Ten Signs You Bought The Wrong Car

Illustration for article titled Ten Signs You Bought The Wrong Car

Purchasing a car isn’t easy. New car or used car? Import or domestic? All-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive? These are only a few of the many questions that can come to mind, and sometimes despite your best efforts, you end up with the wrong car. Here’s 10 times where that can bite you in the ass.


10.) When It Can’t Fit The Passengers Or Cargo Necessary

You can only do your best to predict what that car will have to help you with in the future, and what sorts of life changes might arise. Reader GrannyShifter’s life took a turn for the better, but his car just can’t keep up.

A year and a half ago, I was living alone and worked mostly from home. So I decided to treat myself with my first new car, and leased a coupe.

Now, I’m in a serious relationship, and she has a daughter. We live together. I’ve also changed jobs, and now my commute is 120 miles. I carpool, but it’s with two other six foot tall guys.

I still love my Q. but it’s almost the exact opposite of what I need. It’s kind of a hassle, until I get in it and go for a drive. Then I forget all about how an extra set of doors and a bigger back seat would make everyone else’s life easier.

Suggested By: GrannyShifter

9.) When You Envy Car Owners Around You

Seeing the occasional supercar is one thing, but lusting after a very attainable and exciting car as you sit back in your dreary old econobox is straight up hell.

I was crawling though traffic, watching people around me anxiously try to shove their cars into non-existent spaces just so they can move a little quicker. I saw a Challenger R/T pull out of the right lane and up a twisty side street, hearing roaring exhaust and a hint of tire squeal as it zoomed off to the next main road. it made me smile knowing he was having a good time. I wished my Jetta made those noises.

Ten minutes later I was finally at the road leading up to my apartment complex. As if to squeeze a bit of joy of that dreary commute I pushed the gear lever over to manual mode and selected second. Pushing the meager 2.5l into the first turn, I was approaching redline, and gave the lever a push to select third. Flooring the gas pedal our of the corner I was taken back by the lack of oomph, looking down I realized the car decided it wanted to go into fourth instead. Sadly I gave up my already brief fun-run and sauntered into the parking lot, to spend a few minutes looking for a spot close to the door. I finally found a space right next to my neighbors 68 Nova SS.

As I hit the lock button on the remote I turned around to look at my car. I realized how dreary it was compared to the Nova’s character. A Mexican blanket covered the front seat, fuzzy dice hanging from the mirror, paint and chrome showing decades of exposure to the elements. Like taking a blow to the chest I stepped back and turned around, walking to my building, feeling empty. I knew then that I bought the wrong car.

Suggested By: Confused Miata

8.) When You Can’t Afford Gas

Gas prices change. One of the few ways to combat that ongoing dilemma is to buy a fuel efficient car from the get-go. Maybe it isn’t such a bad idea to opt for the car with that extra gear or that runs on regular instead of premium.


One day, you might end up less inclined to drive, purely because you own a thirsty-ass car.

Suggested By: burglar can’t heart click anything

7.) When You’re Constantly Looking For A New Car

You know you’ve picked the wrong car when your browser history contains autotrader and cars.com more than any other site.


Suggested By: Steve Lives the Pug Life

6.) When Everyone Around You Hates On It

A lot of times being a car enthusiast means doing what makes you happy and not caring what other people think. But if you’re troubled by ridicule by your friends, family, fellow enthusiasts, service advisors, mechanics, and of course forum trolls, maybe take a step back and rethink your purchase.

When I first came to Jalopnik and discovered the seemingly universal hatred against my first car, my pride and joy, a ‘08 PT Cruiser base model with an auto. Nothing says “you bought the wrong car” then when most everyone hates it.

What did I do? First I complained, then debated about putting my family in debt to get a better car. But, I decided the best course of action was to drive it and appreciate it. And I mean drive it hard.

Every day I took the best dirt roads (with the best view of oncoming traffic, btw) home so I could drive it hard. I learned to love and appreciate it for it was, a slow car driven fast.


Suggested By: zeontestpilot

5.) When You Can’t Afford Maintenance

Some cars for some people give off a magical appeal that can’t be deterred can nearly anything, until the first major piece of equipment fails and reality sets in. Reader Clutchman83 tells his story.

