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Bad Purchasing Decisions: Share Your Stories



  • smittynycsmittynyc Posts: 291
    If it weren't for the reliability problems, I'd be a chronic VW buyer. I love their exterior and interior designs, and the cars are usually exceptionally fun to drive and functional.

    If only they could follow through and make problem-free cars. What is preventing them from doing that, anyway? Is it the designs themselves, is it the labor, the engineering . . . ?

    Sandwiched around that 1980 VW, my folks had a 1976 Rabbit (a true stripper model, bright orange with black interior) and a used 1984 (?) Rabbit Diesel. Both of those cars were outstanding -- the 1976 was t-boned in an ice storm by a guy driving a huge domestic who slid through a stop sign. The car was totalled (badly), but my dad walked away from the accident.
  • oregonboyoregonboy Posts: 1,653
    My father-in-law had a 1977 Rabbit, which was also an orange stripper. I think '77 was the first year for fuel injection. It was a great little car... made in Germany.

  • danf1danf1 Posts: 935
    was buying an automatic. Nothing wrong with the car other than the fact that I coulnd't shift my own gears. That car lasted me six months until I traded for the same car with a six speed. I'm much happier now.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 70,730
    Come on, Paul Harvey.. tell us the rest of the story..

    You are leaving out all of the details...


    Prices Paid, Lease Questions, SUVs

  • danf1danf1 Posts: 935
    Oh, you want the long version.....

    My wife was pregnant with our third child. Because of the new addition to the family, I needed to trade in my Audi TT. It is really difficult to get five people in a four seater. I still miss that car, but I digress.

    I looked around at many cars. After about 2 weeks of shopping, I decided that it was best to buy from my dealership, so I landed on the Cadillac CTS. At the time there were no six speeds available, and the sales manager told me that he couldn't get one. With that in mind I bought the automatic.

    After about 3 days, I decided that I hated letting the car shift for me. Unfortunately I was in a 48 month lease and we all know how hard it is to get out of a lease early. So I stuck with it for a few months. Last month I couldn't take it anymore. The straw that broke the camels back was when I was driving rather spiritedly having some fun when I saw my father-in-law. He has a 2003 Z06. We were driving at more than legal speeds on a nice windy road and I realized that it was absolutely no fun.

    The next day I came into work, found a nice black six speed CTS, and traded in. The beauty of the whole situation is that I actually lowered my monthly payment on the same term lease. You've gotta love GM incentives.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 70,730
    Just so everyone understands... Dan traded in an '05 automatic for an '05 6-speed... Thereby cementing his CCBA status...

    I just didn't want the story to come off as ordinary... ;)


    Prices Paid, Lease Questions, SUVs

  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,830
    People buy a stick and end up hating it when they get stuck in Seattle traffic day after day.
  • michaellnomichaellno Posts: 4,300
    Just found this topic. Here's my tale of woe....

    Summer of 1985, final semester of college. I had, unfortunately, totalled my 1979 Pontiac Sunbird coupe (3 months before graduation!) and had a check for $2000 in hand. Needed wheels, fast.

    Was thinking of buying something new and using the insurance check as my down payment. Lookeed at a Ford Escort diesel (I can hear the collective NO! from the crowd already). My parents talked me out of it, explaining patiently that I had no job after college and shouldn't be putting myself into a position of making payments with no income.

    OK, so off to the classified ads I go. Lessee, something cheap and reliable ... the plan was to either trade it in or sell it outright when I graduated. I found a '77 Olds Omega (Chevy Nova clone) for, I think, $1200. Looked at it, drove it briefly and bought it .. hey, I was 21, what did I know? It was repainted a bright blue, had a white vinyl roof, wire wheels and a 350 V8.

    First sign of trouble was when I went to get it smogged. Failed the first test, cost me $100-150 to get it "tuned' (yeah, right) to pass. I suspect the mechanic leaned out the throttle or carb quite a bit. So, I got the coveted sticker.

