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Bad Purchasing Decisions: Share Your Stories

Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,830
Here's the place to talk about vehicle purchasing horror stories, or just plain bad decisions that you or others have made.

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  • jaserbjaserb Posts: 858
    Thanks for creating the topic, Kirstie! Now, I know that we Edmunds users are far too savvy to have made any bad auto purchasing decisions ;) , but maybe a friend, or a family member has done something that makes you think, "Ooh, this is NOT going to end well..." I know I have a few...

    -Jason
  • jaserbjaserb Posts: 858
    My sister-in-law and her husband finally decided it was time to upgrade one of their cars. They have a '92 Nissan Sentra with 140k miles and half a front bumper - and that's their GOOD car. The one they plan on replacing is a Ford Tempo - 'nuff said. A few weeks ago they called me on the phone to ask if I thought a particular car was a good deal - it was a low mile Hyundai Elantra. Knowing their budget (small) and likelihood of keeping the car until it's worthless anyway (extreme) I told them it looked like the asking price was OK, but to MAKE SURE and get a Carfax and have it inspected by a good mechanic. My SIL's ultra cheap husband had a buddy from work "who knows cars" look at it and decided the CarFax was a waste of money because the seller seemed like a good guy.

    The first time I saw the car it was obvious it had been repainted, and not particularly well. The screws for the front license plate were painted in place, and there was overspray and orangepeel everywhere. I decided to just keep my mouth shut, since it wouldn't do any good at this point. Some of the comments they've made have had me biting my tongue, though - "every time I look at the car I swear there's a new chip on the front" (um...) "I've never had a car in such good condition before" (well...) "It's making some noise from the front end so we're going to take it into the dealer. It's still under warranty, after all" (uh oh...)

    This is NOT going to end well... :surprise:

    -Jason
  • osubeavosubeav Posts: 56
    And it will be your fault when it falls apart, since you recommended it, right? :P
  • gallileogallileo Posts: 51
    Back in the early summer of 1995, before the days of common carfax and edmunds, I bought an '88 mazda 626. In retrospect it must have been a salvage title car from a flood, but I knew nothing of that sort of thing then. The seller clearly wanted out, and in retrospect all the warning signs were there. But I liked the car and the price was right (or so I thought). This car had no end of problems.

    This car accumulated water in the inside of the wheel wells, and so would have a rank smell. But I bought it during a long dry spell so I didn't get to experience that joy during the inspection. It had other water-related issues.

    One morning it poured rain while I was inside working. The afternoon was very hot. I came out at about 5:00, got into the car, cursed the foul odor, slammed it into reverse, and a gallon of scalding hot water poured down upon me. It had been simmmering in the sunroof's cutout all day. My profanity continued for hours.

    There were dozens of other little things wrong with it. But the biggest problem was that it's drive train was incredibly reliable and it drove and handled like a champ. I didn't have much money, but could have scraped some together if I had had to. But I didn't _have_ to. It would get me from point A to point B every stupid time.
  • nonjth13nonjth13 Posts: 89
    Both purchased new. 68 VW, 75 Saab 99 EMS I still shudder when i think about these two turkeys.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 27,876
    Wow... we don't even need details.. we can just use our imaginations... ;)

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  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,194
    Well, this one is pretty short, but its a good lesson for anyone. NEVER buy a car without doing your research.

    We were out shopping for a replacement for my wife's leased Mitsubishi Galant, but we weren't positive of what we were going to buy. After trying out a few things, my wife decided she liked a used Subaru Forester. Well, since I never looked at their prices before, I had no clue that the asking price was so ridiculous. So when I managed to get $1K knocked off, I thought that was ok. It wasn't until later that I found out it was overpriced by about $4K.

    I'm not proud of that story, of course, but its a cross I must bear. ;)

    '13 Stang GT; '86 Benz 300E; '98 Volvo S70; '12 Leaf; '14 Town&Country

  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 17,194
    Now, I don't have the heart to tell my Dad he got ripped off because, after all, he's the man who taught me how to wheel and deal (and, no, he would not have approved of how I handled the aforementioned Subaru purchase). I guess he'd getting a bit old and a bit tired of trying too hard.

    Anyway, they recently decided to trade in my mom's Trooper after a rebuilt engine and 2 rebuilt transmissions in less than 50k miles. So they decided on another Isuzu (insert first big question mark). First off, as most of us probably know, there are big rebates, not to mention starting from invoice price. Well, somehow, they convinced my father that the rebates come off of MSRP. Then they convinced him that he should take this demo model with 5K miles because they will give him a better deal (which translates to $2K off - which still doesn't even bring the car down to invoice) AND they will repaint all the scratched body panels!!! YIKES!!!! So, essentially, he paid MORE for a repainted, used Ascender than he could have paid for a brand new one. My lesson learned is to not let them shop by themselves anymore. :(

    '13 Stang GT; '86 Benz 300E; '98 Volvo S70; '12 Leaf; '14 Town&Country

  • pernaperna Posts: 533
    1996 Volkswagen Jetta Trek. It wasn't so much a car, as it was a collection of metal, rubber, and an electrical system made of chicken wire. I would have dearly loved to blow that car up.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 27,876
    We had neighbors... diehard VW buyers... VW actually bought back a Trek model from them... and replaced it with another...

