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Don't Just Kick the Tires

Use these tips to avoid buying one of the worst cars of the century.
Magazine Contributor
2 min read

This story appears in the September 2000 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Those yucky Yugos and some of their ill-fated cohorts, the Gremlin, Pinto, Vega, Fuego, Chevette, and on the luxury side, Cadillac's 4-cylinder-engined Cimmaron, have thankfully gone to rest in the graveyard of Truly Awful Cars. Among the worst automobiles of the past century, some even talked, warning that "Your door is ajar," which became a national joke. General Motors also got its share of taunting for its decision to sell diesel-engined passenger cars back in the late 1970s, all of which were flops.

Sinking a significant amount of money into a new vehicle can be risky if you don't check out depreciation rates and consider other factors that indicate a bad buy. Some cars depreciate as much as 20 percent the first year. Poor quality and novelty equipment, in particular, can label your new car a bad pick. If you choose a Lexus, BMW, Mercedes-Benz or Lincoln, you've probably made a good choice, says Kelley Blue Book editor Charlie Vogelheim.

If you don't want to buy a pig in a poke, here are some tips to help you avoid buying the worst car of the current century:

  • Research on the Web and in consumer car buying guides for "Best Buys" and "Editor's Choices."
  • Choose an auto manufacturer with a proven track record.
  • Take test drives to check the ride, handling and performance, and to check the interior for fit and finish.
  • Wait until a new model has been on the market for a year. Manufacturers often rely on buyer feedback to correct problems when they build the next generation.

Jill Amadio has reported on the automotive industry for 23 years as an editor and consultant.

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