Does one experience with a car brand kill it for you

I realize I am really biased against Honda. I owned a 95 Civic for 225k miles and hated the car after a few weeks. It was okay but really did nothing that great. Under warranty it had three issues(brake master cylinder, loose suspension something, clutch master cylinder). I just though it was so overrated(and hyped) for a car but did get good mileage although fuel was dirt cheap. I was floored someone paid $2500 for a car 9years/200k later I originally paid $11k slightly.

To this day I would never buy a Honda after that experience. Even for minivans which is my next likely purchase it is off my radar.

On the converse I absolutely love my 2004 Subaru WRX. It has not had a single problem except a bad tire from factory for 55k/5years. I absolutely love the car, odd looks, driving it and the slight utility(4 door hatch. I even read about serious problems with 2008+ turbo Subaru’s and this board is littered with past problems with 2.5L engines.

Does one car make or break it for you with an entire brand? It does for me.

I think that it depends on the number and the severity of the problems. One problem, or perhaps two problems, might not “kill it” for me with a brand if the car was otherwise reliable and fun to drive. However, when multiple systems fail or when problems arise in multiple areas of the car over a period of time–despite excellent care and maintenance, then–yes–it does kill it for me.

Case in point:
1974 Volvo, purchased new in 1974–
*First night–heater inoperative. After 2 or 3 attempts to fix it, the dealership finally found that the heat control knob on the dashboard had never been connected to the cable running to the coolant flow valve in the heater.

*Second week–dash lights remain on after ignition is turned off, thus draining battery. Dealer fixes electrical connection.

*Second month–Two bolts holding A/C compressor to support bracket shear off while driving. After first repair, the same situation occurs again, about a month later.

*Upon advent of first very cold weather, all gauges are inoperative until the engine has fully warmed up–approximately 20 minutes. Headlights operate on approximately 1/2 normal brightness until engine is fully warmed up. Despite multiple attempts, dealer was never able to locate source of the problem, which was undoubtedly a bad ground. Car continues to exhibit this electrical glitch until I dumped it.

*Car fails emissions test. In order to be able to pass emissions test, my mechanic has to really tweak the hell out of the engine. However, in this condition, the engine idles very poorly and has very little power. The result is that I have to make two special trips to my mechanic each year–one prior to state inspection so that the car will pass the emissions test, and another visit several days later so that the car actually runs properly. These visits to the mechanic were in addition to regular maintenance visits and visits to have repairs made to the car.

*Within days of the expiration of the warranty, electric fuel pump quits.

*Several days later, transmission starts leaking.

*Approximately every 13 months, electric fuel pump has to be replaced.

*Despite changing motor oil and oil filter every 3 months/3,000 miles, engine begins burning oil when odometer reaches ~40k. By 60k, the engine consumes a qt. of oil ~every 600 miles.

*Paint became severely chalked after approximately 3 years, despite regular washing and annual waxing with Classic Car Wax.

And, I should add that Volvo refused to stand behind their crappy product. Modern Volvos bear no mechanical resemblance to the 1974 model, but since the car cost me incredible $$ to keep that lemon running, the experience was like aversion therapy. Whether it is logical or not, I could not bring myself to buy another Volvo.

I tend to agree. I spent 7 years w/ a Saturn SL that caused me a number of problems. I’d think long and hard before buying another Saturn, even if it were inexpensive and had good ratings. IMHO (and the opinion of others), this is one reason why American car companies are in such bad shape: all of the improved ratings in the world can’t overcome the visceral bad experiences of yesteryear.


I think Honda’s marketing practices in the late 80’s/early 90’s with regards to a MSRP or nothing policy left me cold. This was later followed up by a waiting list/take it or leave it attitude (no price negotiation, no color choice) when the Odyssey came out, causing me to purchase the Mazda MPV I still am driving.

I doubt if Honda will ever make my short list of brands for my next purchase, based on those two experiences.

We all get our “beater” cars every now and then. I swore up and down for several years that I’d never buy a Ford product after my last car(95 Contour) unless it was an old Mustang. Now, my outlook is quite different as a few of their vehicles were in my lineup for a new vehicle purchase. Hell, I’d almost try out the new Fiesta when it comes over in 2010/11. I also had good luck with my Chevy Corsica, but I’m not really sure anything besides the Vibe interests me from GM’s market.
I love my current car, 99 civic, and wanted to give Honda a try. However, there’s only a couple vehicles that have leg room for me, and they’re not something I’d wanna replace the Civic over. Accord has legroom, but I don’t like falling in and climbing out of my Civic, and that’s what I’d be doing in the Accord too. The Pilot is just too big for my tastes. The s2k is NOT an Ohio car, and I don’t have a garage to store it in. I don’t have kids, so that rules out their minivan.
Toyota isn’t that much different.

