Hooniverse Asks: Has brand loyalty come back to bite you?

Few people have enough first-hand experience with every car brand to be a real expert on what’s really good. We all have our preferences that we’ve built through our limited experiences, so we all suffer from some degree of bias. Your family’s a Honda family. Or your first car was a Saturn, and it took every inch of your teenage beatings.

You stuck with what worked for you, and developed a fondness for it out of experiences with multiple examples of the model. When someone asked for a recommendation when buying a car, you suggested the model you knew all the ins and outs of. Then, as they drove off in their new ride, you got a sinking feeling that you couldn’t shake.
A few weeks later, your friend called. The coolant overflow was bubbling with a brown, frothy mix of fluids. What to do?
Sure, it’s not something you could’ve foreseen, but maybe you ignored one too many red flags—or maybe they didn’t pay attention to the temp needle. Regardless, you know the answer: Value too low, repair bill too high, friend too broke. It’s game over, man.
The car, as well as your ego and reputation as “car guy,” all go to scrap.
The exact scenario above happened to me recently. A friend of meager means asked for my help, and I directed her to a Ford Escort: Cheap, reliable, simple; I could take care of anything likely to come up. Except, well, a head gasket job or salvage engine swap. That takes more time than I’ve got and, of course, that’s what it needed.
Which is why today we ask: Has your brand loyalty come back to bite you, or bite someone else on your behalf?
[Photo copyright 2009 Alan Cesar]

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35 responses to “Hooniverse Asks: Has brand loyalty come back to bite you?”

  1. Andrew_theS2kBore Avatar

    Not yet, but given how frequently I find myself checking Craigslist for Esprit Turbos, it’s only a matter of time.

  2. nanoop Avatar

    I’ve owned a Ford Focus mk.I, two Volkswagen AG products (Skoda Roomster and Porsche 944), and a GM/Renault Opel Vivaro. They all sucks/sucked in their own way, dominated by age issues, not obvious construction failures.

    1. Harry Callahan Avatar
      Harry Callahan

      I am on my third Mazda. As long as my needs continue to fall within the realm of what Mazda builds, I will likely remain loyal.
      Among the brand attributes I appreciate: No snootiness associated with the brand, competent chassis and brakes, well designed interiors, acceptably comfortable seats, great audio systems, solid assembly with good fit/finsh, and superb value for money.
      Two of my Mazdas had lots of Ford bits and bobs…my 2001 MPV had a Ford Duratec 2.5L V6. That engine, paired with the Aisin 4sp auto transaxle was both thirsty and slow….but remained reliable for 10 years, and met my wife’s requirements. Our CX-9 has the Ford 3.7 V6 and has been excellent, but we seldom see more than 22 mpg. My 2015 6 is all Mazda. The 2.5L engine is buttery smooth and efficient, though not powerful, the 6speed manual trans excellent. Build quality is exemplary, as is the chassis tuning. I get 37 mpg on trips, 33 mpg in everyday mixed driving. I expect my 6 will be the car that remains with me for a long time. Where else can I find a value priced, rock solid, efficient family sedan that handles well and has a slick manual?

  3. GTXcellent Avatar

    The only brand I’d consider that I’m truly loyal to are Lund Boats. Given that my current Lund is now 19 years old, and since kids arrived it doesn’t get near enough use to justify a new one….well, no. Brand loyalty has not come back to bite.

  4. JayP Avatar

    I’d had 2 5000s which were great cars.
    My 97 A4 fell apart under warranty. Sick of it, I traded for an Impreza RS.
    A few years later I was brought back to Audi with a 2002 A4.
    As big a POS as the 97, with crappy service on the CPO warranty.

