Once more into the breech, dear friends: Car buying

My wife needs a car.  The 200k+ mile Cherokee is getting sort of on the suicidal side of drivability. Every now and then we’ll pass the ghost of a WWII Kamikaze pilot and offer him a ride.  He’ll look at the car and politely decline.  No please, I’ll continue to wander the Earth on foot as a spirit, thank you very much.

It’s time.

So…the search has just begun.  New pro-tip. Google: “Complaints against Carfax”.  You’ll run out of life before you run out of websites to look at. Well…there’s a once valuable resource out the window.  So, my help was sought, and who am I to say no?  Besides, if she needs a cynical, skeptical, borderline paranoiac smart ass by her side, I’m her man.

After some hard lessons I learned from my own car purchase a year ago, I have some guidelines for the salesman to follow:

  1. No talking during the initial inspection of the car. I have a clipboard and a flashlight and I know what I’m doing. Don’t ask. There’s only one reason why someone is poking around a used car with a flashlight. Mismatched paint, uneven panel lines, slight ripples in the bodywork – a prior accident.  I will pull the transmission dipstick and examine the color of the fluid and I will even smell it.  I will also test the oil from that dipstick as well.  Don’t bother…I brought my own wipes.
  2. If you insist on coming on the test drive for “insurance reasons”, no talking during the drive. None.  I’m sure you have a lovely family and you have every right to be proud of them.  We’re not buying your family. We’re buying a used car. No chatting whatsoever. My wife and I are focusing on the car. We’re gauging its chi, determining the vibes, and seeing which side of the Force on which it rolls. We are going to GROK this car.  If there’s any chatting to do, we’ll ask and you will answer to the best of your ability.  Be warned, I was born with a hypersensitive bullshit detector. How you answer will affect the ultimate purchase of the car almost as much as the condition of the car.
  3. Do NOT yarble on about CarFax.  Ten minutes of casual research has busted my CarFax cherry.  CarFax might not be intentionally lying about the history of a car (State Farm? I’m looking at you), but it’s a falsehood nonetheless. No, no…it’s not you. We just don’t trust CarFax. Which brings us to…
  4. If the Magic 8-Ball of my mental state says “Signs Point to Yes”, we will set up a time when we can take it to our mechanic. This is a deal-breaker. No inspection by our mechanic, no deal. Full stop.  The fat lady has sung, Elvis has left the building.
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