My Brand New Car

I recently purchased a brand new car.  I know what you’re going to say: I wasted my money, that I lost at least $3000 the minute I drove it off the lot, that I could have got a better deal with a used car, blah blah blah.  I don’t care.

Normally, I would have bought a demo or courtesy car with low mileage in the “going out” model year (2010), but, after some fabulous negotiating, we were able to buy the 2011 for the same cost so we went for it.

Buying A Brand New Car

When we have purchased a brand new car in the past, we kept it for 12 to 15 years.  Used cars we have purchased lasted us only about three or four years and cost a lot in repairs and service.

Related: 7 steps to stop the cycle of car payments

I bought a 5-year-old Bonneville from a co-worker.  Even after an independent mechanic inspected it and gave it the thumbs up, we had nothing but trouble with it from day one.

The “check engine” light was on more often than off, and it continuously lost power.  For a big car, it had no guts on the highway and could barely climb a hill.  It even stalled out about 2 feet from the LRT tracks – talk about hair-raising.

After putting in thousands of dollars to try to fix it, I finally walked away from it when it stalled on a 2-lane road during rush hour.  I never wanted to see it again.

Another used car disaster I bought was a Mercury lease vehicle that had been turned in after the four-year lease was up.


Related: Why I Bought Out My Car Lease

This lemon was in the shop more than in my possession.  Warranties were still in effect so the costs to me weren’t as high, but the car dealership just couldn’t figure out what was wrong with it.

It finally died on the highway on route to a family gathering that I had to miss while I had the car towed back to the city.  The motor had burned out and the dealer offered me a whopping $500 towards another used vehicle because they couldn’t repair it.  I gave that a pass.

I may have just had bad luck, but used vehicles just don’t work for me.  When I buy a new car, I know all the regular service is being done on a timely basis and I know how the car has been driven.

I’m leery of cars being sold that are only one or two years old – what is the matter with them?   You might think I’m an idiot, but ultimately my time and (especially) my peace of mind are much more important in this case than saving some money.

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  1. Money Smarts Blog on November 11, 2010 at 11:20 am

    I agree. Used cars suck.


    • Big Cajun Man on November 11, 2010 at 7:15 pm

      Used cars are fine, as long as you buy a good quality one, you elitist New Car Buying latte sipping so and sos!!!! 🙂

      • Boomer on November 12, 2010 at 7:42 pm

        You have no idea how much that comment makes me laugh.

  2. Jon on November 11, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    As with everything in todays disposable society, cars are not exempt. Over the years I have moved to a strictly nothing but new concept. Vehicles are money pits, and the older they get the deeper the pit becomes. Everyone talks about depreciation bla bla… They all lose money point blank. Reliabiity is my #1 concern, and what’s it going to cost to fix it is #2. Let your 3-5 year warranty package take care of that. After warranty expires sell and move on to your next vehicle. All you have to cover is oil changes gas and tires, no hidden surprises. All new vehicle dealers have finance plans that can make almost any budget work, you just have to adjust your vehicle to match your budget. If it’s a second vehicle, or you don’t drive a lot of km, the a used vehicle would be your better option.

    • Boomer on November 11, 2010 at 3:50 pm

      I have found that later repairs on my “new” vehicles are not nearly as costly as buying new again after four or five year. You know when they are nearing the end of their life span and it’s time to get rid of them. Also, it’s pretty amazing to see all the new improvements and technologies when you buy a new car after 15 years:)

  3. Joe from Surrey on November 11, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    Dude, you bought a 5 yr old Bonneville – don’t paint all used cars with the same brush.
    You are asking for problems right there.

    Did you do any research – i.e., consumer reports reliability ratings? There are plenty of great used car deals, you just have to use your BRAIN.

  4. A.Rajah on November 11, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    My first car was a used car and I had lot of trouble with it. To make thing worse, I did not know anything about the cars either. Each time I had a problem my stress level went up because I did not know how much it is going to cost to repair it. Then I bought a brand new one and I knew I was spending a lot but I think that it helped my stress level. First few years, there were no repairs and so happy. Now the car is 9 years old and the annual repairs are adding up and I am thinking of buying another one next year and most probably it will be a new one too (depending on the price),

  5. tonee on November 11, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    I have only bought used cars in the 30 years I’ve been driving and have never had Boomer’s problems. I’ve never paid more than $5,000 for one and they’ve all lasted more than 5 years with very few repairs which you’d expect for older cars. The odd starter or alternator, brakes, etc. Two had transmission problems, but only after I drove them for 6 or 7 years. That’s when they took the final drive to their cemetery.
    The average cost for the cars, including repairs, have been less than $1,000 per year.
    My present car is 12 years old, I’ve had it for 3 years, paid less than $5,000 and only spent $300 for an alternator so far. The care is in great shape and I have no reason to not expect it to last me another 3 years if not many more.
    Did I mention that the average yearly costs have been less than $1,000? That’s less than the interest you’d pay for the cost of a new car or 3 to 4 months of leasing.

  6. Tony Cars on November 11, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    Congratulations on your new car. There is nothing like the feeling of driving away in a brand new car. Of course, you lost at least $3000 the minute I drove it off the lot, but you told me I would say that, so I couldn’t disappoint. :-0

  7. Echo on November 12, 2010 at 12:07 am

    I had a really bad experience with one used car, and a pretty decent experience with another one. That being said, my last car was new and I have been really happy with it so far. I’m not the handiest guy out there, so I like to have the warranty as well as the peace of mind that I know exactly how the car has been driven since day 1.

