By on October 10, 2019

Ford EcoSport Greenhouse Roofline, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

No, we’re not talking about coming to someone’s emotional rescue, nor are we concerned about that time you pushed your buddy out of the way of that speeding Amtrak while searching for a corpse back in the ’80s.

This is serious stuff. A person can set themselves up for a world of emotional and financial hurt by choosing the wrong car, and, just maybe, you’ve successfully coaxed someone away from the proverbial ledge.

Corey’s quest to find a suitable replacement for his Outback brought this question on. No longer a member in good standing of the Burlington windbreaker set, he finds himself adrift in a sea of choice. Some replacement vehicles are promising, others could be hazardous to his sanity and wallet. Hopefully, once that wagon and its Bernie 2020 sticker are gone, he’ll be happy behind the wheel of a sensible and reliable automobile that leaves him free to pursue a life of religious fulfilment.

However, we all know just how powerful and nonsensical human emotions can be. Giving advice to a friend or family member? They might give your expert words a half-hearted listen just to soothe your frail ego, but the heart so often overrules the mind. One car is cuter, so it gets the buy. One has a nifty feature, so it’s the one dragged home from the dealer.

While we’ve talked about successful buying advice in the past, today we want to know if — and how — you saved an acquaintance or loved one from making the biggest mistake of their life. What were they looking to buy, and how did you sway them away from a life of misery?

[Image: Sajeev Mehta/TTAC]

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50 Comments on “QOTD: Have You Ever Saved Someone?...”


  • avatar
    N8iveVA

    I tried to with my neighbor in the exact vehicle you have in the top pic. He didn’t listen. But his daughter loves it.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      As long as you expect nothing more from a car than getting from point A to point B, the Ecosport is probably fine. It does suck to drive, though.

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      I was able to successfully talk a coworker out of buying one. He is quite insane about cars. No one has ever gotten the total from him but my guess based on the number I recall him mentioning is at least 25 spread all over the area. All of them which are not currently being worked on seem to be operational.
      Anyway, he leased an Ecosport for a month, which is apparently a thing and was seriously considering keeping it. But after we talked he started noticing the things it doesn’t do well and decided against it.
      This was the same guy I mentioned the other day about buying out the company Colorado.

  • avatar
    geo

    A friend wanted me to check out a used CRV he was going to buy. I saw that it had not been maintained (there was no oil on the dipstick, brakes and tires were completely worn). When I pointed this out to the owner, he said “Hey, it’s a Honda!”. I informed him that old line didn’t work on me and we left.

    I highly recommended that some friends not buy a high-km Town and Country from a shady curber. They did anyhow, and it’s been an ongoing reliability nightmare for them.

    A lot of junk being sold in Calgary, where people are warned not to buy from certain areas of the city. Rollbacks and rebuilds everywhere.

  • avatar
    GoNavy99

    I once saved a friend from buying a FWD Audi A4. What’s the point?

    I was unsuccessful in trying to sway my mother from buying an Audi TT RS (I argued for a Porsche Cayman/911). In the end, that TT RS turned out to be a maintenance disaster.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      They are still offering FWD only, what model year was this one? My 1990 was FWD only but I would have thought by now they had dispensed with it. The take rate would be so low it wouldn’t be worth the essentially custom configuration.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        One of the many times the 2012 Audi A6 3.0T lease I used to drive was at the dealer, they gave me a 2012 Audi A6 2.0T with FWD as a loaner. I’m not sure if they still offer them, and one way I won’t find out is when I have another Audi in for repair.

      • 0 avatar
        thegamper

        Pretty sure they are still to this day offering a FWD Audi A4. I recently saw a video that compared the FWD A4 to the Honda Accord Touring. I think the Accord came away with the win if memory serves.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Well, the point is a lower purchase price, I guess. My biggest beef with the FWD Audis is that they come with lower-powered engines. I own an AWD A3, and it’s a completely different beast than the FWD model I test drove. If you’re determined to buy a FWD Audi, you might as well just go buy a Golf or Accord.

    • 0 avatar
      A Scientist

      I’m pretty sure Audi is German for “maintenance disaster”.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Are we talking about saving someone from a car you think sucks, or a some garage queen that runs like garbage?

    There’s a difference. You may not *like* the Ecosport – and God knows I don’t – but I doubt owning one would be like owning a ’71 Vega with a Chernobyl engine, or a ’76 Aspen with the see-through rust. As rotten as it is to drive, the Ecosport would probably run quite nicely for the five or six years it’s financed for, at which point it’d get dumped for something else.

    The problem comes, of course, when you buy something you don’t like, and are too upside down to get out of it. In that case…well, it’s buyer beware, isn’t it?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “well, it’s buyer beware, isn’t it?”

      Freed, the older I get the more I realize its a jungle out there.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Yep, and that’s doubly true with used cars. You can go *unbelievably* wrong with one. But if you get stuck in a new car that you’ve grown to dislike, you really don’t have anyone to blame but yourself, you know? It’s not like someone put a gun to your head and said, “you *must* buy this Ecosport without driving anything else.”

