By on February 5, 2009

A commentator recently accused TTAC of posting a CarMax superbowl ad just because the company owns a panel on our home page. Uh, no. Short of not accepting any advertising and switching to a pay-per-view model—which our Best and Brightest rejected like a high school quarterback talking to an ugly misfit frump in a low-budget horror movie—we’ll take what ad support we can get. But we give our advertisers no quarter. I’ve seen plenty of GM, Toyota, Ford and Chrysler ads on TTAC, and you know how we roll in that regard. Some of you may also recall negative comments from buyers who felt they were boned to the max by CarMax. Personally, I really like Chris Wilmore and his crew. I also like every PR person I’ve ever met (on the personal level). Ça fait rien. No one has ever successfully messed with TTAC’s editorial independence. Nor will they. It’s our USP. It’s what we do. K? Now, CarMax ran an interesting survey asking the question above. Their results after the jump. My take: not asking TVR how long their half-sized underfloor battery could hold a charge. Yours?

Number of Respondents
Paid too much for a new car that depreciated
Didn’t do the research
Bought the wrong car
Bought from an untrustworthy source
Didn’t get the extended service plan
Didn’t review the paperwork before signing
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73 Comments on “Ask the Best and Brightest: What Was The Worst Decision You Made When Buying a Car?...”

  • avatar

    1985 Isuzu I Mark. Bought new. I blame myself completely.

    Stupid, stupid, stupid.

    And as a bonus, I got the dealer extended warranty. Fun Fact: The dealership was later sued by the Attorney General because you could never actually make a claim on their warranties.

  • avatar

    2007 Honda Civic sedan.

    Not to be silly, but it is the most reliable, plain vanilla car in existence.

    I’m seriously thinking about trading to something with a bit of soul… it may be flawed, but I’ll still forgive it.

  • avatar

    The crummy dealer I purchased from, from the salesman right down to the service dept. A circus at best, that was the mistake.

  • avatar

    In 2001 I bought a 1997 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP. I was suckered in by the strong engine, the supercharger (with interior display) was sexy, it looked fairly evil in black, and hey…the dash was covered in red lights.

    In less then two years of ownership, the transmission blew up, the ignition key chamber broke, the trunk lock failed, etc etc. It was made of glass and held together with chewing gum.

    The interior squeaked like a box full of rats, and once it randomly turned off (engine, interior lights, everything) while I was driving.

    I became terrified of that car…we used my wife’s Neon to commute to work, while it stayed in the driveway radiating financial danger. I sold it the first chance I had, taking a huge bath on the price + invested repairs, just so I could move on and get it out of my life.

  • avatar

    Didn’t do the research -, uh, that would be me.

    1997 Acura Integra.

    I’d previously owned 3 Integra’s and loved them. Had been out of the country since 1993 and had to buy a car upon my return. Took a taxi from the airport to the dealership, since I knew that I wanted a new Integra even without driving one. I figured I could live with the frog-eyed styling – hey it was still an Integra, right? Well…. I did fine on the price, but Man! I sure ended up hating that car, and I dumped it less than a year later. It wasn’t unreliable, it had just been turned into an economy car, instead of an entry level sports-luxury coupe

    Acura had decontented the Integra since I’d last bought in ’93 and cheapened all the interior features. Thus: incredibly loud road noise. Radio wouldn’t pick up signals where the old one (which I still owned) would. Clock kept losing time. Single-slab plastic panels. Interior materials showing wear after 10K miles. And little things – changed from dual horns to a single horn. Meeep! Bah!

    The most insulting thing was that the Civic was a much nicer car that year. If only I’d done my research, I’d have never written an angry letter to Acura, and bought a BMW instead.

  • avatar

    The Saab 9000 CSE I bought used from my local Benz dealer. Giant POS. Was the first car I bought on my own and I had no idea what I was doing. If I had taken a 5 second look at the engine block I would have noticed the oil that had leaked out of the head gasket. Bad sign right? Turns out the engine had overheated and warped the head. I poured money in to that thing like an idiot until it finally tapped out. I learned my lesson.

  • avatar

    we’ll take what ad support we can get.

    So GM is buying ad space on TTAC with MY MONEY.
    You teat sucking dogs!!!

