The CO finally got his first new car thread

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Casual Observer
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The CO finally got his first new car thread

Post by Casual Observer » Fri Jul 12, 2019 7:25 pm


This will probably not be too interesting to most folks but I'm posting about it because I'm aware that at least two people here have had Subarus and I'm now a new Subaru Lease Holder. This is actually a big deal for me because my car ownership history is a long list of what I would call "beaters" and "worse than beaters". I've never had a new car before so I'm kinda excited but before my review I'll give a brief recap of the long line of horrible cars I've owned which explains why this is huge for me.

1) 1976 Toyota Corolla, worse than beater - passed down from my parents complete with a rusted out front clip due to battery acid. Fucking horrible bondo and fiberglass covered piece of shit.

2) 1973 Chevy LUV pickup, beater - Paid $400 for this in 1989. Actually an Isuzu, one of Chevy's first forays into branding a Japanese vehicle. Ran like shit but had a hell of a lot of fun driving around my South Carolina town. Once, the clutch master cylinder crapped out and I learned that it's possible to shift old manuals by matching the revs with the transmission, apply a bit of pressure to the stick and "clunk" you're in gear. The only problem was getting started from a stop but I was able to make it 45 miles back home from Charlotte NC without a clutch.

3) 1984 Toyota Corolla hatch, beater - paid $600 for it and ran it for 1.5 years so good value. My first sunroof, yay! Had a "whining" rear diff when I bought it and only got rid of it because i saved up enough to by something kinda decent . . .

4) 1986 Honda CRX Si, started out not beater but ended up worse than - paid $2300 for this thing and it was great until everything started falling apart. Learned one of my most valuable lessons about used car buying: a thick envelope of car maintenance records DOES NOT INDICATE A QUALITY WELL MAINTAINED CAR. Had lots of fun including following a cop truck at 95 mph on I90 and getting a warning for it. The last days of this thing included the wiring harness needing replacement and an undiagnosable cooling system issue that kept the car from heating up and providing any heat at all during one of Rochester's coldest winters in 1993.

5) 1978 Olds Cutlass Supreme, worse than beater - Bought "Bessie" from my college roommate for $100 because I couldn't take even one more day driving in the cold without heat. Roommate promptly borrowed it the first week and wrecked it. I got my $100 back but ate it on the DMV fees. Learned to NEVER buy a car from a friend or roommate.

6)1986 Mazda Rx-7, worse than beater - paid a whopping $1200 for this thing. Had lots of minor issues like I had to fix the headlight opening switch and the turn signal stalk. I really enjoyed how the rotary engine felt to drive, when you hit the gas you could literally feel the car twist due to the torque of the spinning rotor. I learned there's a fatal problem with Wankel rotary engines: oil leakage. This thing leaked oil like I piss during a night drinking. I'm talking 1.5 - 2 quarts per 40 miles were spitting onto the ground and around the engine bay. Apparently the guy I bought it from had just given the engine a thorough wash before I tested it. You see, the Wankel rotary engine has seals at three points around the engine and those seals always end up leaking like a geyser. Took it to multiple repair shops and even Mazda dealers and the consensus was that nobody would dare touch the thing as they would be damned to take a stitch of responsibility when the repair failed. Sold it for $800 about 6 months later including a new $200 stereo that I installed. Was super glad to be done with it.

7) 1990 Toyota Tercel Hatch, beater - ok car, spent about $3g on it and it ran fairly reliably for 3 years including a pretty fun roadtrip with a (by then ex) girlfriend where we went west on the top route then headed south through the badlands then the grand canyon, and Carlesbad caverns and finished off with a night partying in New Orleans (got laid) and slept in the parking lot of the Grand Ol' Opry in Nashville (3rd base) before back to RochChaCHa. The car had a bad hesitation problem for most of the time I had it until I had someone unplug the computer which cleared it up right away. Better than a new computer is just rip it out.

8) 1991 Hyundai Excel, worse than beater- my (now) wife had this car which her grandma got from an auction. This thing turned me off from even considering buying a Hyundai ever, whether that's fair or not. Must have been in an accident because the motor mounts kept wearing out causing the transmission to die. The cat converter plugged once leaving us only able to make 5 mph one day, kind of like the "banana in the tailpipe" trick from Beverly Hills Cop.

