By on November 21, 2017

2016 Toyota Camry XLE

Every last one of us remembers sitting in a restaurant, wondering if we’d made a horrible mistake by choosing salad over the potentially superior soup of the day. Soup is unpredictable; salad is a safe choice. But what if the soup, as it sometimes is, was actually the more satisfying choice?

You missed out, and time only makes the doubts and regrets grow stronger.

Out in your driveway, or perhaps stashed in a nearby parking garage, is a car you bought or leased based on the assumption it was the best choice of all available options in your price range. Has the passage of months or years revealed your present vehicle as a safe salad to someone else’s weak-at-the-knees, far more satisfying soup? Did you make a mistake this time around?

In your author’s case, any lingering doubts about the purchase of the red sedan parked outside are diminished by the wildly affordable nature of an off-lease General Motors compact. At the time of purchase, gas prices in this neck of the tundra rang in at about $5.30 a gallon. For regular unleaded.

Buying a tank of premium required haphazard surgery in order to first sell a kidney on the Asian black market.

So, yes, the less-than-watertight durability of the Cruze’s 1.4-liter engine seen in the ensuing years was offset by the car’s long-lasting suspension and brakes, faultless electricals, and a body that refuses to rust, even if immersed in salt. Also — and this was key to the decision — the now-departed Cruze Eco’s highway gas mileage could not be topped in the pre-owned price range, unless I was willing to make do with a much older diesel vehicle (with, assumedly, a lot more miles on the odometer, coupled with the risk of Germany-sized repair bills).

Your situation could be quite different. You might find yourself regularly getting down on your knees and thanking the deity of your choice over the decision to not purchase that other vehicle. Perhaps you dodged a bullet.

But what if it’s the other way around? Has time revealed a lemon, a bland vehicle that increasingly fails to inspire, or just a disconcerting sense that your other choice could have made life so much better? Reveal your innermost emotions in the comments below.

[Image: Toyota]

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94 Comments on “QOTD: If You Could Turn Back Time…?...”

  • avatar

    I want this to turn into a thread about Cher.

    Meanwhile, not too many regrets on the automotive front. I’m not claiming any special powers; it’s pretty easy to make a good decision nowadays, what with generally reliable vehicles and lots of info available a click or two away.

  • avatar

    Nope. After my first Camry Wagon (Dad bought it new in 1989) was totalled I bought another. And another. And another.

    Only real issue with these is rust and there’s nothing similar being sold today.

    When I’m inevitably forced to quit my habit of 30-year-old Toyota wagons I’m thinking a Leaf.

  • avatar

    I am 0/2 on my last car purchases. Previous car was a 2009 Civic EX 5 speed. At the minimum I should have got the Si. Needed something more practical and economical to run than my 350Z, but I basically drove it at WOT and to redline all the time. Spun a bearing on a downshift one day and things went downhill from there.

    Got a G37 to replace it. Had the vision of a build all laid out, executed it (coilovers + wheels + tires). Handles well + is fun to drive, but I miss the chuckability and better than 19MPG combined gas mileage.

    There are good things from both cars… the G’s speed is just right, and it’s non-crap A/C is wonderful here in the Southeast. The Civic’s steering- from the responsiveness of turn in to the balance of weight and feel- it’s phenomenal. I have also realized I don’t like leather seats or care about luxury much, beyond low road noise. I still have both… calculating my trade/retail equity now and considering getting rid of both for a GTI.

    • 0 avatar

      You’ll be 0-3 if you execute this plan!

      I would hold onto the G37 until you test drive Mazda’s HCCI and/or the turbocharged CX-9 engine trickles down to the 6 or 3.

      • 0 avatar

        The CX-9’s engine has been announced for the 6. Would be intriguing in the 3 as an MS3 model. In any case I like smaller, shorter cars. Can’t beat a Golf/GTI in that regard.

  • avatar

    My Fiesta 1.0 Eekoboost is like never-ending soup, salad and breadsticks at the Olive Garden. I just hope that I don’t get kicked out for eating there all day, through lunch and dinner. It will probably happen as soon as the powertrain warranty expires.

  • avatar

    It did not go well for ’11 Tundra I bought new. After about $15K of warranty work, I traded it for a CPO ’12 Highlander. So far, the latter has what the Tundra didn’t: QDR. Do a google search “tundraheadquarters Have Truck Quality Expectations Changed Unfairly” for the history and a response from Toyota’s light truck chief engineer about the long repair list.

  • avatar

    I have no regrets about any car I’ve bought… but have HUGE regrets about cars I sold.

    I made some bad buying decisions… but I learned from them. Thinking a BMW would be an affordable car to maintain for example… but I’ve been able to use my experiences with numerous brands (more than 30) to help others, and therefore I think its been very worthwhile. Some of them in theory seem like bad situations, but really I have no regrets on any of them. I either realized a dream or learned a lot.

    The only sort-of regret I have is that in 2009 I bought a Ram quad cab new. I was trying to decide between the quad cab for $14000 under MSRP and the crew cab for $16000 under MSRP, and decided on the quad cab because I liked bench seats over the stupid bucket seats with center console. just a year later and I realized I couldn’t put a car seat in the back, and I had to sell it. If I would have bought the crew cab it would have spared me a lot of stress in reselling trucks and cars, because by the time I sold it the truck market was back up and so I settled for a Chevy Avalanche. The avalanche was fine, but I would have rather had a crew cab Ram!

    I do on the other hand have a couple of cars I badly regret selling. Actually there’s a LOT of cars I regret selling.

    I sold my 280z for $200. seriously, today in the days of internet sales I would have never settled for that little, but at the time I couldn’t afford a newspaper ad and therefore had to settle for someone I knew who would buy it from me. In retrospect, why the heck would I have even sold it? I should have kept it… or gotten that newspaper ad out and sold it for $1000.

