When Frugal People Go Car Shopping

Peggy and I have owned a total of ten cars (not counting 20-30 that I bought specifically to resell) including two new cars. Our first new car was a '73 Datsun truck (with air, mirrors, AM radio, a rear bumper, taxes, tag, and title, the price was $3,300.75--see photo), and our second a '84 Ford Tempo that turned out to be a piece of crap despite its Consumer Reports recommendation.

Yesterday, at my urging, we went shopping for a new car, partly with the thought of cutting back to just one vehicle. Peggy demurred, saying she loves her '98 Camry, and that our '93 Chevy van (which we use for camping and hauling) is bigger than what she would want if we just had one car. But the issue for me isn't just about how many cars we own; it's about the assumed safety and reliability of a new car. I was thinking about this anyway when Peggy's father said he was so worried about us breaking down that he would contribute money toward a new car. Still, Peggy hesitated, saying that if I simply must have something different, why not settle for a newer used one. "Because I want the safest and most dependable thing I can get, and if your father will help pay for it, the expense won't feel like such a kick in the groin" (we are not the kind of people who can cheerfully spend a lot of money).

All those many years ago, after test driving that Datsun truck, we went across the street to a Dodge dealership where Peggy fell in a love with a Colt station wagon. The salesman couldn't say enough about what a lovely young couple we were, and he even offered to take us to dinner. We were happy; he was happy; and all was sweetness and light except for the fact that I didn't like that Dodge. With Peggy's support, he ever so graciously persisted, putting his hand on my shoulder, and speaking to me like a loving father whose only concern was for my well-being. Then, as if the idea had suddenly popped into his head, he said that he wanted us to meet his partner because he just knew that his partner would like us as much as he did. So, his partner came in, and his partner was not impressed. In fact, his partner was pissed. He said we were acting in bad faith by coming into his dealership, saying what we needed in a car, and then refusing to buy, at the very best price, the very best car for our needs. He practically went into in a rage about how badly we were behaving while his partner stood in the corner looking at the floor and softly clucking in shame and mortification. Finally, the bad guy left, and the good guy worked on us, but then, to our horror, the good guy left, and the bad guy came back. And so it went.

We were stunned, and the more abusive the bad guy got, the quieter Peggy and the "good" guy got, and the more cornered I felt. I didn't know what their routine was called, or even that it was a routine; I just knew that there was no way in hell I was going to knuckle-under and buy a car that I didn't want just to get some asshole off my back. If I had been braver, I would have walked out, but as things stood, all I could do was to keep saying no and offering the best excuses I could until the two of them finally gave up. I felt as if I had survived a beating. I told Peggy that I could have used a little help, and Peggy told me that it had been a case of shit or get off the pot, but that I had done neither. Imagine my delight when that dealership got into all kinds of trouble for abusive sales practices. It wasn't I who ratted them out, though, because I didn't know enough to rat them out. It's sad how ignorant young people can be, but since it was our first car buying experience, we just didn't have a clue. Walking into that dealership felt like entering an alternate universe, and it fully enabled me to understand how cops can pressure a young person into confessing to a crime he didn't commit. After all, I was college educated by then and had only been under pressure for a few hours. What if it had lasted for a few days during which I couldn't even use the bathroom without permission?

A few years later, I bought a used Datsun car at the same dealership from which we had gotten our '73 truck. The sales lady's name was Patty, and she was hot in a sophisticated, older woman sort of way that left me slobbering. I was melted by her smile, and my heart beat faster and faster as she moved in closer and closer, and her baby blues burned further and further into the back of my skull. I haltingly pointed out a few problems with the car, and Patty readily agreed to have them fixed. I said, fine, but just so there would be no misunderstanding, maybe we should put everything in writing (I had read that this was a good idea). Patty looked like I had slapped her. She said that, in a world of jaded and suspicious men, she had felt something special with me, and that it hurt her deeply to think that I was no different from anyone else. "Don't be just another cynic," she begged, and I promised I wouldn't, even though it did feel a little strange to be arguing like lovers with a saleswoman. When I took the car back a few days later to have the work done, I learned that not only had Patty never made the appointment, Patty was gone, as in for good, as in I was her last customer. She hadn't gone far, though, because she soon opened her own dealership, and it's still there.

Most car salesmen are not nearly so entertaining as Patty and the good cop/bad cop Dodge boys. Most car salesmen are content to keep saying things like, "What can we do to put you in this car today?" even when I tell them that nothing is going to put me into a $30,000 car without a lot of thought and study. When I went shopping for our last car, I told one salesman that I wanted something that would fit into the garage, and he assured me that I didn't need to park in the garage! I thought, come on you idiot, do I look like someone you can snow, and then I left. I'm simply not going to stand around arguing with a car salesman because choosing a car is hard enough without the pressure.

