Mar 1, 2016

Posted by in Featured, Life & Musings | 0 Comments

Adulting: I Bought a New Car

My first car ever was a gift from my Great Grandmother on my father’s side. She did not drive, and my late Great Grandfather’s ’94 Oldsmobile sat mostly untouched in her garage for years. Occasionally it was driven to the supermarket by a relative, but after his passing no one really drove it much. My parents fixed it up for me (as an un-driven car is not a good thing, the underside rots), and I took my road test in that car in Spring of 2006. Passed on my first try, and I was a licensed driver with a car at 17. It wasn’t a pretty car, not by a 17-year-old-me’s standard, as it was boxy and powder-blue. However, it was a car and I was grateful. It was also super comfortable, and great on gas. I cannot complain about that. When I left for college at 18 in 2007, that was the car I drove. It would take me back and forth through many a snowstorm that year, and in 2008 I’d have an accident on black ice going down a highway in a freak snow flurry that would damage it enough that it wasn’t worth repairing.

For a couple weeks I drove my father’s Dodge Durango while we hunted down a new car. And by we, I mean a trusted mechanic that went to an auction and was on the phone with my mother. I had classes, I could not be a part of this process. So eventually I ended up with my second car, for which I took out a loan to pay for (co-signed by my mother). It was an ’04 Pontiac Sunfire in dark green. Naturally, I liked the body style and color on this car much better. It wasn’t nearly as comfortable as the Oldsmobile, and it was terrible at night for a shorty like me, but it was my car and it was sporty. That was April of 2008.

I had the Pontiac to the end of January, 2016. Five-and-a-half years of taking that car all over Hell’s half-acre. I drove the hell out of that car, and it owed me nothing. I even put a new used engine in it when the timing belt broke because the body held up so well on the car. I affectionately called her The Hulk. After so many years and so many miles though (I put about 115,000 miles on the car myself), she was not doing so hot as far as the level of driving I was doing was concerned. So, with the knowledge that she was starting to get to the needy stage of her life where it’d be worth it to take out a car loan on something new instead, I started car hunting.

Thankfully, I had Pete to help me out with this, as he is infinitely patient while still being a good base of knowledge. I thought about going with my mother, but we have vastly different tastes in cars and she was very busy running her business. I thought about going with my father, but I actually wanted to find a car this century and not befriend every sales person that so much as breathed within 100ft of us. I love my father, but he is a gabby one. And, his priorities for a vehicle were completely different than mine. Pete was my best choice, and he was totally up to the task.

The first thing I did was get pre-approved for a loan through my bank. This was my proudest moment of the whole process, honestly, because I did it by myself. I had established good enough credit and such that I did not require a co-signer this time around. It’s not the first loan I took out without a co-signer, but it was the first one that I did all by myself. The first one my Mom had the help immensely, so this was still a step-up.

After that it was car-hunting time. I had no idea what I wanted, just what I didn’t want. No trucks, no SUVs, no neutral colors. I wanted a color with personality, but not red or yellow as those are cop-magnets. It needed to have four doors, as I was tired of having a coupe. I also wanted fold-down seats in the back to maximize trunk space for when I needed to travel to craft fairs. Power mirrors were a must, as my Pontiac had manual everything and I use my side mirrors for everything. And it needed to be curvy. I didn’t want a boxy car. Aside from that, so long as the gas mileage wasn’t utter garbage, I didn’t really care. It seems like a simple matter, but honestly there aren’t a lot of cars that make the cut. Not for the price range I was looking in.

We visited four dealerships before we hit gold at the fifth. The first two dealerships we went to were very nice, moderately pushy, and we went on some test drives. All were Fords, all were way too cramped. I’m a small person and I felt claustrophobic in these vehicles. The third dealership we went to was a Honda, after having found a car I might like on their website. Unfortunately, every car they had was tan, beige, white, black, or gray. You know, all neutral colors. And it didn’t matter how many times I told them I didn’t like the colors they had to offer, they tried to show me a different car in the same drab colors just to make a sale. I appreciated the attempt, but after an hour enough was enough. The car I wanted to see got taken out from under me anyways, and besides, it was also gray (they didn’t tell me right away and the color wasn’t listed on the site). I wasn’t terribly impressed.

