By on December 21, 2015

 

recall. Shutterstock user Gustavo Frazao

“V” writes:

Hello Sajeev,

Conventional wisdom says wait until the second model year of a new vehicle since that’s when the automaker will have fixed the glaring flaws decried by the “beta testers” who bought the first model year. Is this always true?

Do automakers fix problems “on the sly” so that, say, a 2016 model year car manufactured in August 2015 could already incorporate some/all fixes slated for 2017 model year?

Sajeev answers:

The photo above came from a Curbside Classic about the Chevy Citation. The original 1980 model was one of the most recalled vehicles in automotive history, but I found only one recall for its Toyota-branded competition — the V10 body Camry. (And the Camry’s voltage regulator problem was, relatively speaking, quite harmless.)

Applying this historical perspective to your question, would you buy a bugs-worked-out 1983 Citation or an untested all-new Camry for your next compact family sedan?

But that’s history. Today, the (aggregated) quality gap between Japanese and American brands is rather slim. So what constitutes “glaring flaws” in your mind? And does your opinion mirror that of every other car buyer?

Of course not! Flaws are in the eye of the beholder. Take the litany of reasons why Technical Service Bulletins are issued for any automaker. And as new technology is added on a regular basis, software changes happen frequently. Does one model year matter relative to the next?

Simply put, cars have too much frequently-revised stuff updated too regularly for the automotive conventional wisdom notion to hold water. Add the mechanics of how TSBs are created/implemented and there’s too much doubt that one year will be better or worse than another.

I wouldn’t put my money on conventional wisdom being right for anyone’s next vehicle purchase.

[Image: Gustavo Frazao]

Send your queries to [email protected]com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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57 Comments on “Piston Slap: A Citation Against Conventional Wisdom?...”


  • avatar
    seth1065

    I have a rule no first year models with a new engine, your asking for trouble, I use this rule for European cars, and FCA products.It may not be correct but reading about folks who need to get the first new GTI it makes sense. I would have no problem with a brand new Accord for example, but there is very rarely a brand new accord, it seem most Hondas carry over a decent amount of stuff.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      Several years ago on this site there was discussion about the dead-trees’ possible anti-American bias and one of the examples was how they generally credulously reported that the “new” Toyonda was “all new” when it really carried over quite a lot of content, while the Americans did not get the same courtesy.

    • 0 avatar
      CobraJet

      I bought a new 80 Olds Omega X body. Totally new car and new V6 engine. The X body turned out to be a failure, but was a blueprint for many front wheel drive GM cars to come. The 60 degree V6 was refined after the first year and many time since and still lives on today in various forms.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      Since you mention the GTI, VW has traditionally staggered new powertrains and new platforms, at least in Europe. New engines came with the mid-cycle refresh, and new platforms carried-over the old engines.

      Of course VWoA is so far behind in terms of engines and platforms, all we get is old stuff. The only recent exception to that rule is the pathetically low-volume Jetta Hybrid, which we got before Europe did.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    On a related note, I recall some new models being de-contented for the second year. Conversely, some added-cost options became standard equipment in the second year. What am I trying to say? I don’t know . . . Time for coffee.

  • avatar
    andyinatl

    The only rule i have is no prior rental vehicles. Between some really hard miles (ask me how i know), questionable maintenance (last few rentals i’ve had, had no oil change stickers on the windshield), and general state of the interior/exterior once it’s done with its rental life, i would classify those as beater commuter cars at best.