    Next, I notice this odd sound coming from the engine compartment, like a cylinder missing. Had it checked out, and discovered that one of the cylinders isn't firing at all! I've now got a 7 cylinder car, which I used to limp around town ... home to school to work ... for the next several months. It never completely broke down, but I did have to put two new tires on it ... guess what? It's a bad idea to mix bias-ply and radial tires on the same car. Every time I switched lanes I thought the back end was going to break loose on me, Smokey and the Bandit style. Eerie.

    I ended up selling it the day I graduated college for, I think, $250. Enough to cover the cost of the car I rented to move back to CA from AZ.

  • My 2004 Dodge SRT 4. Not a bad car really, except the service people at dodge just woke up from a nap in the cave and havent exactly gotten down the "customer service thing". Out of service for 13 days for spark plugs, wires and some electrical connectors AT 4800 MILES. This is after the two previous attempts to fix the same problem, both times improperly diagnosed. Yeah, I will buy American again.........NOT.
  • wibblewibble Posts: 569
    The tales of woe that this topic recalls.

    1. 1983 VW Polo. Bought it a year old with 3,000 miles on the clock. I soon found out why it was so low. In the first 2 months the gearbox disintegrated, 2 clutches packed up, the electrical system decided that shuffling electrons around was too much effort and finally the engine block cracked. Owned it for 18 months during which it was off the road for 14 months. Just to add insult to injury, the advertising catchphrase of VW in England at the time was "If only everything in life was as reliable as a Volkswagen".

    2. 1983 Yugo 311. This was the revenge of the place that sold me the VW - a loaner car for people they didn't like. I took it on a 250 mile drive to see my girlfriend and her parents at Christmas. By the time I got there only 1 light was working, 3 hubcaps had fallen off and the final straw was when I pulled on the parking brake and it came off in my hand. My better half took one look at the thing and decided she was taking the train back home!

    3. 1988 Renault 18. Total brake failure at 70 mph (it was a motorway). Luckily I was able to pull over and coast to a stop. Unfortunately, it gave me grey hair at 30.

    4. 1987 Skoda. The amazing exploding Skoda. I thought I'd smelt petrol. Turned out to be a leaking filter that dumped flammable liquid all over a hot engine. Pretty impressive looking in the rear view mirror and seeing a miniture towering inferno. Got off the road and out of the rolling bonfire just as the flames reached the gas tank. Another 5 years off my life (I have a feeling I'm living on borrowed time).

    5. 1992 Lada Samara - Yeah, I know but when you're poor. This pup managed to break 3 cam belts in the space of 4 months. The only good news was I sold it for far more than I paid for it to a Russian sailor who was re-patriating it back to his homeland.

    Sadly, since I actually started making a decent living and buying sensible cars, life has become a little more dull.
  • sbell4sbell4 Posts: 446
    you win!!!! I dont think anyone will want to follow your post with their story.
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 26,381
    repressed memories are repressed for a reason.

    There have been a few new ones that seemed like a good idea at the time. The Nissan PU (a '91) was handy, except my wife got pregnant just after I bought it. Since you can't put a child seat on a jump seat (the ones that folded down from the side) it had to go.

    THe Scion tC I just traded for an Accord was a similar deal. Really didn't fit a family of 4, and my teenage son decided to have a growth spurt just after I got it, and both kids hated that they couldn't get out without someone letting them loose.

    2018 Hyundai Elantra Sport (mine), 2013 Acura RDX AWD (wife's) and 2015 Jetta Sport (daughter's)

  • stickguystickguy Posts: 26,381
    I had my assortment of bombers back in the old days. SOme better than others, but usually I broke even, or even made a profit.

    Not, however, with my 1975 Opel Manta. Bought it from a manager at the BK I worked at in HS and college (I was in college at the time). I think it had been sitting (for good reason) but it was way cooler than my current AMC Hornet. SHould have known it was a problem when it stalled out on my test drive, but the kid who was "working" on it got it running again (my lose).

    Not a good idea to get the 1 year of a newish technology on an orphan car. '75 was the only year for fuel injection, and it still wasn't that commen (about 1983). Had to tow that dog at least 6 times after the plugs fouled out and the battery died. COst lots of $$ trying to fix FI parts before a Buick dealer finally figured out which sensor was the problem.

