Wednesday, June 20, 2012

How NOT to buy a new car

My hubby just got a new car.  It's a Honda Crosstour, and he's now a very happy camper.  I would like to say that we bought this car under ideal circumstances, but that would not be the truth.  And the truth is quite an adventure.  So, if you would like to get a new car in just 12 horribly awful steps, than please repeat!  For the rest of you, please find some humor in our pain.

Step 1. Take a long road trip in a car that is over ten years old.  To make the trip more exciting, make sure you are by yourself, and the trip involves a family emergency.
Check. My husband left last Saturday in his 2002 Acura, headed for New York, to attend his grandmother's funeral.  It's an 11 hour trip from Michigan. 
Step 2. Have your car break down in the middle of nowhere.  Make sure the break down is catastrophic.  No popped tires or dead batteries... we mean business.
Check. Hubby notices on Saturday evening that his car is revving high, and doesn't seem to be shifting from gear to gear.  He's pretty sure the transmission is going. He's on I-80 in the middle of Pennsylvania.  If you haven't been there... yes, it's officially the middle of nowhere.
Step 3. Don't make it to your destination as planned.  In fact, barely make it to a place to sleep.  Yeah, that makes it more interesting.
Check. Saturday night: This car ain't going nowhere quick.  Or maybe it's staying in nowhere for a while.  Hubby decides to find a hotel.  But the first TWO are booked solid... in the middle of nowhere!  He finally finds a room in a seedy hotel.  He fears for his safety;  smells strange things from the vents; removes all valuables from his car.  
Step 4. Don't find a mechanic to look at your car.  Because what fun is it if we just fix the thing?
Check.  It's Sunday, and mechanics don't work on Sundays.  Turns out Sears Auto IS open, but they don't do transmissions. The best hope is the Honda dealership service center (Acuras are basically Hondas by the way), but it doesn't open until Monday.
Step 5. Abandon all hope and pray for rescue.  After all, you are stuck in the middle of nowhere, at a scarey hotel, and no mode of transportation.
Check.  Cousins to the rescue!  My husband's cousins drive 3 hours from New York to pick up my forlorn hubby, and enable him to make it to his grandmother's funeral on Monday.  Thank goodness for family.  Before leaving the middle-of-nowhere, hubby drops his car off at the Honda dealership, and leaves his keys in the drop box.  While out to dinner with family, hubby gets the following fortune in his fortune cookie:
Hubby wonders if someone is playing a cruel joke on him...
Step 6. Bend over and ask for the bill.  You don't really expect your car to be repaired for a couple hundred bucks do you?
Check. Check. Check. Hubby talks to the service center at the Honda dealership on Monday afternoon, after the funeral.  Let's just say the transmission replacement cost is in the thousands.  Remember that I said this is a ten + year old car???
Step 7. Realize you are screwed.  You have a non-functioning car in the middle-of-nowhere. It's worth something, but it's not worth fixing. And you can't carry home a car.
Check.  Hubby and I discuss his options.  None of which are ideal, but his voice perks up when I assent that we were planning to buy him a new car soon anyways.  We have been planning to buy him a new Honda, in fact.  He has been eying the Honda CrossTour for a while now.
Step 8. Prepare for battle.  People take advantage of those in weak positions.  And boy, you look like easy pickins from here.  Stranded in a strange land in need of some wheels... at a place that sells them.
Check. I go into full-on battle mode.  We discuss tactics.  
  • Trade-in the car at the middle-of-nowhere dealership and buy a new one (Hubby likes this option, but agrees the dealership has the advantage). 
  • Dump the car at salvage, and rent a car home (well, that doesn't sound like any fun!).
  • Wifey haggles for a new car in Michigan, and provides hubby with ammunition for talking to the dealership about the trade-in value and good prices (hmmm... this is sounding like a real option...).
  • Donate the car to charity, and get the tax write-off.  Wifey finds a local group that does car donations (and this sounds like a real back-up plan...).
Step 9. Dance with buzzards - AKA negotiate with car dealers.  Yes, they know you are desperate, but you have a few extra cards they have not seen yet.  Can you survive?
Check.  Hubby walks into the dealership in Tuesday and tells them he doesn't want his car fixed, he wants to trade it in, and buy a new one.  They do their dance... give him a test drive (he loves the car), etc, etc.  Then, they waffle on the trade-in... "Oh, your wife is on the title, too?  She needs to be present for the trade-in..." Blah, blah...  Finally they give an offer with the trade-in... it's basically the same offer I got in Michigan without a trade-in.  Hubby gives them one more chance, then walks.  He survives the buzzards.
Step 10. Give your car to the dogs.  Hey, someone has to take it, right?  And we love doggies!
Check.  There will be no trade-in.  No working with buzzards.  We decide to donate the car.  The car donation people are very nice and helpful. They don't care about me being present... "Just mail us the title!"  Hubby decides to donate the proceeds of the sale of the car to the Humane Society.  We will get a nice tax write-off.
Step 11. Find any way possible to get home.  Because you want to go home.
Check.  Hubby finds out that he can do a one-way car rental from airport to airport.  It is pricey, but worth it to get home and away from the creepy hotel.  He drives through the night because he is SO OVER the middle-of-nowhere Pennsylvania, and wants to be done with this crazy trip.  He leaves his poor old Acura in the parking lot of the scarey hotel for the donation people to pick up.
Step 12. Buy a new car.  You never thought we would get to this step, did you?
Check.  After driving through half of the night, hubby returns home.  Carless.  We call back the dealership I haggled with to get prices on Monday night, and ask for a car... in blue thank-you-very-much.  They have it delivered by the afternoon.  Hubby is finally relieved and happy. 
Please DON'T buy your car this way. But isn't it pretty?
Acting Balanced

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