9) 1991 Ford Taurus, worse than beater - Oh. My. God. What a piece of shit was this thing. I paid only $700 for it so what did I expect so whatever. I did learn another important car lesson with this thing: Never use Lucas brand products. Lucas sells additives which are supposed to "stop leaks" and other things. I used Lucas power steering leak stopper and it promptly solved my problem for me. The Lucas product quickly expanded the leak to the point where I would need to replace the entire aluminum power steering line system. My opinion is that Lucas products "work" by making the problem so bad that you have to get it fixed.

10) 1991 Honda Accord, worse than beater - $500, totally worth it. This thing ran for a couple of years pretty damn reliably. Only thing I had to do was rear brake pads which were kinda tough because you had to twist and pull instead of just pull to get them off. It had a busted ignition switch so used a screwdriver to start it which was fine most of the time except the one time I left it open and it got stolen. The cop that saw it apparently tried running after them and he came back to my door sweating profusely and I had to give him props for trying. This thing ended up breaking a timing chain and due to Honda's "interference engine" design meant that it was more than totaled.

11) 1996 GEO Prizm, beater - About $5k at the time, weird grey/purple metallic color. This thing never died on me, took me all the way from Rochester to Seattle including some great roadtrips to Montana and all over Washington state. Only got rid of it because I needed more room for my upcoming move to Cali.

12) 2003 Pontiac Vibe, beater - $5300, my first car loan in my life. I loved this car even though it was already pretty beaten up when I bought it. It ran like a dream, no mechanical issues for at least 2 years after I bought it even though it had like 150k miles at my start with it. Lotsa minor issues like plastic trim pieces breaking and glovebox not opening but this thing moved me, my wife, and 2 pets along with our most important belongings (plasma tv, etc) from Seattle to San Fran Bay Area. About a month ago the engine seized on the highway with no explanation. There was lots of oil in the thing and i wasn't going to pay for a full diagnosis so I'll never know what happened. A $500 donation deduction is what I was left with.

So, now, my first new car ever:
Lucky # 13) 2019 Subaru Outback Premium:

We were waffling between a Toyota Rav-4 and a Subaru. We thought we wanted a Subaru Crosstrek which is the cheapest Subaru that you can buy these days (around $23k) and looks pretty sporty. Turns out my wife hated the way the Rav-4 rode and loved the Subarus so thats how it went. We strung the internet salesman along for a few weeks and he kept offering better deals so we finally showed up at a dealer about an hour away from where we live.

I still think car dealership pricing is nothing but a total scam but we did the best we could. Supposedly the best they could offer on the Crosstrek was $1500 below invoice but they had some "great incentives" on an Outback Premium of $3500 below invoice. So out the door this "MSRP 29k" Outback sold for just over $22k which was the same price as the Crosstrek. There are some advantages of the Outback including a bigger engine (2.5 vs 2.0) and lots more room for our outdoorsy camping and activity shit. I held the line on their maintenance upgrades and got the basic covered scheduled maintenance for half the original price.

My dad has always lectured me against leasing a vehicle because you're paying money every month for something that you'll never own and the depreciation you're paying for includes the massive initial drop from driving the thing off the lot . However, he also always railed against renting apartments or homes even though he's lost money on the last 4 houses he "bought" so maybe he's not a great financial genius. We went with the lease because I'm not sure that I want this thing after its warranty is off and the lower payments for a new car made sense for me right now.

Here's my review so far after about a week of having it:

Most of what I like about this thing just has to do with the fact that its a new car with modern amenities. I would call it "friendly", starting with playing a little jingle when I get in and close the drivers door, kind of like it's saying "hello". It has a real key to start the car instead of the keyless system with a button that seems to be all the rage nowadays. I prefer a real key for a couple of reasons, 1) I don't have to put my foot on the brake to start the car, just twist the key like every other car I've ever owned and 2) if my wife is waiting in the car for me in the passenger side and wants to turn it on to run the air conditioner then she can just reach over and do that, instead of getting out and walking around to the drivers side.