    I rented a Mercedes GL450 last summer while visiting family on West Coast, and being upgraded for $15 more per day than my reserved minivan would’ve been. That Merc was barely over 1 year old, but looked more tired and worn than my wife’s 12 year old Lexus LX470. There were a ton of scratches and scuffs, the econo-vinyl interior was stained and sticky in many places, but the drive train performed admirably. I enjoyed driving it around Seattle/Portland for a week, but it just further cemented my conviction of not buying old rental. That and that MB-tex is fancy speak for the cheap crabby vinyl that has absolutely no place in $60K+ vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      CobraJet

      My daughter bought a then-year old 07 Mercury Milan from the local Ford dealer as one of their “certified” used cars. It had about 15,000 miles on it. I was not too happy to find out it was a former Hertz rental unit as I have the same fears about how it had been treated. But she still has it and it is doing fine at 165,000 miles with normal maintenance and repairs.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      That MB-tex will still clean up like new when cockroaches are ruling this planet. Dead cow skin is a wretched thing to have in the environment of a car.

      To me, an ex rental car is just another used car with no known history. Caveat Emptor. Some will be beat to crap, some will be gems, roll the dice if you like. Why would a rental car have an oil change sticker? They have computer programs to keep track of that. I rent about 40 cars a year, I have NEVER seen one with an oil change sticker on the windshield.

      • 0 avatar
        andyinatl

        The MB Tex will outlast any leather interior, no question. But it will smell like vinyl at least while still fairly new, which the MB i rented did, and that is no way for self respecting Mercedes to smell. And leather does feel better to the touch. These details don’t matter when someone considers econobox, but in the view that the MB in question is $60K machine, it becomes an issue. The vinyl also exhudes cheapness. I would never buy shoes made of vinyl, especially if someone was trying to charge Allen Edmonds price for them.

  • avatar

    All manufacturers function with the same cost saving philosophy, while sourcing components from the same suppliers. Air bags are a glaring example of the same supplier.

    All vehicles have a comprehensive warranty, and usually a longer warranty for the power train. To provide peace of mind to customers in case “something” breaks and or is defective.

    Issues appear when manufacturers push the envelope in cost savings providing less value to the customer. While the higher incidence of technology/electronic components, software updates, glitches raises the level of vulnerability of any vehicle.

    Astute consumers will replace a vehicle prior to the warranty running out to alleviate dealing with issues past the warranty. While other consumers prefer a CPO used vehicle again for the peace of mind.

    Every manufacturer will make changes on the go to reduce warranty claim costs. If component A is failing within the warranty period, perhaps it was a cost saving measure that now is creating warranty claims. That component will be modified to last longer and reduce warranty costs.

    Get the vehicle you want when you want it, as Sajeev mentions in 2016 makes little difference.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      “as Sajeev mentions in 2016 makes little difference.”

      Do not concur. A Fiat or Land Rover will break 5x as often as a Japanese alternative of whatever it is.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Absolutely every engineering redesign I’ve ever done in a quarter century was done to make the product cheaper, not better. Cost reduction was always the primary goal with better performance being constrained by cost. Sometimes regulatory changes forced engineering changes, but we always tried to reduce cost every time an engineer touched the design. I worked in the area of wireless/telecom electronics, not automotive, but similar market forces apply.

      AGR, I strongly disagree with the statement: “Astute consumers will replace a vehicle prior to the warranty running out to alleviate dealing with issues past the warranty.” Astute customers make a rough calculation of the cost of keeping their car vs. the cost of replacing their car with the cost of their time included. If you have the time, a Pontiac G6 built from the discount parts bin might be a good value at the right price. One can enjoy owning an old Mercedes as a 2nd car if you can turn wrenches and can afford to let the car sit while you wait on parts, but the same car would be frustrating as a daily driver serviced at the dealership.

      I believe that Toyota long-term reliability is the result of very conservative engineering choices. The 2.5 liter 4 cylinder engine in the 2016 Camry dates back to the 2010 model year. I predict that it will last longer than all the engines with direct injection used by its peers. The 3.5 liter V6 will outlast all the turbocharged engines. Just replace fluids per the maintenance schedule and drive it until the cost of fixing minor problems exceeds the scrap value of the car.

    • 0 avatar
      46and2

      “Every manufacturer will make changes on the go to reduce warranty claim costs. If component A is failing within the warranty period, perhaps it was a cost saving measure that now is creating warranty claims. That component will be modified to last longer and reduce warranty costs.”