Given how little Peggy and I drive and how well we take care of vehicles, this could be our next to last car, or even our last one, which is another reason for buying something new. I just want us to be safe. More importantly, I don't want Peggy to ever find herself sitting alone with her hood up (assuming she could figure out how to raise her hood) on the side of I-5 (Interstate 5 goes from Mexico to Canada, making it the major West Coast highway) because my main purpose in life is to protect Peggy. Another troubling possibility is that we would break down so far into the woods that we would have trouble walking for the half-day it might take us to even see another vehicle. When we go camping in our 23-year-old van, this is a real possibility, not because the van isn't in good shape but because when cars get old, everything that can crack, leak, dry out, and disintegrate tends to crack, leak, dry out, and disintegrate (which is what happens to people too, come to think of it). Peggy says that, since she's in better shape for walking, she could go for help alone, and I think, yeah, right, what could be wrong with that idea! Me sitting in the van and her getting raped, murdered, and hidden in a canyon. The cops would probably pressure me into confessing that I killed her, so that would be the end of both of us and the cats too since they would probably starve to death without someone to give them their three-squares a day plus a midnight snack.


Charles Gramlich said...

I truly hate car shopping. Lana and I bought one a couple of years ago and it was nothing but agony.

Elephant's Child said...

Both of these experiences with car sales explain comprehensively why they have a bad name. I am pretty certain that we would have walked away. Perhaps we are more cynical people and less likely to believe in the inate goodness of those we come across, or perhaps because our car purchases were all private sales until we were older. The car we have at the moment is the only new car we have had. And will probably be our last car.

Strayer said...

I am currently having issues with my car, that has close to 300,000 miles on it. I fear every time I go out of town in it now, despite having AAA. There are many places with no cell coverage including through the coast range and Cascades. It's a huge worry on my mind. I can't imagine ever having enough to even buy a used car to replace it. Rock and hard place. Those were colorful used car dealer encounters. Sure fit the stereotype of what I think when I think "used car dealer". My brother arranged a deal on some crappy Corolla once, for me to go get and buy, through a dealer in McMinnville. But when I arrived with a friend, I went to the wrong dealership. There were three, run by three different brothers. But this dealership, not in possession of the car, didn't let that bother them in pretending. They showed me a different higher priced car. It wasn't a Corolla however, not even close, but game on, for them, and the lies began. I was told the car I'd originally planned to buy had been stolen, but this "slightly higher" in price car, was a better deal anyway. I called my brother to ask "wtf" and he said "you're not even at the right dealership.

Sparkling Red said...

My husband used to sell cars for a living, before I met him. When people asked him what he did for a living at parties, he used to say that he was a potato inspector. Because no one likes car salesmen!

Stephen Hayes said...

My son is a master mechanic and I gave him $7,000. and told him to buy the best car based on all he knew about me. He purchased a 2000 RAV with very low miles and I'm still driving it nine years later. Very easy for me.

rhymeswithplague said...

i loathe dealing with car salesmen. In 2000 we got a new Toyota Camry and drive it until last summer -- it was getting a bit long in the tooth at 324,000 miles but still drove like a charm. Our daughter and her husband then gave us a 2006 Nissan Murano with 97,500 miles on it, practically brand new in comparison, so we donated the Camry to a charity as the missus stopped driving altogether a couple of years ago. I find that between the newer Nissan and the older Toyota, I much prefer the Toyota (you can't teach an old dog new tricks) but neither do I want to look a gift horse in the mouth.

I do not think you are this kind of person at all, but this post has a bit of a "glass half empty" air about it.

kj said...

I've bought a dozen or more cars and I follow an approach that works for me:

I google the cost and range of the car I want and the blue book value of my trade in . First i go to a less preferred dealer and see what's available and what they offer me--I walk away with a round number. I might Google a bit more to include the options I want

Then I walk into the dealer I want to do business with, see what they have, hand over my keys and ask them to test drive my trade in. I tell them I'm prepared to buy the car on the spot if we can agree on trade in and purchase price. . When they tell me what they'll give me for a trade in, I do a quick calculation that includes a modest profit for the dealer--at least $1000 and I make my offer. I ask that mudflats be included. When the salesperson comes back with a counter several thousand above my offer, I either suggest splitting the difference or increasing my final by 500-800 or so

In any case I know what the dealers cost is and my trade in value is beforehand. I usually shop the last few days of the month when making quotas is a motivator and I walk if I don't get a deal that's fair to me

Also snow, I now don't buy new. You might look at cars with 10,000 or 20,000 miles still under warrantee. I bought my rav with 8000 miles and it has leather seats and a few bells and whistles, with no negatives

Whew. I wrote a manual :-)

Snowbrush said...

