Lemon Cars

Reporter: David Richardson

It's the second biggest investment people make in their lives, but buying a car is fraught with danger. In the worst case scenario mechanical flaws can cause causing problems that can have lethal outcomes at the very least, if you're lucky, you're stuck with a lemon.

Jimmy EL NUMCII has always been a Holden man. He wanted one all his life. So he saved until he could afford a brand new SV-6 VE commodore, a car he dreamt he could drive around Mount Panorama. The longest trip he's made so far is driving it back to the dealer with a stack of problems.

So far he has identified at least 15 major flaws with the so called Australian-made supercar. The majority are in the finish, outside and interior, including flaking paint, leaks, and finish. But under the bonnet more flaws including a dodgy air conditioner, radiator leaks and engine problems. Perhaps the scariest for this young driver, an ABS braking failure.

You'd expect a lot better from Holden's so called Billion dollar baby. To Holden's credit the company replied to our inquiries about Jimmy's expensive lemon. The company says it thought the problems had been fixed by the dealer but soon promised to get right back on the case. But Jimmy isn't alone - it seems scores of new Holden commodore drivers have been taken for a ride.

Drive.com.au editor Toby Hagen test drives hundreds of cars every year. He believes consumers should get what they pay for when they buy a new car not constant repairs and refits and promises everything will be OK.

Another new car...another lemon. This time the Kia Carnival. Warren French bought a 2000 model but didn't have a clue there were engine problems. KIA did know and had for a long time because at least 8,000 had been repaired or brought back to the dealerships for new engines.

For a week KIA has refused to answer Today Tonight's allegations about the Carnival and KIA's policies. But only yesterday the company ordered the recall of 2000 SPORTAGES for radiator defects the vehicles made between 2001- and 2002. Experts believe KIA is remaining silent to avoid costly legal action against it like a class action. And then there's Daimler Chrylser's problems with the 2003 JEEP cherokee.

In May incredible pictures of a Cherokee on fire on TODAY TONIGHT highlighted an engine fault in the car - a fault that could have had deadly repercussions. JEEP maintains still the incident was a one-off. It's been horror stories like these that led to the creation of the website: australiacaradvice.com. Here feedback from motorists could save you money and grief.

According to consumer surveys, Japanese cars like Honda, Toyota and Mazda are by far the most reliable. But even Toyota has had mass recalls in the past. So have ford, both companies recalling a million cars each last year. And there's only one reliable way of making sure of your purchase, do your research and test drive each car you think you like.

For more information visit the following websites:

australiacaradvice.com and drive.com.au