    Mine was not getting power windows and door locks on my first minivan. Life is good!

  • avatar

    Bought a heavily modified Mitsubishi Eclipse GSX on ebay… with no financing. Fortunately my grandfather came thru with a low-interest loan for me. I thought i was Paul Walker! I had it shipped from kentucky… it was lowered and with a body kit i couldnt drive over a piece of paper. It was constantly being spit on, the door was kicked in when i parked it on the street, and i hit a speed bump and the front clip broke off.

  • avatar

    Mine was buying my first new car. I made two mistakes.

    First, I paid a premium over sticker for a 1980 RX-7. The bastard dealer couldn’t even be bothered to complete the dealer prep, it was dirty when I picked it up.

    Second, I bought the car in December and opted out of the dealer-installed AC. Come July, I really regretted that decision.

  • avatar

    73’Vette in 1988. Paid four time market value for a car that barely run and kept overheating. Poured all the little money I had into it. Sold it for over half the price I got it for and did not count repairs, etc.. Expensive lesson but the Education I got was priceless.

  • avatar

    Was it the 1962 Simca (ate head gaskets for breakfast)? Or was it the 1963 Rambler (floor pan rusted through in two years)? Or maybe the 1965 VW Microbus (sewing machine power, windblown all over the road, exceedingly dangerous in a head on collision with anything larger than a poodle)? Or the used 196X VW Squareback (fuel line caught on fire, incinerating the vehicle)? So many choices, and I’m not even in the 1970s yet.

  • avatar

    Telling my wife, “We’ll buy whatever you want this time.” And so we have a 2002 PT Cruiser…

  • avatar

    Years ago, I was unsure of what I was going to buy when I sold my SUV. I was driving by the BMW dealer and noticed a beautiful E46 330i with the sport package sitting with the other used bimmers.

    I took a test drive and the car was fantastic. It handled, it was powerful, and it was beautiful inside and out.

    I didn’t pay much attention to this low-mileage car’s long list of repairs and the fact that it had a blown climate control unit (fixed before I bought).

    Anyway, the car was nice to look at but not much fun to own. On my long commute and on trips, the sport suspension was too stiff. The car broke often, further adding to the list of receipts. It was a little too cramped for me.

    I owned the car less than a year. I lost a few thou when I sold it. In hindsight, it was the car that I wanted but not the car I needed at the time.

  • avatar

    Mine was also buying my first new car — a 1975 VW Rabbit.

    Go ahead — laugh. It was a lemon and painted to match!

    Plus I was a complete laydown in terms of price — full MSRP plus several dealer add-on accessories that I asked for, no less.

  • avatar

    I’ve been lucky – I’ve had no regrets buying cars.

    My biggest mistake was AFTER buying my last car, letting my idiot friend with a heavy right foot and a lazy left foot drive it – and subsequently detonate the clutch.

    Nothing like a $1800 repair bill on Day 3 of ownership.

  • avatar

    The worst decision my wife and I made was taking a bus to buy a car. You’ll buy any POS so you don’t have to take the bus home. And we did, a 1987 Chevy S10 Blazer. After 3 transmissions and assorted nonsense, away it went. A more recent mistake was the 2001 Volvo S60. Don’t get me started….

  • avatar

    In 12 years; I’ve bought a 90 Integra (from my dad, his commuter in Houston…what an amazing Honda, sold it after 16 years of service for $3k!) and an 06 Mazda3 GT wagon. It was between that and an 05 Honda Civic Si (hatchback) but the gadgets and 2 extra doors got me. However, no regrets on not getting another Honda as the Mazda has been great thus far.

    Also, inherited my wife’s 84 760 sedan which is starting to have some irritations. Drives nicely, handles well in all-conditions, and the HVAC system works rather well. But the oil pump and turbo are on the way out I’m afraid.

    The worst decision I made: not buying some fun and impractical that I would regret later!

  • avatar

    The summer of 74 camping with my pregnant wife and our 2 yr old.I had a sweet little 70 Camaro with an inline six.I had maybe 1000$ in it.My buddies wheeler dealer big brother shows up with a 69 Marquis coupe 429 4bbl duals and huge.The Camaro sweet as it was just wasn’t working for me.
    Too freaking small!