      Please. As a former dealer rat, the car game is poorly understood. The object of the game is to get each car out of the warranty period with the least amount of cost to the OEM. This may or may not justify redesigning a component.

      For instance, “If component A is failing within the warranty period” and the OEM redesigns the cheap component, why doesn’t the OEM send out mailers notifying each new car buyer?:

      “Dear Valued Customer, we regret to inform you that your new car was manufactured with poorly designed components. Please take your new car to the dealer for the new, amazingly-redesigned, bright-shiny new replacement part.” They don’t. They want you to get out of warranty before they have to pay for it. Aka, hedging one’s bets.

      And that is why the out-of-warranty buyer will be stuck with the replacement cost of the original poorly designed component…and the headache. OEM’s are like insurance companies, running actuaries to see if action or inaction will result in a higher profit for share holders.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      @AGR

      “Astute consumers will replace a vehicle prior to the warranty running out to alleviate dealing with issues past the warranty.”

      You are out of your tree. Even if you value your time at an astronomical sum, depreciation and the transaction costs of selling the old car and buying the new one will be far more than just paying to maintain a car for FAR beyond the warranty period. Just the sales and annual excise tax on trading a 4yo moderately expensive car for a new one will pay the entire maintenance costs for another 4-5 years in my state, never mind the actual depreciation. Maybe your theory works if you buy nothing but bottom of the barrel dreck (or 30 years ago), but I would expect any decent modern car, including most German ones, to go 10 years 120K+ with little more than an annual service. Which new cars need too.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    I can’t help but remember the body fitment issues we saw on that Ford Edge last week, as well as Edmunds’ long-term Mustang with fitment so bad that the paint is rubbing off the trunk.

    The more radically changed the new model is compared to the last one, the longer I would wait. Toyotas and Hondas are far more incremental in their changes, so probably a little bit safer.

  • avatar
    Willyam

    Hello Sajeev! I will probably send this in as a future question, as I’ve been up to my elbows in soggy Mustang bits and pondering this very topic.

    My dilemma? Daughter wanted a Mustang, but had to have 2005 or newer body-style (over my objections as low-mileage 99-04 models are plentiful in her budget). So, we found an ’05 in pretty good shape, but yes, it was the first year of that generation. Stock, no stripes, wheels, neon, or other evidence of high school ownership.

    Needless to say, I’m fighting all sorts of quality control problems. The stock speakers are put in with one kind of screw in one door, and different fasteners on the other side (yes, it’s possible someone put in an audio system and later returned it to stock, but there’s no hacked wiring or other evidence). Broken shifter (auto), peeling paint, loose inner fender liners, etc. The biggest issue is the amount of water that will not stay on the outside of the car, and this is what I will submit to you as a full topic later as it seems to be a huge issue with this generation.

    My DD is a 2001 Honda, which is tight as the proverbial drum, and has given 14 years of rattle-free, mildew-free, efficient yet boring driving. It’s also the last year of the Civic-based, first gen CR-V.

    My point? Had I done some proper research on owner forums, I’d have avoided or been better prepared for the loose formation of parts that currently occupies my garage during any chance of precipitation.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “Is this always true?”

    No, GM takes 3-5 years, or end of model cycle to work out their bugs.
    Jag takes about 6 years, or never.
    Toyota and Honda take 1-2 years.
    Chrysler is never.
    Land Rover is a MAYBE if you must have a Land Rover, on last year of model cycle.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Aren’t the newer Chrysler LX cars much better than the ones that came out 10 years ago? I thought those were the one group of vehicles that Chrysler was doing right at this point.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I think the engine bits are fine. I don’t trust the Fiat transmissions nor the longevity of trim and interior bits. Once an LX gets to 5+ years, it starts lookin really ratty.

        • 0 avatar
          TMA1

          Fiat transmissions in an LX? They’re all using the well-regarded ZF 8-speed now, though some of those are built by Chrysler under license. The manual Challengers use a Tremec.

