This past weekend I bought my first car. Sure I’ve had cars before, but I’d never gone into a dealership, bought a car, and had everything from the financing to the title in my name alone.

It started innocently enough. After a rough winter, the car I had been driving, Biscuit, was on the decline. It’s not her fault—Biscuit is a 98 with 250,000 miles on her. She’d had a good long life and it was time for me to move on.

While discussing options over breakfast Saturday, Dad suggested we just go see what kind of financing I could get. So we loaded into Dad’s rental car and headed down to a Hyundai dealership down the street from the Carmax Mom bought her car from.

The sales manager pounced on us within seconds of our exiting the vehicle. I was whisked away to fill out an information sheet with my sales associate. She seemed nice enough, if not a little ditzy. But I’ll take ditzy over smarmy any day so I decided that maybe this wouldn’t be so bad. After several test drives, I settled on a beautiful white used Santa Fe. Then it was back into the dealership to work out the financial details of the transaction. Off she trotted with my application in hand.

Faster than anyone can run a credit check she was back with bad news. Close on her heels was the sales manager who gave me a strange explanation about student loans and being more likely to get financing for a new car instead of a used one. In an odd sort of way it made sense. But not much. So I half-heartedly agreed to test drive a brand new Elantra. It was the most basic model they had; there wasn’t even a key fob with lock & unlock buttons. I knew instantly that if this was my only option it would work but that I really wanted a small SUV. Back inside we went. The sales associate had me print a pay stub then trotted off again. This time she was gone longer. The sales manager came back with her though.

He leaned over the desk, practically in my face, and all but shouted “Now I can do this for you but you have to be willing to sign today. If you’re willing to sign on the dotted line RIGHT NOW I can fight with the bank and make this work for you. But you have to sign right this minute.”

All I could think was NONONONONO. I immediately stood up and began to back away to his refrain of “you have to give me a chance to fight for you”. Buddy, I don’t have to give you anything. Thankfully my parents were with me and backed my story about having to feed Dad since he’d just flown in from Armenia. He’d flown in the night before and we’d just eaten but they didn’t need to know that. The sales manager, named Luigi (because of course he was), offered to let us take the car. Mom was faster on her feet than I was and pointed out that the car was out fo gas (that was actually true). We beat a hasty retreat after asking directions to the nearest Chickfila.

Instead of going to Chickfila, we drove down the road to Carmax. We found a beautiful RAV4 at another dealership on the computers and then went in search of a sales associate to try and buy the car. We were paired with Harry who suggested that we take a look on the lot just to make sure they didn’t have one in stock. That way I could I take it home that day instead of waiting for the other car to be shipped in. I said sure. We found a silver one for the same price and with all the same features so we went on a test drive.

It was love at first drive. I wanted that car.

Back into the dealership we went to work out the financing. Thankfully the payments fell neatly within my budget.

Then panic set in.

Sweet baby Jesus I was about to buy a car. A car. With four wheels and an engine and everything. That’s a big commitment. Sensing my panic, Harry kindly offered to let me sleep on it and come back the next day. He tagged the car as sold so that no one could buy it before I came back. Off we went for my parents’ birthday dinner with the car firmly on hold.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this was not only a good decision but the right decision. So the next day Mom and I went back to complete the sale.

We were greeted with bad news: the battery wasn’t holding a charge. They could change it out and check everything for me. But the mechanics weren’t due in until 6:30. The other option was to buy a battery and get a refund from Carmax. I was crestfallen. Eventually we decided to leave the car there over night so they could replace the battery and fix some minor cosmetic details. I was given a loaner car and told the car would be ready Monday or Tuesday.

Both days I was a nervous wreck. What if they found something else wrong with the car? What if it wasn’t fixable? On Monday I got a phone call that the car would be painted later that day. Since the paint had to dry, it was probably best to come on Tuesday. Surely that meant that it was mechanically sound. They wouldn’t start the cosmetic stuff until after they finished the mechanical, right?

Tuesday I got another call: I could pick it up at 7:30 that evening or first thing the next morning.

On Tuesday night we showed up at the dealership around 7. Mom wanted to sell them Kara’s old car so we had shown up early in the hopes that we’d both finish around the same time. I was sent to the business office. They couldn’t find my file. Four people looked and there was no sign of it.

This was not good. Not good at all.

As it turns out, Harry had the paperwork since it was a new sale. The front desk had just sent me the wrong direction. I breathed a sigh of relief and set off in search of Harry. When Harry came into the office where I  was waiting with Mom, I could tell something wasn’t right.

He started off with a laugh and then said “I’m going to be honest with you. We had a little incident.” Thankfully it wasn’t as bad as I thought: a night shift mechanic had backed into the car Sunday night and shattered the back windshield with something sticking out of the truck he was driving. I mean completely shattered it. There was just a big gaping hole Monday morning where the window had been Sunday night. So they had replaced the windshield, taken the tire cover off another car to replace my scratched one, and then done the rest of the repairs. Poor Harry spent most of Monday and Tuesday verifying that the car was properly vacuumed and that the work was getting done.

It turns out that when you replace a window, you can’t wash the car for a day or so. Instead of washing my car, they had to hand buff the entire car on Tuesday evening. In addition to getting a new window, battery, tire pressure sensor, tire cover, and a fresh coat of paint, I got a freshly hand-buffed car that I got to take to work this morning. In the rain. Because of course it would rain all day the day after I pick up my new car.

The thing is, I’m not even mad about any of this. This is how my life goes so a comedy of errors is expected whenever I buy something major like a laptop or car. All of that being said, I’m still going to buy my next car from Carmax.

I’m just going to make sure that it doesn’t need any work before I buy it.

1 comment:

  1. I salute you for making a great decision for your first time buying a car. It's good that you backed away from the sales manager. You should never sign anything without reading and completely understanding the terms and conditions. Anyway, I'm truly happy for you. You've bought your first car. Too bad about the windshield, but I'm glad they fixed it for free. Congratulations and have fun! :)

    Martha Brady @ Indianapolis Dent Company