    I traded the Camaro for the Mercury.He threw in 100$ a phony safety check and a bag of….ah..ah
    a bag of…ah anyway I can’t remember.

    The big Mercury was the biggest POS ever created I remember taking a bank loan to fix it.Every time I saw my old Camaro I kicked myself.I sold the Marquis 1 year later to a tow truck guy[how fitting] for 100$ he wanted the motor.

  • avatar

    1996 Dodge Dakota Sport (how does 4 cylinder = sport with a pickup?). I’d driven several hunks of crap in a row. I pulled onto the lot in my aging POS Dakota (dents, rust, several colors of paint) and saw it there gleaming in the Florida sun, looking sharp and bought it. My previous stellar luck (sarcasm) with Dodge just never entered my head.
    I owned that money pit for 3 years. I drove it slightly more than I worked on it, but only just. The thing broke down every time you looked at it wrong. A tiny fuel tank and badly placed distributor cap (very vunerable to water splashing up from puddles) added to the joy of ownership.
    I finally got rid of it in ’02 for a decent price. At least the truck still looked good–enough to trick someone else into that rolling pit of financial hell. He was thrilled about the maintenance records…

  • avatar
    Mr. Sparky

    That would be a slightly used 2006 Lincoln Mark VIII. It was beautiful car with only 19K on the speedometer (I have a soft spot for big coupes). Unfortunately, it had a serious electrical problem. About once a month the entire electrical system would shutdown.

    If you will remember, everything from power steering to suspension was computer controlled on those bad boys. Basically, you would find yourself cruising down the road at 75 with no power steering (or brakes) sloshing around on flat air springs with no headlights. Good times:)
    Usually, the problem would fix itself by “rebooting” the car by turning in off and back on.

    I took it to the dealership several times, and it refused to misbehave. I finally got it to act up, and they agreed that something was very wrong. After a month in the shop, they told me that they didn’t know what was wrong, but Lincoln was tired of paying for the rental and to pickup the piece of crap.

    A year and half later at 36K, I said farewell. Of course, I was dumb enough to buy a 2001 Lincoln LS (oh the stories… plastic lugnuts, watery headlights…), but that a different story for another time…

  • avatar

    I got my 1st car, a 2009 Camry without test-driving it first or even looking at it first because I was too excited to get a car. Any car! I didn’t care! I wish I did, and should’ve looked around for a used 2007 V6 and saved 4-5k to pay for my school books. :/ But looking around for a quality used car would’ve taken days… and I didn’t have patience.

    And the transmission totally sucks. I relied on reviews which painted such a rosy picture of the car.

    From now on, no more trusting reviews or other people’s opinions… and test-drive everything yourself.

  • avatar
    Casual Observer

    jayparry – why was your car the target of vandalism? I don’t get it.

  • avatar

    Just to twist things around a bit, I once traded my ’71 Challenger 440 (which needed a transmission) for a ’70 Triumph GT-6+ straight-up. A recipe for disaster, right? Strangely, no. The GT-6 never failed to start (despite being a rusty Boston-area car), never stranded me and was actually a lot of fun to drive. I did my first brake job on that car and it spoiled me. There’s nothing liked having 360 degree access to the wheels when you flip up the hood. There is no easier car on which to perform any sort of under-hood work.

  • avatar

    The black 63 Cadillac Fleetwood I bought in 1978 for $400 from my mother’s aunt. It was kind of tired, but I was 18 and knew that it just needed someone to love it. “Never buy an old luxury car” said my car mentor. “All the gadgets eventually break, and even the regular stuff costs 3 times more to fix.” I ignored him. In the next 6 months, I doubled the purchase price in repairs. Car did not use 2 u-joints like normal cars, but used 3, two of which were CVs. My car mentor was wrong. A Cadillac cv joint cost about FIVE times more to fix than a normal one. Also, brake lines, windshield wipers that wouldn’t turn off in cold weather, fried blower motor, leaking tranny seals and the 7.5 mpg on premium gas. In 6 months I was broke (and broken hearted) and sold it – for $400.