The interior is nice, the front seats are really comfortable (drivers has 10 way power adjust). The seats are heated which I'll almost never use in California except on my upcoming trips to Tahoe next winter. It would have been better if they had both heating and cooling like the Camaro SS had but oh well. There's tons of space in this thing, wow have Outbacks gotten big over the years. This thing stands almost as tall as me, it actually my wife's height at 5'8". I like that there are buttons in the back deck which release the back seats and they immediately fold down themselves. This will be great for our upcoming camping trips.

Love the infotainment center, it's super straight forward, easy to use, and so far it hasn't had any issues immediately connecting to our phones automatically when we get in the car. The steering wheel has all of the buttons needed to do whatever you want with the stereo, just like most cars do these days. It has a trial of SiriusXM which so far I feel kind of "meh" about. I can get just as much and more entertainment by using my unlimited data Verizon phone. Oddly, the signal isn't even great as a simple aluminum cover over my parking space blocks its connection.

I like that it's not as "naggy" as so many of the rental cars I've driven lately. Both Toyotas I rented had this super annoying "feature" of incessantly beeping the entire time the car was in reverse, as if they're MAC trucks. This Subaru has all the necessary safety avoidance features like lane departure warnings, front and back collision warnings, and radar adaptive cruise control. One feature I love is if you're at a stoplight and the car ahead of you moves away this thing will beep and flash on the instrument pod a message that "The car ahead of you has moved". What a fabulous feature for the modern era where everyone checks their phone while stopped at a light. No more getting beeped at because I didn't notice the light changed. Best thing about the nag features is there are 3 buttons to the bottom left of the steering wheel which will turn them off with one click.

My biggest worry about a Subaru was/is the powertrain. I've heard about Subaru engines having head gasket issues around 100k and have read a lot about problems with the CVT transmissions. These concerns were a major reason why I leased for 3 years instead of buying so that I don't have to own this thing when it's off warranty. Apparently, Subaru is switching all of its automatic cars to the same CVT transmission. Right now there is only one model left with a traditional auto and soon there won't be any at all. Manual transmission wasn't an option for me because of California traffic and the fact that the wife won't even try to learn to drive a stick.

I've always read car magazines and had long known that Subaru was one of the first carmakers to introduce a CVT in a major production model back in the 80's. Back then, in the Subaru Justy hatchback, the CVT was basically two pulleys connected by rubber <s>bands</s> belts. My understanding is they barely lasted 50k miles before needing replacement. Now, Suby's CVT has a metal chain and uses a computer to determine optimal ratios, they call it their Lineartronic. They've programmed it to mimic a traditional auto so although you don't feel any shifting you can see the tach drop at various points as if it's different gears. I'd read that some people thought the CVT felt odd until you get used to it and I agree. There are certain times that it feels like the car is hesitating but it's not really as the acceleration is not changed. I'm getting used to it after about a week.

The 2.5 engine so far isn't getting great gas mileage, after 333 miles it's showing an average of 19.7 mpg. I'm hoping that I'm just driving down the average by the fact that my wife's spent a good bit of time waiting for me at stores running the air conditioning in the parking lot. It has instant mpg readings which fluctuate between 14 and 99 mpg so I have no idea what any of that means. Overall I'm happy with the engine, powerful enough to make short work of hills and accelerate adequately to highway speed.

Overall, I'm happy the wife picked this as it seems like exactly the right car for us and our lifestyle. I like that I got a great deal on scheduled maintenance ($30/month added gets us full maintenance for the life of the lease). I can't wait to take this into the snow next winter, Tahoe here I come.

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Re: The CO finally got his first new car thread

Post by Flack » Fri Jul 12, 2019 9:25 pm

Congratulations on the new Subi (or "Scooby," as the kids call them). I know this thread is mostly dedicated to your new ride, but a few of your previously owned cars brought back some memories for me.

RX-7: In high school, my best friend's girlfriend hooked me up with a friend of hers -- the idea being we could double date and stuff. As they're telling me about her, they're like, well she has really curly hair and loves country music and smokes and is a little overweight and has really big boobs. All of this sounded terrible to me (except the boobs). So anyway later this girl comes over to my friend's house and she pulls up in this RX-7 and gets out and she's wearing a black trench coat and matching leather boots. We had absolutely nothing in common and the romance didn't last long (it lasted long enough), but man she drove that RX-7 like a bat out of hell and there was something really hot about a chick in a leather duster who would drive me around in her little sports car.