    Also was rusted out under the battery (drivers side, rear of the engine bay). When it rained, if it was pointed uphill, I ended up with a foot of water in the rear seat footwell. Once in the winter at school I found it frozen solid, even the pail I kept in (for bailing) was frozen in place!

    I hated that car. Really was a PITR that year, and was an expensive one too. Was real excited when I managed to unload it, but it was at least running OK by then.

    Oh, and a car with ~10 gals for a gas tank that gets about 20 mpg on the highway can be a drag. Especially when you are driving around in the rural part of westchester NY early on new years day, and no stations are open.

    Of all my 25+ cars, this is the only one that I truly hated.

    OK, I feel better now.

    2018 Hyundai Elantra Sport (mine), 2013 Acura RDX AWD (wife's) and 2015 Jetta Sport (daughter's)

  • gussguss Posts: 1,181
    I always thought the Opel's were neat cars. German engineering with a touch of American flair.

    The only car I can say I hated every time I got in it was my first brand new car, a '85 Nissan Sentra.

    This was the stripper model that they advertise as the loss leader.I soon found out why no one buys a car with no A/C, no power anything, no cassette player, no FM radio, no hubcaps, and did I mention no A/C with vinyl seats.

    I was working my first office job, back in the day when everyone wore three piece suits, and I would look like a ran a marathon before work.I can still feel that vinyl sticking.

    It lasted about a year, and I sold it the middle of winter. The guy at the time said he did not like a/c anyway.

    I have since learned I need some creature comforts.
  • suydamsuydam Posts: 3,243
    >>no A/C, no power anything, no cassette player, no FM radio, no hubcaps, and did I mention no A/C with vinyl seats.

    That would be our 1979 Ford Fiesta, to which you could add "no power". We bought it because we couldn't afford a Rabbit (I feel better seeing posts on that car here!). Did I mention that in addition to no A/C, it had a black interior?
    An older car with a few amenities would have been a much better choice!
    '14 Buick Encore Convenience
    '17 Chevy Volt Premiere
  • au94au94 Posts: 171
    was when I got my first new car, a 95 Toyota Tacoma. I had just got my first "real" job so I had no $$ for a down payment, just the trade in of my 89 Chevy Beretta. The paint was orange peeling and the interior was just ok, the biggest problem was it was a formal rental and was a 2.0 4cyl, automatic, no power locks or windows etc. Did not even have a cassette player when I got it, just AM/FM. Anyway the dealer talked me into leasing the truck and using the Chevy for a $3k down payment. As I recall, I was still paying about 250/mo for the truck. Should have been smart and saved for a few more months, but at that age I was not too smart and just HAD to have the new truck. Oh well, lesson learned life goes on. Still a big fan of leases, just not big down payments with a lease.
  • When I was tired of walking a mile every day to the bus stop to go to work, I went to one of the mega auto malls that so cal is so famous for and looked for a car.

    I was making 7.50 an hour and I needed a payment of 100-150 a month. I had no credit other than a JC Penny and Macys card and 500 cash down. It was 1996,I was 21 all I knew how to do was buy shoes, spot fake designer bags, and tell you what bar had the best happy hour in town, I did not know anything about buying cars, but I wanted to be independent and suprise my dad by showing him I could buy a car on my own.

    My salesperson, found me a 1988 Toyota Corrolla SR5 blue on blue with manual transmission, 76,000 miles on it I could barely drive an automatic, but my friend AKA financial advisior, assured she would teach me, so she drove it said it drove good and told the salesperson we could make a deal. I put 1000 down and paid 115 a month. We were there so late I had a migrane, and I just signed I didnt care....

    My dad was so pissed because he had money set aside to get me a new car, and he was going to suprise ME! He looked at the car and said whoever owned the car might have changed the oil 2 or 3 times, and all the hoses were orignal. He told me I was stuck with it and not to call him if I was stuck on the side of the road broke down because it was my fault.

    Sure enough the car had a cracked head, massive oil leaks to where I put 4 qts a week in it (I bought q.state by the case) It blew so much blue smoke that the clean air coalition saw my car on the freeway, mailed me a letter saying they reported me to the DMV and I that I was causing pollution on the highway.

