Image courtesy of Tesla, Inc.
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4 Reasons Not To Buy an All-New Vehicle

Automakers love to hype vehicles as “New” or “All-New.” If they really are new, there are real reasons you should consider avoiding them. Here’s what owners and experts report.
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Nobody advertises “Old and dull vehicle for sale!” Instead, many automakers (not all) try to update their vehicles constantly and try new things. On you. You are the guinea pig. In the case of Tesla, you are literally the beta tester. The truth is, owners (and wanna-be new owners) of new vehicles, particularly what are termed “All-New Vehicles” can give you some really good reasons why not to be an early adopter.

Reason One Not To Buy an All-New Vehicle - It Does Not Actually Exist
Tesla makes some of the most exciting and desirable vehicle one can buy. The company also pretends to make some of the most exciting vehicles you can’t. Case in point; The Cybertruck. This imaginary vehicle was “launched” in 2019. Yet, according to the best sources available (who point to Elon Musk), you can’t get one until some time in 2023, or maybe 2024 if you have not already joined the list of paid reservation holders. That hasn’t stopped folks from debating which accessory for the imaginary vehicle is the coolest. In the running are the solar panel tonneau cover and the camper. Buying an imaginary vehicle (or paying to reserve one), is an exercise in frustration.

Reason Two Not To Buy an All-New Vehicle - You Will Pay More Than You Agreed To
All over social media, people are complaining that they spend hours pouring over an online configurator to build their perfect ride, then they make a deal with a dealer to order the vehicle. When the vehicle is ready for delivery, the buyer is then informed that they won’t pay full price. Rather, they will pay full price, plus a destination fee, plus a market adjustment. Thousands more than the MSRP. We could give you some examples of this, but Road & Track did a whole article on this exact subject. It’s worth a read. If you want to be first, you have to pay the price. And then some.

One buyer of an all-new battery-electric crossover reported in a fan club for the model, “Make sure you ask to see the sales sheet and read it carefully. The dealership tried to add lifetime oil changes to the tune of $600.” Maybe it was an honest mistake due to the dealer’s unfamiliarity with the new vehicle? Otherwise, why would a dealer try to sell a new owner lifetime oil changes for a car that does not use engine oil?

Reason Number Three Not To Buy an Al-New Vehicle - Repairs May Not be Possible
Imagine if you purchased an all-new vehicle and its windshield or all-glass roof was broken. That would be a major bummer. Now imagine that you return to the dealer to have it repaired and find out that there are no repair parts. Your all-new ride you waited a long time to get, and then paid full price for, is no longer driveable.

Here is how one all-new vehicle owner describes such an experience: “Our (all-new battery-electric crossover model) was in a hit and run while parked and they knocked our driver’s side mirror off. We took the car into a body shop for an estimate and the part is not available and it’s “too new” to fix. So there’s currently no solution. It’s too risky to drive without a mirror until who knows when.” By coincidence, this same model is now “off the market” because the battery has been recalled and there are no replacement batteries available.

Reason Number Four Not To Buy an Al-New Vehicle - They Break More Than Other Vehicles
Mechanics, engineers, and car nuts, and the mechanic engineer car nuts who work at Consumer Reports all know that the first model year of a vehicle or the year of a major generational change occurs, is likely to be the year with the highest likelihood of trouble. In its story on this topic title, “To Get the Most Reliable New Car, It Pays to Wait,” Jake Fisher, CR’s senior director of auto testing, says, “It’s tempting to want to be the first on your block to have the newest car, but that comes with reliability risks. Being patient can save you from years of frustration.”

Financial Samurai’s article on this subject is, “Never Buy A New Car Or A Car In Its First Year Of Redesign.” That pretty much sums up their opinion, but it is worth a read. The Car Talk Community is an advice page where mechanics help out those who need advice on a range of topics, but mostly car repair. One of the most respected mechanics on the page (measure by how many “Solves” the mechanic logs) is Mustangman. In the post, “Should I still avoid the first model year of a new vehicle?” Mustang Man says that based on his real-life experience, “Don’t buy the first year of any revised model. There is far less risk of that than in the past but why play with fire?”

Summary - Don’t Buy An All-New Model
All new models always sound great. Someplace on the internet today, fans of the Ford F-150 Lightning, Hummer Pickup, and Cybertrtuck are arguing which truck is better. None have ever been sold, but by golly, each fan is certain they know which is the better of the fantasy-land vehicles not made today. The truth is, nobody knows which new vehicle is going to be the “best.” Most people cannot even agree on what best means.

If you want to buy a vehicle that is less likely to give you ordering hassles, repair hassles, and breakdown hassles, purchase a model in the middle or near the end of its product lifecycle. Here’s how to do so. Wikipedia has the model year and generation changes spelled out for every vehicle model made. You can easily look up when a model was updated.

Author Note: The Author Purchased the Following All-New Or 1st Year of a new Generation vehicles:
Honda Civic Si - Sunroof never worked despite three dealer attempts to fix it. AC never worked. Partly because it didn’t have AC.
Subaru 2.5 GT - Engine Failed at 11K miles
2003 Honda Accord V6 - Transmission failed at 59K miles

If you have an all-new or first-year of a new generation horror story, please feel free to tell us about it in the comments section below.

John Goreham is a long-time New England Motor Press Association member and recovering engineer. John's interest in EVs goes back to 1990 when he designed the thermal control system for an EV battery as part of an academic team. After earning his mechanical engineering degree, John completed a marketing program at Northeastern University and worked with automotive component manufacturers, in the semiconductor industry, and in biotech. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American news outlets and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on TikTok @ToknCars, on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin

Image courtesy of Tesla, Inc.


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Comments

These are all good points. And I've normally avoided buying new cars at all, mostly because of the huge depreciation hit that you get (less of an issue at this rare moment in time). But I've gone against this good advice, and my own experience by reserving an Aptera, which is not only a first year vehicle, but it will be the first production vehicle from Aptera at all. Presuming that the EV even gets built. For now, the $100 reserve cost is no big risk, but hopefully in a year's time I will have to come up with the rest of the money to take possession. It's true that I will be a beta tester for this new vehicle, with most every part being new and unique to the car. But in this rare instance I am willing to take the risk. Sure, it would be much safer to buy a new Model 3, but I am caught up in the excitement of buying something new and different. Being a super efficient, solar powered EV. Logically, I totally agree with you. But still I plan to make the leap if/when they start production and my reservation number comes up.
Honestly, the Aptera is so groundbreaking its's like being a supporter to reserve and buy early. That one looks to be "worth it" for sure.
Yeah, that is exactly how I feel about it too John. It is like I'm supporting a change in direction for vehicles with the Aptera, towards high efficiency and sustainability, combined together in a unique and fun, solar-powered, EV.