  • avatar

    That would be the 1968 Mercedes 250S I bought on Ebay. It was in reasonably good shape, but that motor was way too weak for such a big car. I could have lived with that, but my wife wasn’t really thrilled. The fluid leaks and lack of AC didn’t make it easier…

    But that was payback. When I met my wife, she had an 89 Escort GT. Now, that was a piece of crap. I hated that car every bit as much as I loved her.

  • avatar

    1970 Karman Ghia. Looked great, turned out to be a rust bucket, full of body filler. I had never heard of the magnet test. The front suspension carrier, H-assembly rusted out. In the end I sold it for pennies.
    How about a 1981 911 SC basket case. My wife just about threw me out when I had to drag it off of the trailer. The brakes were locked and the tires just skidded. But then I found 11 of 12 exhaust side studs were broken (a common problem with the 3.0L motors)

    EVEN SO, I can’t say I regret either car.

  • avatar

    2002 VW Passat – couldn’t keep it out of the shop, and it depreciated like crazy. I foolishly believed the historically good repair records, which have worsened since 2002.

    2005 Honda Odyssey – a lemon from Day One. It broke in my driveway with 26 miles on it, and the dealer service hatefest continued until I got rid of the car in 2007. It wasn’t as well-featured as the 98 Caravan I traded it in for but it was 6 times as expensive. The Honda is the only car I never test-drove.

  • avatar

    1988 Ford Bronco II – most useless vehicle ever created

  • avatar

    Back in ’95 I foolishly allowed (my then) wife to buy a new VW Golf. We had it for two years and of that it spent 7 months in the shop getting everything from the cooling systems to electrical faults repaired. The only upside was that during those times I had a divine Peugot 405 loaner car which was better than any VW could ever be.

  • avatar

    I had been living car-less in the big city for a few years. When I moved out to the ‘burbs, I needed a car, pronto. I’m a big-and-tall fella, and a friend of mine had lent me his SUV when I moved. I found it very comfortable, and the utility was tough to deny when I had just moved all my worldly possessions with it. I ended up at a Pontiac-Buick-GMC-Olds dealership, eyeing a ’97 Olds Bravada that had been the advertised special in that week’s paper. It was off-lease, low-mileage, and had all the service records. Plus, it was comfy, AWD, and big enough for me. When I held them to the below-bluebook advertised price, and talked them into replacing the ball joints, I felt like a hero. Little did I know. Little did I know…
    1 transmission, 2 fuel pumps, 1 alternator, 1 windshield (freak thing, really, but I think it counts against the car), 1 radiator, 2 water pumps, several unfixable alignment problems that ultimately led me to think there must be something wrong with the frame, 4 sets of tires, and 4 years of my life later, I finally traded it in.

  • avatar

    2004 VW Passat W8

    Fun to drive, roomy, lots of cool features, awesome in bad weather; in the shop all the time! To VW’s credit they even paid for some fixes after the warranty was done, but sheesh, what crappy quality, for things that should not break, like throw out bearings, camshaft sensors, timing chain tensioners, engine wires, windshields, etc.

  • avatar

    In 1994 I bought a GORGEOUS 1986 Fiero V6 with only 28k miles. I never thought about what could be wrong with a car that sits around. Many, many shot seals. Corroded exhaust. Ossified fluids.

    Having no mechanical ability for my first car, it deteriorated rapidly. But the fiberglass body shone like a diamond.

    I’d do it all over again.

  • avatar

    2001 Audi allroad

    I was seduced by the beauty, the adjustable air suspension, comfortable leather interior. The factory warranty had just expired and I bought an extended service contract. What could go wrong? It is amazing what the top level Gold contract does not cover. 500-1000 per month to the dealer later and we traded it at a major loss for a reliable Audi. A Subaru.

    1986 Jetta
    Fun car, quick for the times with a five speed, handled great. Ate $500 alternators like candy, caught on fire twice, I had to keep spare transmission linkages (little plastic ball joint coupler thingies) in the glovebox and finally failed in a spectacular fashion with a hole in a piston. I traded it plus $200 for a 1984 Ford LTD 2 Wagon that never gave me a lick of trouble for the next two years.

    The worst part for Audi was that I got to experience two equally incompetent and rude Audi dealers. I am willing to write off the experience of one car, but when you factor in the dealer experience, it guarantees that I will not buy a VAG vehicle again. Even though I really want to sometimes.

