Car shopping is an adventure. Not only does one get to see the plethora of cars on the market, but one gets to meet a variety of people. As my sister, Michelle, and I embark on our car buying expeditions, it’s always interesting to see what happens. After visiting over a dozen car dealerships, here are some of my observations:
1. Car salesmen are very opinionated. When we visited a variety of small used car dealerships, we were warned against buying cars off Craigslist. As everyone knows, private owners are all crooks selling dying cars or waiting to waylay and rob unsuspecting buyers. Of course, the larger dealerships warned us about buying from the “mom and pop” shops because as everyone knows, those guys fix up wrecks and just want to steal your money. Bigger dealerships are the only “reputable” sources for buying used cars.
2. Bigger dealerships offer more perks. Sure, you have to pay $2000 more for the same car that the small business has and $3000 more than the Craigslist individual, but hey, you get free car washes for life or a guarantee on the power train as long as you never have your car serviced anywhere else. Who could pass up those benefits?
3. Car salesmen don’t understand the difference between a “good deal” and a “good deal for Angela.” If I sold my clean, undamaged ’97 Lumina for $500 in Michigan, I am not going to pay $10,000 for a car that is falling apart on the inside and dinged up on the outside. I don’t care what Kelly Blue Book or the manager says is a good deal. Just because a gas guzzling SUV is a great deal doesn’t mean it is as valuable *to me* as the price tag claims.
4. Considering buying a car is like playing Deal or No Deal. After the test drive, the salesman leaves you in a big room and disappears behind the partition. Ten minutes go by, and he appears with an offer. You counter, and he disappears for another twenty minutes. What’s going on in the back is hard to say, but it sure takes a long time!
5. Salesmen rise to the occasion. When I step onto a dealership parking lot and share the size of my budget, I get funny looks. The salesmen blanch a little, putz around on their computer, and call up their manager. After ten minutes of waiting, they always find me something to look at. We drive to the back corner of the farthest lot to see the single car that meets my requirements, but they always manage to accept the challenge I lay before them.
Car hunting is terrifying and yet thrilling. Not needing to buy a car immediately has been a help too. My sister and I have met some interesting characters and withstood some intense pressuring. Overall, the men have let us know they care by their numerous phone calls and fatherly talks. The phrase, “If you were my daughter…” is thrown around frequently. My new car is out there somewhere, and I’ve found quite a few nice people who are wanting and willing to help me find it.