticking while driving
  • Gas pedal entangling to floor mat while driving
  • Gas pedal becoming difficult to move or unresponsive

Fixya Experts offering their solutions, as well as the initial users who reported the problem (who either took the car to a mechanic or looked at it themselves after receiving a solution) listed several possible reasons as to why this was occurring. Let's take a look at a few potential reasons as well as potential solutions for Camry gas pedal/acceleration issues:

  1. There could be issues with your gas pedal, whether it's high friction on the gas pedal, or the fact that your pedal sensor is worn out and/or smooth and in need of replacement.
  2. Issues could be caused by something as simple as floor mats that are unsecured or need replacing.
  3. In some cases, the throttle position sensor might need to be updated.
  4. This could also be caused by user error from not shifting to neutral before shifting into gear.

Brake lights - When driving their vehicle or turning off the engine and parking their vehicle, Fixya users have experienced two distinct types of issues with their brake lights not functioning properly. The issues related to the Camry's brake lights malfunctioning are listed below:

  • All brake lights not lighting up when using the brakes
  • Two rear brakes do not light up when using the brakes, but the center brake light in the rear windshield does light up
  • Brake lights not turning off when car is parked
  • Brake fluid leaking out of the vehicle
  • Brake lights continuing to malfunction after replacing the brake lights
  • Brake light warning coming up when brake lights are functioning properly

Fixya Experts offering their solutions, as well as the initial users who reported the problem (who either took the car to a mechanic or looked at it themselves after receiving a solution) listed several possible reasons as to why this was occurring. Potential reasons as well as potential solutions for Camry brake light issues include:

  1. Grease could potentially be leaking onto the brake stop lamp switch.
  2. The brake switch behind the brake pedal could be in need of replacing or repairing.
  3. As with headlights, the solution could be as simple replacing the bulb of the brake lights, or replacing/repairing the fuses of the brake light switch (potential blown fuses).
  4. Wearing break tubes could be one explanation, as could a worn down rubber pad on the brake pedal lever. If this is the case, these will need to be replaced.

Power Steering - Similar to other vehicles such as the Honda Accord and Ford Focus, Fixya users reported issues with the power steering of the Toyota Camry. However, the manifestations and causes of the issues with power steering in the Camry differ from that of the Honda Accord and do not appear to be related to the same defects. Reported problems with the Camry's power steering are as follows:

  • Fluid leakage below their vehicle, which after inspection turns out to be fluid from the power steering apparatus
  • Increased effort in attempting to steer the vehicle
  • Vehicle becoming hard to turn at increased angles of turning
  • Extremely brief electrical power loss when turning the vehicle
  • Steering wheel vibrates when turning the vehicle

Fixya Experts offering their solutions, as well as the initial users who reported the problem (who either took the car to a mechanic or looked at it themselves after receiving a solution) listed several possible reasons as to why this was occurring. A few potential reasons you might be experiencing these problems are:

  1. Moisture interacting with the power steering fluid could be the issue here, as could old fluid needing to be flushed out of the vehicle and replaced. A potential fix could be to clean the pressure valve inside of the pressure hose that houses the power steering fluid.
  2. Air conditioner drain hose could be leaking fluid into the engine of the vehicle.
  3. One potential solution that worked for some Fixya users was to use a siphon pump and a container to catch the fluid in pump, and add new fluid to the vehicle. Following that, start the motor and turn the wheel to both sides to circulate fluid. Repeat these steps until all the darker fluid has been flushed out.

FORD FOCUS (1,049,115 total problem impressions)

Ford Focus Top Issues

Synopsis

Typically associated with strong and sturdy trucks, Ford has refocused its product offerings over the years to trend more into the sedan-sized offerings that non-U.S. car companies have dominated for many years. The Focus is perhaps the most representative of this change, and has begun to offer some stiff competition to other sedans that have rich history and product lines dating back to the 1970's on their side.

Famously driven by Pope Francis, the Ford Focus has seen an uptick in sales during the last five years and appears to be joining the ranks as a legitimate contender to the Camry and Accord. Issues with the vehicle are still prevalent however, and should be understood before purchasing the vehicle.

