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April 07, 2007


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Everyone I know who owns a recent VW has complained about ongoing, unfixable electrical problems (with the possible exception of my German neighbor, who would never admit something German was a POS). I've also heard mechanics hate working on them. Those two reasons, plus the few extra grand that you have to pay for VWs because of some German export policy (could be a rumor), are the reasons I'll not buy a VW. It's too bad, because I actually think they look pretty cool.

I don't know about Saturns, though. They aren't as good as they used to be. I think I'll stick with Toyotas. :)

I haven't even tried to get the problem fixed, so I can't say there was a lot of hassle. It was a lot of fun to drive, and I like the way it looks. But there are a lot of reasons to trade down, all of which come down to money.

Electrical problems are horrible. When I worked at the auto repair shop, I noticed once someone had electrical problems, they seemed to set off a chain reaction so that it was almost never fixed.

Still, I'm not terribly keen on Saturns. Are you planning on keeping this car for awhile? You might look into a Honda or Toyota or even Nissan.

Saturns aren't the worst, though.

My mother's big on the Toyota Prius. It's eco-friendly, apparently. I'm not what you'd call an environmentaist, so I'm not sure how reliable alternative cars like that are (isn't it a hybrid?). I'll echo, and amplify, the above, that Saturn has seemed to lose the special touch that it was famous for early in their existence. Reliability has gone down, but I'm not sure how much or in what areas.

Saturns are made in Tennessee, though, I do believe. Not sure if that means anything special in the grand scheme, but neat koinkydink, I suppose.

Happy car shopping.

Brittney, be careful. Before making the (blissful) switch to Honda a couple of years ago, I drove Saturn vehicles exclusively.

I have witnessed first-hand an enormous drop in quality in their products between, say, 1997 and 2004.

The fit and finish of the cars is 'orrible. The mechanical reliability of Saturns (again, having owned, between my wife and me, at least four) is mediocre, at best.

I'm not sure what you are looking for in a car. Personally, I'm into reliability, utility, and perhaps a wee bit of comfort. For my money, Saturns offer none of these.

On the plus side, my experiences with the people at Saturn dealerships here and in Upstate NY have all been very favorable. Can't speak for Carmax, though.

Honda, baby. Honda!


Hi Brittney,
I would think twice about a Saturn - we had one that rode good as it was babied over the years, but once it started to fall apart, it did so in a hurry -

I'm partial to Hondas as we all drive them in our household. They may be expensive used because of their resale value, but mechanically they are sound.

I've got a '99 SC2 and my experience has been close to WonderDawg's -- the first few years it was wonderful, not a problem in the world -- but over the last year it's taken a bit of a nosedive. Planned obsolescence?

We have a vw and are trying to get rid of it before it breaks worse. Damn thing is a lemon like you wouldn't believe. Wiring problems on every light - headlights, taillights, brake lights. bleh. And the power steering is broken. And to fix anything costs an arm and a leg.

Saturns used to be nice cars, but now they're just Chevy's. If you wouldn't buy a Chevy, I can't see buying a Saturn.

Just wanted to say what a great blog you have here and I have enjoyed reading your postings and watching the videos.

Came by to see if you'd gotten anything. Looks like you and I are in the same boat except for me having 30 days to find something or I have nothing.

One of my exes was a big car guy and says you can't go wrong with a Honda or Nissan, and a Toyota would come in 3rd. Then again, my mechanic that did all the electrical work for me last year was a big GM guy.

I haven't got a clue what I'm going to do, here's hoping we both end up with something we like OK.

I had a Jetta (saved up for the damned thing I wanted it so bad)
Biggest lemon I ever owned.
Yeah, I drive a goofy ass PT Cruiser now (I know, hangs head in shame) but it was cheap and it's getting me through to the next car.
Good luck with trading down. I do like your VW though, it is groovy.

i can't speak highly enough about hyundai. i have a '01 hyundai santa fe that just turned over 100,000 miles and i've only had ONE problem with it...the alternator finally gave out. the car has been so fantastic that i'm seriously considering being loyal to the brand for all of my car buying years. when i was having the alternator replaced, the guy at the shop said "is that a '07? looks brand new." AWESOME car.

it was a carmax car too. as much as i want a prius for the milage, hyundai might be where it's at.


The guy at Carmax was saying nothing but good things about the Hyundai. He said it's like a Honda without the price tag.

Listen to the majority...get a Honda. You will be happy.
If, not a Honda, Toyota.

Everyone I've known that's had a Hyundai said the things were workhorses. And I'll get on the bandwagon noting the decline in reliability of the Saturns. I had a 95 SC1 that was great for 4 years and then very much not great.

I love my Lesbaru, though! But they're expensive.

Please don't go to Carmax (or most any other dealer for that matter), unless you just like paying more for cars, than you should. Nothing wrong with Carmax, specifically, however you are always going to do better by buying from an individual or at auction. Just some advice, from someone who has bought at Carmax before.
Best bet , find a dealer auction broker, you can save tons of $. We bought a $12K Jeep for 7.5K last year.

I need to finance. :(

I talked to my father this evening and he said call him and he comes to the auction here and he will do whatevder he can to find you the car you want. he just sold my mother a dodge durango with 71,000 miles on it for $10,000 and the book on it goes for 13,000 so she got a great deal on it because my dad bought it for the money he sold it to her for and he said he can do the sane for you.....happy car hunting!!

We've had great experiences at Carmax, but there's a new spot in town that a lot of people like:
(I'd worry about flood damage with an auction car).
Still, Honda is your best bet for safety and reliablity...and anything Japanese is good.

My friend just bought a car from Drivers Way and said that while her experience at Carmax wasn't bad, she liked Drivers Way a lot better.

Hope it works out for you, regardless of what you choose to do.

I'm going to throw my two cents in here now, having just gone through the new-car-buying process myself. If you are looking for reliability that lasts, I would definitely go with either a Honda or Toyota. I think Hondas are nicer looking and more comfortable (of course I'm probably biased, as I just bought a Civic), but I've heard just as great of things about Toyota engines. I also don't know if you are dead-set on Carmax, but I can't help but feel you'd be spending a lot more than you have to just to avoid a haggle. If you do your research and put on a great poker face, you will be confident enough to negotiate and save some money at a regular dealer. :)

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