    *Sigh* It was the most fun time in my life. I even had an embroidered dash cover with my name on it.
    I traded it in 3 years later when I started Working for VW for my Jetta. I still owed 4000 dollars on it and got 800 on a trade in...........
  • prosaprosa Posts: 280
    It's going to be hard to relate this story without sounding pretty weird, but it happened. My first-ever new car was a 1983 Chevrolet Cavalier, which cost me all of $7,000. It was a basic model but served my needs okay.
    Flash forward about 18 months. I was commuting about 30 miles each way to my job and had managed to put almost 40K miles on the Cavalier. It was running fine, however, and I planned on keeping it at least a couple more years until it was paid off. Driving home from work in heavy traffic on a rain-slicked road one evening, I looked away from the road at something for just a second or two ... and the next thing I know I was standing on the brakes as I slid helplessly toward a Plymouth Horizon stopped just ahead of me. Boom! I plowed into the back of the Horizon at what was probably a final speed of maybe 15 mph.
    The poor Horizon - less than three weeks old, according to the very dismayed driver - was demolished. All of the doors were jammed shut and the (fortunately uninjured) driver had to climb out the window. Its rear bumper was jammed forward and crushed up against the rear wheels. Not only was the Horizon's rear end completely caved in, but its its grille, front bumper and headlights were smashed when the force of the collision shoved it forward into an Accord (which had no significant damage). Three weeks old, and the Horizon was heading off to the junkyard.
    My Cavalier? There was a small dent in the front bumper, emphasis on "small." It seemingly violated every law of physics, that it could destroy another car and suffer so little damage itself. I was absolutely overcome with guilt seeing what the Cavalier - okay, and my bad driving - did to the poor little Horizon, and just couldn't live with it any more. Soon after, I traded in the Cavalier on a Nissan Stanza even though I was at least $2,000 upside down on the loan. I also overpaid for the Stanza, and over the next few years it proved to be a complete lemon. Between that, and the higher insurance premiums I faced as a young driver with a chargeable accident, my couple seconds of inattention probably cost me several thousand dollars over the next few years. I could have limited those losses had I held onto the Cavalier, but I was so overcome with guilt everytime I looked at that car, and thought of the way it so cruelly savaged the poor little Horizon, that keeping it would have been hazardous to my mental health.
  • explorerx4explorerx4 Central CTPosts: 12,045
    there are some great life lessons here. he doesn't believe me when i tell him that this stuff does happen.
    2017 Ford Fusion SE 2014 Ford F-150 FX4
  • mstonermstoner Posts: 3
    How did people get rid of these cars that were such bad vehicles? Did you trade them, sell them to private parties or what?
  • graphicguygraphicguy SW OhioPosts: 10,293
    My horror story actually happened the month I graduated college. I got my first "post" graduation job that paid me a salary (up until that point, every job I had paid me by the hour). Also up to that point, I had "disposable" cars....the kind that ran, but not without some knuckle banging weekly to keep them running. first new car was a Ford Tempo. Should have known this was a bad car when it stalled in the middle of the interstate the day after I bought it. The dealership towed it several times over the next 12 months, but could never fix it's malady. This would happen once/week until the warranty ran out. I coudln't get rid of it fast enough. Paid it off as quickly as I could (about 14 months). Traded it in immediately to the very same dealership I bought it from. The service records on it were long and storied.....all in the glove box.

    Dealership shined it up and put it on their used lot. About a month later a guy called me up who said he bought the Tempo and saw my name in the owners manual. He wanted to know if I had had issues with the car stalling for no apparent reason. I asked him if he read all the service receipts that were in the glove box. He said there weren't any service reciepts or records with the car. I told him the car had been stalling like that since it was new. He said he was going to take the car back to the Ford dealership to get his money back. I wished him luck.
    2018 Acura TLX SH AWD ASpec
  • bobstbobst Posts: 1,783
    We traded in our wretched 1987 Taurus. I would have been afraid to sell it to an individual. Who knows what they would have done to me.
  • jlawrence01jlawrence01 Posts: 1,828
    I asked him if he read all the service receipts that were in the glove box. He said there weren't any service reciepts or records with the car.