        I’m BRUTAL when it comes to test driving cars – I can spend months doing it. I’m sure that dealerships have a picture of me up on the breakroom wall with the caption “Abandon all hope, ye who pulls this up.”

        I’m a pain in the a**, but I’ve always been able to go into car ownership with my eyes wide open.

    • 0 avatar
      A Scientist

      These are great points. If all you want from the Ecosport is exactly what it’s designed for, then it’s probably perfectly fine.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        A colleague at work is one of many data points with EcoSports!

        Don’t know all the gory details, but he eventually lemon-lawed the vehicle, and is enjoying his Honda HR-V very much, much more than the Ford; to him the drive and handling is a huge upgrade!

        I’v driven an HR-V before, and it’s a little slow, and the handling is on the ponderous side; the Fit on which it’s based is probably much better, just on the basis of having a few hundred less pounds to haul around! If the difference between the EcoSport and the Honda trucklet is as wide as this guy is saying, that EcoSport must be awful indeed!

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I feel bad for the poor souls in Ecosports I couldn’t save from hacking their lives.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Have I ever saved someone from making an automotive mistake? No, but I sure wish someone would have saved me from a few :(

    • 0 avatar
      Mike Beranek

      Yeah, I wish someone would’ve saved me from once using a 6-point Torx bit on a tripple-square bolt.

    • 0 avatar
      Goatshadow

      Same, I wish someone had talked me out of that 2006 Frontier.

      Some people have come to me *after* making a purchase, asking what I think about their newly acquired car. There has been an EcoSport and a Jeep Compass in those situations.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        The most recent Compass doesn’t look all bad — the devil is probably in the driving! But the last one, and it’s Patriot cousin by extension, was the second-worst vehicle I’ve driven in my life; I’ve beaten this point like a drum on here the past couple months, it seems, but that wheezy 2.4 engine had no redeeming qualities, and the only saving grace was the 6-speed automatic, versus the ** 4-speed ** in the Avenger, the worst vehicle I’ve had the displeasure to drive!

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      I had a friend try to talk me out of buying a very used XJ6. It was a money pit, but not much worse than depreciation on a new car would have been, and I really enjoyed it for a few years…until I didn’t. Glad I bought it, gladder I don’t have it now.

  • avatar
    TheDutchGun

    People tend to resent being told their pre-existing opinion or their intended purchase is wrong.

    I’m sure my own hard-headedness has caused my old man to shake his head on more than one occasion.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I know for a fact I’ve saved several female friends from buying Minis and Fiat 500s because they were cute. I know and respect that there are women of all types able to wrench or at the very least able to hold their own at mechanics. These were not those types and I need to set them straight – cute does not mean happy.
    It was also a bit self serving since I knew who they would go to for help.

    • 0 avatar
      SilverCoupe

      I influenced my wife to not buy a Fiat 500 Abarth, so she got a Mini Cooper S instead. The Mini has been fine. She does miss the AWD of her old WRX in the winter, though.
      Any service issues would be hers to worry about, though; we each take care of our own car.

  • avatar
    Thomas Kreutzer

    Nope. People are still buying Volkswagens no matter how much I rage about them.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      And Audis and Minis. The list is long.

      Heck I bought a Chevy against my own rules. You buy what you want and deal with it. Consumer Reports will tell you to never buy a Dodge Dakota but I’ve had mine for 16 trouble free years! Everyone will tell you Volvos are great – ours was one of the worse vehicles I’ve had to deal with, nothing but expensive problems… and for reference we had a (B5) ’00 Passat 1.4T that made it to over 100K somehow. I wouldn’t recommend one however because it had all kinds of random stupid problems.

      • 0 avatar
        SilverCoupe

        An Audi and a Mini are what we have, and they have been reliable for us, though we only put about 5000 miles a year on them.
        I figured that they were better maintenance choices than a Jaguar and a Fiat 500, so everything is relative.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    Most of the time people ask for car buying advice, they just want you to tell them that the car they have already picked is a good idea. It’s one of the reasons why I only ask for advice when I fully intend to take it.

    I will say that I had a few customers who listened to my PPI condemnations of cars that were bought at auctions in Buffalo, New York by Charlottesville, Virginia new car dealers. New cars subjected to up-state New York volumes of salt rust in all the places that you can’t see when they’re on the ground with their hoods closed. In places where it snows for months, people know to look and the rusty cars are worth very little. Places where people have their pointy academic heads shoved up their rectums, they don’t know to look and dealers can charge full retail plus for desirable models that are going to need welding or subframes within a couple of years and constant repairs. I saw it so often that I wouldn’t be surprised if Charlottesville dealers haul their own lease returns up north to sell them at a premium before returning with half-priced clunkers to sell in the seat of ignorance.

