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Posts Tagged ‘mechanic’

That night I called on a car I’d had my eye on for a while, but which I knew had been through several showings earlier in the week.  He told me the car had not been sold, and agreed to schedule a test drive for the next afternoon.  I got my mom to join me on this test drive, male members of the family being at work.  We met a colorful Indian man who showed us his gold Nissan Altima, the same age as my car, but with less miles and much better maintenance history.  He was asking right at market value.  Except for some very minor hail damage, the car was in great shape.  I’d checked the VIN to make sure everything was clear.  The story went that the car had been owned by only one elderly gentleman since it was made, until a couple months ago when the Indian man bought it.  But the Indian found another car he liked better and was now interested in selling this one.

 

The Altima tends to have trouble with the CV joints, something to do with the wheels and axels.  But the owner had just paid to have that fixed.  Plus there was a new alternator, front tires, and air filter.  Altima’s use timing chains instead of timing belts.  They are much more durable, fairly easy to replace, and thus, inexpensive.  Really the cars have a reputation for being very reliable mechanically.  When we test drove it there was a bit of a squeak when we went over bumps, nothing too annoying or worrisome.  I left the test drive fairly certain I would buy that car.

 

That night I called to schedule a pre-purchase inspection of the car with my mechanic.  It was quite stressful, as I felt like I was putting the owner out, and trying to coordinate between my mom and I and the owner and the mechanic.  Plus Mom was babysitting, and I needed to talk to someone interested in buying my old car.  But I straightened my back and marched forward.  Took the car and the owner to my mechanic (a recommendation from a friend, but a shop very close to my house), who told me the car checked out.  So we drove back to the owner’s apartment, and completed the transaction.

 

To buy a car privately in Colorado, you have to sign the Title, put the new owners address on the back of the title, and record the Odometer Reading at the date of purchase.  Plus you need a bill of sale with the date, seller’s name, buyer’s name, signatures from both, amount of sale, and VIN # for the car as well as the year, make, and model.  While I wrote out those things, the owner counted the cash.  We shook hands.  He got his plates.  And I drove my new car home, with proof of insurance and the bill of sale on hand, while my mom drove my old car back home.

 

The day I bought my car was Veteran’s Day, a government holiday, so I couldn’t apply for temporary tags right away.  Instead I parked my new car in the garage and began the transfer of items from my old car to the new.  (In my car I keep coats and blankets and a Bible, pro-life literature, tracts, grape juice, a footstool, hats, gloves, cleaning supplies, a spare pair of clothes, maps, mall directories, a camera, and batteries as well as a cell phone charger and garage door opener.)  The new car just barely fits in the garage, as it is longer and wider than my old one.  However, it is set up much the same inside so that driving it is still rather intuitive.  The Altima does not have a sunroof, which makes me sad and inspires all sorts of improvisations like taping a picture of the sky onto the inside of the roof.  Yeah.  I’m that weird.

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

 

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I took my pretty gold Saturn to a mechanic when I got the chance a few months ago.  Its engine had been idling rough, especially at stoplights, and burning through more oil than was its wont.  But the mechanic had bad news.  I have worn out my engine.  The only fix is to rebuild the engine, costing about twice what my car is worth.  So far my car still runs, but will get gradually worse.  Being a busy young woman, who sometimes travels an hour or two from home by herself, I decided that I need a car more reliable than that.

When I finally had time, I started my search.  The websites I used when I bought my first car 6 years ago now have a limited supply.  Even Ebay seemed to be home of the pricier cars.  A $5000 budget seemed reasonable to get a decent car, since that is what I paid for my first car.  So my first day of searching yielded few results.  I kept my eyes peeled for “Sale” signs in the back of car windows and on the side of the road.

Last time I bought a car, the dealer showed me cars above the budget I told him, and didn’t tell me the price until I had already test driven it.  Then he lied to someone else on the phone, right in front of me.  I haggled him to a fair value for my car, had a horrible time getting the windshield replaced (and it still leaks), and had to buy new tires.  So I decided to buy a car from a private party from now on.  Hopefully a better deal and less lies.

A friend reminded me that now most people find their cars on Craigslist.  I’ve never bought or sold anything off of Craigslist.  I looked over my mom’s shoulder at it once.  Not that I was opposed; I just had no reason to use that site.  But I jumped on, used their limited search capacities in the category of Cars and Trucks for Sale by Owner, and got a list of cars in the metro area for sale.  I took my limited knowledge of reliable cars and began narrowing my search, mostly based on mileage and age of the car.  I was looking for something under 100,000 miles that would be in good enough shape to maintain for another 70 to 100 thousand more.

Edmunds.com is a great resource for buying a car.  They have guides to buying a used car, including what information to ask, what to check during a test drive, how to complete a sale, appraisals, and model reviews.  They also have the TCO, True Cost to Own, for more recent models.  So I pulled up a couple of Edmunds.com windows.  First thing was to pull up the sheet for the year and model car that looked interesting.  Then on the right hand side they have an estimated gas mileage below a consumer rating on a scale of 1 to 10.  If the gas mileage and rating didn’t seem too low, I proceeded to appraising the car for sale.

Most important information is the year, make, model, and mileage.  Without that information, I didn’t even bother to research the car.  But the appraisal also factors color, condition, as well as features like air conditioning, power windows, sunroofs, spoilers, and automatic transmissions.  After you click all the information you have on the car, you enter your zip code, and go forward with the appraisal.  Then there are three prices.  The first is Trade-In value, always the lowest.  Next is Private Party – the price I was comparing, and finally was Dealership price.  These prices are different from the Kelley Blue Book.  I aimed to find a car within a couple hundred of the appraisal value I found on Edmunds.com.

One important thing to note: Many listings for cars do not have the exact model of car they are selling.  For example, an Altima comes in SE, GXE, GLE, and probably a few others.  The listing on Edmund’s is in alphabetical order, and usually separates manual from automatic and 2-door, 4-door, and wagon.  If you don’t know the exact model, go for the “base model,” usually an S or SE.

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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