  • avatar

    Two come to mind… A 1985 Chevy Astro Van POS. That it was a good thing for the kids. After a year the sliding door decided to stop sliding and had to drive home with the door off the channel. Also, a 1987 Chevy S10 Blazer. Looked really nice but that V6 it had in it had no power whatsoever. Could not get out of it’s way. Sounded like a freight train rolling down the road doing 25mph. Could not get rid of those vehicles fast enough.

  • avatar

    Willpie I was looking at buying a mid to late 90’s Bravo do to the luxury and power but with one look on some Olds forms I decided not to. On a side note if you could fix the problems yourself you could buy two for next to nothing.

  • avatar

    1985 Ford EXP with blown head gasket. Paid 200 dollars for it and threw another engine in it. Everything seemed fine until the engine ran out of water again. Leaky radiator line under the car drained the water just enough to crack the head.
    i sold it for 50 bucks and cut my losses.

  • avatar
    Jonathan I. Locker

    1990 Ford Probe

    ‘nough said.

  • avatar

    1977 Triumph Spitfire – I could describe how terrible it was, but with this group, I probably don’t have to.

    1995 Buick LeSabre – I bought this car 3 years old in ’98 and got a good deal – however, the agony of buying Detroit iron lasts way longer than the thrill of a good deal.

    2003 Hyundai Santa Fe – A nice vehicle, but totally retched on long road trips

  • avatar

    Michael Karesh :
    February 5th, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    Telling my wife, “We’ll buy whatever you want this time.” And so we have a 2002 PT Cruiser…

    If you were ever going to lie….

    For me, it was a series of Pontiacs (’85 Fiero GT, ’90 Trans Am, ’00 Grand Prix GTP) bought brand new where I had continual problems and constant fights with the dealers and GM zone office in order to get warranty claims taken care of.

    This happened in between being extremely happy and satisfied with various Mazda, Honda, Nissan, Toyota, and even Ford products.

  • avatar

    1986 Iroc Z

    No further explanation necessary. It’s only saving grace was that it had a 5-speed.

  • avatar

    1988. Bought…yes, a Yugo. I was mad at the Volkswagen dealer because the rear floor of my GT had frozen with water and they would not pay for the damages. I said “Give me the cheapest car you have”. And they did. Although…I had the Yugo for a year and it never broke down once. I’m sure it broke down after I traded it in for a Mazda 626. I wasn’t really up on my car knowledge at the time of the Yugo purchase. Obviously.

  • avatar

    I’d mention my MG Midge, but it was supposed to be like that, so I give it a pass. Next, a Jeep Wrangler which was the biggest loser of the bunch. Among other things, it developed “Death Wobble” that the dealer couldn’t isolate. I traded it for an 02 SAAB 9-3 SE that started to fall apart at 50K. Now I have a Jetta I really like, but after reading the comments here, I’m starting to get a little nervous.

  • avatar
    Jordan Tenenbaum

    In 2000 I bought a `95 Cutlass SL. What a horrible car.

  • avatar
    King Bojack

    Not going with my wife and her mother to prevent her from getting a 2002 Elantra. Screw Hyundais. Their “Jesus” warranty didn’t go with the car from its prior owner and it had a constant barrage of electrical issues, got ass gas mileage for its engine, wasn’t fast and a laundry list of other reasons to dislike the car (including an odd vapor lock issue that prevented you from putting gas in the car). Have an ’02 Mazda P5 for her now and a 95 Escort wagon for me, the wagon is actually superior to the Elantra. The Mazda slaps the Elantra in sack.

  • avatar
    Usta Bee

    1992 Olds Achieva with 115,00 miles on it and with the SOHC Quad-4 rated at 115hp. Slow as molasses, and only got about 27mpg on the highway. The car didn’t accelerate, it slowly gathered momentum. The previous owner had replaced the cylinder head with one from a ’96 which I didn’t realize until after I got it home. While I owned it the cylinder head started leaking, the engine mounts wore out, the front struts wore out, both the rotors and drums went bad, the radiator went bad, the coil packs and coil housing needed replaced, the alternator was replaced 3 times, the ignition lock cylinder broke, a solenoid in the transmission crapped out leaving it stuck in high gear, the passenger’s seat adjuster broke, and some numbnutz who previously worked on it stripped the threads out of the driver’s side brake caliper mount causing me to buy a used hub assembly so the caliper would stay attached.

