Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Adventures at a car dealership

After some belated car maintenance, we came to the decision that it was time to get a new car. Hulky's 2009 Honda Civic (EX? not sure) coupe was still driving pretty well at just over 90k miles, but it was time for a change.

Autotrader.com was my search site. Our needs were pretty specific: 2011-2013, Honda, Civic, sedan, under 50k miles, with a manual transmission. I got 5 results in our area. Several were eliminated immediately due to price. We started to follow-up on some and managed to arrange an after-work appointment at Honda Village. We met with Dave there to see a black 2011 Honda Civic sedan, with around 30k miles, manual transmission, and a nice price. The first things we learned upon arrival: they valet park your car (we didn't know and parked in the Walgreens' parking lot next door) and they offer you coffee, water, hot cocoa, and/or popcorn when you get inside. I enjoyed the special treatment :).

First things first, we went to the parking lot out back to check out the car. Immediately, we noticed car-length scratch marks on both sides of the car. As we inspected further, we found From this, we deduced: the last owner must have been bad at parking and someone else had some bad anger management issues. Dave immediately texted the used car manager to make sure the scratches would be fixed. It turns out that the car was scheduled to go to the body shop the next day anyway, so nothing to worry about there. We inspected for anything else that we'd want touched up and I found a tiny rust spot by a door handle (best to fix those before they grow) and it looks like the last owner wasn't a good driver either, based on some scrapes on the corners of the bumper. After that, it was time for the test drive!

Anyone that drives with me learns quickly that I am nervous driving with people I don't know. Probably because I tell them immediately. I drove pretty well, though I did stall the car twice. On the second time, Dave said he could tell I was experienced because I didn't panic when I stalled, I just turned the car off and then started it again to continue going. I got to drive on some 35 mph roads and then we hopped on the Mass Pike quickly so I got up to about 65 mph. The car felt great and the road noise is so much less than in the '05 Civic. When we got off the Pike, Hulky drove us the rest of the way back to the dealership.

Back inside, we gave information on our car, which we were interested in trading in. The service folks checked it out fairly quickly and Dave came back to us with an estimated value and what they'd give us. We told them how much we hoped to get, plus our down-payment, indicating that if we got that, we'd buy the car. Dave brought the offer back to the manager, who wrote a counter-offer without even looking. Maybe we could've negotiated something more, but it was within our previously discussed range of a good offer for the old Civic, so we went for it. Queue more paperwork for finances!

There's a lot of waiting when you buy a car. I didn't realize we'd have to entertain ourselves for a while. Anytime there was paperwork, we'd fill it out, talk to the salesperson or finance guy, and then wait a bit. There were several new car models in the showroom so we climbed around in those whenever we had to wait. They have some really cool features! All of the new cars have push buttons to start, which is weirdly exciting. The automatics have an economy mode button, so the car will regulate things like heat and how the car shifts gears in order to improve gas consumption. It's basically a way to get the gas mileage you'd have if you drove smartly in a manual transmission car. No lie, if we could have gotten a car with that option, I think we'd get an automatic and use the economy mode a lot. Hulky and I made a pact that the next time we travel, if we get a rental car, we'd get a tricked out mini-van if it's not too expensive to upgrade. They have so many cool features! Not that we'd need all the folding seats and everything, but they're so comfy! Everyone working at the dealership got a kick out of our enthusiasm. Dave said a mini-van is like, "driving around in your living room."

We met with a finance person after that. He showed us some extra options we could use for the car (we passed on all of them), told us what he expected our loan rate would be (better than any pre-approvals I'd been getting online beforehand), and had me sign and initial in a million places. Since the car is certified pre-owned, that means we get comprehensive coverage for a year from purchase date (I think). That covers anything that's not disposable basically, so if something in the car malfunctions and it wasn't on us, they fix it on their dime. Yay! I am sure we won't have any issues.


  • Wednesday - saw the car, liked the car, signed paperwork and gave them the down-payment
  • Thursday - waited excitedly while car was in body shop, was told via phone that we need to bring in proof of income (copy of a recent pay stub) when we pick up the car, no news yet on when we get to pick it up, Hulky gets our insurance squared away with USAA (sets a date to start coverage on new car and end coverage on old car)
  • Friday - Do we get to pick it up yet????
  • Fast forward to the next Wednesday - car is finally clean, scratches buffed out, ready to go, but oh wait, a light is on where it shouldn't be. We don't get the inspection sticker yet, but the car comes home!
It's been a bit of a learning curve for me since the clutch pedal is so springy, but the car is fun to drive and I look forward to many years with it.

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