I was thinking of buying a new car in 1-2 years. Since my 1988 Honda
Civic has been and still is a good car, the most logical choice for me
would be a new Honda Civic.
But I noticed that the new Honda Civics only offer ABS on the
top-of-the-line models. It's not even an option on the base or
mid-level model. What gives? ABS is not an exotic new technology.
It's been widespread for years. I'm not paying $14K for a car that
lacks ABS. The top-of-the-line Honda Civic starts at something like
I would consider a new Toyota Corolla, which offers ABS on all models.
But from what I've heard, it's hard to come by on the base models.
And the Nissan Sentra is like the Honda Civic - no ABS even as an
option on the base model.
What gives? I'm not paying $14K or more for a car that lacks ABS. I
can't believe skinflint manufacturers think a few hundred dollars more
on a $14K car for a safety feature is exorbitant. Come on, I'd rather
skimp on the sunroof, leather-wrapped steering wheel, power door
locks, power windows, remote keyless entry, cruise control, etc. But
I'm not about to skimp on safety when buying a new car. I'm starting
to wonder if Honda, Toyota, and Nissan (no ABS on base Nissan Sentra)
are getting cocky. Then again, GM executives have recently shown
their traditional low IQs by deciding to make ABS optional on vehicles
that used to have it standard.
As a result of the ABS issue, I may (GASP!) buy a GM vehicle. I am
considering buying a used Buick or Saturn. ABS has been standard on
Buicks and Saturns for years, and a few of them are on the Consumer
Reports recommended used car list. Due to rapid depreciation, I
should be able to buy a used model for under $10K AND have ABS. I'm
even willing to sacrifice a few mpg and image in favor of more economy
and safety. On the other hand, the quality of even the recommended
Buicks falls well short of most Honda and Toyota products, if you
believe Consumer Reports. I'm surprised Buick would stand out above
Pontiac, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, and Cadillac given that GM is
notorious for selling the same car under a variety of different
I'd like to hear from the GM fans. I would especially like to hear
the experiences of those of you who bought used GM vehicles. What
separates you from the tens of millions of disgruntled ex-GM owners
out there? How much does it help to avoid the first year of a new GM
model? What have you learned from your bad experiences and other
people's bad experiences with GM products?
I have two reservations about buying a used GM car and would
appreciate advice on how to avoid the pitfalls:
1. I have to overcome the GM Family Curse. My parents bought a new
1977 Chevrolet Impala and a new 1980 Oldsmobile Omega. We normally
kept cars for 9 years, but we only kept the Impala for 7. Although it
ran well the first 6 years or so, it began to stall on a regular
basis, and the dashboard cracked. In fact, we actually had better
luck with the 1980 Oldsmobile Omega, which could have been a much
worse car for us given that the early 1980s X-body cars are considered
to be one of the biggest debacles in GM history. The Omega ran well
the first several years, but it left us stranded on Interstate 80 in
northwest Illinois in 1986. My brother moved to Arizona with it two
years later, and the car began to make up for lost time in the
crappiness department. There were problems that even the dealer
couldn't fix. The air conditioning died. The Omega broke down so
frequently that he had to spend something like $300 a month every
month for several months in a row - more than what car payments would
have been. Ever since then, we have only bought "Japanese" cars
(Mazda, Honda, Toyota) and have had MUCH better luck. ACCORDING TO
CONSUMER REPORTS, MANY OTHER PEOPLE HAVE HAD SIMILAR EXPERIENCES.
2. I also have to overcome the Used Car Family Curse. My parents
have always been dead-set against used cars - I think my father got a
bad deal at least once back in the 1950s. My brother bought a 1994
Nissan Sentra in 1998, and he has noticed that the extra repairs cost
him more than the initial savings from buying used (when compared to
the 1989 Honda Civic Si he bought new).
Jason Hsu, AG4DG