Car buying experience 2015 (part 2)

Buying a car this time around was eerily similar to my experience in 2005. In ten years the cars have changed quite a bit (so many bells and whistles these days!), but the way I went about purchasing one was about the same. First I went online and requested quotes from car dealers for two different Honda CR-V models (the EX-L and Touring). Then I was almost immediately inundated with emails and phone calls from local dealers who all wanted my business. As much as I liked the enthusiastic salesman at the dealer in Pasadena, it just wasn’t practical for me to go all the way back there to buy a car. And since they didn’t have one that I wanted in stock it saved me the trouble of seriously considering it. In both 2005 and 2015 the only dealer I had more than brief contact with was Honda World in Westminster. I’d like to say I went back there for my second CR-V because I had such a positive experience the first time, but that’s not it at all. Truthfully, buying cars there was pretty lousy both times, but their close proximity to Seal Beach was the biggest selling point.

Back in 2005 an online sales representative at Honda World contacted me to say that they had the exact CR-V I wanted (model and color) in stock and gave me a great price quote via email. So I drove down there after work, but the salesman I had been in touch with wasn’t there that evening. The guy I did talk to informed me that they had already sold the CR-V I wanted, but they had the more expensive model available. Of course. I was reluctant, but I test drove it and went through the first stage of price negotiation, but in the end I decided that I just didn’t want that particular car so I walked away. The next day I got a call from the online sales representative saying that they actually did still have the original CR-V I wanted in stock, and he even scolded me for not talking to him at the dealer. He wasn’t even there! Sheesh. Based on this ridiculous behavior on everyone’s part I should have given them a piece of my mind and then gone elsewhere. But I was a little desperate so I told the sales rep that I would be there that afternoon to buy the car and that it had better be there. It was, so I drove home that day in my first CR-V.

Fast forward to 2015 and things weren’t much different. The day I requested online quotes I got a call from Honda World. It was one of the few phone calls I answered that day since I preferred to get the car negotiations done over email instead. Believe it or not, the same online sales representative that sold me my first CR-V was on the other end of the line. I told him exactly what I was looking for and he assured me that not only did Honda World not have one in stock, but that no other dealer in Southern California did either. First of all, I had email proof that other dealers did indeed have the car I was looking for. Second, isn’t a salesman supposed to make a sale? Luckily he couldn’t see me roll my eyes over the phone. I told him, “Thank you very much. I’ll let you know if I change my mind.” Not ten minutes later he called me back saying that he had found a CR-V for me. I think his strategy needs some work. However, it ultimately did make a sale. I needed a car, and Honda World was having one delivered from Ventura for me. It all worked out. So on April 24th I was the proud owner of a 2015 Honda CR-V. And so far I couldn’t be happier!

Car buying experience 2015 (part 1)

I bought a new car on April 24th. This was almost a month after my 2005 Honda CR-V died completely, which I actually wrote about at the time (in an attempt to uphold my New Year’s Resolution #4). That poor little car went long before its time. But even after it was towed away on April 3rd (I donated it to charity for the tax write off) and I was left with just a rental, I was still reluctant to go car shopping. I just wasn’t excited about it. The thought of having to interact with potentially pushy salespeople, test driving unfamiliar cars, and eventually haggling about prices made me cringe. But then my friend Natalie offered to go with me. That was exactly the motivation (more like a kick in the pants) I needed to get out there and look for a new set of wheels. One Saturday, after driving that horrible rental for a couple of weeks, I drove up to Pasadena and met Natalie to go car shopping. The first place she took me was a Toyota dealer where I looked at both the RAV4 and the Highlander SUVs. Originally I was more interested in the Highlander, thinking it would be comparable in size to my old CR-V, but it was much larger than I expected. I ended up test driving both, but the RAV4 was more appealing. I liked it just fine, despite the lack of enthusiasm from the salesman who was helping us. I didn’t notice, but Natalie said he was dozing off in the backseat during the test drives. He certainly wasn’t wasting much effort trying to make a sale! For that reason I was happy to head to the Honda dealer next. This time we got a very earnest salesman who was keen to show us all of the fantastic features of the new CR-Vs. And they were pretty impressive. I was crazy about the touch screen navigation system, the backup and side view cameras, and all of the displays on the dashboards. And the test drive was a breeze because the latest CR-V handles very similarly to my old one. No surprises there. I loved the CR-V and it didn’t take long for me to decide that I definitely wanted to buy one. That particular dealer didn’t have the model I wanted so I was spared having to make a decision on the spot, but the majority of the work was done, thanks to Natalie. Without her help I probably would have put off car shopping even longer. But after she spent most of her day driving me to car dealers I was most of the way to getting a new mode of transportation. I am so grateful!