    • 0 avatar
      conundrum

      “Most of the time people ask for car buying advice, they just want you to tell them that the car they have already picked is a good idea.”

      Been exactly that way in my experience for 50 years. I get asked a lot, and all people want is approbation for their choice in an area of their life where they know nuttin’ but imagine themselves experts for a week while they look. Being non-committal is now my default response. I’m not taking crap for some garage queen “you” picked and then asked me to endorse.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    I talked a nitpicky relative out of buying a Fiat 500L when they came out new. I see as one of my life’s greatest achievements. This is a woman who complained about a Corolla she once had of being a lemon.

  • avatar
    JakeSizzle27

    I have a friend who has been driving a Saab 9-3 Aero V6 for years and has sunk countless dollars into it’s plethora of electrical and mechanical issues. It’s a great comfortable car and the mid-range torque is absurd!

    He recently floated the idea of trying to get into something new so he ‘wasn’t spending so much money on maintenance’. I suggested a Mazda 3 like I own (hatch, 6 speed, 2.0L plenty peppy enough for a DD) but he was absolutely against it. Instead he was interested in some other german car, I can’t remember if Audi or volkswagen.

    Some people are just beyond hope. They’re going to buy what they want for reasons far from logical and you get to be a by-standard to the dumpster fire that is their choice.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “ajla, what do you think about the Mazda RX-8?”

    –“They’re fun cars. The rotary engine can need some extra care though.”

    “What’s a rotary engine?”

    —“How about a Scion tC?”

    • 0 avatar
      theflyersfan

      As an ex-RX-8 owner (weeps softly but doesn’t miss the gawd-awful mileage), it was all I could do to keep the soda in my mouth from spraying outwards with laughter with your post!

      Thank you for at least trying to talk them out of one. They’d blow it up in 20,000 miles or less…

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      LOL. Nice save!

      What a cool car. The mileage is the only thing keeping me out of one.

  • avatar
    incautious

    Just saved a co worker from making the biggest mistake of her life…Buying a Tesla 3. She actually though you could buy one for 35K. She also thought she could get parts or service in a day if needed. Oh and about the insurance $3500 and rising

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    I like to provide options when asked for advice. And those options always include a Honda or Toyota. Someone may say they are considering a Chevy Equniox and I ask if they have looked at a Honda CRV? I look at it as plausible deniability.

  • avatar
    readallover

    Buy Japanese
    Lease German
    You are welcome

  • avatar
    PentastarPride

    I saved my wife from a bad car-buying decision. Back in the tail end of 2015, she wanted to replace her 2009 Jetta, which she’s had since college, and get something bigger with AWD. Her choices were whittled down to a 2015 4Runner Limited, Subaru Outback Limited or a BMW X5.

    She chose the Outback Limited. Not the most reliable thing out there, but just about anything’s gotta be better than a BMW when it comes to reliability. I have to say that it’s been very reliable so far after three years and 60,000 miles.

    Granted, three years and 60k miles is not that much — a lot remains to be seen (and *won’t* be seen since my wife doesn’t hold on to cars as long as I do) — but I’m sure that had she opted for the X5, there would have been a series of dealer visits for various problems and maybe even a tow or two. If she bought the X5 and then tried to be like me and wanted to keep the car for 10 years (six years OUT OF WARRANTY)… ***insert Scotty Kilmer’s obnoxious chortle here***.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Wheeee ! .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    My newly licensed 21yo nephew in Maine called me up a few weeks ago to ask what I thought about a 4yo Optima with 80K on it for something like $400/mo. So my first questions were “what’s the interest rate and for how long, and what’s the price of the car”? He didn’t know(!) – I told him to find out. $15K, 18%, and 72mo were the answers. I explained to him why this was a *spectacularly* bad idea. Oh, and since he has had his license a month, $200mo for insurance. He takes home <$400/wk. So I talked him out of it, told him I would find him something he could afford and lend him the money at a much more favorable rate once I was back in FL in a couple of weeks.

    But I wish my advice had actually taken – he texted me a week ago that he really wanted the car, and despite having managed to get to 21 sans license, he NEEDED a car. I tried again to talk him out of it. Ultimately, he was saved by having an even lower credit rating than his level of common sense and financial acumen – the dealership could not get the note done even at that interest rate and he got turned down. Thankfully.

  • avatar
    FiestaST

    In the summer of 2001 I had just returned from boot camp and with my Army reserve money being a steady income my mother suggested I purchase a reliable but affordable car. I saw a Pointiac Sunfire on my way into class one day and stopped to look at it. The asking price of a brand new Sunfire was lowered to $9,900. I couldn’t believe it! So cheap! I asked my mother and step father about it. He took me aside and said “I know you really want a new car, but I can’t let you but this piece of shit. I’m sorry”
    The following week we looked at a Nissan Sentra GXE. Brand new with a convenience package of $450, I took it home for $13,450. I owned that car for 8yrs and 165k trouble free miles.


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