Cars change and car companies change. The absolute worst car I ever owned was a 1957 Plymouth 6, durin my college years. Everything about it was bad. However several years later I did buy another Chrysler prooduct after they introduced the 5 year 50,000 mile warranty. It was a very good car for its time and was reliable until it rusted out after 14 years of driving.

This is one strong case for getting outside information from such sources as Consumer Reports and J D Power Long Term Reliability reports. I also subscribe to TrueDelta, an online service on car repairs and reliability. These sources keep you objective.

Many of my friends ask me for recommendations for new or used cars. They often ask why I don’t drive that car myself, but I explain that my car is not necessarily a good car for them! You have to be objective if you are going to dispense advice.

It’s only human to “swear you will never buy that make again”. If you have friends who got divorced and remarried, note the new spouse is usually the diametric opposite of the old one, at least in personal qualities. This is not necesarily a good thing, but we all over-react.

In my case it depends on the severity of the problems and on the car overall.
I had a brand new '72 Vega once. The problems were many, major, included the rear axle coming right out of the housing, and the car didn’t last long at all. I actually liked the car, and had the quality not been so inexcusably pathetic I would have probably become a GM fan.

After the Vega wheel fell off I no longer felt safe driving it and I traded it in for a '76 Corolla. It ran and ran and ran…flawlessly…until I eventually had my son and needed something 4-door. That car and the '79 Toyota pickup I bought (while I stilll had the Corolla) made me a Toyota fan for life. The pickup ran flawlessly too.

Years later I tried GM again with a '95 Saturn. The Saturn was a disappointment. I’ll never get another GM.

Yeah, bad experiences can “kill it” for me. Conversely, good experiences can make me loyal to a brand. And for me it’s all about reliability, reliability, and reliability. Oddly, my ex took the Saturn and after the second headgasket blew she traded it for another Saturn! Her primary “decision driver” is not reliability. She likes Saturn despite the major problems.

I have had a fair number of cars in the 45 years I have been driving and I loved ever one of them. I took good care of them and had very few problems.

That said, I believe we all tend to measure lots or few based on how we feel about the car or make. The same 3 problems in a car you like might be overlooked, but in a car you just did not like, they would have been major repairs.

I have only owned three brands, and I guess I sort of avoid many of the other brands when I look for a car. Nothing really wrong about that. It’s your money, you should allow yourself to be influenced by your feelings.

After reading these messages, I am reminded of two adages that seem to be in play here??

?You only have one chance to make a first impression?
?The evil that men do lives after them. The good is oft interred with thier bones?

How true they seem to be with our cars. Too bad the folks in Detroit do not read literature.

I had a fake SUV and hated the seats, the no-effect gas pedal problem and the way it would try to sneak off the road if you were the least bit distracted. The 03 Saturn Vue had the break away rear suspension which folded up when Consumer Reports tried the avoidance maneuver. That problem and two CVT problems were fixed under warranty. The electric power steering acted like it was indexed in an off center position. That was enough for me. My Fords all seemed to have leaking heater cores, 65, 69, 73, 73, 87. All my Toyotas were easy and economical to own. 74, 76, 79, 83, 83, 06, 07. The CVCC engine from Honda was a miracle engine with only one fault: At about 90,000 miles it didn’t want to start in really cold weather in Northern Maine. There were no running 70’s and early 80’s Hondas up there in 1992. They all were junked in January for two decades.

I had a very bad experience with a 1955 Pontiac that I bought used when I was a graduate student back in 1962. I have never owned a Pontiac since. Part of the problem with the 1955 Pontiac is that it didn’t come equipped with an oil filter as standard equipment, and the one I bought didn’t have one. The dealer from whom I purchased the car had had his service department overhaul the engine. I learned the hard way that an overhaul consists of more than new rings and a valve job which is all the dealer had done. I had a continual problem with the oil passages in studs plugging up and then the rocker arms would chirp. I never really did completely solve this problem. The bearings in the manual transmission became noisy and had to be replaced. It seemed to me that there was always something wrong with the car. I finally swapped it to my Dad for his 1954 Buick that he was going to trade in and he traded the Pontiac to the dealer that sold it to me.

When I think about it rationally, Pontiac does build some good cars. I had a 1947 before the 1955 that was worn out, but did run well. I talked to owners of 1955 Pontiacs that did get very good service from this model. I suppose that if Pontiac made a car that I liked and fit my needs (actually, I do like the Pontiac Soltice, but it doesn’t fit my needs), I might buy a Pontiac.

I like that saying about the evil and the good that men do.

Folks in Detroit seem to only read what they themselves write. It’s like living in a jar with the lid screwed on tight.

