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Where is the Car Fairy?

Posted Saturday, October 1, 2011, at 9:32 AM

In a perfect world, a new-to-me vehicle would magically appear from the car fairy when needed. It would work into the monthly budget for payments, insurance and fuel. However, sadly and realistically there is no magic for purchasing a vehicle.

My first car 'magically' appeared. It was drive the Rambler or walk. I chose to drive. The next car had to be a going out of town car for college (second year no-less). It was an AMC Sportabout station wagon. It magically appeared because my folks bought it and said here you go. I hadn't flunked out my freshman year so they thought I was serious about college. Seriously.

Fast forward three decades, and once again, we are needing a vehicle. Thanks to out very own personal banker the financing is available. However, I am hyperventilating every time I think about car shopping and getting back to car payments.

The difference now, is a person can get online and shop while sitting in the comfort of their own home. This allows for pricing homework before actually going to a car lot. Most dealers have multi-view pictures of the features both inside and out which is nice and you can narrow down choices if you want.

Last weekend we did stop at one place having a weekend blowout sale. The minute we drove to the lot, we had two sales people walk right up to the car. Okay, we caved, parked and got out of the vehicle to look.

What happened next ticked me off. The young salesperson looked right at me and asked,"What color are you looking for?"

My reply was 'doesn't matter'. He turned to my husband and asked him what type of vehicle he was looking for. Quite honestly, we didn't have a specific model in mind, we were 'window' shopping.

Again, the kid asked me for the color I wanted. This time I replied with a bit of irritation in the voice, "I don't care what color the vehicle is. I want one that will get me from point A to point B and back again without breaking down every two minutes. I want to know what the of monthly payments would be also."

He stammered about range of payments. I asked what they were. He said, let's find a vehicle you like and we can work on payments.

Let's just say, I shot him the look over the glasses and I didn't get asked another question. Finally I had to ask him to walk away and go help someone else because we weren't going to buy.

In all fairness, I know the kid was doing what he was trained to do but what possesses the salespeople to ask the female about color as the first question? I do realize there are women AND men that are set on the color of vehicle and they won't drive anything else. I may have a color preference but it is not my first concern.

It is back to looking online again and hoping there will be something in the area that will work with the budget. Where is that magic car fairy when I need her?

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Most people spend more on vehicles each year than on their home! So it's a big decision.

One trick I have used with success on myself, when I am tired of my old car, is this. I spend an entire day off, say Saturday, thoroughly cleaning and shining my current car--detailing it so I will get more for it when I trade (realize the dealer will be spending $200 to $500 to have his staff do this if you don't). Be prepared for a hard day's work.

Start with the engine. Clean all the grease and dirt off that you can see; use ArmorAll on the radiator and heater hoses, and battery cables. Fill all the fluid levels. Clean battery terminals. Then clean out the trunk and interior. If the carpets are still dirty after vacuuming, shampoo them. Be sure to vacuum out the glove box, console, and door pockets--get rid of everything except the maintenance schedule, registration, insurance, and owner's manual. Clean all the inside and use plenty of ArmorAll or something similar on the vinyl, or leather conditioner on your leather. Wash the car outside, get all the old road tar off, apply touch up paint to chips, etc. Then get some high quality wax (the expensive stuff) and wax it to a high shine, buff it with a rented buffer if you need to. Use tire black on the tires, including the spare. Air up all the tires (the spare too while you have it out) to the specifications on the driver's door jamb. Be sure to put the spare back in like it came from the factory, so it doesn't rattle around when it's driven. Last, but very important put in a new car odor thing, and do everything you can to make it smell nice.

You might be surprised how nice your current ride is at this point, and decide to keep it. If not, you have it ready to get every penny it's worth when you trade. Dealers love it if they can just put it for sale out on the lot without having to do all that work, the same day. One time I was trading cars and my old one was sold while I was buying the newer one!

What about selling the old car yourself now that it's ready to go? That's what I do. Advertise it on bulletin boards around town with a photo and description for free! The Shopper ads work well, too. Be sure to type of a bill of sale that both you and the seller to sign--there are free samples on the internet--this takes you off the liability hook, if they don't transfer ownership from you to themselves, and they wreck it. Take only cash or a bank cashier's check in payment, and for the love of Mike, don't sell it on time with payments! The longest this ever took was 3 months for me.

After it sells, go shopping for the next one. Your dealer will make money on your trade in and the one you buy both. You can make money selling it yourself, if you don't mind the work.

Good luck, Betsy.

-- Posted by Boomer62 on Mon, Oct 3, 2011, at 4:43 PM


Thanks for the great advice! I appreciate you taking the time to respond. Your info will benefit others as well who may be thinking about getting a newer vehicle or are consider selling one.


-- Posted by coolidge on Mon, Oct 3, 2011, at 5:18 PM

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