The Issues

Power steering - Fixya users reported issues with the power steering of the Ford Focus that relate to time spent driving the vehicle at speeds that typically range from 20+ miles per hour. Although these issues have not resulted in vehicles being unable to be driven, they are significant in that they pose some relatively significant problems that potential and current Focus owners should be aware of.

Power steering issues with the Ford Focus that users have had are as follows:

  • Car makes a whining and/or scratchy noise when turning the vehicle
  • Power steering temporarily goes out while driving
  • Steering is relatively touchy and responds quickly to slight movements when touching the steering wheel
  • Fluid leakage below the vehicle, which after inspection turns out to be fluid from the power steering apparatus
  • Steering wheel vibrating when brakes are applied

Fixya Experts offering their solutions, as well as the initial users who reported the problem (who either took the car to a mechanic or looked at it themselves after receiving a solution) listed several possible reasons as to why this was occurring. Here are some potential reasons as well as potential solutions for the Focus' power steering issues:

  1. This could be due to a steering rack in need of an inspection and tune up.
  2. Another potential cause for this could be the power steering fluid needing to be flushed and replaced.
  3. Make sure to check your brake pads, which could be run down and in need of replacement.
  4. You can also potentially tackle this problem by reducing the sensitivity of the power steering on your vehicle.

Headlights - When driving their vehicles at night, Ford Focus owners reported issues with the strength and functionality of their headlights that caused decreased visibility. For certain Fixya users, these issues also affected the visibility of their vehicle to other drivers on the road, which was a concern that made driving at night even more worrisome. Fixya users described the following issues with the headlights of their Ford Focus:

  • Low strength of high beams and regular vehicle headlights
  • Reflectors on front and rear headlights not reflecting at night to other vehicles
  • Headlights not turning on when prompted
  • Headlights flickering on and off in short spurts while driving the vehicle

Fixya Experts offering their solutions, as well as the initial users who reported the problem (who either took the car to a mechanic or looked at it themselves after receiving a solution) listed several possible reasons as to why this was occurring. Potential reasons as well as potential solutions for Focus' headlight issues include:

  1. For issues with other cars being able to see your Focus, you could be missing amber side reflectors, which would need to be replaced.
  2. In some cases, a seal in the wiring harness connector could need to be replaced.
  3. Headlamp bulbs could be aligned incorrectly, causing flickering, and requiring readjustment while car is turned off.
  4. Malfunctioning wires that go from the battery to the car body that should be reconnected or replaced could potentially be the cause of your headlight problems.
  5. Headlights could be due to a blown fuse. If this is the case, you'll have to replace them.

Door Issues - Predominantly affecting the mid-2000's Ford Focus, the doors of the vehicle are sometimes loose and are difficult to shut when entering and exiting the vehicle. Furthermore, on Focuses that do not have any issues shutting the door, certain doors in the vehicle are unable to be locked. Along with posing safety concerns for drivers and passengers of the vehicle, these door issues make it difficult to seamlessly enter and exit the vehicle as well as cause a distracting sound when driving the vehicle on the road. Fixya users described the following issues with their Ford Focus doors:

  • Doors rattling when driving the vehicle at higher speeds over 25 MPH
  • Door open warning switch is lit up on the dashboard
  • Doors are unable to be locked

Fixya Experts offering their solutions, as well as the initial users who reported the problem (who either took the car to a mechanic or looked at it themselves after receiving a solution) listed several possible reasons as to why this was occurring. Let's look at a few potential reasons as well as potential solutions for Ford Focus door issues include:

  1. The causes for door malfunction are fairly broad, and can range from blown electrical fuses, to a shot battery (both of which will need to be replaced), or a faulty electrical system that needs to be examined in entirety.
  2. Examine the vehicle's master switch and ensure door switch is turned on.
  3. Try cleaning the pivot area of door. Grime can build up, causing it to be unable to be locked.
  4. You can also install a lubricated seal near the door catch, which could aid in the ease of opening/closing.

