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In Which I Buy a Car

I will not be melodramatic about this. I'm not going to claim that I'd rather go to the dentist and have a cavity filled than buy a car, because we all know that would be an enormous lie. But it's a close thing.

I spent the last day and a half trapped in a car dealership, trying to buy a new car. I have noticed that, of all the major purchases I've made in my adult life, cars are by far the ones that take the longest and are the most painful. Buying a fricking house didn't cause this much drama in my life.

I hadn't actually expected to buy a new car this week. We were planning to start shopping today, actually, and just take our time with it. Our old car was starting to have some serious transmission problems, but I figured we could nurse it along for another couple of weeks without too much difficulty. However, my dad started looking around for cars in advance (I think he was way more excited about shopping for a car than I was, which... well, that's not hard to do, really) and discovered that right now, trying to find a used Honda in the northern metro area is no easy task. According to the dealer, it's apparently a combination of the gas prices and a lack of new Hondas coming in from Japan, so the used cars are getting snapped up almost as fast as they're coming in. So my dad did find two used cars at Go Honda, and I went to look at them on Wednesday. They were both good, so I figured I might as well get Mike to try them out since getting a car earlier than expected wasn't going to hurt anything.

The drama started when I decided that I wanted to have my mechanic look at the car we wanted before I was willing to throw down the money. Our actual salesman, a guy named Brandon, didn't seem to have a problem with it, and even joked about putting the car in a remote corner of the lot so no one would see it until I picked it up the next morning. I think he believed me when I said that I'd made an appointment with my mechanic and would be back for sure. But his boss was not so convinced, and the hard sell started.

Seriously, I could just buy the car and then have my mechanic look at it and return it if something was wrong. And it was a Honda certified used car so it was insulting that I didn't trust that. And they take the three day return policy very seriously. And you know that Hondas are hard to find right now, so someone might just buy it out from under us. And they only had four new Hondas left so what did I think would happen if those got bought - the used ones wouldn't last long after. (Seriously dude, how many fucking cars do you sell on a Wednesday night?)

It felt like most of the pressure focused right on me, maybe because he sensed that Mike was an impenetrable wall of Britishness that wasn't going to take any crap. It got to the point that I literally said, "You both have to go. I want to talk to my husband. Leave." And then as soon as they left, we ran for it.

If I hadn't really wanted that car, I wouldn't have come back. It pissed me off that much. I have no idea why this is acceptable behavior to anyone... all I can guess is that it works sometimes. But no wonder buying a car is one of the most horrific purchasing experiences ever.

Anyway, I did go back the next day, and took the car to my mechanic. After having it for several hours, Dale called me back up and asked, "Is this car supposed to be Honda certified used? Because if so, there are some problems..." He found three things on the 150-point checklist that shouldn't have been checked off - the battery, the brake pads, and the air filters. But he said that if those things got fixed, the car was very worth buying and would last us for years and years.

So, armed with a yellow piece of paper that said the dealership was trying to pull a fast one on us, I went to the dealer, with my dad to watch my back. I plunked the piece of paper down and said I'd love to buy the car, but these things had to be addressed first or no deal.

Our salesman scurried to the back room with the paper, and chaos ensued. Another salesman came out with him and seemed pretty ticked off - he made some pretty unkind comments about our mechanic, then dragged us downstairs so we could look at the car and see for ourselves that Dale was totally lying. I let my dad take the lead, since when it comes to cars, someone could point at a random part and inform me that it's actually alien technology from Area 51 and I'd be able to do nothing but nod wisely in agreement.

So their mechanic pulled the front wheel off and pointed out the brake pad, saying that it looked fine. My dad asked for a ruler, since he wasn't just going to take someone's word for it. Which meant that they had to disassemble the brake and actually pull the pads out so they could measure them with a caliper... and the caliper said that the brake pads were only 4mm thick, which is quite a difference from the 7mm they claimed.

At this point, the sales guy that dragged us down there looked like he'd pooped in his drawers a little. Another mechanic tested the battery and said it was fine, but then I asked him to check the air filter since he was in the engine anyway. The filter was black, and his response was, "Yeah... that's kind of dirty."

Score one for my mechanic. Two, actually.

They shooed us back to the showroom then, and made a copy of the paper. The supervisor of the mechanics apparently wanted it so that he could go have a chat with his guys. Possibly with a sock full of pennies in hand, though that's only speculation.

After that, it was just waiting and paperwork and more waiting and more waiting and then I pointed out they had to give me two master keys and a valet key, since that was required if the car was Honda certified too. And then more waiting while that got taken care of.