I then went to Kia to look at the Forte, as that was the other car I had scoped out online so far. Now, you want to talk about a rude sales person…

As soon as he realized we were not looking to cut a deal that day, he made it his goal to get us out the door as fast as possible. There was no test drive. There was hardly even a showing of the car. Luckily, from what he did show me I could tell it wasn’t the right car for me anyways. It wasn’t in a color I liked, the way the seats folded down was kind of cumbersome, and there wasn’t really decent leg-room it appeared in the back. So as irritating as it was to have him be so cold and distant, at least we didn’t waste time.

Striking out at all those places was kind of disheartening, to be honest. It was back to the drawing board, but at least now I was getting better at searching for cars online.

Then, out of nowhere, I found it. It was a spunky blue, sleek, brand new Toyota Scion. I built the car I wanted on the website, and fell in love. So the next step was the check local dealerships. There was exactly one car in the model I wanted that was also the color I had selected in the area, and the dealership it was at was only five minutes from where I work. I heard the Universe loud and clear!

At lunch the next day I called the dealership, and set up a test drive. By that evening I was preparing the paperwork and getting ready to do all the final stuff the following Friday. I test drove that car on Thursday, January 21, 2016. I bought the car on the 22nd.

Buying a car is not as easy as I’d hope though. First, I had to get a purchase agreement and then fax that signed copy to my bank, plus have a binder of insurance sent over as well. At the bank, they put together all the loan paperwork which I then had to e-sign; after which I had to go pick-up the check. Normally picking up a check isn’t bad, but I happened to hit the bank just as they were sitting down to do an interview, so it took extra-long. Once I had the check though, it was off to the dealership to get my new car. It’s not that simple though, as you still have to sit down and go over all the warranty and stuff. Mind numbing.

Luckily, I was able to take a half-day from work to do this, and by 4pm I was in my new car! A beautiful 2016 sapphire blue Scion iA!

Only a couple of things bothered me about the whole transaction, really. First and foremost, if I hadn’t known that I wanted this car, the salesman never would have sold it to me. He was a bit of a drip, and thought that due to my age all I cared about was the music… which was completely off-base. He didn’t know the functions of the car properly, and he kind of just bumbled through the questions Pete and I asked him during the test drive. Then, they only offered me $100 for my old car, to which I looked them dead in the eye and told them I could get more from a scrap yard. They would not budge. $100 is an insult, I’d rather you just tell me it’s not worth it for you to take my old car as trade-in. The topping on the cake though was when we got there on Friday to finalize everything and the salesman told me he forgot to add in the DMV fees to the purchase agreement. Lucky for him I was willing to pay that out of pocket, but I certainly didn’t have to since it was above the amount we agreed upon before where I specifically asked him if it included all taxes and DMV fees. You sell cars all day, I expect you to know these things. Of all the issues to have though, those were fairly insignificant.

Had to laugh though on Thursday night when the salesman asked for a deposit on the car. Pete spoke right up and said “To hold it for twelve hours?” He backed off. They wanted well over a grand when I was definitely coming in the next day. Yeah… no. It’d be another matter if I didn’t have financing in order yet and had to get all that together before I could buy the car. But that wasn’t the case. Sometimes it pays to have someone with you who can be a bit firm and doesn’t give a shit if he might be a bit rude in doing so.

Getting this car was a bittersweet thing though. After all, I loved the Pontiac. I had a lot of memories from that car. However, getting the Scion was exciting because this was the first car I got to pick out for myself. And I took the time to make sure I got THE car. Now that I have it, I love it and I can’t imagine going back to the Pontiac. In fact, when I had to clean it out and I sat in it for a bit, I was amazed at how much I already didn’t like it anymore! Bucket seats just aren’t made for short people, seriously.

And, I did get more for the Pontiac than $100. A friend of the family purchased it off me for a fair rate. Yeah, she’s not the best car anymore, but the person who owns her now isn’t going to be doing hardcore driving. They run a few errands a month and commute a whopping two miles to and from work. They’re not flush with cash, so the Pontiac was a good fit.

Overall, it was a really good learning experience, and now I feel like a super adult. Not really enjoying having a car loan again, but the fact that I could buy a brand new car all on my own is really exciting. Achievement unlocked!

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