    I also sold my 3000GT that I put over 10 grand into for $400. Also not a joke, but the story is a little longer. I should have held onto that forever, and should have never even tried to sell it. :( I miss that car today and search craigslist every couple of months hoping that comes back onto the market in upstate New York. that car was worth more than that just for the seats… or the engine… or any other part of it, but I got stuck in a bind where I only had 24 hours to sell it before I was moving, with no way to transport it home. I should have stored it or something instead, but I was young and stupid.

    I sold my Puch Sport for $200 also. I should have kept that. I sold my Yamaha Virago for $400. should have kept that… and a Jeep CJ7 I sold for $400. Should have kept that as a beater jeep. the thing even ran fine!

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t regret selling any of my cars, but I do regret not holding on to one – a ’92 Volvo 740 wagon that stayed with my crazy ex after I left her. It needed some work, but it was basically sound.

      The crazy female dog had lost her license by that point, but convinced the court she had to have it (unfortunate truth: crazy females can pretty much sell family courts on everything and anything, at least for a while). She ended up giving it away.

      I’d love to have it around for my youngest kid to drive now…or the “Frankenvolvo” conversion with the Ford V-8.

    • 0 avatar

      “but have HUGE regrets about cars I sold.”

      THIS! So much this.

  • avatar

    For me, it’s really only two things.

    1) I owned an estoril blue BMW M roadster. I was getting ready to deploy to Iraq and just decided it was time to sell it. I regret it all the time. That was one of the best cars I ever owned. Reliable, fast, just pure fun, and very tossable. Arguably starting to become a collector.

    2) A couple years after another deployment and I was debating placing an order for a BMW 1M (of course in Valencia Orange). Decided not to and kick myself for it. Not only did it appreciate in value, it will no doubt be a collectors car, and by all accounts a blast to drive.

    Oh well.

  • avatar

    Sometimes a little distance from a buying decision gives you some context. My final three choices last year were the Jetta I ended up with, a Civic, or a Yaris iA.

    A Denver-St. Louis road trip proved the wisdom of not going with the Toyo-zda. I checked out a Civic Si last weekend for the heck of it, and was struck by how much I disliked the digital instrumentation and the touchscreen infotainment system.

    The Jetta’s a darn nice meal so far. My only regret is not ponying up for a higher mileage lease.

  • avatar

    Over 2 years ago I made the decision to go with one vehicle. Usually by now I’m thinking “time for a change”

    I have approx 16,000 Miles on my 15 EB Mustang. I drive it everyday, and still enjoy it. A few little interior wear issues don’t sit well with me. Though not a deal breaker thing, and Ford has agreed to repair it.

  • avatar

    Bought a 2012 V-6 Mustang. Liked everything but the auto matched to the 2.73 rear gears. Engine had the power but the trans couldn’t get out of it’s own way with such low rear end gearing. Safe salad (slightly better gas mileage V-6) instead of the V-8 soup.

    Fixed it by buying a 2016 V-8 GT soup special and am so glad I did.

  • avatar

    For years, I had mixed feelings about my 2010 Acura TSX (base, 6MT), which I bought new in late 2009. I missed my previous SAAB’s phenomenal steering and massive turbo punch, and occasionally regretted passing on a 2010 BMW 335i with 6MT and Sport Package I had tested.

    But now, I have absolutely no regrets. In fact, the longer I’ve owned it, the more I’ve appreciated it. The TSX has been bulletproof, and apart from an increasingly heavy clutch, drives like new after 111k miles. The engine isn’t exactly a torque monster, but sounds wonderful and provides classic Honda high-revving goodness. And with the right tires, the TSX even has reasonable steering feel.

    It’s the best car I’ve ever owned, by a wide margin.

  • avatar

    Now Cher will be stuck in my head all day!

    There were two cars that I’ve purchased that I regretted afterwards.

    One was a 2002 Hyundai Elantra GT- I purchased it in 2003 while being a college student. The car itself was a solid, reliable vehicle and I really liked the Saabesque styling. But I did get ripped off by the dealer and was paying more per month than I could afford at the time, the car had some wear and tear that wasn’t noticed until later, the leather seats would be stinkin’ hot in summer and freezing in winter which turned me off leather for life, and equipped with a sunroof, I had no headroom for my 6’5”’ frame. It was a good car, and most of those issues were my fault for being so excited to get into the car.

    The other was a 2015 Honda Fit that was purchased new. We got a good deal on it and the car gave an initial positive showroom impression. However, over time, the loud, buzzy engine, strange manual gearing, and cramped front passenger seat were annoying over long drives. We ended up renting cars on long trips to avoid the exhausting freeway jaunts in a Fit. But the reliability was the pits: within two weeks of ownership, the alternator died and the car had to towed, we had numerous trim defects, a gas gauge that wouldn’t be accurate, leaking trunk, and buzzes and rattles. It was just a miserable little car that we couldn’t rid of quickly enough. Thank goodness for Honda’s high resale values. The Sonic that replaced it feels so refined in comparison

  • avatar

    A Chevy venture was my worst purchase, but I remain convinced there was no alternative. Honda and Toyota cost 50% more, and FCA was out of the question. I ended up giving it to the dealer for $200 after 9 years, but only 120,000 km. The air conditioning needed servicing and the motor had an issue that the mechanic thought could be fixed for $1,000, but offered no promises. So I guess it was a $2,200 vehicle with $2,000 needed in repairs.