“I truly hate car shopping.”

So far, only one of the four salesmen we’ve only dealt with was a sleaze. Right over our heads was a sign promising “full Blue Book value on trade-ins,” but he explained that the promise only applied to trade-ins they especially wanted.

“I am pretty certain that we would have walked away. Perhaps we are more cynical people...“

I was too intimidated. People ordinarily go by rules of politeness when dealing with strangers, and to be abused by people whom I have expected to behave professionally threw me. There’s no way it would throw me now. Since then, I’ve literally gotten in my car and driven away while a salesman was talking to me, but by the time I had home, he had already called. THAT’S pressure, and I’m not going to put up with it—I’m not even going give anyone my phone number, (I’m sure they can find it, but they better not). As Nancy Reagan put it, “Just say no.”

“I fear every time I go out of town in it now, despite having AAA. There are many places with no cell coverage including through the coast range and Cascades.”

I too worry about you breaking down and having to walk out. I thought of you while writing this post because I know a bit about how hard you have to struggle to keep make ends meet, and I know that the reason for your struggle is your love for cats. Otherwise, you could get through life with far less monetary angst, but, of course, the meaning of your life would be gone. It’s just one hell of deal. I know that having me think about you is not a lot of help, but I do. I think about my blogger friends more than they know. Even when I don’t visit their blogs much, the thought of them is still there. In fact, the thought is there all the more when I’m out of touch.

Snowbrush said...

“When people asked him what he did for a living at parties, he used to say that he was a potato inspector. Because no one likes car salesmen!”

We’ve been dealing with an engineering student who had to leave college to make money to continue college. He’s brand new to car sales, and not at all jaded. I really wonder if the techniques that salesmen use aren’t counterproductive. I just know that I want to buy from this guy so bad that I can taste it because he’s so innocent. He knows but little but he makes up for it in being pleasant.

“He purchased a 2000 RAV with very low miles and I'm still driving it nine years later. “

The RAV-4 is probably what we’re going to get because of it’s rock solid safety and reliability. No one at the car dealership knew what RAV-4 means, so I had to look it up myself: “Recreational Activity Vehicle with All Wheel Drive.” We’ve tried a lot of other cars, but the RAV-4 is the standard against which they’re measured, and they all fall short. The only other one that even tempts us is the Hyundai Tucson, but I simply couldn’t drive down the road in one in perfect assurance that it wasn’t going to break down.

“I do not think you are this kind of person at all, but this post has a bit of a "glass half empty" air about it.”

My sister, Anne (my older sister, and the only one of the two who will speak to me), always described herself as a “glass half-full” person and me as a “glass half-empty person.” It’s an oversimplification because it paints one way as good and the other way as bad when the truth is that the “glass half full” people tend to be less realistic (in scientific tests) than the “half-empty” people who are better able to appraise themselves and others.

“Also snow, I now don't buy new. You might look at cars with 10,000 or 20,000 miles still under warrantee. I bought my rav with 8000 miles…”

Another satisfied RAV owner (“Recreational Activity Vehicle with All Wheel Drive”). A new car depreciates by one-third of its sales value just by driving it off the lot, so why buy a new car? We have looked at a few used cars on the various lots, but the late-model, low mileage ones cost so much that it seems to me that we would be paying dearly for someone else’s miles. Of course, Craigslist is a real possibility. Believe me, KJ, we’re not nearly done yet, and we’re not the kind of people to rush into big decisions because the thought of waking up one morning and regretting having spent all those dollars the day before haunts me. The likelihood is that we would see what the Costco price would be, and if a dealer can beat it, fine, but if not, we know we would getting our new RAV at a good price. We’re also likely to sell our cars ourselves, and it sure would feel better to sell a car before buying a car rather than to have three cars. The only question is whether to sell the van now, or use it to camp a few more times.

Tom Sightings said...

At least you learned from the experience and walked out the second time a car salesperson tried to "snow" you. Anyway, I'd agree it's a good move to get a new car -- one that's going to be more reliable and one with all the modern safety items. To be honest, for the first time, I'm leasing my current car. Yes, it's more expensive in the long run. But no worries, no hassle, no repairs, no long-term commitment, no having to resell it or trade it in for a lowball price. Just hand over the keys, and get a new one.