          The only Fiat-made transmission I can think of is the DSG in the Dart. That one I’d definitely avoid.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          Engine bits aren’t fine unfotunately, not the pentastar anyhow. Feel free to Google “pentastar cracked head warranty” for plenty of fun reading!

      • 0 avatar
        morbo

        It’s hit or miss. I have a 2011, which was redesigned body, holdover Merc 5-speed transmission, redesigned HEMI V8 with the MDS (fuel flows to only four cylinders at cruising speeds to improve economy). Fit and finish is not this cars strong suit. I’ve had to replace the power distribution unit at 90,000. It’s starting to make the squeaks and rattles all Chrylsers eventually make. Like all Chrylsers, it’s starting to eat tie rods and my front end will need to be rebuilt in the next 10,000 miles. However the powertrain has been rock solid, never stranded me (even when the PDU failed, the battery was big enough to get me 30 miles with three different start/stop cycles), best interstate cruiser I’ve ever had, and the UConnect of 2011 is still better than what most other companies are putting in 2016’s.

        The hit here is I intentionally bought the car with a minimally redesigned powertrain. The direct inject V6 coupled to the 8-speed transmission was all new that year is a nightmare. When I would take my car to the dealer for oil changes (local dealer sent really good coupons), there’s inevitably someone with a 2011 LX screaming at the dealer about the PDU; the PDU wasn’t sized correctly for the V6 power output, resulting in all kinds of over/under voltage damage to the cars electronics; which Chrysler refuses to admit or fix.

        It really comes down to what’s key. For the price I paid and content I valued (V8 power, blind spot/collision warning LIDAR, UConnect), it’s worth it. Others would probably prefer less toys and Accord/Camry build quality and reliability.

        There really are no ‘solid’ rules anymore other than read unbiased reviews and trust your own judgement.

    • 0 avatar
      nels0300

      Add VW to the list of “never”, eg. DI carbon build up, plastic water pump parts.

      I had a 2013 Suburu Impreza which had an engine that was new in 2012, FB20, and it burned oil. Not sure if they fixed that yet.

      Got rid of the Subaru and went the ultra conservative route in terms of a bug free vehicle, a 2014.5 Camry V6 with it’s 10 year old engine and transmission design, ancient platform, and made by Toyota.

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    you guys had a piece last week on a defect-full new Ford Edge with glaring lapses in build quality that would make any American 1980’s model very proud indeed, so to say this is a thing of the past is inaccurate.

  • avatar
    65corvair

    My parents had a first year Citation, actually it was a good car. Traded it for a Cavalier that was no longer a new design. The Cavalier was awful. I had a very early build Neon, other than the head gasket, it was very reliable. Had it 217,000 miles. Had a 2011 “first” year Fiesta, they had been making this car world wide for a couple of years so it should have been ok. It wasn’t. It was the car from hell. 17+ unscheduled repairs and at least 30 trips to the dealer. I will only buy a car that has a history of excellent reliability in its second year at the soonest. I now have a flawless 2014 Accord 6 speed manual.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      My parents had a first-year Citation too, and I don’t remember it being a shop queen. It had almost no options, aside from the V6 (yay Dad!), so that may have helped. And the paint started going after a few years, but that wasn’t uncommon for GM at that time, sadly.

      Having owned a few Japanese and domestics, in my experience GM and Ford are more aggressive in pinching pennies, even if they’re using the same suppliers as Toyonda they’re more willing to skimp on the specs, resulting in less-robust vehicles. YMMV of course, maybe “new” GM is better, but it’s hard to change a culture like that.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    First model year cars are DEFINITELY still full of bugs. This article is utter nonsense. Even mighty mighty Honda and Toyota are having problems in their first year introductions. Nissan? You betcha! Hyundai? God yes. There’s no escape from the first MY Escape.