  • avatar

    Seeing as how quickly I unloaded my ’12 Civic LX, you could argue that was a purchase to regret. Bought 1 year old used in ’13 with 11k miles for $15k, sold 3 years later to a private party on CL for $11k with 53k miles. So I think I actually did okay on my cost per mile overall with it. Never put a foot wrong reliability wise except for when I left a dome light on and drained the battery down (jumped it with another vehicle of mine). Got really good mpg, the slick shifter and light weight (2650lb) actually made it sort of fun to zip around in. The front seat comfort was ideal for me, 10+ horu trips no sweat. But it was also a very noisy car. Never really brought any sort of emotions and never warranted a glance back walking away in the parking lot. I think if I had ponied up for a quieter/comfier midsizer of some sort, I still might be driving it. But I also sold the Civic to generate some cash after our house purchase and I kind of wanted a beater project so there’s that.

    The bigger question is if I finally sell my beloved 4Runner and “downsize” my 2 car fleet to just one modern SUV, will I forever regret letting it go? I suspect I might.

    • 0 avatar

      Craziness! My one regret mirrors your experience closely.

      2012 Civic LX, certified pre-owned with 4k miles on the odo, $14.5k out the door.

      Exactly 4 months later I sold it for $12.5k private party and did NOT mind the loss.

      The car was slow yet easily tossed, had excellent fuel economy and was comfortable enough for myself but….

      THAT PAINT QUALITY!!! I know there were steps I could have taken to assist in its longevity but I couldn’t be bothered. I knew that inevitably, I could not live with the prospect of a re-spray or constant preventive care.

      I think the only way you will not miss your current 4runner is if you purchase a new 4runner to replace it TBH.

    • 0 avatar

      Don’t do it, man.

      • 0 avatar

        @gtem – the only way I see you ditching the 4runner is if Toyota announces that the next one won’t have the 4.0 V6. I could see you buying new to get your hands on the last 4runner to have a “truck” engine in it.

        • 0 avatar

          As logical as a 4Runner replacement with a 4Runner is, I’m actually strongly eyeballing a new or lightly used 2nd gen Armada SV (the Patrol based ones). I’m realizing my blend of long highway drives with admittedly fairly tame (in a relative sense, most of the time) offroading, skew me towards a more road and comfort biased vehicle over outright offroad capability and durability. The 4Runner being constrained to a part-time t-case in all but the Limited trim kind of stinks too for winter highways, and I really don’t care for the Limited and its stupid narrow wagon wheels and lower hanging trim. As much as I love the totally overkill capabilities and hardiness of my 4Runner, there was literally a single instance where I really used every bit of it (with dents and scrapes on the skid plates to prove it). I’d love to have both a new SUV and the old girl, but if I started to use the new SUV for long trips, the question would become what do I have the old truck for aside from being a pampered garage queen? First world problems!

    • 0 avatar

      ” ‘downsize’ my 2 car fleet to just one modern SUV”

      Gee Ex Four Sixty.

      • 0 avatar

        Under strong consideration, the ’10-’13 pre-maw trucks are quite handsome inside and out, I must say. But also quite pricey, $25k for a car with 70-90k miles on average it seems. I also hate that the third row is now built into the floor and eats up cargo room at all times. The GX470 side-ways stowable and removable setup was superior for my needs. Now a clean GX470, that would be something to consider. But then either I’m hunting for a clean and rust free older 120-140k mile example in the low teens which basically has me driving a still quite old vehicle, or ponying up $20-22k for a ’08-’09 with the mild refresh and about 100k miles which strikes me as not a great value. The GXs in general are 4Runner sized, and I would prefer to get some more interior room. I’d actually consider a GM fullsizer, but they have truly insane resale values, for what I consider to be a fairly sturdy but ultimately inferior in quality vehicles to the Tahara built Toyotas. Ecoboost Expeditions are an interesting option and in the right price point, but I’m fairly Ford averse and hate how their IRS is laid out (horrible for ground clearance). Finally there are gen 1 Sequoias that hit all the right notes for me in terms of feature and size, and even my favorite roll-down window. But again, the age/price factor is looking less and less favorable as they age and all the Midwestern ones are starting to get increasingly rustier undercarriages. The new Armada seems to hit all the right notes. High quality almost outlandishly Japanese interior (see: quilted velour with piping), age/price/features is stupendous IMO. If money were no object I’d be in a 200 series Land Cruiser. But it is, so a 85% Land Cruiser for 40% of the price it is.

  • avatar

    I’ve been pretty lucky with the 4 cars I’ve had so far.

    ’95 Riviera Supercharged; as my first car it introduced me to the wonder that is an Eaton M62 shrieking through a 4″ fenderwell intake, and also to the cost of not being able to work on your own car. There were a lot of AAA tows to the mechanic, and every time I came home from my freshman year there was something that failed that kept me from driving it. Had GM’s fantastic OBD 1.5 computer so nobody but a dealer could diagnose it. Still loved it but sold it my first summer in college after 2.5 years of ownership.

    ’02 Civic Si; this is the car I would have kicked myself for not getting, but I had it for 7 awesome years. It was my first stick and I did everything with it, from moving to TX from NY to doing an engine swap. Sold it in perfect condition when I was satisfied with my time with it to another younger version of myself just getting into cars.

    ’00 F-250 7.3 6-speed; only had it for 3 years but I went all out with this one. Brought me close to some of the best, most genuine friends I’ll have in my life, and was my first time ever regularly being in a large vehicle, let alone driving one. First V8, first turbo, first diesel, and oh man it made wonderful sounds. Got sick of driving it because I couldn’t be irresponsible without throwing some soot; 7 years with a Civic Si trains you to enjoy WOT.

    ’13 Abarth Cabrio; sold the Ferd in July and picked this up for the same money. There is simply no better way to spend $13k on a car I could mostly keep stock and be genuinely happy.

  • avatar

    I would go back 17 years and stop young myself from being suckered by Mitsubishi’s “0/0/0 till 2001” deal.