Helen said...

Happy Independence Day!
On September my VW turns 17! I must say there have been times I threw up my hands and exclaimed "that's it!" VW repairs are painfully expensive. With only 105,000+ miles I want to drive it till it drops. On the positive side of the equation, the last expensive repair I had was over five years ago.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post ~ Patty was by no chance based in Minneapolis was she?

fiftyodd said...

Hah - we bought our new RAV 4 yesterday, having had nightmares after our Mercedes ML 250 Bluetec was in the shop for 10 weeks, having developed a mysterious illness when it went in for a routine regular service. Our service maintenance contract comes to an end next year and we have paled and had sleepless nights at the thought of what bills we might incur in the future, so after a painful and worrying decision to take a heavy wad of cash out of our retirement investment (after trading in the ML), my husband had various shocks over the telephone, while waiting for our new car (for more than an hour!) with our insurance company, whose 'consultants' had told us on 3 occasions last week that we would not need a tracking system on this vehicle. Luckily, we got hold of a supervisor who did her job, listened to the recorded conversations and in the end gave us the correct deal - with apologies. Anyway, good luck with your Rav, I am sure you will love it.

Snowbrush said...

“To be honest, for the first time, I'm leasing my current car.”

I don’t know enough to have an opinion, but my impression is that leasing works better for those who drive a lot. We only putting 5,000 to 10,000 miles a year on our Toyota, and it’s the one we use almost everyday. Unless we’re camping or going to the lumber company, the van just sets in the garage. In fact, I’ve killed two batteries simply by not driving it enough, so getting rid of it will be a relief in some ways.

“Patty was by no chance based in Minneapolis was she?”

No, we were much older when we lived in Minneapolis. Patty Peck was her name, and she’s now a Honda dealer in Jackson, Mississippi, Jackson being where I met her. She’s sort of lost her looks over the years, but then I’m not so handsome either now.

“there have been times I threw up my hands and exclaimed "that's it!" VW repairs are painfully expensive.”

Gee, Helen, I don’t know about keeping a car like that! I get the impression that you have the money to buy what you want, and I hate to think of you broken down in the desert in a Volkswagen.

“Hah - we bought our new RAV 4 yesterday…”

We’re going to have to form a club! I liked the Hyundai SO much, but that Youtube video taken by one of the many people whose Hyundai just didn’t want to move really got to me—nothing like going 15 mph on the Interstate! RAV4 sounds so darn young, but what can one do? It’s funny though that we all like to see ourselves as thinking like individuals, but then we discover that all of these people who are the same age are making the same decisions. Just buying a new car, for one thing. All these decades, and this will only be our third new car, and that’s assuming we even buy new. It’s just that these Toyotas hold their value so well, they’re almost as expensive used unless they’re way old. This will be our third or fourth Toyota, and w’ve gotten got good service from all of them. I don’t think the RAV4 is the prettiest SUV (that honor would go to the Ford), but owning a pretty car that’s no good is sort of like marrying a pretty woman who’s no good.

I have another car story. On Sunday, we took our van to Kendall Toyota as a possible trade, and were offered less than half of the Blue Book wholesale value. I pointed out that we were within sight of a sign on which the dealership promised full Blue Book value, and was then told that the promise only applied to some vehicles. Now, we’re looking forward to visiting another dealership because a dealer who would try to wiggle out of a written promise (before we even buy the car) would try to wiggle out of anything after we bought it.

Helen said...

Hi again! One of the reasons I don't do long drives cross mountain passes, I don't fancy getting stranded in the middle of nowhere. Unfortunately my ability to go out and purchase a car is kept in check by retirement / social security! I wish. If my VW Cabrio convertible bites the dust, not certain what I'll do. The positive in all this? Any place my son or I need to be is no more than five miles in any direction! Taxis are plentiful in Bend.

PipeTobacco said...

I know your pain about the Ford Tempo/Mercury Topaz vehicle. I had one myself... worst vehicle I have ever owned!!!

Salespeople do not like dealing with me.... I ignore them and tell them what price I am willing to pay. They get flustered

PipeTobacco said...

