Stress, heartache and sky-high surprise costs: Why I'll never buy a new car again

Lollie Barr has learned an expensive lesson since buying and crashing a new car, but there has been a positive twist too.

Lollie Barr with her shiny new car when she first bought it (left) and what it looked like after her accident (right).
Lollie Barr with her shiny new car when she first bought it (left) and what it looked like after her accident (right). Source: Supplied

I've never been too fussed about cars. I'm an A-to-B girl. Like my ex-boyfriends, my ex-cars have been underwhelming and always secondhand.

In truth, I had neither the inclination nor, most importantly, the budget for anything fancy, so I always bought old cars.

A ten-year-old burgundy Ford Laser in the nineties, a nine-year-old red VW Golf in the noughties that handled like a dream, and a 10-year-old white VW Tiguan in 2019 that was a lemon.

However, at the end of 2022, an idiot driver totalled my finally-fixed Tiguan while it was parked, forcing me to think about cars a lot. I needed a reliable, safe vehicle as I'd be driving up and down the coast, as I was spending a lot of time in Sydney looking after my mum.

The pandemic had made decent second-hand cars shockingly expensive and hard to come by, so I decided to buy myself a brand new car on finance, something I'd never considered doing.

While deciding which car to buy, I bought my surfer friend's dinged-to-buggery 22-year-old Toyota Rav4 for $3000, which was still mechanically going strong.

It took me a full ten months to choose a Polymetal Grey Mazda CX30, at which point I'd turned into a car fanatic who could pick out any car on the road at 50 paces.

Many new cars parked close to each other (left) Lollie's new Mazda with a red bow on it from the day she bought it (right).
New cars, like Lollie's (pictured on the right), depreciate significantly as soon as they leave the dealership. Getty (file photo)/ Supplied

But if I was paying off a car for five years, I had to love it like I hadn't ever loved a car before, as I'd been driving it until it was old like the RAV4. So, of course, I somehow ended up opting for the top-of-the-range car which was to cost me $46,000.

A friend who is a financial counsellor told me I was crazy. She gave me the depreciation figures (typical depreciation rates mean cars may lose up to 58 per cent of their value in three years, 49 per cent in four years and 40 per cent in five years), but nothing beat the rush of ordering my first brand-new car.

Talk about a shopping rush — I was high as a kite for days, then freaked out that I'd taken on that level of debt.

But it was worth all the anxiety when I walked into the dealer's showroom after a long four-month wait to see my baby on the forecourt with a red bow splayed across the bonnet.

I was so awed by its flawless beauty that I drove it from the dealership down the highway to Mullumbimby as if I'd just gotten my licence.

My new car didn't stay pristine for long

I loved my new car: its perfect size, handling, and how it changed from blue to grey depending on the sunlight, the high-class interior, comfy leather seats, and intoxicating brand-new car smell made it worth every penny. I vowed to keep it in this mint condition forever.

New cars parked close to each other (left) and a man handing another person car keys (right).
It turned out that having a new car was very stressful and in the end even more expensive then Lollie had feared. Source: Getty

Two days later, I felt like a stab to the heart when a friend left a suntan lotion stain on the leather seats that wouldn't come off with regular cleaner.

It hurt, but when I told a friend, she said as a new car owner, the first scratch or, in my case, the stain is always the deepest, but I’d get used to it.

Then, the following week, I was driving through Mullumbimby when a man mowing the lawn inadvertently sent a small stone flying and somehow managed to find my car windscreen as I sped past.

For the next six weeks, I drove around as the crack snaked upwards, and the insurance sorted it out.

A second cracked windscreen followed when I was visiting my mum in Sydney, and a month later, someone backed into me and drove off without leaving a note. Triple ouch!

Then, my mum's dog vomited in my car, and I took it to Crystal Carwash for detailing. A mysterious tear turned up in the leather seat, for which they refused any liability.

Three days later, I was driving at dusk when a partially covered skip bin on a narrow street stopped me in my tracks, leaving my beautiful car with $26,000 worth of damage.

Luckily, my injuries were just some bruising and sore arms. My insurance company, GIO, was great, but they didn't write off the car because the damages didn't exceed 70 per cent of the car’s value.

Seven weeks later, my 17-month-old car is still being rebuilt in Sydney with 65 new parts and another month to go. If I hadn't gone for the top-of-the-range car, I'd be driving around in a new brand of car now.

Would I buy a new car again?

I still love my car and can't wait to drive it again. However, would I buy a new car off the showroom floor again? Probably not. It's just not worth the depreciation or the heartache.

Yet, I wouldn't buy an old vehicle either, as I have learned that if I had hit that skip in an older car, it wouldn't have had the same safety features, and my accident could have been much worse.

As I'd never had an accident before, while I spent a lot of brain power on the colour, I'm embarrassed to say I'd never considered safety features.

According to The Australasian New Car Assessment Program, new cars prevent or reduce the severity of a crash, and if a crash does still occur, it will provide you and those around you with a higher degree of protection.

I only learned writing this that my car has a five-star safety rating, and that's got to be worth the price.

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