  • avatar

    I bought a Fiesta ST, which I still love, but it was the first car I had much choice in buying after I drove inherited junk around for a long time, and I didn’t quite know what I wanted.

    Now I realized I miss two features of an old BMW 1602 with a larger 2002 New Class engine my dad had long ago: the feeling of RWD and the look of two doors. I’m torn in my future car imagination between keeping the 4 door,FWD Fiesta forever and hoping I can eventually live somewhere with enough space for a fun car #2, or letting it go sooner and street parking a different 2 door, RWD car that is probably equally fun but less practical. Since they don’t appear to be bringing the next Fiesta ST here, meaning I could never get a different flavor of bird-in-the-hand, I think I’m going to stick with what I’ve got. But I do think about it.

  • avatar

    Part of me has always regretted not buying a Toyota FJ60 Land Cruiser back in 1985.

  • avatar

    Picked a Mazdaspeed6 over a Lancer Evolution in 2010. Thought it would be more reliable. Was wrong in quite spectacular fashion. Even if it hadn’t broken as much as it has, it was still the wrong call, as Lancer Evolutions haven’t depreciated from where they were.

    The ’99 Miata backup car made up for it, though! Seven years for < $2000 in maintenance.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Every time we discuss cars you own, my ‘flipping’ a 1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz. Here is a similar one listed with an asking price of 250k USD.

    I certainly paid (actually about 2.5% of that price), nor got anything like that. Used the profit made to purchase a new C3 Corvette (Stingray L82) which I kept for less than a year as it proved unusable in the winter and a target for every traffic officer that saw it. The Caddy was however they only vehicle that I ever actually made a clear profit from.

    Regarding the comments by ‘deanst’ regarding the AC on his Chev Venture, we experienced the same issues but it was a leased vehicle. Those vehicles also had issues with their sliding doors not sealing/locking properly and we never got ours corrected despite repeated efforts by two dealers, during the time that we had it.

    Have never regretted the acquisition of a Honda. Mainly leased Caravans, so they became somebody else’s problem. Regretted nearly every Ford acquired. Mixed results with GMs, mostly good.

  • avatar

    I liked the Nash that I bought back in the day well enough but always did wonder if if the step-down Hudson with its better handling and Twin-H power would be a more fun ride. Though the fold-down seats in the Nash were certainly a very nice feature. :)

  • avatar

    My worst purchase, was oddly a ’00 LandCruiser. Like many a suburban transplant that skis on weekends, I decided I had to have the best damn offroadiest beast available. And everyone knows they are awesome vehicles in many ways. But getting 14mpg highway, annoying as f* 3rd row seats, and Toyota ergonomics that I hate in every Toyota I’ve been in, I sold it in less than 2 years for a decent enough price, and stuck to wagons and minivans for the next 18 years.

  • avatar

    In 2000 I bought a new BMW 323i (2.5L six) automatic. Was satisfying to drive, but didn’t handle too well which was corrected in the next model year, and put on 57K miles in 7 years. Then reports came out about the auto trans failures. It was a French GM 5-speed unit used one year by BMW that had it’s reverse gear go out with no warning.
    My choice for replacement was a new ’07 Audi A3 or a Lexus IS250. I went with the IS250 due it’s super smooth highway ride & handling and it handled far better than my BMW at all speeds.
    Fast forward to the present, almost 11 years later I still have the IS250 and I haven’t spent one dime for repairs other than normal maintenance (oil changes & filters). It drives very close to when in bought it in 2007.
    If I decide to replace it my choices are: VW GTI, upcoming 2019 Jetta GLI, or the new Genesis G70. Very difficult decision; all are great cars.

  • avatar

    After a couple of months telling myself it was the best car ever, I began noticing the problems of my 2013 sedan Subaru Impreza.

    Speakers were awful! When I had them changed, the guy laughed at the “paper” speakers that I had. Even with the new ones, the stereo wasn’t powerful enough to drive them to have good sound. (I knew that they were bad before the purchase, so I can’t complain too much on that..)

    I took the sedan so it was too small for my needs. (my bad too!)

    Also, that car that I was thinking would be fun to drive, based on all Impreza reviews, was not! I had as much “fun” driving my girlfriend’s Corolla… That car didn’t have any spark.

    Finally, that car was driving me nuts over three major things :
    – the vibration noises coming from the dash, the doors, the breaks;
    – the bad suspension giving the impression that I was always on a bumpy road (The Subaru mecanics couldm’t identify what was wrong);
    – the less than average traction control. In the snow, I was always feeling like I was losing control of the car even if I had brand new Nokian Hakkapelita tires.

    I had to eat that soup for 48 months because I couldn’t sell it for what it was suppose to be worth. (after 24 months of rent it was worth about the 48th month residual value and after 40 months it was worth 2k less than the residual value)

  • avatar

    I had an original Yamaha FJ100, 1984 model. Kept it for 15 years sold it for 50% of what I paid for it new with 30K miles on it.
    It was the best liter + sport bike at the time. It did several trips around the USA west coast and a few from SoCal to Canada.
    Life’s chapters come to an end however. Big sigh……………..

  • avatar
    Jeff Weimer

    I regret my 98.5 Audi A4 Quattro 2.8 5MT. The repair costs the last year of ownership alone would have covered a note on a new car, not to mention the inconvenience of getting the repairs. It seems that when those get over 100K miles they begin to fall apart. I had close to $3K in upcoming regular maintenance (clutch and timing belt) so I dropped it for a ’12 Cruze Eco. My *gas* savings nearly paid the new note, without considering repairs no longer needed to arrange and pay for.

    And I have had very few problems with my 2 Eco 1.4T motors (I bought another ’12 Eco after a total wreck with my first) – just a cracked and leaking coolant neck that is a common problem.

    I have had that, a failed water pump, blown turbo, and blown PCV burst disk on a different ’12 Cruze 1LT we bought for my eldest daughter because she liked mine so much. So yeah, it can be fragile.