... and sputter and cajole and hard sell and I ignore them. My father was easily swayed by salesmen, so one time when I was 15, I convinced my Dad to let me negotiate for him while he sat back. The salesman was not amused, but I got my Dad a decent deal... better than his previous deals and he was happy. Back when you could smoke in the Dealerships, they became suspicious of me because I smoked a pipe... I heard one of them once comment to another salesperson that pipe smokers were the hardest damn people to sell to because they penny-pinched and were eggheads. I took this as a badge of honor! :)

E. Rosewater said...

my current car was an ex rental car and it's worked out very well. it was one year old and the price was about half the msrp. i figured that the rental companies maintain the vehicles very well and so far so good. i've had it 6 years and had no problems.

plus it's nice to get a car with a few blemishes so i don't get all bent out of shape when i find a scratch or the dog makes a mess.

Snowbrush said...

“Unfortunately my ability to go out and purchase a car is kept in check by retirement / social security!”

And here I was thinking you were rich, or at least very well off. Not that anyone ever discusses how much they own—unless they own nothing—on their blogs. Well, come to think it, I knew a thoroughly narcissistic blogger in Portland (Oregon), who was really into furs, guns, leather, jewelry, motorcycles, new Mercedes, and great big houses, so, silly me, I thought she had money. Then, her husband had a motorcycle wreck, and she started a fund-raising drive on the Internet. I felt thoroughly disgusted that she would spend money on very expensive luxuries and then whine about how broke she was after that accident. She’s the only blogger I’ve ever known with whom I became so disappointed that there was no going back. Everyone else I could forgive, but she was too much. She had also made it clear over the years that she was a Christian, so when she started her fund drive, all of the people in her Christian motorcycle club donated—some into the thousands—so that I thought, okay, that’s how it is; you people give money to this silly woman and say you’re doing it for the love of Christ when the world is full of people who do their best to live prudently but have to go without your help when bad things happen to them, simply because they’re not churchgoers. That fund-raising drive made church look a mutual protection organization because I had no thought that those people would have helped her had she not been, literally, a member of the club. How they squared (in their own minds) her former exorbitant spending with her plea for financial help, or why she and her husband had denied themselves nothing but health insurance.

“I know your pain about the Ford Tempo/Mercury Topaz vehicle. I had one myself... worst vehicle I have ever owned!!!”

That was true of me too. I remember taking it to the shop for some sort of problem with the wheel alignment when it had maybe 85,000 on it, and being told by the mechanic that the car couldn’t be fixed, and that it was never meant to last over 100,000 miles. Well, it had been true for much of my life that 100,000 miles made a car pretty old, but then all these Japanese cars had started appearing and they would last into multiples of a 100,000, so the US guys had to get on the stick. Fords are supposed to be a lot better now, but I still don’t trust any other car the way I trust Toyota, because I’ve three or four, and they were all very good cars. The only problem I ever had with one was with a Corolla that fogged up inside. I had to keep the air conditioner going everytime I went anywhere in winter here in rainy Oregon, and since there was no back defogger, the car was plenty scary to drive in winter, so for that reason alone, I sold it. I hope I told the buyer about the problem (surely, I did), but I really can’t remember for certain, and it is true that my ethics have gotten a lot better over the years. Now, if I know of a problem, I’m going to disclose it, not just verbally, but in writing in the ad. I consider it so unthinkable to try to put something over on someone that it’s not even a temptation, and this leaves me more disgusted than I used to be with anyone who does. I don’t know why I’ve become this way because while I was never especially unscrupulous (I was no better or worse than average, I should think), I was never outstandingly scrupulous either until the last decade or two. Now, I’m committed to playing the game of life with others as I would have them play it with me. We have so little time on earth so we must do things right NOW or else go to our deaths knowing that we failed on the most fundamental level there is, that of integrity.

Snowbrush said...

“I heard one of them once comment to another salesperson that pipe smokers were the hardest damn people to sell to because they penny-pinched and were eggheads.”

I wonder what generalizations about pipe smokers are really true. I often think about taking up pipe smoking, the idea being that it might relax me (tension goes with chronic pain) enough that I could cut back on other drugs. I’m like a lot of people, I suppose, in that I don’t hold pipes in the same low regard as cigars and cigarettes. Speaking of which, what could look more stupid that vaping? I see these guys blowing out so much vapor that they look like fog machines, and I wonder if they go out of their way to blow such a high volume. Anyway, the fragrance of pipe tobacco and the beauty of pipes themselves very much appeals to me as do all of the little rituals and paraphernalia connected with smoking a pipe. If it only weren’t for the health risks, I would already be smoking one. The last time I smoked a pipe was in Minneapolis. I had to smoke outdoors, which was a bit much in winter. Also, smoking is drying, and the combination of freezing and drying my throat out was just too much. Do you still smoke a pipe?

Snowbrush said...

“my current car was an ex rental car and it's worked out very well.”