    Sometimes it pays to place the service receipts UNDER the seat if the car has been a real lemon. You know that they are going to destroy the evidence if it is very easy to get to ...
  • graphicguygraphicguy SW OhioPosts: 10,293
    jlawrence....that's a good idea....keeping the service receipts somewhere that isn't easily seen.

    Funny thing is, I always put my contact info in the owner's manual when I trade a car. About 50% of the time, I'll get a call from someone who either is thinking of buying it, or has already bought it. Funny thing is, the ones who have already bought my trade-in call me after the fact to ask if I had any issues. It's too late by then.

    I do remember that the Tempo had a hard time getting to 60-65 MPH. Usually had to floor it just to stay at the speed limit on the interstate. Using the A/C made a bad situation even worse. And, it made more noise than power to get to that point. Of course, that made it's MPG dismal, too (for a 4 cyl). IT became quite unnerving to be driving along the interstate and have the car just quit....all the lights on the dash lighting up and the power steering gone.

    It was just a wretched car. If I wasn't so young and naive during my ownership of it, it definitely would have qualified as a lemon law buyback. At the time, I just wanted to get that hunk of iron paid for and out of my sight.
    2018 Acura TLX SH AWD ASpec
  • jlawrence01jlawrence01 Posts: 1,828
    Personally, we raid the glove compartment as soon as the salesman goes in for the keys ... For some reason most of the cars I have bought in Cincinnati were originally sold in Toledo.

    The Topaz that I was burned on was purchased the day it was traded in. Since the transmission problem was intermittant (gave the vehicle to my transmission guy in Cleveland who drove it problem free for a month), neither the dealer or myself disovered it until it was too late.
  • Karen_SKaren_S Posts: 5,095
    A reporter with a national newspaper is hoping to talk with consumers who have ever gotten or given a car for Christmas. The reporter is especially interested in funny/unusual or good or bad experiences and what works or what doesn’t. Please reply to no later than Tuesday, December 5, 2006 with your daytime contact info.

    Edmunds Manager UGC Click on my screen name to send a personal message. Need help navigating? Check out Getting Started in Edmunds Forums.
    Need help picking out a make/model, finding inventory, or advice on pricing? Talk to an Edmunds Car Shopping Advisor

  • My parents gave me their 1995 Buick Century in October 2003. This is after they bought it new, put 224,000 miles on it and had just replaced the entire A/C system from condenser to evaporator and compresor and every hose in between.

    I drove it for a courier service and racked up 46,000 miles in about a year. The car was great. Was getting 25+ in mixed driving. Then the lockup converter solenoid got stuck and it started stalling when you came to a stop and wouldn't go again. So I unlugged the electrical connector to the solenoid and drove it without lockup. Gas mileage went down but I wasn't getting stuck everywhere anymore. No problem.

    Then I got this brilliant idea that if I had a big van, I could carry more packages, take bigger deliveries, and make more money. So I looked around for a minivan that would get maybe 20mpg in mixed driving and settled for a 1991 Aerostar extended length minivan. It looked good, drove good on a 3-mile test drive, and the dealer was willing to trade even for my Century which now had 270,000 miles on it. My Century was sold for $1200 to a guy who took cars to Mexico for a living and he got 25,000 pesos for it. (About $2300)

    The Aerostar's transmission failed in less than 200 miles of driving. $1500 to rebuild and install a fluid cooler. Then it was plugs and wires and cap and rotor because the van wouldn't go over 45-50mph. Then the heater core burst one night while I was sleeping in it because I was broke from the transmission repair and couldn't afford my apartment anymore. Then the radiator began leaking profusely. Then the driveshaft FELL OFF at 35mph. Then the front brakes ground THROUGH the rotors and I was lucky to be able to reuse the calipers and hubs. Then the water pump started leaking. Then it was rear shocks breaking off their mounts. And finally, the exhaust system disintegrated.

    The whole time I owned this van I had to start it with a screwdriver at the solenoid under the hood because the ignition switch was fried.

    I will say the engine was very good. But the rest of the van was falling apart.