  • avatar

    My worst purchase ever was a ’93 Toyota Pickup. Total piece of junk, engine blew itself to pieces at 72,000 miles. Bought a ’93 Chevy full size, never once regretted the return to American quality!
    Next worst purchase was an ’88 Nissan Van (remember, these were so bad that Nissan bought them all back). Mine was repurchased by Nissan before their program to buy them all back because of the horrendous problems I had with it.
    Been driving exclusively Buick cars and Chevy trucks ever since, always happy with these. Power, comfort, and reliability.

    • 0 avatar
      Carlson Fan

      Ha my first brand new vehicle was a ’93 Toyota PU truck. Extra-cab, 4WD, 3.0V6 w/5 speed stick. It had to have the motor torn down at a little over 90K miles but at least Toyota stood behind it. Head bolts would snap & take out the gasket. Known problem with that motor which is why they fixed it on their dime. I towed the living snot out of it, sold it to my buddy w/197K miles, he ran it for another 100K miles before selling. After 20 years of salty MN roads the frame was toast.

      Great truck & I’d buy one all over again. My regret is I wouldn’t “cheap-out” & buy one with the crappy deluxe trim, I’d do it right and spend the money on an SR5. I started looking at the compact GM trucks, but for my money they were junk compared to the little toy back then. Since selling it and going full-size, all I’ve run is GM trucks.

  • avatar

    I’d go back and not allow myself to purchase an Audi 5000 as a first car. Then I’d go back not all that far and tell myself I didn’t need a 1993 Cadillac.

    Really only those two were regrettable.

    Based on what I saw later, I could’ve kept my A8L for quite a lot more miles with not a lot of maintenance. Chickened out when I thought the transmission was going. Nope, it was fine for another 70,000 miles at least.

  • avatar

    “Regrets I’ve had a few, but then again too few to mention…”

    Going back to 2014 when I bought my gently used Highlander I would have bought something brand new. I’m putting 20,000 a year on it and mentally I’m more comfortable carrying a loan on something that I’m the first owner of when I’m going to be totally sick and tired of it by the time the loan is paid off.

  • avatar
    Middle-Aged Miata Man

    A used 1994 Chrysler LeBaron GTC convertible with 64000 miles, a Maaco paint job and a pronounced lean to starboard… which of course I failed to notice until the morning after I’d signed the papers. Lot of lessons learned with that one.

  • avatar

    Back in 2000 I bought my first Big Old Chrysler for $1600+tx. Adding up all the receipts over the years it has been far and away my most expensive vehicle. If I knew then what I know now I would’ve saved-up and bought one in better condition to start with, but learning was part of the exercise.

    My actual biggest automotive purchase regret would be my second car, which was also my second 1984 VW Rabbit diesel. The first Rabbit was a great student car; the second one was a rolling wreck and I should’ve walked away but my dad was pressuring me to buy it.

    • 0 avatar

      My first car was a ’81 Rabbit, bought when I graduated from high school. The dealer had a ’80 diesel left over that my dad was all keyed up on…pea soup green, vinyl seats, no air, no radio.

      In St. Louis. In the summer.

      I could have beaten it on a bike in the quarter mile.

      Nope. Ended up with the ’81, which was gas powered.

      They’d have to have hired Zig Ziglar to sell that green diesel.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    My family will hate you for giving me a reason to sing that song all afternoon.

    Not too many regrets. I got sick of my ’04 Acura TL after 9 years, and in late 2012 bought an ’02 M5, a car I always wanted. I should have waited because there was a lot of life left in the TL that could have been extracted for little cost, and the M5 attached to my wallet like a particularly determined lamprey. It didn’t help that I put 20,000 miles per year on the car thereby largely destroying its resale value, not that I plan to sell it. If I’d known that would not be my commute forever I’d have put off the purchase.

  • avatar

    I don’t regret my current car at all. For what I’ve got into it, you couldn’t ask for a more reliable car that has served me well over the past 5 years.

    Previous cars I regret: 1996 Chrysler Concorde LXi, 1995 Oldsmobile Achieva S (though I’d still like a coupe/Quad 4/5MT version), 1983 Toyota Tercel SR-5.

    There are other cars I didn’t care for, but didn’t really do me wrong, so I left them off that list. I don’t regret buying or selling them They include a 1998 Lumina, for example.

    I regret selling my 1991 Tempo GLS, my 1978 Mercury Zephyr Z-7, the 1992 Tempo LX V-6, and a few others, but I’m not too upset currently since I do have a good car that I really like. If I was forced to drive something like a 1998 Hyundai Accent automatic, I’m sure I’d want to kick my own @$$ daily for selling cars I loved, even if life circumstances at the time made it seem like the right choice.

  • avatar

    Regrets – I had a few.

    My current regret: after my Scion xB got totaled, I needed to get another car pronto. My wife has a 2003 MINI that I really like to drive and has actually been rather reliable. I also wanted a manual.

    So I ended up buying a used 2009 Clubman S with 58k miles on the clock. And it’s leaked water into the electronics, needed a new water pump, a new battery, new plugs, and now needs new brakes and windshield (cracked). I don’t trust it at all, using it as a beater car.

    It is fun to drive – I’ll give it that – but I sure wish I had bought something with 4 doors.

    Others that I wish I had never sold:
    1986 Monte Carlo SS
    1994 Nissan truck
    1994 Buick Roadmaster

    Cars I wish I had never bought:
    1996 Volvo 850 GLT
    1994 Volvo 850
    1997 Toyota Avalon

    • 0 avatar

      Well, to be honest, except for leaking water onto the electronics, those seem like normal things.

