Car shopping *NOW WITH long rant!!*
David R. Matusiak
matusiak at speakeasy.net
Wed Jun 26 23:42:13 EDT 2002
being perhaps the only internetworker with a degree in automotive technology,
not to mention having worked as a professional porsche/audi mechanic, i would
argue that i "know a bit about cars."
the thing that sticks out most in my mind about this discussion has been the
*lack* of something. that something is a budget. honestly, there is NO REASON to
discuss any cars' merit/value/reliability/otherwise without first determining
what price range is within your reach.
you want the best car? the most reliable?? the safest???
do you want a car from a dealer with the highest CSI?? (Customer Service Index -
what the service managers live and die by)
there is an easy answer. many easy answers, in fact.
porsche, bmw, audi, mercedes-benz, volvo.
[hint, hint - notice the strong german showing]
why are these "the best?" because they are the most expensive (please don't
waste my time by responding "what about bentley or xxxxxx??") and because their
customer base is the most demanding. they pour the most into R&D, engineering,
safety, and all the things that are important. since the lives of rich people
are inherently more important than the rest of us, it is a logical conclusion
that they should have the best protection.
now, if we want to bring the discussion a little closer to reality, then we must
examine what the key factor is here. for most people, that factor is return on
investment. "what can i get the best deal on that will suit my needs?"
if you want to be a selfish asshole, then you should purchase the biggest,
heaviest, and least fuel-miserly thing you can find (ford excursion, anyone?).
personally, each day of foot commuting makes me feel worse and worse about
driving an automobile and contributing to the impending destruction of our
world. based on those feelings, i seek to purchase only vehicles which have
higher and higher fuel efficiency ratings. (just like you want to make more
money with each job hop you take).
this is where hybrid electrics come in. toyota prius (i don't like toyota
because they have NO personality, but they ARE good cars), honda civic hybrid,
and the one that started it all - honda insight. once i am out of debt and ready
to purchase another vehicle, this is the direction i will be heading in.
now, some of you may recall my past fervor for the subaru WRX (both sedan and
wagon). it is truly an amazing car -- and the performance of it makes me
salivate. however, while looking at them for the 100th time on monday, i finally
saw the gas mileage figures on the sticker. 20MPG city and 26MPG hwy. i'm sorry
to report, but this is just not acceptable. i love this car with all of my
being, yet i cannot stand by and condone such wastefulness.
the technology exists to make more fuel efficient cars, and YES it is expensive.
now. currently. present day. but i hope with more adoption, more development,
and more pressure from consumers and the govt(HA!) that soon we will all be
driving vehicles (of any body style) that consistently get btw 60 and 100 MPG.
this tale is not as fanciful as you may first imagine. if "Big Oil" would stop
thwarting our green efforts, then this could occur much quicker.
[random aside: did you know that when they were developing the lunar rovers for
those space missions in the 1960's that something like $12 MILLION (thems is
1960's dollars) per rover was spent developing and refining solar technology to
power them?? and judging by the sorry state solar power development is in
today, it seems as if all that effort was abandoned and orphaned soon
thereafter. i have no idea who is to blame for that, but i would suspect those
that saw solar energy as "unfair competition."]
anyway, to get back to Josep's questions...
i like honda, subaru, and audi. nissan is also good, but their company has been
flirting with bankruptcy for about 5 years. that would worry me if i were to own
a new one. if you have a little money, then the japanese cars are going to be
the best option. if you have a lot of money, then the german cars are going to
be what you want.
what don't i like? anything domestic. in fact, years ago i wanted to start
printing bumperstickers that said "Domestic Vehicles Suck" to complement those
idiotic "Mean People Suck" ones that losers put on their cars to appear
sensitive. really, there is not one american car company that is worth spending
your hard-earned money on. NOT ONE. i don't have the time or interest to list
all of their flaws and shortcomings, but a short list would include:
- not meant to live past 80,000 miles (i.e. planned obsolescence)
- the absolute WORST ergonomics; to the point of being dangerous
- besides maybe a corvette, none of them handle the road properly (safely)
in my opinion, all american car brands are crap. they survive on the backs of
morons. people who think they are "Buying American" or whatever. even worse, the
folks who inherit these retarded ideals from their parents and "just buy fords
'cause my daddy bought fords." this lack of independent thinking and/or actual
research baffles me. if you are going to get stuck with 5 years of payments,
don't you think you'd put a little thought into the whole thing? i guess that is
asking too much. i would add korean car manufacturers to this blacklist. if you
*have* to go korean, then buy a hyundai. otherwise, you have essentially just
signed your death warrant (i used to work on Kias a bit, too - dangerous!).