HONDA CIVIC (519,817 total problem impressions)

Honda Civic Top Issues

Synopsis

Similar to the Toyota Camry, the Honda Civic started as a true-compact car but has since grown in size to respond to the increased popularity of the sedan. Honda's price point is a little higher than Toyota's, as their positioning of themselves as a little more luxurious option for drivers accounts for that. The Civic is especially popular in North America, and consistently ranks at the top of the sales lists in Canada.

So what are the common issues with the Honda Civic? Let's dive in and see.

The Issues

Brake Lights - Although not as significant as malfunctioning brakes (another issue with the Civic that is listed below), brake lights do have an impact on driver safety in numerous ways, the most important being signaling to other drivers behind you that you are reducing your speed. Although they are most useful at night, brake lights during the day are an essential part of keeping the roads safe, and something that Civic owners have had issues with. Users have listed the following issues with the Civic's brake lights:

  • Replacing brake light bulbs with no positive change in getting the brake lights to work properly
  • Brake lights not turning on when brakes are applied
  • Brake lights flickering on and off when brakes are applied

Let's take a look into some of the potential reasons as well as potential solutions for Civic's brake issues:

  1. The problem could be from dead or malfunctioning brake light bulbs, or needing to replace the brake light wiring harness.
  2. Grease could be dripping onto the brake light switch.
  3. If there is a broken connection between your bulb and vehicle, a potential fix is to spray QD contact spray where your brake light bulb is connected to the vehicle in order to facilitate the connection.

Brakes - Brakes are a key component of safety across car manufacturers, and any issues (however minor) that affects the ability to stop your vehicle is inherently going to be a big factor for potential owners to look at before purchasing a vehicle. Brake issues with the Honda Civic that users have reported are as follows:

  • Car vibrating when brakes are applied
  • Brakes squeaking when applied, even at moderate reported speeds
  • Brakes needing to be replaced quicker than other previous vehicle experiences
  • Braking taking longer to complete

Fixya Experts offering their solutions, as well as the initial users who reported the problem (who either took the car to a mechanic or looked at it themselves after receiving a solution) listed several possible reasons as to why this was occurring. Potential reasons as well as potential solutions for Civic's brake issues include:

  1. Warped brake rotors, or worn down brake pads, might need to be replaced.
  2. One potential fix could be replacing and installing the brake pin connecting the brake pedal to the braking system.
  3. Another potential solution could be replacing old struts and shocks with brand new versions to reduce wear on the brake pads

Electrical System - The Honda Civic has had a long run as a reliable vehicle for commuters and individuals needing a mid-sized vehicle. However, on some models of the Civic stretching across multiple years, the electrical system on the vehicle has presented some issues that affect the headlights, dashboard, and other aspects of the vehicle. Reported issues from Fixya users about the electrical system are as follows:

  • Headlights turning off and on while driving the vehicle
  • Engine stalling (usually while increasing speeds and changing gears)
  • Dashboard lights flickering on and off while driving at night

Fixya Experts offering their solutions, as well as the initial users who reported the problem (who either took the car to a mechanic or looked at it themselves after receiving a solution) listed several possible reasons as to why this was occurring. A few potential solutions for the Civic's electrical system issues include:

  1. The Integrated Motor Assist system in the vehicle may need to be replaced.
  2. Another potential cause could be the voltage converter in the vehicle may need to be replaced.

TOYOTA COROLLA (1,053,029 total problem impressions)

Toyota Corolla Top Issues

Synopsis

Known for its durability and lasting power, the Toyota Corolla (and Japanese cars in general) are lauded for their ability to stay functioning despite high mileage on the car. Within the Toyota company, the Corolla is usually overshadowed by the Camry's sales figures, but remains a popular and smaller option for owners who want a slightly smaller and more compact vehicle.

Despite its reputation as a reliable vehicle, the Corolla does have some issues potential and current owners should be aware of. Below are a few of the most common issues for the Toyota Corolla.