    Starting with the As: First year Acura TLX. Honda’s clever hybrid dual clutch transmission doesn’t work. You could of course get the V6 with the ZF 9-speed instead, which doesn’t work.

    Audi: First year B8 A4s, numerous problems with control arm design leading to vibration issues.

    BMW: N54. High pressure fuel pump here today, gone tomorrow.

    Ford: Literally everything they make now is JUNK in the first year.

    Honda: 2003 Accord, first model year. Horrible transmission failures. 2008 Accord, first model year. Chews through brake rotors and pads like they’re going out of style, and burns oil. 2013 Accord, first model year. Numerous problems with the V6.

    Hyundai: 2011 Sonata. First model year. Recalled because “metallic debris may not have been fully removed during manufacturing of the engine crankshaft. If the debris was not completely removed, oil flow may be restricted through the connecting rod bearings, causing connecting rod damage.” Result? Catastrophic engine failure.

    Nissan: 2013 Altima. First model year. Massive CVT problems, massive electrical problems.

    Toyota: 2007 Camry. First model year. Drinks oil, numerous interior build quality problems.

    Oh but don’t worry, Sajeev says things are totally better now! Because TSBs!

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      The thing with American automakers is they’re much like modern videogames, just build a product and patch it later. In Japan, they usually fix stuff before shipment, though sometimes they simply slip problems under the rtug with no recalls.

      Problems like imploding distributors on the early 90’s Accord, it took 4-5 years before they did anything to fix them.

      And the 1st gen Scion Xb, known for shattering windshields quite a bit, still no recall 10 years later.

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        The Japanese brand cars Americans get haven’t been built “In Japan” in many years. The difference is that Toyota, Honda, and Nissan are much more cautious about introducing lots of engineering changes simultaneously in high volume models than GM, Ford, and Chrysler. There is no such thing as an “all new” Camry. Not sure how much is due to cultural difference and how much is due to domestic brands needing to roll the dice due to high legacy costs.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          @George B

          Fact check time. Many still are made in Japan, and the blanket statement doesn’t apply.

          • 0 avatar
            Funky

            I agree that many are still made in Japan. Many Mazdas, for example, are made in Japan. When I bought my Mazda, I specifically made sure it was made in Japan. Subaru, I think, still makes some of their cars in Japan as well, and even Honda still makes one or two “sold in USA cars” in Japan (like the CR-Z, for example). And, yes, I do believe there is a difference in quality with made in Japan versus not (and, as the customer, when I, in the future, buy new Japanese vehicles, based on my personal experiences…and perhaps also perceptions…, will buy only “made in Japan” Japanese vehicles as long as I have that option).

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          George, my 4Runner built in Tahara, Japan that has 100% Japanese part content begs to differ. No American vehicle has 100% American content, or even close to that.

    • 0 avatar
      46and2

      Must concur. Article is nonsense. First year all-new engine and chassis design is for beta-testing simps with no self control. Same clan that lines up in front of Apple stores 3 days in advance to get the “rose gold” iphone so everyone will know they have the latest warmed over devise.

      Buddy of mine bought the 1st year Volvo wagon for his family because it was “safe.” What a sucker. He won’t even drive it across the county line anymore because of fear of something falling off. OEMs test their new products on you. TSBs help to sort out the fall-out.

    • 0 avatar

      You guys are 100% right and I am 100% wrong, because past performance is always indicative of future results.

      • 0 avatar
        46and2

        Now now, let’s not get dramatic.

        A newly designed modern engine is an amazingly complicated engineering marvel. Just because an OEM puts an engine through its torture test by driving it twice around their “proving grounds” doesn’t prove anything. The only way you truly know what you have is by giving it to the unwashed masses…to test…on their own dime.

        Sajeev, you’re not 100% wrong. Every first design isn’t riddled with problems. A better policy is to wait and see…and laugh.

        • 0 avatar

          “A better policy is to wait and see…and laugh.”

