Everyone has room to learn a thing or two about buying cars. Sadly, some have to deal with their decisions the hard way. Content edited for clarity.
The Great Debate
“The year was 1985. I bought a Plymouth Reliant K car. I bought it because it was previously the Motor Trend car of the year in ’83 or ’84. I had worked with a couple of people who had them and loved theirs. I was influenced by my Dad to buy American-made and believed they were superior to Japanese-made cars. Some family members who were strong union guys influenced me too. Anyway, at the time, I was thrilled. It was my first new car. I was so excited.
That lasted for maybe a month, then it started giving me trouble. Honestly, I don’t recall what the exact issues were. I just know it would not always start. It would break down regularly. It was under warranty, but I had to keep bringing it back to the dealership. I kept it for two years, continuously bringing it back to the dealership. I sold it and lost a good amount on it, but I was so happy to get rid of that POS. I bought a new Japanese-made Mazda B2200 pick up after that and I never bought an American car again. I believe Americans make much better cars today, but I will stick with my Japanese brands.”
“I bought a brand new Toyota RAV 4; the first series, pearl white paint, all the options. I think it came to around $34,000. It was about 2001 at the time so this was a lot of money for a car.
At around 15,000 miles the top upper windshield pillar started leaking every time it rained, right onto my lap, Toyota fixed it. At around the same time, I noticed water gurgling sounds inside the passenger compartment when I first started the car. After a while I checked the coolant level to find it was low; I filled it. The gurgle came back again maybe 1,000 miles later slightly. Sure enough, coolant was missing again. I took it to Toyota and they claimed the radiator was leaking and replaced it.
Another 2000 miles and the same thing. I never found an obvious leak, but I was pretty sure the coolant was leaking into the engine and burning it. I was living with it and putting coolant in once in a while. Somewhere around this time, the AC line leaked Freon. Then the AC stopped working, so I took it back and that was fixed too.
At 21,000 miles was the pisser.
The oil light came on. I immediately had it towed to Toyota the next day they called me in and showed me the problem, they removed the oil pan and the oil pick tube and the screen was clogged with peeled paint strips. The paint had peeled from inside the oil pan and clogged the pickup screen, it looked like a damn hair wig. I was mad as hell. Why the hell did they paint the inside of the oil pan? (I have been working on cars since I was a kid I had never seen one painted.)
So I spoke to the service manager. This prick actually had the balls to tell me it was my fault and they would not fix it under warranty. He told me I added a chemical to the engine and caused the paint to peel. I asked him how the hell he could accuse me of that. He had no response except that he would do a chemical analysis of the oil to prove it. I told him to check my service records all the oil changes have been done here. I never put shit in that car.
I went home and called Toyota corporate and they said would take care of everything. I went back the next day to pick up my car. The same service manager was there and was trying to charge me. I told him corporate said to call them they would cover the repairs no need to charge me. This guy was actually mad then caught an attitude that I didn’t have to pay and refused to call.
I asked him to call in the mechanic who changed the pan and cleaned the pickup tube I asked the mechanic in front of him was the inside of the new oil pan was painted he answer NO it was not it was bare metal. This pissed the service manager off even more.
Right after that I and the service got into an augment, he got very disrespectful. When I started screaming at him everyone in the place scattered. I ended up jumping the counter, and out he ran to the services bays running in between cars. I guess he was hoping the mechanics would stop me. He rounded a corner caught his leg on a bumper and fell on his face pretty badly. I gave him one swift kick to the ribs and told him to get up. He rolled over with his arms out begging. To this day I wish he would have got up. The mechanics had gathered around and didn’t care. I took it by then he was not liked at this place when I look over at them some of them were smiling.
A few weeks later I heard the engine start to tap then the tap turned into a faint knock obviously a by-product of the engine being starved of oil by the paint clog. At the same time, the windshield started leaking again about six inches to left. A month later Toyota ended up buying that car back from me for the full price I had paid minus the taxes.
I never looked back again. I ALWAYS discourage people from buying Toyotas. They are way overrated.”
Lesson One: Don’t Settle
“It was my very first new car. And I hated it. We were driving a 15-year-old Honda Accord that had a habit of blowing the head gasket every few months. Obviously, this was not good, so we went shopping.
At first, we were looking at a Civic Si. Beautiful car, but the payments were too high. So we went across the street to the Chevy dealer. My wife liked the look of the Aveo, but the salesman quickly steered us away and into a Cavalier (Strike one). A price was agreed upon and we started the financing paperwork. Being new to the game, I felt we were suckered into a price point, our payments were slightly more than I was willing to pay, and for a longer term than I wanted (Strike two). I drove away feeling like I had settled out of necessity.
After two years of payments, it was rear-ended and shoved under a Jeep. With damage to both ends of the car, it was a wonder the airbags didn’t go off. The body shop gave an estimate that was $600 less than the total value of the car (and later found $1000 in more damage) so we couldn’t use the GAP coverage we were pressured into buying with the car. We were forced to wait 5 weeks for all the repairs to be completed.
Now we were saddled with a nearly wrecked car, that I never really wanted, worth half of what we owed, and no way out from under the payments (Ste-rike three). To add further insult to injury, it started leaking oil from the front and rear main seal at 60,000 miles (and you’re out!). We took a huge loss dumping that car after four years of payments.
At least the funky little Scion we bought to replace it was a good, reliable car.”
“I was in the car business for a long time. I knew how to test drive, but I was looking for an around-town car. An unassuming car that got good mileage and would run forever. I picked a Honda Accord. It drove well, had enough power, was comfortable, and was the color I wanted. But I didn’t check one thing.
I have a really bad back and ignorantly assumed it had adjustable lumbar support. The Camry, Sonata, and Regal had one, so naturally, this Honda would. Wrong!
It had NO adjustable lumbar support. That came in the next model up! I had a list of every option I wanted in a car. The salesman, who you should never trust, went down the list and assured me it had everything. He was wrong.
After you drive a car off of the lot, it is a used car. As soon as the rear tire hits the pavement, it’s yours. I turned the car around to ask the guy where the lumbar support was. He looked and basically said, ‘Oops!! Gee sir, I just knew this other model came with one. Well, tough sh*t, it’s yours now.’
I was a DSM for Honda for 12 years. I called Corporate, and explained everything. They allowed me to bring the car back, but I had to pay a thousand dollars, (I would have had to pay 3 thousand), to bring it back. My mistake! Never trust a salesman. I knew that, but, hey, I worked there, he had to know. Always bring your checklist and personally go over every inch of the car, or you’re going to get screwed.
It had never happened to me in 40 years, and it never happened again.”
A Favor Fail
“I was asked to support a co-worker’s husband and buy a new car from him. I needed a new car so I bought a 2002 Kia Sportage from his dealership.
As I drove off the lot it was dark and hot. I immediately tried to turn on the A/C but it would not work. I tried to roll down the windows. Only the back seat windows worked. I returned the car the next day. It took 3 days for them to repair it.
I got it back and the radio wouldn’t turn on. I tried to get my money back to no avail. I was so pissed and upset that I traded it in 30 days later and took a $3000.00 loss. I bought a Chevy Impala LTZ. A car I loved.”