I mentioned having a salesman tell me that I didn’t really need to keep my car in the garage (as I had said I wanted to do), or that I needed other things that I had told him I wanted in a car. Well, that was at Hertz. I had imagined that Hertz wouldn’t be high pressure, only to find out that no one was MORE high pressure than that fellow at Hertz. In fact, he won my life-time achievement award for his obnoxiousness. Guys like that don’t have a chance with me, and I honestly don’t know how they manage to sell anything to anyone. Yes, I would assume that rental agencies try really hard to keep their cars in good shape, and, after hearing from you, I’ll probably see what they have (my experience with them being some years back).

“i don't get all bent out of shape when i find a scratch or the dog makes a mess.”

Your dog pukes in your car? I’ve sort of lucked out in never having a critter that got motion sickness. The one exception was when an Irish Setter named Patty who was bitten by a copperhead while we were vacationing in Arkansas (the worst state for redbugs—chiggers as they’re called out of the South—I’ve ever known). She certainly felt the effects, but either it wasn’t a high-volume bite or dogs do better with snake bites than people. Anyway, I wanted her to feel loved and supported during her time of distress, so gave her a tin of sardines. Maybe it’s one of those things that men do because we’re not as bright as women. Anyway, it was clear enough to Peggy that it was a bad idea to give sardines to a snake-bit dog who was traveling on curvy mountain roads in hot weather, and she was very, very right. We were camping in that Datsun truck I mentioned, and it wasn’t long before we had a large quantity of dog puke in our bed, and guess who got all the blame, and, no, it wasn’t Patty.

All Consuming said...

I'm with you sweetie, reliability is core when you haven't the capabilities or strength (ducks), anymore to deal with breakdowns, that's age related and health related stuff basically. If it is your last car, make a it a very good one. It just makes sense that your safety comes first. Over here I know people who have bought new cars and they've broken down sooner than second hand ones, but that's pretty rare. I really enjoyed the way you told the car salesman/woman tales, your memory is in better shape than mine I can tell you! x

Snowbrush said...

“I really enjoyed the way you told the car salesman/woman tales, your memory is in better shape than mine I can tell you! x”

We’re talking early and mid-seventies here, and it’s often true that old events are better remembered by old people than recent events.

I just put Mr. Van on Mr. Craigslist: http://eugene.craigslist.org/cto/5671733862.html. Do you have Craigslist in England, and would you like to come over and take Mr. Van for a test drive? If you liked it, you could take it back on the boat with you, and go down and sit in it during the voyage.

Strayer said...

No go on the van. Can't do the gas mileage. I LOVE it though, wish I had a bit more income, would be in heaven with that van. Hit the road, live in it even, or take extended trapping trips.

Snowbrush said...

“No go on the van. Can't do the gas mileage. I LOVE it though”

One of my fears about selling it was that a homeless person might end up camping in it where I could see them. I also knew that if you had bought it, you would use it to haul cats all over the place, and that would mess up its pristine appearance too, but I knew that you would be acting in the service of good, and I could have lived with that.

I sold the van to the first person who looked at it. Another potential buyer raced down from west of Portland (about 130 miles), and got to Eugene ten minutes before the man who bought the van was scheduled to look at it. She knew I had agreed to show it to him first, yet she asked me to let her be first, and I refused. I had even told her that she might be driving down for nothing, but she chose to come anyway. I felt sorry for her and for the situation, but as I told her, I was trying to do right by everyone, so I couldn’t break my appointment with another person in order to show the van to her first. Although she had acted badly, I just felt sorry for her because I assumed she was desperate. After all, I was selling the best van on Craigslist and for the best price on Craigslist. I don’t know how so many people can expect to sell crappy old vans for way more than Kelley Blue Book value, but I didn’t I think I could get more than that because I knew that I wouldn’t pay more than that. Maybe I was wrong, but at least the van is gone, and it didn’t take weeks to sell it. In fact, it only took an hour and a half. The buyer—a man named Carlos—didn’t check it out as thoroughly as I would have done, but I told him every little thing that I knew to be wrong with it, and he trusted that I was being straight with him. He also seemed to know a lot about cars. I find joy in treating people with integrity. There came a point in my life that I knew I would’t take advantage of anyone even if I felt certain that I could get away with it because the feeling of treating people right and hopefully being an inspiration to them in that regard is worth more than money.

Snowbrush said...