          That’s a good idea, provided you aren’t in the market for a new vehicle. It’s easy for Internet peeps (esp me) to armchair this, but what do you do when you gotta have a new car very soon?

          • 0 avatar
            Davekaybsc

            Given the fact that the Acura example is from THIS YEAR, and the fact Honda’s record of rolling out brand new transmissions is less than stellar, I would say that YES, past performance IS indicative of future results.

            Remember those 5-speed Acuras from a decade ago? I do. How’d that work out? How’s that marvelous new 8-speed DCT working out for the folks involved in the class action suit against Honda?

            You’re acting as if every car maker rolls out brand new designs at the exact same time. In pretty much any segment you can name, there are probably close to a dozen competitors, some of which will be brand new, first year designs, some of which will be half way through their cycles, and some of which will be due for an imminent redesign.

            The smart money is always on the car that’s halfway through its cycle, when the major bugs have been fixed, reliability data for at least the first few years is in, and the car maker has done whatever tweaks for the mid-cycle refresh.

            If you happen to be in the market for a mid-size sedan right now, the Accord or Mazda6 (both several years old and recently updated) should be pretty safe choices. The brand new Kia Optima or Chevy Malibu on the other hand, yeah maybe wait on those.

          • 0 avatar
            46and2

            I was in the position of having to buy a car on the quick when my last car was totaled from behind. I WAS the intrepid beta-testing simp when the insurance company wanted their rental car back and I had to make a quick decision. And, of course, the car the wife wanted WAS a brand new model(at least the sheet metal was). Dammit! Hedged my bet on a new Honda and it just worked out, so far. Phew!

            Needing a car quick is indeed a bad place to be. In a perfect world move to town and forgo buying a car at all (YouTube: Jerry Reed Lord Mr Ford). Other than that, it’s a crap-shoot for sure. I remember when the unnamed auto dealer I was wrenching for was having it’s spate of slugged motors and then getting the new Consumer Reports “Buyers Guide” reporting that the cars I was de-slugging were “Best Buys.” HA! Scoop’em out and send’em out.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      What problems with the 9th-Gen Accord V6, specifically?

      The thing that prompted Consumer Reports to give the V6 Accord the big black dot for 2013 was the freaky infotainment units, which were fixed, for the most part, with software updates. (Mine’s a February, 2013 build, with nav/infotainment software several versions ahead of “1.0” — don’t recall the exact number.)

      There’ve been isolated cases of drone with the variable-displacement system (mine’s a little more intrusive than I’d like, but the mpg advantage of 35mpg at 90mph with two pax and the A/C blowing ice cubes softens the blow). The 8th-Gen Accords used a more complex 6-4-3 deactivation scheme versus the simpler 6-3 in the 9th. The ring design in the early V6s with the first DOD system allow excessive oil usage, but things improved significantly by 2013 — my Accord used a third of a quart in 2,000 miles at some point during the car’s first oil-change interval, then the usage stopped and hasn’t returned; my guess is that the rings needed time to seat themselves right. (My Dad’s 2011 Accord V6 is inferior to mine for reasons I mention below, but “variable cylinder-management,” or “VCM” problems aren’t among them; in fact, his system is less noticeable than mine in many conditions.)

      Yes, the first-year 8th-Gen Accords were steaming piles (2008), and even by the end of their cycle, were simply too porky, too ungainly (even being the last Accord with multilink suspension up-front) and too cheap-feeling; the nadir of the Accord.

  • avatar
    George B

    Buy the 2nd year. You pay more for the 1st year and have more problems. On the 2nd year those problems have been resolved and dealers no longer treat cars as if they were built from precious metals. 3rd year gets a round of cost reduction that introduces new problems plus you only have a few years before the next generation comes out.

  • avatar
    sastexan

    Pays to wait sometimes. In my household, we have three cars all first model year for their generation.

    The 2011 Odyssey (April 2011 build date while the first build date was August 2010 I believe) has a number of engineering gremlins that were worked out by the 2012 model year (and ours has fewer than the earlier build dates). The nav screen, battery monitor, tailgate paint, front strut bushing design, key falling apart (fob and key are one piece) all were corrected by minor changes by 2012.