      Sure, modern plugs are “supposed” to last 100k, but some need replacing before that marker, others are still perfectly fine at that marker. Water pump, battery and brakes are not unheard of at that mileage.

      Now, if you had to replace the entire engine, rebuild the trans and totally redo the suspension by the time it hit 60k, I’d say…why did you buy a Dodge Caliber? Lol

      I’m not saying you don’t have the right to regret buying it, just that those issues, aside from the watery electrics, don’t seem too awful on a used car that’s closer to 100k than not.

  • avatar

    I’ll skip kicking myself for the did-buys this time and go to a should-have bought instead: a Marauder.

    I suspect that I’ll feel much the same way about the SS 10 years from now.

  • avatar

    Minor regrets for vehicles I’ve bought…

    My Transit van. I should have gotten the high roof and long wheelbase instead of medium and standard. BMW GC.. Should have gotten a Fusion Sport. My Leaf and Focus RS: no regrets.

    Plenty of regrets for cars I’ve sold though. My Raptor… I wish I could have justified keeping it. Getting rid of it was the right choice but I do miss it. Subaru STI.. I traded it in on a standard Impreza, which was a nice car but if I’d kept the STI I wouldn’t have bought a BRZ a couple years later. The BRZ, oh the BRZ. I regret the $10K I spent on supercharger, track brakes and suspension, all to gain 6 seconds per lap on track-day. I sold it post-divorce and recouped absolutely none of that $10K.

    The last 10 years I’ve been averaging a car every 9 months or so, so there are definitely some additional regrets in there, but most of them are long gone by now. I’m still trying to find a stable that scratches most of the itches.

  • avatar

    I look at my wife’s Outback and wonder why a Grand Cherokee isn’t sitting in its place.

    I mean, the Outback is okay, but that’s where it ends, it’s just okay. She likes it though, so that’s what matters. I just don’t see why she picked it over a Grand Cherokee.

    I have no regrets over my vehicular purchases or any desires to buy anything different. I just wish I had more garage space is all.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    My biggest automotive regrets: selling a Dodge and buying a Honda.

    1. I kick myself almost weekly for trading in my 2003 Dodge Ram 2500 Cummins 5 sp CC 4×4. I had it for 7 trouble free years, took immaculate care of it. Best car/truck I have ever owned. I should have traded the T&C minivan for the Suburban and taken a larger note instead of the double trade. I still have the Suburban, almost 8 years later and it has been a great truck so far and love it. Both would be great.

    2. I traded my 07 Accord coupe 5MT for an 11′ Accord sedan 6MT. I regretted the decision within 20 minutes of the transaction. The 11′ Accord is possibly the worst car ever. Horribly uncomfortable front seats, worst road noise of any car I have ever owned. I kept it for, literally, 1 tank of gas. Put it on CL on a Saturday morning, sold it by noon that day and was grateful the people that bought it took it off my hands so quickly.

    Seems like a lot of regret here for Honda purchases and Acura sells. Weird.

    • 0 avatar

      I had a 2011 Accord, lower end trim. No liner in trunk or hood. Was pretty noisy indeed.

      The first month I had the car, the seats bothered me too. But then either my body adapted to the seats or the seats molded to me. Either way, it was fine after that.

      No mechanical problems in the 6 years I owned it, but the paint wasnt so shiny when I sold it because I was tired of the noise on my new freeway commute this year.

  • avatar

    A 1977 Camaro LT 350 4 speed manual. T-tops. Black on black. Bought at auction for a great price, in decent shape. Needed some fixing, but nothing major. Until the pickup fell of the oil pump and blew the engine to pieces.

    It was fun to drive for about 20 minutes. Then the bad ergonomics, squeaks and rattles and screaming engine got old. I spent far more time working on it than driving it, improving things like those awful 70’s GM power windows in an attempt to make it the car I wanted it to be. In the end, I got a deal on a crate engine, threw it back together and traded it straight up on a fully loaded mid 2000s GMC Sierra 4×4 double cab with low mileage. Sold that for the cash to buy my ’63 Thunderbird which is a joy to drive and have had for many years since.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I regret the MKS. It was cool for about two months, and now I find little about it to love. It’s too big, and it just isn’t *me*. My passengers seem to be impressed by it, but I’m looking to get rid of it for something that handles better and has fewer electronic glitches.

  • avatar

    Much as I like my 2017 Tucson, I wish I would have snapped up the almost fully loaded 2016 Impala LTZ I had looked at a couple months prior.

  • avatar

    The Ford King Ranch I bought was my only regret. Paid too much, took up too much space in the garage, drank too much gas, didn’t feel comfortable in urban traffic. Lost a lot on the trade-in for my Sonata Limited, which I like for the most part.

    It’s a two pronged regret: I regret buying something I couldn’t afford and I regret getting rid of it because I had such high hopes for it.

    Cars & women. Fools rush in…

  • avatar

    Out of all my car leases and purchases, I really only regret one car… my first car, a new 1996 Pontiac Sunfire Coupe. I fell in love with the looks of this car right from the get go as there was nothing out there that competed with it style wise in that price bracket.

    The reliability on this car was terrible. I was leasing the car, and gave it back with almost 1 year left on the lease and handed the dealer an almost 3 inch service record folder.

    Problems started the day I drove the car off the lot, the passenger mirror glass would point down when the door closed, the horn stopped working within a couple hours, and the ignition lock failed to release my key (Must have taken like 2 hours to get my key out). In the months to come, the service record became thicker and thicker…. but the scariest of repairs (which the solution was just plain stupid) was that the door gaskets would freeze up in the winter…effectively locking me IN the car. Oh and the solution to this problem you might be wondering…? Coat the gasket with a silicon emulsifier.

