steffanie rivers

Stteffanie Rivers

*If you want to know why I’ll never purchase another new vehicle all you have to do is look at the General Motors fiasco.

Last week, GM,  the corporation that manufactures Buicks, Chevrolets, Cadillacs, and GMCs issued its 44th recall due to another vehicle defect.

In the United States alone that affected 17 million vehicles in 2014; vehicles that – for all intents and purposes – are transporting precious cargo to work, schools and churches everyday. Some of those vehicles not on the road anymore were involved in collisions where passengers were either critically injured or killed due to those design defects.

It’s bad enough that GM decision-makers knew about some of the issues but didn’t properly address them. Since having to admit the problem, the auto maker just wants to perform patch-work fixes. There’s no mention of forgiving that over-priced car loan millions of people are stuck with despite years of driving around in death traps or swapping out faulty vehicles for new ones.

This is the same General Motors the U.S. Government kept from near bankruptcy in 2009 in part to keep people working. Working to do what, build vehicles that aren’t worth the heap of scrap metal (or should I say plastic, because they don’t make cars like they used to) the cars turn out to be? It’s stories like this that make me appreciate personal injury law.

If you see me driving a new car rest assured I’m not paying a new car note. It’s probably a weekend rental. And not from Hertz, because they run credit checks on people who use debit instead of credit cards to rent from them ( But I digress.

Until last month I drove a 1998 Ford Mustang. It’s paid for and I planned to drive it until the wheels fell off. The wheels didn’t fall off yet, but the transmission might as well have. For six months I went to local government car auctions, perused Craigslist and shopped at rental car sales lots in search of the best deal on a used, yet reliable, car. No car loans for me: just cash and carry.

I settled on a 2008 Pontiac with low miles, a salvage title and a great price. The low miles probably are due to the collision that kept the car off the road which led to the salvage title and the great price.

Most people advise against salvage title vehicles for various reasons, some legitimate and some not. But some insurance companies write off vehicles as a “total loss” even for minor cosmetic damage if the cost of repairs will be more than what the insurance company considers the car to be worth. Plastic fenders and headlights can be expensive, especially on vehicles that no longer are in production. But if you know somebody with a dealer’s license who can get good deals at auctions on cars with minor damage and knows how to do body work like I do, you too can find a great deal. I did my homework and paid less for car insurance on the new (to me) Pontiac and my Mustang than that I was paying for the Mustang alone.

Most things in life are a risk. But what I won’t do is over-pay for a car that is so poorly made the manufacture should be the subject of a class-action lawsuit for putting my life in jeopardy and me in debt while I drive around trying to impress people I don’t know, and if I took the time to know them probably would realize I don’t even like.

As for my Mustang, I’ll put another transmission in it and be back to racing people on the highway before you know it. Just kidding! No I’m not. Yes I am. No I’m not.

Steffanie is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas, Texas metroplex. Email her at [email protected] for comments, questions, comments or speaking inquiries.