    My 2013 FR-S (one of the first shipments to the US, so very early build by Subaru) has had all the first year problems solved – chirping fuel pump (a plunger was installed upside down), creaking rear package shelf (additional welds added later), condensation build up in taillights (added weatherstripping).

    The 2015 Camry LE, however, has zero issues. Build date Nov 2014, I think first build was a few months before that? And it is even a Subaru built car (Indiana)!

    These model year trends are very visible if you look at http://www.truedelta.com across the model years for a given generation of a car. Consumer reports displays similar, but much less granular (and less real time), trends.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    The second year is better than the first, but isn’t magic.

    I have a 2008 Lexus LS 460, the second year of the generation, built late in the model year (March ’08).

    On the one hand, it has the following fixes:
    – Better dash plastics with no tendency to melt (addressed late in 2007 model year)
    – Double-pane front side glass (to address wind noise complaints)
    – Revised software in the nav/head unit (to avoid crashing issues)

    On the other hand, several issues weren’t fixed until later:
    – Fragile front control arm bushings (fixed for 2011; had to replace all front control arms on my 2008 with 45k miles)
    – Weak valve springs (addressed by recall in 2010)
    – Stereo amps prone to failure (fixed for 2010; mine is still original)
    – Brake actuators can be finicky (fixed for 2010)

    My other two cars are both from the very last year of the model (2013 Forester, 1995 Legend). By then, lots of stuff has indeed been fixed.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    My brother bought a first year Titan and it was constantly plagued by little things going wrong/under-engineered. Now, this was Nissan of 2004 after the Renault merger and Ghosn cutting costs. But my folks have had a few first year cars and they’ve always had some issue.

    I just picked up a 16 Cruze Limited for an incredibly cheap lease at a local volume Chevy store. Since it’s the last year of a car they’ve made since 2011, I figured I could put my GM hatred aside and give the ol’ General a chance. I figure in typical GM fashion, all the bugs have been worked out since it’s the outgoing car.

    It was the best deal going, if not the best car. But a new car for 2 years/10k miles with covered maintenance for 2 years for $110/mo was hard to pass up. It’s rare you qualify for all the fine print in the ad, but I did. It fits the bill as inexpensive 3rd car and that’s what we needed. With none of the headaches of the used stuff I would have wanted (please see Digestible Collectible: 2000 BMW 540)

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    I thought the no-first-year-models rule was bunk nowadays, so I bought a 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid new…heck, the C-Max had already been on the market in Europe for a couple of generations, how much could go wrong?

    Rather a lot, as it turns out, from missing safety equipment to persistent dead 12V batteries to non-syncing-Sync to a transmission that may not outlast the car payments. To their credit, Ford’s been very good about proactively acknowledging and addressing problems, with loads of recalls, TSBs, and customer satisfaction programs to set things right.

    But had I bought a 2015 C-Max, every one of those issues would already have been corrected in running changes during production.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I just bought a first-year car, a 1990 Acura Integra. First year of the DB chassis. Seems all of the bugs have been worked out by now :)

  • avatar
    AdventureSteve

    First year? Ha! I don’t even buy vehicles during the first HALF of their production cycle anymore. (Disclaimer: Jeep veteran.)

    Edit: Don’t buy the last year either.

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    I purchased a 2015 Grand Cherokee specifically because it was the 2nd year of the mid-cycle update, and the 8-speed transmission. So after a year with the Jeep I can honestly say that it is just as bad as the 2014 models. Never again will I own any Chrysler product. Yes, its that bad.

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    New F150 with a new motor. The Internet’s say it should be a disaster. Course they say I shouldn’t come close to epa mpg either but I’m right on so well see. It replaced a made since 2005 Frontier (2013 ym) which was not bad but had definitely had a lot of cheap added over the years.

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