Carlos tried twice to get me to lower the price, once for around $200 and the second time for $100. I told him that I already had four other people lined up to see the van, so if he wanted to take a chance on it still being here a week from now, I would consider taking less then, but that I thought I could get every penny of the asking price. We then went inside, and he counted out $2,160 in cash and told me to keep the extra $2.00, which I did. I told him that I too would have tried to get the van for less money because that’s just how things operate. Even if a seller is asking a price that I’m willing to pay, the bargainer in me is going to kick-in, and I’m going to try to get him to come down. I enjoy bargaining for things, so I could hardly hold it against him that he made two serious efforts to get me to come down in price. I really liked Carlos. He was a Hispanic fellow who, I thought, was a passionate sort of person who might have a bit of a temper, but he and I talked comfortably, and when he left, I told him that I would like to see more of him. He was accompanied by a very pretty woman and two children. His little boy has a bowel problem so severe that much of his bowel had to be taken out, and Calros wanted the van so that he could take care of his son’s bowel problem conveniently and in privacy. The boy also needs to stay hydrated, and there will be plenty of room for a cooler. While Carlos was paying me for the van, the woman told him that the boy needed to have his bag emptied, and Carlos was going to send her to a service station, but I naturally told him to do it here. They were all well-dressed, and had showed up in luxurious late-model car and spoke of having a truck too, so he didn’t fit my image of a person who would be buying an old vehicle, no matter how good it looked.

While getting the van ready to put it on the market, I printed out the service record, and noticed that it came to two and a half pages, while the Camry’s record only came to four lines. It’s true that we bought the van first, but it’s also true that the Camry has 15,000 more miles. That’s another reason I was willing to let the van go for less than I might have gotten for it. I just didn’t trust a ’93 Chevrolet to get us to the remote woods and back, although it runs fine, and none of the things that I know to be wrong with it would leave a person stranded. I was simply bothered me that it was 23 years old and nearing a hundred thousand miles. Of course, it’s also true that the older we get, the less comfortable we are sleeping together in the woods even with a good mattress.

Before we buy the RAV4, there is one other vehicle that we want to look at—the Kia Sorento. It would be hard for me to buy anything that’s not a Toyota, but the Sorento is highly rated, so we will at least look at one.

PipeTobacco said...

Yes, I do still smoke a pipe. But it is a love-hate relationship at the moment. I have always enjoyed it greatly, but the worries about health you hear about make me nervous. I am currently very healthy for a grey-haired fellow (resting heart rate of 60, normal BMI after losing 100 lb about 8 years ago, and I am now jogging 3 miles and walking two miles each day (walked for about 2900 days in a row without missing a day for five miles).

PipeTobacco said...

But... That may not mean much in terms of the pipe. That is why I am in a conundrum about it. I like it a lot, but have growing doubts about if I should continue or quit.

DDD said...

I was offered an almost brand new(bought a month, job transfer) Kia sol 10 k three years ago. It did not take me long to turn it down. My two coworkers owned Kia, and they swore never buy Kia again. One was stranded at turnpike while on vacation, that Kia was in the garage 9 times the first year.
I bought a 2012 XD last year. The car mats were in the trunk When test driving, the salesman said to keep the mats clean. We found the mats were not there after brought the car home. The authentic mats cost ~ $200, the cheap ones don't fit.

lotta joy said...

In New Albany, Indiana, COYLE CHEVROLET took my car keys to test drive my car and refused to give them back. I drove the new car home against my will, and when they came out to return my keys, they only had the sales papers for me to sign. I was being kidnapped and my car held hostage. It was discovered they did that to everyone. I kept my car for another 20 years. This car I've had for 17 years. But it was starting to leave me on the side of highways in Florida. So safety caused us to buy a brand new Buick Enclave with OnStar. I can call for help, or in an accident, and they'll find me via satellite. Of course, THAT is a yearly subscription, but at my age it's cheaper than getting killed. I never liked car shopping and am allergic to spending money.

My daughter did not call me on mother's day, my birthday, send a card, or even flowers. So....I'm not looking at it as spending HER inheritance now, but spending MY money to make my last days easier and more enjoyable. I no longer wait for an ungrateful child to place one phone call per year. I just wish I could be present when my Last Will says: "And who are you that you show up NOW?" With a zero balance.

Make sure you get a SOLID car, heavy, full of airbags and with OnStar.

possum said...

My last van before this one was a Dodge Caravan, bought new. I had had a '97 Plymouth Voyager before that. The Voyager is still running, BTW, I sold it to my cousin. The Caravan was a complete piece of crap (but still better than any of the Chevies I ever owned). By 36,000 miles, I had had to have it towed 4 times. The last time I told them to get the damned thing running enough to take across the street. I know they didn't believe me... but I did go across the street and bought a Toyota van. That was 8 years ago and (knocking on wood) I have not had a minute's trouble with it.
I felt sorry for whoever bought the Caravan... only 36,000 miles on it, in pristine condition... and a few thousand miles into it, it will let you sit in the middle of the road.
Buy used and you buy someone else's problems.