  8. Magnafan on November 12, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    You have to buy the right used car.

    Non-police (P73) Crown Victorias contain enough police car/taxi heritage to run hundreds of thousands of miles–more or less trouble free. So does the other “Panther” line–the Lincoln Town Car–a Crown Vic clone that runs bazillions of miles as airport limos.

    Using this logic, I purchased a used Crown Vic–with 12,000 miles– that began its life as a Budget airport rent-a-car. Since then, the car has piled up 253,000 km–about 159,000 miles. It has had one brake job, four sets of tires, one new accessory belt, some front-suspension parts, one change of spark plugs, a few air filters, a t-stat, new shocks. It still has the original exhaust system, rear end, transmission, body parts.
    To be honest, one of the interior light switches is stuck on, so I removed the dome light bulb and one of the parking brake cables is binding–not bad after having endured ten salt-filled Toronto winters. I have some surface rust around the wheel-opening lips, mainly because the winter tire treads shoot brine into the body work with some force.
    It was paid for years ago. Regular maintenance costs far, far less than payments for a new car.

    So, buy a used car, but do your homework and buy the right used car.

  9. youngandthrifty on November 13, 2010 at 1:56 am

    maybe it was because you bought a Bonneville and a Mercury? 🙂 (I’m a loyal Honda owner myself, so I might be biased!)

    I do love the new car smell!

    I guess new cars really give you the peace of mind that there hasn’t been any accidents or poor maintenance on the car.

  10. randy on November 13, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    I have owned nothing but used cars and all served me well, (knock on wood). On the other hand my parents had terrible luck with used and so they bought new in the last 15 years, until recently, 2 years ago I got my mom a 96 accord and the car has been running flawlessly. Going with a Toyota or Honda is your best bet if going used

  11. larry macdonald on November 14, 2010 at 11:23 am

    Not all used cars are alike. If you had bought a Toyota Corolla etc., you might have had a better experience.

  12. Danny on November 15, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    I drove four {12-17 years} OLD variants of the GEO Metro / Pontiac Firefly before buying a 0 km (new) Pontiac Vibe. This was just as GM was going broke and I got a smoking deal, with a military discount, graduate discount, “cash for clunker” car heaven bonus, etc. It was a great value, and 0% interest sealed the deal.
    What surprised me was that after 6 months of owning it, we wrote it off, and when our “replacement cost” insurance paid out, they told us that unless we would buy an equally or more expensive car, we wouldn’t get all our money. The Vibe had gone down so far in depreciation in 6 months that without that special insurance, we would have been toast.

    Needless to say, we didn’t buy another Vibe. We now have a VW Jetta TDI (Diesel) and I’m very happy to say it’s fantastic on fuel (I save a bundle driving long distances, and we feel free to travel), it’s wonderful driving, and the dealer told me one guy just traded his in with 800,000 km on it because it was “feeling a little tired.” It is well known that VWs / diesels hold their value. I think this is one car that will pay for itself!

    So – new cars can pay. Just shop carefully, buy replacement cost insurance, and watch for resale value (for the insurance factor, not just because you want to sell it.)

  13. Financial Uproar on November 16, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    I’ll continue to buy used, since I don’t want to pay that big initial depreciation. I’m not concerned with buying a lemon since I like to buy leasebacks and get the history of repairs on the car. I used to be much more critical of PF bloggers who choose to buy new, but have mellowed my view.

    Now if you financed that new car, I would be upset.

  14. Jessica@Interwest Safety on January 13, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    It’s all about quality and reliability – you should have invested in a vehicle that was more reliable. I’ve been driving one for years now and it’s never given me any trouble at all. It may have cost me a few hundred more up front – but believe me, it was worth it!

  15. Financial Samurai on April 3, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    So long as the cost of the car is no more than 1/10th your annual gross income, you’re all good imo!

    Cheers, Sam

    • Echo on April 3, 2011 at 2:45 pm

      Sam, are you saying that someone who makes $80k/year should only spend $8k on a car?

  16. Lee on July 2, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    I just purchased a 2005 Ford Escape XLT – and love it.
    In Minnesota we have a lemon law so you can take it back in 30 days (or 1,000 miles) provided it’s under 75,000 miles when you purchase it.
    It all depends on how much you drive – I only drive about 5,000 miles per year so this truck will last me 10 more years.
    Everyones situation is different.

  17. Matt on July 17, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    I agree with lee. Everyones situation is different. As a student I know that a new car is just not an option for me.
    At the same time I have had my fair share of trouble me old cars. Last year my 12yr old ford falcon cost me $3k in repairs.
    If you find a good used car that hasn’t been thrashed I think they are a bit better option as you don’t lose as much money from depreciation.

  18. Francoise on August 10, 2012 at 9:00 am

    I agree with the comments about the cars you bought. You were doomed from the moment you turned the key of the domestic cars. Those models might have lasted 12-15 years in the 60s-70s-80s, but now? It’s a huge gamble. What in the world were you thinking? Did you research the cars? Consumer Reports, Lemon Aid? Lesson learned…enjoy the new car. Isn’t that smell wonderful? :o)

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