CRX: By the time I graduated high school ('91), mini trucks and subwoofers were all the rage. I wanted a mini truck so bad I used to make little spreadsheets figuring out how many paychecks I would need to save and how many meals I would have to skip so I could afford one. Then one day this guy came to school in a CRX with two subwoofers in the back and that changed everything for me. (His buddy had a Ford EXP, essentially a two-seater Escort) and the two of them had super loud systems. Those two cars definitely influenced my love of hatchbacks. A year or two later I went to a car stereo competition and there was a CRX there with 4 15" subs in the back. It wasn't driveable, I think it was just a car the stereo shop owned. They had made a custom roof to hold a dozen car batteries. The door handles had been replaced with these long bolts that they put in to make the thing air tight, and the windshield had strips of steel running down the outside of it to keep it from busting out. I was standing about 20' away from that thing when they turned it on and the bass was so loud I thought I was going to be sick. I don't even know if it had an engine in it or not. It was basically just a car stereo box on wheels.

Hyundai Excel: Same era, I was friends with this Hispanic kid in school. He had a white 4-door with limo tint and one of the loudest stereos around. His mom worked for Altec Lansing and so he had removed the back seat and put a giant box with two 15" subs in the trunk. If you sat in the back seat you couldn't lean back because you would just be against the speakers. We all thought the car was cool because it was the same as the one the guys drove at the end of Boyz in the Hood. My friend put a big sticker on the back window that said "Hispanic Causin' Panic" and would take me out on the weekends to the bad part of town and we would ride around places where there were drive-bys and stuff. One time we were down there around 2am and he rolled the windows down and started shouting, "I got a white boy here in the front seat, anybody want a free white boy!?" I quit going down there with him after that.

Anyway, thanks for the jog down memory lane, and congrats again on the new car. I hope it lasts a long time, or at least three years!
"Jack Flack always escapes." -Davey Osborne

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Re: The CO finally got his first new car thread

Post by AArdvark » Sat Jul 13, 2019 12:26 pm

The first car I owned was a Dodge 400, a K car by any other name. They called it a 400 because that's how many dollars it was worth. I paid five hundred for it so I lost out. It had holes in the floorboards but it ran fairly well for a few years. The timing belt finally broke and the guy down at the corner garage told me it was the head gasket. I don't think he wanted to deal with it. I was so mad I pushed that sonofabitch all the way home. We got a better car that weekend.

Ford Taurus, very nice, nothing special. It lasted ten years. Ho-hum. I guess that's a good thing.

Ford Explorer, one of the boxy square ones, looked a little like the old Bronco. Lasted seven years, needed a clutch and gas lines. Did you know they used stainless flex lines in those things but the little spigot at the top of the gas pump is plain steel, so guess what rusted out. Oh and there was the issue with the Firestone tires. It only happened to us once and we got lucky, no injuries. That truck finally fell apart around us, one thing at a time.

Then there was the pizza car. My son and his friend referred to any beat up POS as a pizza car because that's usually what pizza delivery drivers had. My pizza car was a '97 Saturn SL1. My mom bought it new and drove it on her trips. No a/c, no automatic transmission, no power windows, I think Saturn called it the Cheapskate Package; that's my mom. She sold it to us when she bought her new car we gave it to the boy as a beginner vehicle. He pounded on that car until college then we got it back. I drove it for another few years until it wouldn't pass inspection anymore as the frame had mondo rust holes. Actually, the large empty spaces had pieces of rusted frame around them. The door latches were all shot, the back doors were held shut by a bungee cord stretched across to the window cranks. I had a piece of tape over the check engine light as it was always on. I finally donated it to the Salvation Army. I remember driving it to them without any brakes as they had quit on me earlier that week. I had to downshift to below twenty mph and then use the emergency brake to stop at the lights. Crazy.

That's when we bought our first new car, the 2007 Saturn ion.

Eleven years later and we still have it. That's the thing about Saturns, they'll run forever but they'll rust out from under you.


Edit: I always disconnect the seatbelt nag sensors in my cars because I'm always going to fasten my sealtbelt and don't need the car to remind me, it's being all adult and everything.

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