Yes, a 1971 Toyota Corolla 1600 that soured that brand for me. Things broke on that car that I had never repaired before or since including teeth sheared off of the differential side gears (rear drive car). I learned how to set up a correct ring-pinion gear contact pattern with Prussian Blue from that if anything good can be said about it. There were other problems such as worn out ball joints in spite of regular chassis lubrication, oil and antifreeze leak between the head and block; oil to the outside and antifreeze into the oil, broken valve spring, burned exhaust valve, leaky clutch slave cylinder; and several other things I can’t recall, all before 90,000 miles. You would not believe it if you saw the coarse machining marks on the cylinder head sealing surface. The cam chain would loudly knock like a loose rod until the oil pressure came up after at least 5 seconds, the front wheels would shimmy even after diligent balancing, the rear axle was geared so low that the engine would scream at 60 mph so I had to drive on the freeway at 55 and no faster.

I sometimes wonder how Toyota managed to survive in the US market after selling junk like that.

For me it was two, '93 Explorer & '95 Windstar, along with Ford’s handling of my complaints and comments over the years. I pointed out design improvements on the Windstar which Ford said their engineers had already incorporated into upcoming revisions. Then when a factory recall for gasket replacements was being done, I received a call stating that the timing chain cover gasket needed replacement also, this cost $500. When I had time to think, not in the middle of a teaching lesson, I thought that the timing chain cover is not under pressure why should it fail and why isn’t it covered by the recall. Another experience at the dealership, I watched a “mechanic” try to release the spare tire from underneath the vehicle with wrenches and sockets for 20 min., until he asked someone else who told him about the crank release located under the rear mat. There were other examples but I traded off the Fords, the dealership sold out but the owner now sells Toyotas under a different name. Never another Ford for me! But in reading various forums, each brand has their problems and critics. Just last week I received a new car after 4+ months, thanks to NYS Lemon Law. I read that there are over 100,000 lemon law vehicles produced each year by the manufacturers, so there must be many “Never Again” folks out there. I am going to give my second car a second chance for this brand.

I stayed away from Toyotas until 1991, precisely because of negative experiences of my mother in law and her Odyssey camper on a Toyota small truck chassis. Her valves were burnt every 30K miles, and when questioned about this, the dealership mechanic said that was the way Toyotas were that way, and she should plan on a $500 expense every 30K miles or so.

As someone in their 20’s at the time, I wanted no part of that kind of expense, having been raised on 6 and 8 cyl US engines that would go at least 80K and more before exhibiting those kinds of problems.

It never has for me. I’ve owned everything in the book from early VW Bugs to muscle cars to fill in the blanks and most problems were normal wear and tear things that happen over the years.

A car is an assembly line product and just like any other assembly line product there are going to be a few headaches in the batch, with some having a few more headaches than others.

There has never, ever been a single car produced that does not suffer problems, service bulletins, and/or recalls.

Literally hundreds of millions of dollars are spent designing and producing both civilian and military aircraft. Even with that cash outlay every single plane ever built rolled off the line with problems.
If a 400 million dollar aircraft has glitches then why expect a hurriedly assembled 20k dollar car would not have some.

Maybe I’m reading this wrong . . . but you start your post saying that you hated the '95 civic . . . and support that hatred by reciting that it ran for 9 years and 225,000 miles for you with only three relatively minor problems (fixed for free under warranty) . . . that the civic got great mpg running on the cheapest fuel available . . . and that you got a great re-sale price for it when you sold it. You said that it was overrated and over hyped . . . and that’s what you hated? Did I read you wrong? Just what did you hate about the civic? Rocketman

Thanks, rocketman. That was my big question reading the post. “Hated the car after a few weeks” and then " floored someone paid $2500 for a car 9years/200k later". You drove a car you hated for 9 years and 200,000 miles?!?! And, it was one of Honda’s most economical cars, the ones with fuel sipping engines that will not win any races, and really light, that translates to reduced ride comfort. I’m left wondering what lead you to buy the car in the first place, and why you drove a car you “hated” for 9 years. Especially one that had no serious problems that were not fixed under warranty.

Thought I was getting goofy . . . I don’t really think that the problems the OP mentioned would cause me to hate the brand. I guess I’m with ok4450 to answer the question posed . . . no make or model has ever soured me . . . VW’s, Porsche, Honda, Ford, Chevy, Mopar, Mazda, . . . hey, I’ve even owned a few British cars . . . one Triumph and two MG’s . . . which were by far the most challenging rides I’ve ever had, but I never wrote the make or model off. But the OP DOES raise an interesting issue in his post . . . and it is entertaining to read the other posters replies. Rocketman