  5. Sjalabais Avatar

    When my wife was pregnant for the first time, the household assembly (members: 1, spectators: me) decided we’d stop owning crap cars. So I sold my ’71 Volvo 145 at a markup to what I bought it for, including a solid dose of heartbreak, and I got myself a fancy Citroën. Looked like a grown up car. Except for our driveway being more than 30 degress steep and way too long – something the environmentally conscious Citroën couldn’t master with a cold engine. Software told it to reduce its power until warm, and the long first gear was beyond sense anyway. Earned a 25% markup upon selling it and then my brand blindness came around to bite me: Bought a ’93 Volvo 245. I figured it’s the newest one I could get, 17 years old then. It had been sitting for half a year (warning light ignored), I bought it off a young lad instead of an older gentleman (warning light ignored), and the seller was a little to preoccupied with it having the rare FX cam, that provides a factory 136hp instead of 116hp (warning light ignored). This wagon was full of neglected issues that came around to strain my time and finances. I should have seen it, I didn’t, I drive a Honda now that is unwilling to die beneath my care.

  6. Kiefmo Avatar

    Sort of.
    We appreciated the steadfast usefulness and mile-devouring road trip performance of our ’05 Odyssey, and our neighbors bought one on our recommendation for the brand and car.
    HOWEVER , despite being sufficiently well-heeled to have paid cash for a brand new Elite or Touring, they bought a salvage title ’10. Hit front driver side, airbags deployed).
    Predictably, it has been nothing but trouble. It makes all kinds of awful noises, has had overheating and oil consumption issues (possible tiny crack in block?).

    1. Alff Avatar

      That one isn’t on you. Some people don’t appreciate the potential consequences indicated by a salvage title.

  7. Maymar Avatar

    I’m not sure I’ve been particularly loyal to any one brand, but Hyundais and Kias are a pretty default used car suggestion from me (good enough in most aspects, and slightly better value than the Hondas and Toyotas that would be the normal default pick). So when my then-fiancée was looking for a cheap beater to get her to and from the train for grad school, we found a decent 5-year old Accent at a reasonable price (my family had one already, and it was indeed perfectly adequate). And for that purpose, it was fantastic. Less fantastic was once we moved in together, needed only one car, and I had a job that had me on the road all day. A car that was tolerable in 20 minute chunks became utterly intolerable spending 4+ hours a day in it, especially since it had no A/C and awful ventilation.

  8. kogashiwa Avatar

    VW. Enough said.
    (My first two cars. Handling was fantastic. Everything else was terrible. No more German cars for me ever again.
    Then again my Q45 didn’t treat me any better…)

  9. Fred Talmadge Avatar
    Fred Talmadge

    Chevrolet. My second Chevy 1999 Silverado was terrible compared to my 1989 Cheyene. So bad that I got a Audi A3 instead.

  10. Zentropy Avatar

    During my “brand loyal” period, Ford only got better. I’ve since branched out and have been open-minded, but I’d still prefer a Flex EcoBoost to a minivan. My wife, unfortunately, thinks they look like hearses.

    1. Alan Cesar Avatar
      Alan Cesar

      Sliding doors are a godsend. That’s what the Flex needs.

  11. mdharrell Avatar

    Nope. The Allegro completed approximately 95% of the Lemons Rally under its own power (and the drive there and back), so I remain committed to Austins. As for the other 5%…

    1. Sjalabais Avatar

      Is that VW a new acquisition?

      1. mdharrell Avatar

        No, that belongs to Lemons racer Crazy Mike. He rescued us on the final evening of the rally. Lemons roadside assistance is becoming a specialty of his:

    2. Joey DaVive Avatar
      Joey DaVive

      Moody lighting is moooody. Hooniverse picture of the indeterminate period!

      1. Vairship Avatar

        Soft filtered background lighting provided by Jack In the Box. It doesn’t get any more romantic than that.

    3. dead_elvis, inc. Avatar
      dead_elvis, inc.

      I’m not sure I’d be willing to tow anything with a Vanagon, even one that’s not carrying the extra freight of a camper conversion.

      1. Sjalabais Avatar

        That is the brilliance of these two pictures, if you ask me. Taking the crap can ownership to the extreme, a Vanagon (my phone suggest: “van agonizing”, sic) turns into a beacon of competence. I salute this alternate reality and hope it never ends.

    4. crank_case Avatar

      95% – In BL terms where “good enough” is an aspiration, that’s more than acceptable.