Snowbrush said...

“When test driving, the salesman said to keep the mats clean. We found the mats were not there after brought the car home.”

That’s a hoot. I would have trashed that dealer all over the Internet just as I did one of the dealers we talked to recently. Dealers do read these comments, and even if nothing good comes of making them, knowing that I might have hurt their business a little makes me feel better about things. I’m so sorry you had this happen. That dealer wasn’t dishonest, he was tackily dishonest to keep the mats in the trunk so he could save a very small amount of money again and again. I don’t know how people like that live with themselves because what pride in his work can a person feel when he behaves like that.

“Make sure you get a SOLID car, heavy, full of airbags and with OnStar.”

In crash tests, heavier SUVs do worse than lighter ones. The Toyota RAV4 (that we have an appointment to buy today) is rated as very good in a crash, and it’s also rated as “very reliable.” There is no car that I had rather have that comes at the price we want to pay than the RAV4, this after looking at nearly every other SUV that comes in its size (we are both thoroughly sick of car shopping). I was interested in the hybrid version of the RAV4 until I discovered that the back seats don’t fold down as flat as the gas-only version because those two electric motors are under the car, and one of them is in the way of the seats (the other reduces the size of the below-deck storage at the rear of the car). Peggy’s father has OnStar, but I guess we’ll settle for a low cost cellphone. I don’t think that OnStar is even an option with the RAV4 unless it’s on the “Limited.”

Snowbrush said...

In case anyone cares, we’ll be paying $25,028 (plus a $115 “dealer fee” and $400 for tags and title) for the XLE, and it will come with all-wheel-drive, ABS, traction control, rubber mats in front of the seats and in the rear, a tonneau cover (this is a little roof over the rear door), “mudguards” on all four wheels (these are heavier than flaps and are installed differently), “eco” and “sport” settings (“eco” uses less gas), a six-speed, a 2.5L 176 horsepower four cylinder engine, and other niceties. I talked on the phone with a dealer who said he could beat the price, but he wouldn’t give me a price over the phone or via email, and I didn’t want to come in, so I don’t know what his price would have been, but I do know that we’re getting the car at a good price. (One reason I lacked enthusiasm for buying from this dealer was that his dealership requires its customers to sign an agreement to never sue them but to instead be limited to binding arbitration with an arbitrator of the dealer’s choosing. I don’t know why people buy cars from them, but they’re way, way big and handle a lot of different makes of cars, so they somehow get away with insisting upon what sounds like stacked deck to me.)

“Buy used and you buy someone else's problems.”

That worries me too, yet I’ve never had a problem with any car I bought used (except for one out of the thirty or so cars that I bought with the intention of reselling them). One woman even told me me that she was only selling her car because she was tired of putting money into it, but when she told me about all the problems she had had, I guessed—rightly as it turned out—that the car would probably do okay, which it did. I later felt sorry for her that she had sold her car at exactly the wrong time.

“I did go across the street and bought a Toyota van. That was 8 years ago and (knocking on wood) I have not had a minute's trouble with it.”

I suppose that every brand comes with a few lemons, but the only problem I ever had with a Toyota was with a Corolla in which the windows stayed so fogged up during the wet Oregon winters that we finally got rid of it. It didn’t have a rear defroster, so that was part of the problem. We could have bought a stick-on defroster, but that didn’t look like a great option to me. I’ve liked nearly everyone I ever sold a car to, but that might have been the only time that, instead of bringing me the cash, the man met me at his bank, and gave it to me there.

Emma Springfield said...

You injected so much humor into a subject that is not usually funny. I hate high-pressure sales people. Often they try to push people into buying something they either don't want or can't afford. It seems to me they would make more money if they helped people find what is best for them instead of with the biggest price tag. At least you have learned how to deal with that type of salesperson.

lotta joy said...

I've always researched before buying, and used cars USED to be a yearly thing to do for a lot of people - so I never bought a used car that had problems. Now, people have to drive them into the ground from necessity. In case it helps, our retirement community has its fair share of the RAV4. The rest are Buicks and Lincolns. With a hybrid, I sure hope you buy a longer warranty. My son-in-law had a head on crash with his hybrid (not his fault) and the repair costs were more than the car was worth. He was only harmed due to the airbags.