Despite the fact that I did little but sit in the showroom and feel intensely bored, I was stressed and exhausted by the end. It was like I put in eight hours of work at the damn dealership and then paid them a giant wad of cash at the end of it.

I hate shopping for cars. But look, it's so shiny!

I think the moral of this story is, though, make sure your mechanic looks over a used car before you buy it. And don't let them push you.


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 6th, 2011 02:21 pm (UTC)
wow, what a fucked up situation! in all my years, i've never had that kind of shuck-n-jive going on. perhaps it's just that dealership is sucky.

next time, though it's a long haul, come down to mile-hi honda. they even get good marks from the car guys on NPR for their sales and service.

always, ALWAYS have a mechanic look over cars. and women ALWAYS need to have a guy along, cos they always think women are dum, and can't negotiate. oh, and another great piece? bring along a copy of the latest consumer reports on used cars. that always scares the shit out of salesmen.
May. 6th, 2011 02:48 pm (UTC)
That dealership used to be a John Elway, and it was mostly good then - my family's gotten a lot of cars from them over the years. From what Dale (my mechanic) said, it's not just that dealer... he's been seeing it from pretty much everyone that sells used Hondas.

It's all good advice. It just pisses me off to no end that they think women are easy marks - and that I feel like I had to have my dad or Mike there just so they would fuck with me less. >:(
May. 6th, 2011 04:32 pm (UTC)
Oh, yes, totally agreed about consumer reports. I remember test driving a couple of cars at Rockies, and telling the guy I wanted to go look at the consumer reports and get back to him. He was trying to tell me that the PT Cruiser I'd driven gets 30 miles to the gallon. It's actually 18. Although, to be fair, I don't think the guy was trying to lie. I think he was just utterly clueless.
May. 6th, 2011 02:43 pm (UTC)
Oh wow, they're putting a dent in the trust for certified dealers everywhere. :/
May. 6th, 2011 02:46 pm (UTC)
Yeah... Dale (my mechanic) said that he's been seeing this a lot lately, where a car is supposedly certified used but has things that need taking care of. He sent one back last week where two of the wheels had to be replaced. I don't know if it's the dealers being sleazy, the mechanics being lazy, or what...
May. 6th, 2011 04:31 pm (UTC)
Wow, how sleazy. Not that it's outside the norm at all. I thought it was pretty normal to get a car checked out by a mechanic before buying it. And none of those things mentioned were huge things, which makes me baffled that they protested so much about it.

I remember when I bought my old Echo, that was from an individual who said he didn't want us to take it to a mechanic. So John's parents called their friend the Toyota mechanic who lived down the street from them. So instead of taking it to a mechanic, we just brought one with us right there. :)
May. 6th, 2011 06:22 pm (UTC)
Wow, brutal. But I'm glad you got a car, in the end. :D It is indeed shiny. And a pretty colour.
May. 6th, 2011 11:53 pm (UTC)
Is it wrong if I laughed at the part where your mechanic pwned them? But seriously, good job sticking your guns and getting what you deserved to have them offer in the first place, no matter how much time it took or how much crap they gave you. I would have given up around the time my mechanic said they weren't being truthful.

Once I tried to go car shopping by myself when I was 21 (actually, I was just going to look over what they had so when I brought my mother back, we could get straight down to the test-driving), and partly that and partly, I'm sure, that it took me three tries to park my sister's huge conversion van that I was driving for the first time because my car had a hole in the gas tank, the saleman tried to sell me used cars based on their colors instead of any quality that actually matters. (And no, I did not bring my mother back to that lot for any test drives.)
May. 7th, 2011 07:45 am (UTC)
Mmm, nice machine, now it's had all the faults cleared out... Your mechanic knows his trade, obvious though that's been for a while, and mad props to your dad for insisting on measuring the pads (though I'd not expect much less from him).

Depressingly, it doesn't surprise me that the dealership tried to pull a fast one: I'm sure there are honest car salesmen out there somewhere, but they're few and far between. Yay for forcing them to sell you what they actually claim to be selling (a car in good condition, rather than one that appears to be good but will need work in a few months' time).
May. 21st, 2011 05:44 pm (UTC)

Congrats on the new car and congrats on smacking the dealer around a bit. After having worked at the Kia dealership on that strip, I realized that most of them aren't very trustworthy.

May. 21st, 2011 11:29 pm (UTC)
Seriously. I'm hoping this car lasts a long time, since I don't want to have to deal with this BS again any time soon!
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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