    Other than that it wasn’t too bad.

  • avatar

    Casual Observer:

    I dunno i think people didnt like the ‘rice rocket’ look and assumed i was some racer punk causing havok on the roads? I was flabbergasted and frustrated myself… and i would defend the car to the end except it was so hard to keep in good tune being so heavily modified. The moral was ‘buying a flashy modified car’ was the problem as it was the target of vandalism and frequent problems.

  • avatar

    I think it was the new 2000(?) Mercury Cougar. Boy- I looked like a wussy in that car. V6 engine that refused to rev, sucked gas and was just a poorly designed copy of the Eclipse. I wanted to give a Domestic a chance….

    My other bad purchase was the 1997 Grand Prix SE. The car fell apart around me and didn’t make it to 100K. I traded it in for next to nuthin’6 years later and bought an Odyssey.

  • avatar

    In order:

    1999 Montana
    1991 Lumina z34
    1994 Cougar

    Don’t hate me for what I have done…….

  • avatar

    ’92 Mustang LX convertible with 5.0 engine. It was such a turd that I filed a lemon law claim and won. Ford had to buy it back from me.

  • avatar

    Getting an automatic.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    used , 84 Jag xj6, nuff said .

  • avatar

    First new vehicle purchase in 30 years of auto buying.

    2004 Silverado.

    Such a fool was I.

    Actually expecting Chevy/GMC to honor the warranty.

    Learned of reality.

    Lost income due to many attempts at getting defects corrected (lost time from work and cost of rental cars) was in the thousands of dollars.

    Extremely weak state lemon law was useless.

    The knee-jerk rhetoric I heard here and there, “Shoulda’ sued in court,” is typical for those unaware of legal system’s realities. Suing is no panacea for many things in life.

    I do not count the lost time spent warning the consuming public what may befall them if buying a GMC product.

    Proud to belive it’s possible my continual efforts at a horde of Web sites and in real life had an impact in reducing GMC sales.

  • avatar
    Ralph Kinney Bennett

    One word. Cimmaron. No. Worse. Used Cimmaron. For my wife. Sorry.

  • avatar

    Used ’88 Taurus L.

    I’ve written about this crapwagon before on TTAC, but it was far worse than just the things that went wrong.

    Because the Taurus SHOULD have really been a world-beater. It had the genes. But Ford spewed them out with appalling quality, horible component parts, and indifferent assembly.

    After that, we went all-Honda all the time.

  • avatar

    When we bought our 00′ Malibu.

    I mean…who doesn’t enjoy brake repairs every 2,000 miles. Or Having the fan blow on speed #4 or nothing at all? And the fact it idled like a rock polisher.

    We felt incredibly insulted, almost red-faced when the dealer blamed US that we drove riding the pedal and didn’t know how to use a switch properly. Oh yeah I guess we just don’t know what we were doing.

  • avatar

    My first new car was a 1995 Plymouth Neon w/5-speed. I loved it at first, but it started to disintegrate before my eyes. However, every issue was intermittent that always disappeared within a 10 mile radius of the dealership. It was only in the shop once in 18 months, for a broken power window (it stopped working again before I got it home, but started working again as I drove it back).

    The headlights blinked twice at night while applying the turn signals, but only while turning left. The clutch pedal let out a sickening click every 7 or 8 times you depressed it. It clunked occasionally while backing out while turning to the right. Etc. Etc.

    I traded it in for a new 1999 Saturn SL1 that served me well. The Saturn dealer test drove the Neon with me, it was one of the few times it behaved perfectly. At least we parted on good terms. :O)

  • avatar

    supposed to get employee pricing, didn’t verify the numbers, way over paid. Paid a leasing fee, not once, but twice. They threw a bunch of paper at me and I didn’t take the time to go through it. Will never ever go near that dealer again, and highly unlikely to ever buy that mfg again.