    They still buy VWs, though.. The wife works near my house, and now she has a Beetle convertible...

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  • jaserbjaserb Posts: 858
    My sister and brother-in-law just LEASED a new 4Runner. She's pretty excited because the payment is only $10/month more than the Daewoo Nubira they traded in (there's quite a story there, too). I don't think she's considered her 30 mile one way commute, or the fact that they average well over 40k miles a year between their two cars, or even the fact that their nearest grocery store is a 15 mile round trip.

    She's either going to have to park the thing for the last 18 months of the lease or eat an absolutely huge mileage charge.

    -Jason
  • jaserbjaserb Posts: 858
    At least with the Trek model you got alternate transportation while the Jetta was in the shop! :P

    -Jason
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 27,876
    Ha.. actually the bike was optional .. or, at least, you could get a credit for not taking it... Naturally, they didn't get one...

    Funny, though.. :P

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,621
    Bought it a year old. Just a total piece of solid junk!
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,144
    ...this didn't happen to me, but a coworker's sister-in-law just paid $9,000 at a Chrysler dealer for a used 1997 Chevrolet Cavalier coupe!!! I looked at Edmund's TMV for this car and it gave a quote of $2,700 Retail. What kind of sociopathic salesman would sell an 8 year-old Cavalier to an older woman for nearly four times its retail value? The woman is blissfully unaware of the royal screwing she just received.
  • jaserbjaserb Posts: 858
    When I was young(er) and stupid(er) I tore apart my Datsun 260Z for a "restoration". The engine was tired and there were a few rust spots I wanted to take care of, so I decided to rebuild the engine and do some body work on it. Never mind that I had never opened up an engine bigger than a lawnmower, and that I didn't have any clue how to do body work. Anyway, while I was without wheels I went to a "public auto auction", thinking I'd pick up an old fleet car or something. Of course, being young and stupid I ended up buying a bright red '84 Firebird V6 that was there on consignment for $1300. Here's a little tip for the uninitiated: If the car didn't have something heinously wrong with it, it wouldn't be consigned at an auction. Duh.

    To this day I'm convinced the car hated me. There was ALWAYS something going wrong with it.
    The first day I took it to a car wash, which stripped the color magic wax that was hiding a horribly oxidized paint job. The next morning there was a huge puddle of transmission fluid under the car, and I found out that the tranny housing was cracked. The car sat for a while until I found a junkyard trans and put it in. The next time I started it up it ran horribly - I could barely keep it running. That's when my mom noticed an eerie glow from under the car - the entire exhaust, from manifold to tailpipe, was glowing bright red! Turns out the timing chain had skipped a couple of notches, causing burning fuel to shoot down the tailpipe. Another time there was a Mazda GLC parked across the street saying bad things about the Firebird's momma, or something. The car somehow came out of park - something it had never done, and never did again - rolled down the driveway, negotiated a small curve, straightened out, and smashed in the entire side of the Mazda. The 'Bird didn't have a scratch on it! That was the most expensive $1300 car I ever bought.

    -Jason
  • smittynycsmittynyc Posts: 291
    isell,

    '80 was the first MY that was assembled in North America, right? My folks had a '80 Rabbit, red with matching red interior (including the dash!) that simply could not have had more go wrong with it.

    The fit and finish was disastrous. Every single knob fell off. The window cranks broke. The sunroof leaked to the extent that I often wondered if it'd make for easier clean-up just to leave it open during the rain. The upholstery came apart at the seams. All of the interior lighting failed. And anything that was fixed broke again just as quickly.

    There were a whole host of mechanical problems as well, although the specifics escape me. Just a total dog of a car . . . and sadly, we kept it for three agonizing years.
  • manamalmanamal Posts: 434
    It was Dec. 1992....My '84 Honda Civic needed about 2500K worth of repairs. So I decided to get a new car. As I was still in Graduate School (long time, long story), My parents offered to help me out. I was looking at a new escort. My father talked me into looking at some "program cars". Well, the Lincon Merc. dealer had a used Tracer LTS which was basically an escort sedan with the Escort GT engine and tranny, and all of the goodies.

    knew to ask if the car was ever in an accident. I was assurred it was not The car was priced at $9300. I agreed to pay it....but needed my father to cosign the loan. The sales guy must have felt sorry for me, because he then dropped the price $500 to $8700.

    So I get the car home, and notice that the passenger door did not close quite right. I ask a fiend to look at it, and he saying that he thinks it had been hit and repaired. So, I take it to a body shop, and they show me the repair.

    I go back to the dealer -- and find out that they went bankrupt. Closed. So I am SOL.

    I called ford customer care, and they were actually somewhat helpful. I got the "bad" body work fixed by the ford dealer in down for free.