I bought an Acura Vigor when I was in military training and was pretty excited about it. Five cylinder engine, quirky! It had a sunroof that I could open, cool! Five-speed manual, oh yeah baby! Leather seats, air conditioning, awesome! The blower fan failed shortly after moving to the Seattle area where I was stationed. This is about three months into owning it.

Dropped it off at the local Honda experts shop because I was leaving on a two week deployment and I specified that I wanted a hard quote before they actually installed anything. Two weeks later I came back with no word so I called the shop and they said that I should probably just pick up the car even though it wasn’t fixed yet. I asked why, they said that the labor would probably come to $4000 minimum. To replace the fucking cabin fan...

I sold it for pennies to some poor Airman because I would have felt guilty otherwise.


Suggested By: Clutchman83

4.) When You Miss Your Old Car

All you can think about are the memories you had with your old car, all the character it had, or maybe how it performed better! Screw safety, or luxury, or any of that bullcrap, go get that car back!


Suggested By: Theodore Donald Kerabatsos

3.) When You Realize Your Car Killed Its Last Owner

If you’re like me, you probably have a bad habit of not taking the time to run a VIN check on those used cars you buy. And even if you do run a Carfax, well, those don’t exactly tell you everything. Chairman Kaga found out about his car’s history the hard way.

In early 2002 I totalled my ‘94 Integra GSR.

Because I was a 25-year-old male, my insurance company dropped me after writing my check. They gave me a measly $4,000 for my car. I decided to just buy something outright with my payoff and settle for liability coverage.

Why not a Prelude? I drove two. One was a 1990 Si with a 5-speed manual, the other was an ‘89 Si with a 4-speed auto. The first belonged to some shitkicker rednecks down the street from my mom’s house, black with tan leather interior, broken windshield and was $3,500. The other was being sold by my trusted Honda mechanic, was white with black cloth interior, and was ready to roll for $3,000.

I bought the white one from my beloved mechanic and decided I’d pocket the spare $1,000 for upgrades.

Within a month the AC had failed. Then the radiator began leaking. Profusely. A few weeks later it dropped a cylinder. I took it back to the mechanic and demanded either a refund or free repairs. He agreed to the latter if I supplied the parts. Unfortunately the entire AC system was shot (compressor and evaporator) and the engine was done.

I bought a radiator from Summit, ordered a used b20a engine from Japan and decided to hell with AC. While the car was in the shop he let me borrow a Lincoln Towncar. I drove that beast for almost two months while we waited for the engine to be drop-shipped to the shop and then swapped. I almost didn’t give it back. Blue velour interior, bench seat, chrome bezels everywhere. Glorious. I got the Prelude back a few days after returning from a work trip to Japan in the fall of ‘02. Ultimately I paid $1,400 out of pocket to to get the car running, and it was still a piece of shit.

The kicker is one day I was getting some cash from an ATM and a car pulled up beside me. A woman asked if I’d bought the car from (name redacted - my mechanic). I said yes. She informed me that it was actually her son’s car, and that he was died in it when he got drunk on a camping trip and rolled it down a boat ramp into the lake.


Suggested By: Chairman Kaga

2.) When You Stop Looking Back

If you don’t look back when you leave your car to rest in a garage or in a parking spot, chances are, it’s time for a change.


Suggested By: sm70

1.) When You Don’t Drive It

If you find yourself going out of your way to drive another car or finding excuses not to drive what you have, it might be time to look for another car. Reader sayieya has had this experience.

Bought a 95 S320 last new years. Base model, no transmission. Bought it for just above scrap value. Had the thought of swapping out a newer drivetrain but since then a 500E came into my life. So now I just have this 16 foot long white paperweight that I really have no feel for. Its still a nice car, I have the parts to make it do. But even if I get it going all it’ll offer is slightly less room than a wagon.


Suggested By: sayieya

Welcome back to Answers of the Day - our daily Jalopnik feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day’s Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It’s by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Enjoy!


Top Photo Credit: Brian Silvestro


2.) When You Stop Looking Back

Lolwut? People look back at their cars all the time?