  • avatar

    My first new vehicle, a 1987 Mazda truck. Nothing wrong with the truck at all; it served me very, very well for four years and 90,000 miles. But I couldn’t afford it. I allowed myself to be talked into it, and I didn’t pay close attention to the numbers. (Hell, I was 19 at the time; I doubt I would have understood what I was reading if I had been reading.) If I was a smarter person, I’d have put down that pen and walked away.

  • avatar

    Selling my 1965 Dynamic 88 with super rocket 425 to a friend for cheap. He needed a car so he could get a job and feed his family. I gave it to him for almost free. He sold it the next week for triple what he paid me, and bought drugs and booze.

  • avatar

    1988 Audi 5000.

    Drove great as long as I remembered not to use the e-brake. Oddly enough, everything except electricals broke…

  • avatar

    A used 197? Vauxhall Firenza. Made by GM in the UK and sold (probably at gunpoint) in the US by Pontiac dealers. It looked vaguely BMW-ish. I gave a ‘family friend’ $300 dollars for it and managed to put about a hundred miles on it (in three months) before throwing in the towel. I was a professional mechanic at the time and worked on it almost daily, sometimes in the middle of a traffic jam that I created when the POS died in the exact center of a major intersection. Or the transmission got stuck between gears. Or the brakes refused to release. Or it overheated. Or the door popped open and refused to shut. It was an exciting car at times! To its credit, the same part never broke twice: it was always something different, something no parts department on Earth had in stock. One night I snapped and started ripping it apart in my driveway- I mean smashing it to bits until my wife stopped me. I had it towed to the shredder a couple of days later.

  • avatar

    Jordan Tenenbaum- What was wrong with your’95 Cutlass SL. I had one and it was a good car. Granted it had some minor electrical problems but it was a simple fuse and was always an easy to fix. I did have to get rid of it because of a blown transmission but it had 155,000 miles on it. Plus it was driven without oil and locked up but it still drove for another 20,000 miles.

  • avatar

    Nineteen-Ninety-Five Buick Regal Custom Sedan.

    In the 8 years I owned it, it averaged 8-10 visits a year to a repair facility.

    It ate: 3 Heater Cores, 4 Alternators, 2 Transmissions, 1 Crankshaft position sensor, 2 ECUs, 3 sets of rear brake calipers, 2 starters, 2 sets of ball joints and tie rod ends, not including odds and ends. The car had a horrible fit and finish and rattled like maracas. The only thing that was good on that car was the engine itself. (In the first 60 000 miles it had cost me and/or GM over 10 000$ in repairs)

    Then, after 2 years sharing a car with the wife, I followed her the Honda way, we’re on our third (second for her – An ’01 Civic, followed by an ’03 CR-V, first for me – An ’08 Accord coupe) Been satisfied to nth degree: these cars went to the dealership almost only for their regular maintenance – The almost was a delaminated brake pad that caused a noise on the CR-V, and a pinched wire in the power driver seat on the Accord. (Total for the two: less than one day out of commission)

  • avatar

    1986 Taurus MT/5. I bought this used in 1990 for my oldest son to drive so that my Miata would remain intact. It was actually a decent, if not stellar car, and managed to make its way through two teenage boys, lasting about five years before its mighty four-cylinder finally gave up the ghost. Repairs were more than expected, but not terrible; the Ford dealer convinced me that my local Japanese dealers were much more interested in my future business. The Ford store is no longer around, and I’m still buying cars…

  • avatar

    1986 Pontiac Parisienne. Bought it in 1998 with 76,000 miles on it. It was in nice condition-or so it seemed. The slight pinging and the soft front tire which needed to be inflated during the test drive were omens that I should have paid more attention to, but I liked the car and figured they were just minor issues. I even had a mechanic look it over and it was given a mostly clean bill of health.

    Well…it leaked oil at an alarming rate, the pinging never went away and nobody could ever figure out why, the lock-up clutch on the torque converter almost never worked, the transmission shuddered around 20-25 MPH, it overheated (that one was actually an easy fix-new thermostat) and the tilt steering column broke. Even the rims wouldn’t seal properly against the tires-they were always losing air and they wouldn’t hold wheel covers well. And they weren’t even rusty! Two things were the final straw: One night, while accelerating onto a highway on ramp, I heard a muffled pop and the car bucked. After that, I could only accelerate very gently and gradually or the engine would bog down and die, and I couldn’t top 50 MPH. The other thing was that the frame rail on the driver’s side behind the rear wheel had rusted through really badly. I mean ugly, nasty rust through. The irony there was that the body was still pretty nice. I’d finally had enough, so in 2002, I traded it in for a 1991 Buick LeSabre, which was 100 times more reliable. I really liked that Pontiac for what it was: a comfortable, nice looking big American car; too damned bad it wasn’t more reliable.