      1. Vairship Avatar

        If only he had the right hammer to “fettle” things, it would have been fine https://leylandsdm.co.uk/product/hand-tools/

  12. Lokki Avatar

    Acura Integra. I know, I know, everybody loves them. So did I for some years. I owned an 86, an 89, a 93…. and a 97. The first three were tremendous cars and actually (although diminishingly so with each purchase) good values. The 97 was purchased the day I returned from three years out of the country. It made sense to do that -or so I thought. I’d had good experiences with the cars and the company and, since I had to buy a car anyhow why rent a car for three or four weeks and shop around when I knew I’d end up in another Integra? Acura’s weren’t discounted in those days, and so shopping various dealers might save a hundred bucks or so; why bother? I’d have spen a lot more than than on a rental.
    So a coworker drove me to the dealership, and I wrote a check. Huge mistake. In the time I’d been away, the Japanese Yen had soared and so Japanese car makers had to make a choice: raise prices or decontent. Lexus raised prices and Acura decontented. Where the previous Integras had been entry level upscale cars, the 97 was stripped. No sound-proofing, hard seats, single-sheet-of -plastic door panels, cheap uphostery which started to show wear at 10,000 miles. The most annoying things were the most trivial. The digital clock gained a minute a week, and the stereo wouldn’t hold an FM signal.
    I had the car for 8 months and dumped it at a loss and “Acura Customer for Life” became never again.

    1. Harry Callahan Avatar
      Harry Callahan

      Why? Because Honda lost sight of the big picture…and they have yet to regain it.

  13. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

    Well, I keep going back to drink from the same poison well of crude manufacturing, so I think it’s more akin to being roofied than bitten.

  14. Eric Rucker Avatar

    I’ve owned three Volkswagens.
    Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me, fool me three times…

    1. Alan Cesar Avatar
      Alan Cesar

      Nobody ever finishes that saying, so I don’t actually know how it ends.

        1. Alan Cesar Avatar
          Alan Cesar

          Thanks George.

      1. nanoop Avatar

        “… and we seem to act in mutual agreement”?

  15. P161911 Avatar

    I have had 10 GM vehicles over the years (73 C-10, 81 Buick Regal Turbo, 77 Corvette, 79 Blazer, 94 Corvette, 04 Trailblazer, 96 Camaro Z-28 convertible, 84 K-10, 2011 Silverado WT, and 2014 Volt.) The only one that was bad beyond any expectation was the 1996 Camaro Z-28 Convertible. It was a piece of crap. I’ve had a few Fords and BMWs sprinkled in the mix, along with a Nissan Leaf.

  16. Harry Callahan Avatar
    Harry Callahan

    I had a leased 1997 Chevy Astro van as a company vehicle. That van was simply bad, had so many problems, and the dealer treated me as a common criminal. The day in August 2000 when the lease was over, was one of the happiest in my life. I swore I would NEVER subject myself to another GM product or dealer. That day I walked from the Chevy dealer to the Toyota dealer across the street, and never looked back. I have remained true to my anti-GM promise.

    1. LeaksOil Avatar

      We had a ’93 Astro that I rode around as a child in. I hated how loud & bumpy it was compared to my friends Aerostars and Caravans. Car wash at a gas station machine failed and destroyed a large part of the front end; they paid to have it repaired. My brother got into maybe 3 wrecks with it as a teenager. My mom overheated it very badly, claiming she “didn’t notice” it was overheating until it wouldn’t start when she stopped somewhere. She hated it, so we were all convinced she saw a chance to blow it up and get rid of it. After dad did several repairs in the driveway to keep it running cool, it kept running strong for a few more years. It was stupid tough and reliable. Dad absolutely loved it. Finally, my brother was finishing/finished high school and mom basically refused to drive it anymore.

  17. cap'n fast Avatar
    cap’n fast

    lockheed. i would never recommend them to a friend. an enemy..sure. we are talking banjo flex fittings on the brake lines with zero tolerance for fluid leaks. stuff like that. designed by committee and built like a layer cake. and not EVEN the lowest bidder. only thing worse is the crapcans from Toulon.
    mercedes. do you really want to know why?