I currently own a 2001 Hyundai Sonata GLS V6 that my grandparents bought me about a year and a half ago. Her name is Monica (yes, I named my car). She has a green exterior with a silver and bronze pinstripe on one side (it has faded off the other side) and a light gray interior with uncomfortably “firm” leather seats. In little over a year's time I have added about 10,000 miles to this car. I’ve flown across interstate 80, skidded over ice, and gotten lost in the rain. I have had some good (and bad . . . but mostly good) times in this car, but if I knew what I know now when I was looking for a car, Monica would still be sitting at the dealer.
Right now, I am somewhat knowledgable about cars. You may even call me a “petrol head” if you will. I haven't always been this way. Back in May of 2009, I felt like a deer in the headlights when I was looking for a car. I needed one fast (I had about two weeks) and it was just me and my mom looking around town. We went to a few dealers and test drove several cars. Some of these cars were nice, but were ultimately out of my price range. Others spewed smoke out of the air vents and smelt putrid. After several days, I settled on Monica and I was just glad to have my own set of wheels.
At the time, she seemed like a great buy. We were told (several times) that she hadn’t been in any accidents and were shown her “Carfax” to confirm that. She had some scratches and scuffs, but was in good shape. The interior was nothing special to speak of, but it was solid. Besides the price (somewhere around $4,000), she had low mileage for being almost 10-years-old (about 55,000 miles). Everything seemed just dandy.
Within a week, the power seats on the drivers side broke. A month later, one of the rear windows jammed. Winter break that year, Monica had costly transmission problems (literally). By April, the same problems returned, but this time her transmission had to be completely replaced. The radio bugs out, her check engine light is on, and the speakers on one side of the car don’t work. Actually, as I am typing this, she is sitting in a shop here in Ames that is working on her transmission again.
This past spring, I found out that I had been deceived. I found the real Carfax and it showed that my car had been in an accident within two years of being on the road. She had also had electrical problems multiple times and was frequently in the shop. It also came to my attention that she was onto her third transmission in 10 years and that there is a chance that her odometer has been rolled back (meaning she may have more miles on her than I thought). It is a mess. Since I have owned Monica, over $3,000 has gone into fixing her. I could have bought another cheap car for that.
I don’t think that everyone has to be a car freak; you don’t, but when buying a car I urge you to be smarter than I was. Get to know a thing or two about cars, take your time looking, ask questions, have a trusted, third-party mechanic inspect the car before purchase, etc. Don’t be me. Don’t spend your money on a car that will shrink your bank account and cause too many headaches to count. Don’t buy a “Monica.” And on that note, does anyone wanna buy my car?