    And, I had the car for 120,000 and it *never* gave me a problem.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,621
    Yeah, I think you are correct. That Rabbit was just a tinny piece of junk inside and out. I think that was the beginning of a long line of junk from Volkswagen.

    Too bad since the beetles of my youth were well assembled and caused me no trouble.
  • ksapksap Posts: 1
    Need advice: A female friend, for whom English is her second language, purchased a car at a Rhode Island dealership on Wednesday. She made a mistake. The dealers kept her waiting for so long and pressed her into making decisions she wasn't sure about. Instead of just walking out like she should have, because she really needed a car and she got so flustered and impatient, she signed the lease and put a down payment on a car and drove it home. The next day she realized the car was just too big for her and returned to the dealer to ask if she could swap it for something else. The dealer made her wait three hours and then said he couldn't help her. She doesn't want to end the deal, just swap the car for something else. I went with her yesterday to advocate for her, but I was given the same treatment--completely evasive and cold.

    She knows she made a mistake. Now the question is, is she stuck with this car or does she have any recourse? Any help would be appreciated.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 27,876
    The car is hers..

    The only reasonable course of action.. is to learn to live with it..

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  • jaserbjaserb Posts: 858
    I finally talked to my sister about their new SUV. It's a Pathfinder, not a 4Runner, and a pretty nice rig. They're aware of the mileage limit but plan on just buying it at lease end. When I pointed out that they were going to have to pay the buyout amount (almost $19k) at lease end even if the market price is much less than that, my BIL said "oh, that doesn't bother me." Well, OK. As long as that doesn't bother you...

    I'm just amazed that they would so blithely plan on making payments for the next 8+ years on this thing. Their buyout (on a 3 year old, likely 60k+ mile vehicle) is more than I paid for our MPV brand new.

    -Jason
  • paul138paul138 Posts: 31
    Yes the car is hers..But you could write a letter to the actual owner
    of the dealerhsip explaining the situtation, and in this letter maybe
    drop a sutle hint that you are the person in your family people come
    to for advice and you have brothers sisters,cousins,etc as well as many friends
    that you could refer to this dealership if they step up and help your friend.
  • lemmerlemmer Posts: 2,676
    Were any small cars not tinny pieces of junk in 1980?

    At least Rabbits were fun to drive in comparison to their competitors.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 27,876
    All tinny? yes...

    All junk? nope..

    Corollas, Civics and Accords were all reliable, fuel-efficient cars, even in '80... Of course, they would eventually rust away, but they didn't have all of the problems and glitches of a VW..

    But, 1980 was a dark time overall for the car industry and enthusiast...

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,621
    The newly imposed restrictive emission requirements caused a LOT of troubles too.

    And, kyfdx is correct. VW had major problems back then compared to other makes. To a degree, this is still true today.
  • lemmerlemmer Posts: 2,676
    I know you guys are right, but I still liked VWs back then. Part of the problem (or excuse) is that VWs were a little more complex than other similar cars. VW was offering fuel injection and 5-speed manuals, where Hondas mainly had carbs and 4-speeds. Honda also had that wonderful shift it yourself 2 speed automatic - just what a 60 horsepower car needs. VWs also had rear independent suspension when most of their competitors had a beam axle, so on and so forth.

    VWs also got great gas mileage and would outhandle pretty much anything other than a sports car.

    And yes, I had VW of the era, and it was one of the least reliable cars I have ever owned.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 27,876
    ...that VWs were cool then... and, I think they are cool now.. I just can't bring myself to own one...

    Heck.. even Consumer Reports thought that the Rabbit was the greatest thing since sliced bread... until the repair surveys started coming in...

    It is too bad.... they make neat cars...

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,621
    Nice cars to look and to drive but the nagging problems are enough to cause me to steer people away from them.

    Heck, I grew up with old bugs and buses and I still have a soft spot for them.
  • bolivarbolivar Posts: 2,316
    I drove and compared new a 1981 Rabbit and Chevette.

    The Rabbit was somewhat 'peppier', handled better, and my 'World Advisor' Consumer Reports thought they were the sub-compact to end all sub-compacts.

    The Rabbit was about $1,800 more than the Chevette. Trying to 'deal', the salesman acted like he was selling a Mercedes.

    I just couldn't see giving that much more for the Rabitt.

    I bought the Chevette. It was a commute-to-work car. Just a few miles a day. It got a clutch at about 40,000 miles (in-town driving took its tole). The relay for the rear window deicer went bad. It leaked a little oil. The seats were great. I still think this seat was about as good as any car I've owned. I didn't work at all on the highway. The tire and wind noise was so bad you couldn't hear the radio. And, I think for a little 4-banger 4-speed, its highway milage of 23mpg was horrible.We had another car, a 1979 Malibu, then a 1984 Toronado for the road. But when the reports of valve oil seal leaking, oil burning and electrical horror Rabbits started to come in, it made that little white Chevette shine even more.

    Kept it for about 6 or seven years. Traded it in on a used Corvette.
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