The Issues

Gas Pedal/Acceleration - Subject to some intense and widespread controversy from 2009-11, Toyota's Corolla and Camry vehicles experienced major recalls related to the gas pedal accelerator on their vehicles. Fixya users, along with a wide variety of media outlets, reported these issues extensively and likely created a situation where users who were experiencing general vehicle issues over-reported and attributed their problems to the gas pedal/acceleration recall, even if that issue was not the cause of their problems with their vehicle.

Regardless of the number of reports however, issues with the gas pedal/acceleration were still a significant issue for Toyota Corolla owners on Fixya. The various issues with the Corolla's gas pedal/acceleration are as follows:

  • Gas pedal sticking while driving
  • Gas pedal entangling to floor mat while driving
  • Gas pedal becoming difficult to move or unresponsive

Fixya Experts offering their solutions, as well as the initial users who reported the problem (who either took the car to a mechanic or looked at it themselves after receiving a solution) listed several possible reasons as to why this was occurring. Potential reasons as well as potential solutions for Corolla gas pedal/acceleration issues include:

  1. Floor mats could be unsecured or need replacing.
  2. This could be a result of high friction on the gas pedal, a worn out and/or smooth pedal sensor in need of replacement.
  3. The throttle position sensor could need to be updated.
  4. Again, this could also be caused by user error by not shifting to neutral before shifting into gear.

Brakes - Similar to the Camry's issue with the gas pedal, the Toyota Corolla also has the same type of issues with brakes that the Camry has. Although this issue could also be coincidental, the fact that both vehicles made by the same company have similar issues is something that consumers should be cognizant of when purchasing a car and ensure that they speak firmly with their dealer about.

Brake issues with the Toyota Corolla that users have had are as follows:

  • Brakes squeaking when applied, even at moderate reported speeds
  • Car vibrating when brakes are applied
  • Brakes needing to be replaced quicker than other previous vehicle experiences
  • Brakes needing to be pressed harder than usual at intermittent times in order to brake at the same rate
  • Braking taking longer to complete

Fixya Experts offering their solutions, as well as the initial users who reported the problem (who either took the car to a mechanic or looked at it themselves after receiving a solution) listed several possible reasons as to why this was occurring. Potential reasons as well as potential solutions for Corolla's brake issues include:

  1. One potential fix here could be to replace and install the brake pin connecting the brake pedal to the braking system.
  2. Another potential solution could be to replace the rotor and/or brake pads if either have developed grooves and are not relatively smooth to the touch.
  3. Adjust the brake calipers to ensure a correct fit that isn't too loose or tight
  4. The issue could potentially be stemming from old struts and shocks needing to be replaced with brand new versions to reduce wear on the brake pads

Engine - Fixya users have reported issues with the Corolla's engine, especially vehicles that were manufactured in the mid to late 2000's. These engine-based issues have a wide variety of causes and manifest themselves in various ways, but the overarching takeaway is that the Corolla engine is prone to give to owners some frustrating performance if they have an edition that was affected.

Engine issues with the Toyota Corolla that users have had are as follows:

  • Engine warning lamp lights up when driving the vehicle
  • Difficulty shifting the vehicle from one gear to the next
  • A distinct grinding noise when shifting the vehicle from one gear to the next
  • Engine not starting
  • Engine shuts off for a short period of time while being driven
  • Engine shuts off for a short period of time when sitting at a stoplight/stop sign for over 20 seconds
  • Engine turns on but vehicle acceleration takes a long time to kick in

Fixya Experts offering their solutions, as well as the initial users who reported the problem (who either took the car to a mechanic or looked at it themselves after receiving a solution) listed several possible reasons as to why this was occurring. A few potential reasons as well as potential solutions for Corolla's engine issues include:

  1. The problem could lie with the Engine Control Module. If this is the case, it will need to replaced.
  2. Another potential cause could be hairline cracks developing on soldered points of the engine. This is a larger issue that will require a trip to your dealership or your local mechanic.
  3. The issue could also be due to a malfunctioning circuit board.
  4. Some Fixya users reported improperly installed fuel filter to be the cause of these issues.
  5. The vehicle's cam belt, also known as a timing belt, might need to be replaced.

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