  • avatar

    ’79 FIAT Panda. That car scared me to drive over 70 km. Paid 300 euro to drive it one month until my BMW got here. I allowed it to rust to death on the side of my house.

    I used to say “I never met a car I didn’t like.” I still say it until I remember the Panda!

  • avatar

    1985. We were married under a year. We wanted a “sports” car, We bought a brand new shiny 85′ Mitsu Starion ESI. Paid full list, 16% interest for 5 years. What were we thinking! The car was frightful.
    After 2 accidents, 1 tranny, 2 turbos, and many electrical problems. I spent 13 hour trading it in ( while waiting for a turbo) for a Mirage Turbo. Now that was a fun car.

  • avatar

    The worst mistake any husband can make is keep buying his wife new cars thinking that she’ll stop complaining about them.

  • avatar

    ’74 FIAT 128. Do I really need to say more?

  • avatar

    1999 Saturn SL. I bought it new and still have it. The thing makes a toyota camry look exciting, but after 10 years the only non-maintenance expenditure has been a $20 sensor, while the plastic body work makes it look new (if you ignore the outdated design). A neighbour even backed into it with his Jeep, but the stupid thing only suffered a slight dent in the (metal) gas door. I continue to wait for a reason to sell it, but in the meanwhile, I can not justify spending any money on a new vehicle for my daily 8 minute commute to work.

  • avatar

    Deanst: – Exactly. Short commutes don’t require $25K cars… I’m in the same boat.

    My biggest regret? My ’99 CR-V. Got a good fair deal on it new. Made payments on it for 5 years. At that point in our early married life it cost the moon. I regretted the purchase on the second payment but we decided to suck it up and pay all of them as a lesson to ourselves.

    My biggest vehicle satisfaction: That same CR-V.

    Now 172K miles later we are so elated with that CR-V. I have done all of the maintenance myself. Timing belts, front pads twice, and a radiator. Otherwise it is still solid and trouble free. Still on the original clutch! A great purchase.

    Does it have a some design shortcomings? Yes. I wish it had a sixth gear. I wish it was a little quieter on the interstate. Engine really revs. Otherwise they built it like I would have.

    So we have run the gamut of emotions about it.

    Our other cars – all of them have been pretty good relative to their purchase price. I’ve bought and sold alot of cars over the past twenty years. Something like 30 or so. The ones that had the most trouble were usually the cheapest ones and the ones with the most owners who each and every one seemed to neglect the car before passing it off to the next owner.

    Perhaps that is why they sold it in the first place – letting a few problems build up and then selling it off.

    After a few months of occasional repairs I generally have a good car free of troubles at minimum cost. My current VW has been cheap but not trouble free. I would not recommend it to anyone b/c most folks I know rely on a mechanic. Never the same problem twice, usually something manufactured from cheap materials causing it to wear out, leak, or rust. My shifter is a good example. $15 parts, an hour – no big deal. A mechanic would cost much more. Little nylon bushings wore out. My Honda has a cable shifter than is much, much tighter and never required any attention.

    The only true challenge has been the rare vehicle that I bought when I was pretty young that had rust issues. These cars were generally hopeless if the rust couldn’t be stopped.

    Thinking about trying a domestic vehicle next time. You guys (and the folks around me here) who have horror stories worry me. Of course my VW is supposed to be a POS but life hasn’t been too bad with it but unlike the Vauxhall mentioned above I can easily get parts.

  • avatar
    Steve Green

    In 1989, I had $700 to my name and spent all of them on a ’79 Pinto.

    If I’d have had any change left over, I probably would have picked up a pair of “Bad Idea” jeans.

  • avatar

    Buying a Buick. It came apart so often that warranty was denied 2 years in. They should’ve just given my wife another car. Instead, chose to lose another customer and that customer’s friends and family forever.

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