To be continued…

Goodbye CR-V

A few weeks ago I was just about finished with all of the spring cleaning I planned to do in my apartment. It felt like quite an accomplishment, going through just about everything I own to figure out what stuff to keep and what to give away. I had cleaned out and reorganized every cabinet and closet, and also made a couple of large donations to Goodwill. My apartment looked great, but there was one last item on my spring cleaning list. My car. For several months I’ve been driving around with several items in the trunk, waiting to find time deal with them. As my final act of spring cleaning my goal was to completely clean out my car – specifically, get off my butt and do whatever it is I need to do with all of the things I’ve been toting around town for so long. Unfortunately fate intervened before I could even get started. I told you I had a weird and somewhat disappointing Saturday, right? Well, here’s why. I drove my CR-V for the last time yesterday. I woke up early with the intention of going to Disneyland. Due to a variety of reasons I haven’t been there in a while, and I wanted to take advantage of the cool morning air before the heat of summer sets in. I jumped in my ailing car at 7 AM and set off. However, I only made it a couple of blocks before I realized something was seriously wrong. Third gear was completely gone. Rather than shifting gears around 30 mph when it was supposed to, the RPMs went way up and the “check engine” light came on. This had happened once on Friday afternoon on my way home from work, but I thought it was an isolated incident. I was wrong. My poor little CR-V is completely done this time. I’m thankful it didn’t wait to fall apart on my way back from Disneyland and leave me stranded somewhere, but it kind of forced me to rethink my weekend plans. So instead of going to the Happiest Place on Earth, I stayed home and did some serious car research. The first thing I did was start the process of donating my car. Since it’s worth almost nothing with the busted transmission, I figured the tax write off for donating it would be more beneficial than the few dollars I’d get trading it in to a dealer. I should be getting a call tomorrow to schedule a time for my CR-V to be towed away. I’ll be sorry to see it go, but at least then I’ll be able to focus on finding my new method of transportation for the next decade. After making the call about the donation I cleaned all of my personal items out of my car. Besides all of the registration and insurance paperwork in the glove box, this also included a box with my wedding dress inside that I’ve been meaning to donate to charity for a while, a lamp I should return to Pottery Barn, my old quilt that I need to take to the cleaners, more reusable grocery bags than I care to admit, and my extensive CD collection. What a mess! Hopefully this will be the catalyst I need to finally take care of all this extraneous stuff. When my CR-V was finally cleaned out, I rented a car for a week to facilitate vehicle shopping. I’m not exactly sure when that’s going to happen, but hopefully sometime this week. Like I said a couple of weeks ago when I first wrote about my car troubles, big changes are coming!

Car troubles on my day off

After working Saturday through Wednesday I was looking forward to having Thursday off. I was going to sleep in, run errands, and get a lot done around my apartment. It was going to be great. Unfortunately it didn’t quite work out that way. When my car started making some weird scratching noises on Monday I decided I really should take it in for service on my day off. Not the most glamorous use of my free time, but necessary. Actually, much more necessary than I imagined. Turns out the transmission is shot in my not quite 10 year old SUV. When the service rep sat down next to me in the lounge and said the word “transmission,” I knew it was going to be bad. And very expensive. But I left the dealer only paying for an oil change. There was no way I was going to commit to dumping five thousand dollars into an aging car that’s not worth much more than that in its current condition. To make sure the dealer wasn’t taking me for a ride I took my car to Aamco for a second opinion that afternoon. They agreed that the transmission was the problem, but they wanted to rebuild it rather than a complete replacement. The estimate for something like that was around three thousand dollars, minimum. That wasn’t enough of a savings for me to consider the repairs, though. I left Aamco paying nothing, despite the guy at the front desk trying to convince me otherwise. I know what the car is worth, and I’m just not willing to spend that much money on it. Better to save it for my next vehicle. So as much as I hate to admit it, I suppose I’ll be looking to buy a car in the near future. I was really hoping that my car would make it to it’s tenth birthday (September 15th), but it looks like that’s not going to happen. It’s so frustrating. The transmission in a Honda shouldn’t be falling apart this soon! I can’t complain too much since I haven’t had any major problems with my CR-V in nine and a half years, but I still wanted to keep it for a little longer. I guess I’m just not mentally prepared to buy a new car yet, but mechanical problems have forced my hand. So sometime next week I’ll start searching for a new set of wheels that I’ll hopefully be driving the next decade. Big changes are coming!