  • avatar

    Big regret was a first generation Ford Focus. I thought I had done my homework. I checked out reviews, drove the competition, etc. The car was an awful lemon. I was baffled by the disconnect between my experience and the positive reviews the car had received. I have never looked at mainstream auto reviews or awards the same. And when I went to sell it a year later, I discovered that “demo” meant “has repaired body damage that precludes sale as a certified used car so worth less than other Foci of similar age and mileage.”

    Smaller regret was the seventh generation Civic that replaced the Focus. Nice car and all, but I should have coughed up a few thousand more for an Accord. A larger car would have been more comfortable and would have made life easier when kids came along a few years later.

  • avatar

    When I was in the market for a new car in late 1983, I really, really wanted a 5-speed Honda Prelude. However, I couldn’t quite stretch my meager budget for one. I ended up getting a 5-speed CRX 1.5. I had a hell of a lot of a fun with that little car for ten years, but the Prelude would have been a nicer ride.

  • avatar

    I owned an Isuzu Rodeo for less then a year. Worst vehicle purchase EVER… almost immediate regret!

    My logic at the time was two fold: 1) Honda was selling the Rodeo as the Passport so it must be decent and 2) I was going to buy a boat and needed something to tow with. Well item #1 was wrong and item #2 took longer to execute. I was coming from a Honda Prelude Si so in comparison the Rodeo was heavy, slow, crappy interior, gas hog, etc, etc… basically everything a SUV is and a Prelude is not. After a near accident due to the Titanic like handling I traded the stupid SUV in and leased an Eclipse GS-T because I was upside down on the Rodeo. Its the ONLY time that has ever occurred. For boat towing duties I grabbed a used Ford Ranger Splash which was a much better vehicle in pretty much every way. While not like car-like in handling it at least felts somewhat agile. I (like others) over estimate the usefulness of SUVs – the open bed of a pickup gives you more options.

  • avatar
    Rick T.

    Never had much luck with my purchases even though I always maintained them well:

    1985 Sentra – timing belt parted after warranty expired but many miles before recommended replacement. Rebuilt engine.

    1993 Chevy Silverado – Engine blew up at 93K miles within 10 minutes of leaving dealer for regular maintenance due to gasket leaking coolant into engine. Like a rock, my ass!

    2003 MB E500 (late year) – Paid cash. Had everything wrong with it that they were known for with the exception of ruining transmission with coolant leak. Always something wrong with it. Quality and durability of parts and finishes just awful – leather cracking, cloth on B pillars worn through, wheels flaking finish, etc. Wife loves driving it so I continue to throw money at it.

    2016 VW Golf Sportwagen – So far so good with only one minor bit of warranty work in 15k. We’ll see.

    On the other hand, luckier in love. We have our 35 anniversary coming up so all in all probably better and less expensive in the long run.

  • avatar

    Car I wished I’d never bought: 1977 BMW 320i. There are countless memories of times that things that went wrong with that POS, but my favorites were when the throttle cable got stuck at WOT and I still drove it to the dealer, which it knew the way to very well, shifting by turning the ignition off, executing the gear changes and then turning it back on. Another time I pulled into the parking lot of a bar, with smoke billowing out from under the hood, and I put the fire out using a beer conveniently provided by one of the patrons.

    Car I wished I never rolled: 1985 Mazda RX7 GSL-SE

  • avatar

    I don’t have many regrets. I wish I had kept the A8 4.2 a bit longer, I think it had ~60K when I sold it – I just wanted something more nimble. I wish I had never bought the B6 A4, but in reality, it was a fun little car, just horribly unreliable. All my other car purchases have been good.

    The only real regret was a 1998 GSX-R750 ex-racebike that was totally worn out beyond repair when I got it in ’00. As soon as I got it, I built a killer engine for it, only to realize that the suspension, the frame, the fork, the wheels, the aftermarket gauges, the swingarm, the leaking fuel tank, etc. were bent and clapped out beyond the ability for it to ever be stable at speed, cornering, or braking. Nothing GMD Computrak or the like could fix.

  • avatar
    Landau Calrissian

    In early 2015, we bought a new Mazda3 hatchback. We really liked the Golf TDI, but were worried about the long-term reliability.

    A year and a half later, my wife and I both started working from home, and decided to sell the Mazda, to get rid of that monthly payment since we no longer needed two cars. We really kicked ourselves for not getting the TDI; the buybacks started happening right around the time we got rid of the Mazda, and the settlement money would have been a nice bonus. We also chose the 3 because of the better reliability, but didn’t even own it long enough for the warranty to expire.

  • avatar

    I’m sick to death of my 2016 Mazda 3 GT, and I’m counting down the months until the lease is up (13!) But I can’t feel too bad about my choice – on paper it seemed like the right one, and the things I hate about it aren’t ones that turn up on a test drive but are annoying to live with. The infotainment is utter garbage – super slow to load at startup, glitchy and skippy Bluetooth connectivity, laggy responses to inputs…and the dealer has even gone as far as replacing the entire CMU brain to try to fix it – it’s just a trash design. Way underpowered for what it’s supposed to do.

    Add in the fact that the manual transmission had to be replaced entirely at 16,000km on the clock and the power door locks squeal like a stepped-on-mouse most of the time when you lock the doors and I’m very, very glad I’m just leasing this thing.

    I think I’ll replace it with a Golf SportWagen, because I can get it with all the goodies *and* AWD *and* a stick. And if you can’t trust a Japanese brand to be reliable, then why not go HAM and roll the dice on a German? I’ll lease it of course – I’m not insane, lol.