anyway, the line btw "domestic" and "foreign" is a tenuous one. most hondas and
toyotas (that WE can buy) are built in the USA. by good 'ol american folks in
tennessee and ohio. all three of my hondas came from ohio (oops -- one came
from canada). anyway, it is NOT about where it is built as much as it is about
where it was designed/engineered.
either thru stupidity, laziness, or true incompetence the large american auto
manufacturers have show again and again, year after year, car model after car
model that they can only build sh*t. and idiots keep buyin' 'em, so why should
we spend more on R&D -or- safety -or- even damn door locks that work right?? do
yourself a favor and DON'T BUY A DOMESTIC AUTO.
concerning auto dealers -- there is no hope. they are all scum of the earth.
even your cousin Larry selling VWs in Buffalo. take the high school dropouts you
knew, those who had little knowledge of anything (incl. automobile technology),
and tell them "hey, if you want to eat this month, then you have to move these
units." that is your auto dealer. never once have i come across a car salesman
that so much as knew where the oil goes. all they care about is you signing the
deal. and when you need to bring it in for service, they act like they never
knew you. that is the way the business goes. [heh. and here begins the flow of
"but my dealer loves me - he sent me a xxxxxx." riiiiiiggghhhhtt.]
i think your interest in a VW TDi is commendable, but i wouldn't want to be the
one trying to find a station that sells diesel on the side of the road in the
middle of nowhere in the middle of the night. each year more and more of those
consumer-grade diesel pumps disappear. if you can find a truckstop, then you'll
be okay, but the unpopularity of diesel has limited its scope of distribution.
miata - great! where do i put the luggage? (i *do* love the car, tho)
minicooper - also great! when do i get to drive one?!?! (built by BMW)
civic, integra, WRX - clearly the best cars of all time - no argument to the
contrary is possible.
RE: hondas "not being worth it" and "blowing out head gaskets at ludicrous
speed." hogwash. complete, unfettered hogwash. worth every penny and no more
succeptable to failure than any other car. but much better engineered.
RE: VW - i think Mark is dead-on about them skimping on the "little stuff." and
yes, the Beetle did have a major design flaw for replacing a headlamp (don't
know if it is the L or R). notice we said Beetle and not cabrio. plus, would you
really want to buy from a car manufacturer that spends its free time busting
hippies in arizona for making hubcap clocks?
as you can ascertain, this whole process is relative. relative to how much money
you have, relative to your politics and feelings on pollution, relative to your
needs for ultra-performance, relative to how many children you have, etc. i wish
our triangle transit was evolved enough so i could live without a car. and i
wish people would wake up from the huge auto/SUV trance long enough to realize
that they are screwing us all with their greed and ignorance.
one piece of advice for EVERYONE: if you can find a decent mechanic, one who
repeatedly produces good work, is accountable, relatively honest, and a straight
shooter - then you need to stick with 'em. spoil them with lavish gifts on
birthdays and holidays. bring them beer or their drug of choice as an offering.
maybe name a child or pet after them. WHY? because there ain't many of them and
the good ones are generally busy as hell.
lastly, Scott - i would love to know why you are "reprogramming the computer on
your WRX all the time." based upon your answer, i may be demoting the WRX in my
rankings. sorry for the verbose nature of this email, but...
when you ask an expert curmudgeon for their advice, sometimes you get the horns.
and Josep, i think it is the new BMW 7-series that runs on WinCE.
___ _ _____ . ....
m a h t o o z e e a c k a t s p e e k e e z e e d o t n e t
------ / / ......... . . .
On Wed, 26 Jun 2002, Josep L. Guallar-Esteve wrote:
> Hi there!
> I'm shopping for a car. And I'm asking for advice to my fellow
> What brands do you like? What are to be avoided? Who are the best
> dealers in the Triangle?
> So far, I've seen and liked the Volkswagen Polo TDi (49 mpg on highway).
> Yes, a modern turbo-diesel, 5-speed, compact car. With ABS, 6 airbags,
> cd-player...Do you like it? Do you own it?
> What other compact cars do you like? I know, SUVs and trucks are great,
> but... I'd rather go with a compact car.
> A no-no kind of car is a car running Microsoft WindowsCE, like those
> pesky Mercedes. (it would be incompatible with my RedHat sticker).
> C'mon. I know y'all drive cars. I know that you battle I-40 everyday.
> Let me know what do you think. I wold specialy appreciate lifetime /
> longtime Northcarolinians, for their experience with local car dealers
> and knowledge of business in the Tarheels state (*).
> (*) You know me, I like airplanes. And aviation was born *here*. I also
> like soccer ("football"), and Carolina Courage are pretty good. I can
> even find real "jamon" at Southern Seasons. It cannot get better than
> Josep Lluis Guallar-Esteve
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