    I sold it to a guy for $750, and the transmission shop who I was still paying payments to repossessed the van from the guy I sold it to. I refunded his $750 and the transmission shop sold the van for a profit. A few months ago I get a call from the guy who bought the van and he was having more overheating problems.

    I told him to stuff it, was sick of the thing and never wanted to see it again.

    Next thing I know I'm at a charity car auction and guess what rolled through the lane and brought $950 while I laughed to myself in the far corner?
  • fezofezo Manahawkin, NJPosts: 10,333
    Maybe get this rolling again with some cars that didn't roll all the time.....

    I was a member of the 80 VW Rabbit club. Yep. Made in Pennsylvania. Was a ball to drive when it ran. That "when it ran" was the problem. Typically VW it was full of electrical glitches. Two happened simultaneously - the idiot light for the engine temp stopped working (though not when you turned the key just short of starting - so you wouldn't know it wasn't working) and the radiator fan stopped. You can guess the rest. Fried motor. They tried to nail me for abuse and a $600 engine rebuild (in 1980 dollars - this was the first time I bought new) until I produced all the receipts. Only car I ever dumped before it was paid for.

    Replaced it with an 80 Accord sedan which proved that you could make a good tinny car.

    Then, of course, there was the 95 Windstall. An OK vehicle for 80K and not another inch! Popped engine seals like popcorn. Transmission rebuild. Ugh. Found out that Ford customer service made VW look like the Sisters of Charity.

    Replaced that with an Accord as well....

    I consider it a personal badge of honor that Windstall is in the Edmunds' spell checker.
    2013 Mazda 5 Grand Touring, 2010 Toyota Prius IV. 2007 Toyota Camry XLE, 2004 Toyota Camry LE, 1999 Mazda Miata
  • Mine was a 98. But I understand the issues carried on for a couple of years after it was first introduced.
    We just had a child and we wanted a vehicle that was reliable and could do a lot of different things. Occasionally haul a small boat, transport a family, carry groceries.
    What a mistake. Here are some of the problems...

    -Harmonic Balancer (60K miles)
    That in turn damages the upper oil pan. (Major $)
    -Breaks every 10K/Rotors every 20K ($)
    -Transmission (90K) (Major $)
    -Window switches (50K)
    -Rear suspension (80K) (Major $)
    -Key fobs
    -Fuel line and filter replacement (Required by
    Mercedes, but not covered in a recall)
    -Rear hatch always rubs paint off rear bumper. (Annoying!)
    -Lot of interior noise/generally poor build quality
    -Fuel Gauge (Never accurate)
    -Engine sensor (triggered by gas cap 90% of the time)
    -Electronic traction control failure. (Major $)

    What a relief to unburden myself, and my family from this vehicle. It did handle well, but after a while it wasn't something I looked forward to drive because there was always an issue.
    I fixed everything and sold it. Maybe it will serve the next owner better then it served me. Afterall they say a Mercedes is just hitting it's stride at 100K!
    I'll watch as I drive by in my Honda Pilot.
  • ventureventure Central PAPosts: 971
    I don’t even remember the year of the thing, mid-70’s something. I guess I’ve tried to block out owning it.

    I had it for about 2 weeks and stopped to get gas. When I tried to start it the timing belt broke and bent all the valves. That put it in the shop for almost a month. They must have sent the parts from Italy by whale-back.

    I got a flat tire about once a week. It had tubes in the tires and, for some reason; they wanted to let the air have some freedom.

    I took it on about a 200 mile trip (yes, obviously a bad idea). I decided to take the top off (it stowed in the front trunk). Between the sunburn and the windburn I couldn’t sleep for two days. The best part was, when I was those 200 miles from home, the transmission started to make noises like the bearings were shot. That landed it in the shop for another three or four weeks.

    When it was cold out it didn’t want to start. I had to hold the choke with all my might and right before it sounded like the battery was about to give up it would start.

    Out of the six months I owned it I was able to drive it about half the time.

    I traded it in on a used ’74 Monte Carlo which is another horror story. The dealer thought it was a Triumph TR7 instead of a Fiat, thank God.

    2018 Legacy 3.6R, 2015 Crosstrek, 2015 Forester

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