Home » What Are The Best And Worst Surprises You’ve Encountered After Buying A New Or Used Car?

What Are The Best And Worst Surprises You’ve Encountered After Buying A New Or Used Car?

Autopian Asks Surprises
ADVERTISEMENT

Whether new or used, buying a car is a process of discovery. While we can all try our best with test drives and, on used cars, pre-purchase inspections, there are always things we just don’t learn until after we sign on the dotted line. Some of those things might even surprise us, and we’d love to know about your surprises.

As enthusiasts, we typically find a way to join the hivemind after we buy a car, tapping into a community of expertise. After I bought my Boxster, I joined a Boxster-specific Facebook group with five figures worth of members but only three moderators. It turns out, that’s because the 986 Boxster community is chock-full of lovely, tactful, helpful, civilized people, and seems to largely be a self-moderating entity. I like it when car people are good people.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

My most questionable surprise came from my 325i. Finding out that an airbag code was caused by a homemade smoking apparatus being jammed underneath the passenger seat, knocking a plug out of the seat harness, wasn’t quite as positive of a surprise. Negative surprises can even happen with new cars. My dad was surprised with how much he hates his Hyundai Sonata, while Matt’s big surprise is similarly short and sweet:

Matt Dislikes Subaru 3

On the flipside, a Cadillac ATS owner who found the secret compartment in the center stack is probably stoked for that surprise. Likewise, I recently ran into someone who was delighted to learn that the ambient lighting in their Mini can cycle through colors.

ADVERTISEMENT

So, what are the best and worst surprises you’ve encountered after buying a car? Whether an original window sticker hidden inside the handbook or weird distortion at the bottom of the windshield, voice your experiences in the comments below.

(Photo credits: Thomas Hundal)

Support our mission of championing car culture by becoming an Official Autopian Member.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
139 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Zach Gilbert
Zach Gilbert
9 days ago

Time to relive a bad memory, I’ll be super brief:

  1. Bought a used Jeep Wrangler Beige 4-Door Sahara from Carvana.
  2. Car engine died after 2 days.
  3. Had to have the car towed to a few “approved” repair shops before one could actually touch it.
  4. Turns out the numbers on the odometer didn’t match any of the records, including that on my title (which hadn’t been passed to me yet).
  5. All of the mechanics who looked at the Jeep, agreed that the mileage was definitely tampered with before being sold to me. The Jeep sat months waiting for parts/repairs while I figured out that issue.
  6. Turns out further that Carvana was under investigation during that timeframe in the state of Michigan due to title issues; which I was then called by the Fraud department of AZ DOT since that is where the title was being held up at; then called by the MI DOT since that is where I was at.
  7. After a few months of fighting with Carvana, and getting attorneys/government agencies involved. Carvana said they would not be able to sell me the Jeep nor send the title, and required me to return it.
  8. After a little more fighting, I was able to agree for a pickup time, and a full refund (before they took my keys).

And icing on the cake. When they came to pick up the Jeep (which was about a week after it was repaired), it wouldn’t start for the Carvana driver (even though it had a new Carvana provided engine), and they were going to try to leave it there, for me to have to call Carvana again and say the Jeep wasn’t working…

Ted Fort
Ted Fort
10 days ago

I went to pick a 1972 Austin 1300 from a mechanic who’d done front end work on it. I went to drive it and within a quarter mile I found myself down a ditch into a tree. They hadn’t tightened the steering shaft onto the rack, and it fell off. They refused to accept fault as “I hadn’t specifically told them to tighten that bolt.” Some people…

Fruit Snack
Fruit Snack
11 days ago

Nissan stealership cleared codes for an evap failure so that I wouldn’t discover it until later, on the drive home. Then they refused to cover the fix when I brought it back 2 days later because it was emissions related. Their after sale survey came right after and I made sure their regional manager got an earful.

Jeep stealership said they would fix the misfire on a JKU I had just bought. It turned out to be a cracked head that they had to replace. They put it under the Chrysler extended warranty I had just bought, which was then cancelled (and refunded to me).

Ed-in-TolEDo
Ed-in-TolEDo
11 days ago

Worst surprise: bought a Jeep Cherokee in August, ran great until the first cold snap, found that it had a cracked head when it refused to run right and steamed out the exhaust – looked like a smoke screen. Best surprise: bought a car and found a Fleetwood Mac CD in the radio.

The48thRonin
The48thRonin
11 days ago

Best surprise: my second ford explorer had an LSD, which was nice. Worst surprise, in the same car: the previous owner’s wiring job. I’m very good at finding vehicles with bad wiring somehow.

TheNewt
TheNewt
11 days ago

Weirdest thing was in an 86 Jeep CJ I bought. About twenty (thankfully unused) condoms, a half pack of smokes and about fifteen 5 inch diameter o-rings.

Theotherotter
Theotherotter
11 days ago

This is neither best nor worst, but it took me five years to realize my 911 SC had a glovebox light. Never noticed it until I happened to have my head in the passenger footwell and looked up.

Best recent surprise was discovering, after a thousand miles up the Pacific coast, that my E12 did indeed retain its original cushion tilting mechanism so I was not fated to endless leg cramps and, a few thousand miles later, discovering that it had a telescoping column.

Dug Deep
Dug Deep
11 days ago

Best: our 1990 vintage camper van came with a full set of tools, including rope, Chilton manual, extension cords, wrenches, and two hydraulic jacks.
Worst: it also came with a portable toilet that had not been so much as rinsed.

Myk El
Myk El
11 days ago

Worst/Most annoying: The hood release latch on my 2003 Mini Cooper was on the passenger side. I’m sure it was simply not moved over from being the UK driver’s side.

Best surprise: When I bought my GTO last year, the previous owner was in GM design and worked for someone who assisted in its design and has provided some great insight into some of the choices made. Plus some internal build documentation.

Brynjaminjones
Brynjaminjones
11 days ago

My best surprise was probably when we bought my girlfriend at the time (now wife)’s ’97 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

We live in the UK, and it used to be popular here to convert cars like this to run on propane, as it’s about half the cost of gas. It was typically a dual-fuel system, which started the car on gas then switched over to propane.

We bought her Jeep with a “non-functioning” propane kit, which meant it could only run on gas – the button to switch to propane would flash red if you tried to switch fuels.
This propane system on her car took up most of the space of the factory gas tank, which meant that it now had a much smaller ~6 gallon gas tank, which was good for maybe 100 or so miles.

We drove it like this for several weeks, before finally taking it to a propane specialist.
Their first comment was “have you filled the tank?”, which of course we hadn’t.

I took it straight to a propane station, filled it up, then drove home with a fully functioning propane system. It turns out the gauge had just failed, permanently showing a full tank!

139
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x