Sunday, October 01, 2006

Car Talk

At this moment, our new Acura MDX is tucked safely in the garage. I keep peeking out there to surprise myself with it. Even when I know it's there, it's still happily astonishes me to see that shiny, new, gorgeous car out there.

Of course, our weekend hasn't been without stress around this acquisition. Yesterday, Roger had to teach all day so I went down to the dealership to sign all the papers and arrange to trade in our beloved but aged Mazda MPV. (Had to get that Sept. 30 date on the paperwork, you see.) Once again, I was reminded of how horrid the car purchase process is, no matter how one tries to avoid it. (I suppose if you walked in carrying an immense wad of cash to buy a car for the sticker price, you'd have an easy time of it...but who does THAT?) In my case, I'd talked to the salesman numerous times on Friday evening, alternately calling him and the dealership in Sacramento to compare and ultimately verify the numbers. Finally, the local guy agreed that we had a deal. "Those numbers aren't going to change when I come in tomorrow, are they?" I asked (having had THAT happen before)..."Oh, NO," he replied. "Count on it."

So, I trotted off to sign ourselves into debt, drove the car again, was given a tour of the wonderful features, agreed on the trade-in value for our Mazda, and was then passed off to the finance guy-- you know, the guy who sits in his corner office wearing his heavy gold watch and gold pinkie ring. As he walked me through the financial details, there was suddenly an entry for an additional tax, which amounted to an additional $40 on the monthly payment. I reminded him that the salesman had assured me that tax and licensing fees were already included (which I'd specifically nailed down the night before, I thought). "Well, these papers say 'plus tax,'" he replied.

I'm proud of myself. I closed my file, and said, "Blake told me that this amount included tax, and he told me that the numbers wouldn't change when I showed up today. And now they've changed." I was pretty mad, actually. I stood up, and added, looking at my watch, "Luckily, I still have time to drive to Sacramento to that dealership."

He looked panicky and scurried off to get the sales manager, who came in and apologized all over the place for the "mistake" and quickly replaced numbers so that they were the ones I'd actually agreed to on the phone. I sat back down and signed everything, but left with a pounding headache and a strong craving for a very large glass of wine.

We held a small ceremony to say goodbye to the Mazda, at Caroline's request. She's quite heart-broken at having to get rid of that car, actually. So, we took lots of pictures of the car and of us in it, and then we sat in the car to have a solemn toast (we toasted with wine, Caroline had Orangina). She says she likes the new car but she's still worried about the new life our old car will have.

So, today was Roger's day to sign papers, and we went together to pass off the Mazda and get the new MDX. No changes on the numbers (thank goodness) and all went smoothly. We happily drove off the lot in our new car. Phew.

Why can't car shopping be like shopping for other stuff?

It'll have to go back in a while for installation of the roof rack and the ipod-connector. That's a little goodie that will allow me to plug in my Ipod and have it play right through the stereo system! For now, I have XM satellite radio for a 3 month trial so I'll have fun listening to all sorts of new stations with that. And I can hear Bob Edwards from NPR again!

Now, I'm thinking of places I need to go so I can drive this lovely thing.


  1. Hey, Diane,

    I know a woman who writes about women buying cars. She'd love to hear your story and let you encourage other women to stand up and walk away.

    I'm writing to her about purchasing the pupmobile.. and determining the car I bought by the rear-entry height.

  2. Good for you for standing up to the finance guy! Actually, we did pay cash for our Lexus and it was the best and easiest car purchase we ever made. We went in with numbers on what the car should cost for the extras we wanted and got it.

    Now, you can go pick up Rita, Pat and Janet and take a road trip to Portland!

  3. Good for you - don't you hate it when car salesmen treat you like you are stupid becuase you are a woman? Actually they may do it to men too but I wouldn't know because my husband never comes with me. I just tell them I'm a lawyer and that kind of scares them. And I have to say I never take credit with them. Which seems to to scare them even more. Although come to think of it when it comes to cars I am pretty stupid.... thsi is the woman who drove on aflat for 2 days and wondered what the strange smell and pulling to the left was all about!

  4. Good for you for holding firm!
    I agree that car buying should be a lot easier. I always feel like I am getting ripped off and can't really compare prices, because the numbers keep changing, if they even give me numbers.

  5. We bought a new car about 6 weeks ago and had absolutely no problems with the purchase. From past (horrible) car purchases we kept expecting the other shoe to drop. But we got the car we wanted, with no hidden costs and pickup when we were promised and no hassles over the fact we don't have to pay sales tax. (Obscure TX law where handicapped people don't pay sales tax on auto purchases!) Just on the basis of this one purchase I'd buy another Honda in a heartbeat. (At least from that dealer!)

  6. I am really impressed w/your determination and not letting a "slick" car salesman 'stick "it" to you'! :=)