  • avatar

    I love the Honda Pilot, until the 2016 model appeared. I don’t know what that is, but it is not a Pilot. Now, I am sitting with a higher mileage 2012 Pilot. I screwed up. As soon as I saw the 2016 model, I should have raced out and grabbed a new 2015 Pilot. I waited a few weeks, and by the time I got around to looking for a 2015, many others saw the 2016, then grabbed all the 2015 models before I got there. Now, I am kicking the tires on the new VW Atlas, as well as looking over used low mileage Pilots. My local dealer tells me pristine low mileage pre 2016 Pilots are in high demand and he will call me when he gets a good one. Missed that one. What the heck is Honda thinking with that 2016 and 2017 Pilot. Has to be one of the worst looking SUVs out there.

  • avatar

    I have a Camry LE that was purchased in 2011 but I wish I had bought a Yaris then….

  • avatar

    Nope. Never had this feeling. I research available vehicles and carefully compare to my needs. If my Awd Escape Hybrid disappeared I’d get another one, or a Rav4 Hybrid.

    But others are less thorough. Maybe this is why when you call a car dealer looking for a specific car, they will try to interest the caller in completely different cars.

  • avatar

    I really like the 2012 Jetta GLI I bought last year, but I keep debating if I should have bought one with a DSG trans instead of the 6 speed manual. As miserable as Denver traffic is now with all the potheads and out of staters moving here I kinda wish I got the DSG. Plus its faster.

    My two previous cars were both hand me downs, a 91 Corsica and 98 Malibu that each gave me ten years of relatively economical service. Even though they weren’t awesome cars I don’t regret them.

  • avatar

    Mild regrets: If we got the Camry instead of the Taurus, we wouldn’t have gotten the IS, then when the Integra blew the head gasket we would have enough miles on it to just junk it and got a PriusV. Then we won’t have an extra car sitting around. Hindsight is 20/20, I know.

    1) 01 Taurus SEL Hertz retiree. Got it for $12k with 11k miles. It was ok and dad did a lot of warranty trips to fix all the little things. Its seat was not comfortable, the handling was bad, and it is really not a driver’s car. Was thinking about taking it over after dad got bored of it for 10 years but wife say no (too big, hate to have it in the driveway, motion sickness for the kids, etc). So dad trade it in for a Mazda5. If we have gotten a Camry instead wife would be happy that I took over, instead of buying a newer car.

    2) Mazda5. Well, not really a regret, but dad bought it without asking me first and then found out a lot of potential problems. Ended up doing aftermarket adjustable camber arms to make tire wear manageable, also ATF change every 15k in the future.

    3) IS250. Fun and nice car, was deciding between G35 and IS250 and ended up picking IS250 because it supposedly is better reliability and fuel economy. No body, not even Toyota, realized the issue of direct injection and transmission problem until much much later. Toyota paid for a TSB rebuild with new pistons and rings, but I know the problem will come back again. Also seems like transmission will last only around 150k and then internally it would shed torque converter friction material, causing solenoid wears and other clutch pack wears downstream. Debating whether to sell it before the big repair bills hit, but it is only worth 9-10k now so it is not like I’m saving much money.

    4) Keeping the Integra for way too long. Did the head gasket twice, struts and shocks once, axles once, radiator twice, oil pan gasket twice. I probably should have left it alone when the axle boot leaked and just junk the car when the head gasket blew the 2nd time (bad radiator the 1st time around, bad radiator cap the 2nd time around). So now I’m getting my $2500 repair bill worth by driving it to 300k. Very reliable and fun to drive otherwise.

    5) Wanted to buy a used $5.5k Leaf just for fun, debating for too long because it has lost 40% of the battery life already. It is gone now.

  • avatar

    Two regrets, during the same purchase.

    1991 – (first) wife and I had an ’86 Isuzu P’up and an ’88 Isuzu Trooper. Sold the Trooper and the wife got a ’91 Mazda Protégé LX. Dark Blue, automatic transmission. This is the car that looked like an E-class got caught in the dryer. Great car, no regrets there.

    Then, we decide to sell the P’up and replace it with something for me. First choice was a similar Protégé – only this one is light blue with a stick shift. “Nah”, I think to myself, “I can’t have two of the same make and model in the garage”. Pass – regret #1.

    Then, I decide to get a ’91 Nissan SE – red, with a stick shift. Regret #2 – I really, really wish I’d been firm with the spouse and gotten the SE-R; it was only $1000 more. Damn.

    The SE was my car when we split up and I moved out of state. I traded it in for a ’93 Accord – DX. 5-speeds, but completely stripped. Last one on the lot before the new ’94 redesign was released. Had that car for 5 years and 60,000 miles, and it spent about 30% of its time in airport parking lots.

  • avatar

    Early in 2013 I bought a business and it was a major financial commitment. Late in 2013 my beloved E36 BMW sedan was acting like it was ready to give up. Needing 500 trouble-free miles a week it was time to move on.

    I ended up with perhaps the only Chevy Cruze ever made with the 1.8-litre N/A four, 6-speed, no nav system and I said “…. ahhhh, no, but thanks for asking…” about 500 times to OnStar. The depreciation gods were smiling as my car was used (6,100 miles) and had been in service for only 20 months when I stepped in. I bought it for about $12k plus a totally worn out, 17-year-old BMW.

    I expected to HATE the thing and to sell it as soon as the acquisition debt for the business was paid off. But it’s a fine little car and the only small GM car of my entire lifetime that’s not clearly an embarrassment. And it came to be in the storm that was GM’s bankruptcy, making it all the more remarkable.

    So far, the Cruze has been remarkably economical (31 mpg overall, 44 mpg on a recent highway trip) and quite reliable. It’s well-made and <> kind of fun to drive. I put a set of Blizzaks on for the winter. Is it love? Nope. Relief at not having made a mistake.

    Somewhere else in the comments to a different post I mentioned that the Cruze was, to me, the world’s nicest beater. I drive it in the winter when my Porsche 928 must sleep. I’m looking ahead to getting a BMW motorcycle or two. And keeping the 928 forever. And the Cruze makes much of that possible.

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