Saturday, July 21, 2012

Dealin' for Some Wheels

Back in September of last year I wrote a post about our desperate need for a new van. Well, apparently it wasn't so "desperate" because it took us 10 months to take the plunge.

Yes, we finally bought a new-to-us van.


Oh, don't get me wrong - it's lovely! Seriously, very lovely. I just hate change.

I had become quite attached to my Inferno Red van with a dent in the back and the fact it wore that coating of red dirt like a champ. I was used to the noise the heater vents made, the fact that the perfect setting on the AC no longer worked so you either blasted it on "Arctic" or "Not Quite Enough to Keep Me From Sweating" and the fact that the passenger side front door lock only worked about 34% of the time. I was very recognizable in my red van. I liked the sense of persona it gave me. And apparently, so did all of Ottawa County because now....NO ONE KNOWS ME. I honk and wave and people are like, "Oh, great, some crazy is waving at me again." I like being recognized. Let's face it, I'm kind of curmudgeonly most of the time, so if I decide to be friendly enough to wave at you, I'd like to be recognized for doing it.

My own mother still doesn't register that it's me when I drive into her driveway.

We're still waiting on a title (giant red tape issue with the car lot and the previous lien holder), so right now I'm still sporting what appears to be no tag at all (the dealer tag is on the inside and the back window is so tinted it's un-seeable) (which, as a side note, makes me appear to be a soccer-mom-van-driving methamphetamine dealer) (which, now that I think about it, may be why no one recognizes me when I wave....apparently I am driving the far less cool version of the Batmobile). I think once I get my RDNKDVA vanity plate back in place I'll be a little more recognizable -- at least to those behind me.

 This was our very first experience paying cash for a vehicle. We are bigtime Dave Ramsey fans and agree that car debt is unacceptable debt. We have been debt-free for many, many moons now and had no intention of changing that. We had a budget in our heads (actually, we had cash in our hands) and knew what we wanted. We also knew, that the right vehicle was out there - we just hand to find her. We were armed with Dave's advice to flash the cash and let the power take hold. We soon learned that the power of cash is better utilized at small, mom and pop car lots. Big dealerships don't like cash sales because they make no money on the financing. The flashing of the cash bit us on the hiney a few times before we learned this and just kept our mouths shut.

We really like the size of a mini-van, but the fact they sit so low to the ground is an issue out here in our seldom-graded dirt road. We considered going up to an SUV, but would lose the gas mileage a van gave us. Paul scoured the internets for the perfect vehicle, sometimes staying up to 2am on his quest. (He's a bit obsessive, bless his heart.) I am a very literal person and seeing a vehicle in a picture just doesn't do it for me. He would research and research and then show me a picture and then want to punch a baby when I'd say, "Okay, cool, let's go look at it in person." It meant nothing to me in that flat picture on the screen. I want to look, feel, touch, smell, etc. Yeah, I'm weird.

Our first visit was to the Chevy dealership in town. He had a Town & Country van, but wanted nearly $30k for it. He had a Yukon, but it had $150k miles. He had a b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l Suburban that had e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g we wanted, though. We drove it. We loved it. We wanted it. He let us take it overnight.

We never got it to register over 10.1 mpg.

Yeah. That wasn't cool.

After arguing with another salesman over the fact that the GMAC website said we'd get 18 mpg and I repeatedly told him, "Okay, prove it. Show me. Make it happen on the dashboard readout and we will buy this vehicle today," we bid adieu to the beautiful behemoth and moved on.

A dealership website in Kansas showed a pretty Inferno Red Town & Country on their website. Paul called them and asked if it was on THAT LOT and they assured him it was. He made an appointment for us to see it at 2pm. At 1:45 we arrived at the lot to find that the van was not there, was on its way down from Kansas City and would be there by 5pm. We didn't have that much time and the next week was church camp, but we said we'd be back the following Saturday. We called the next Friday only to be told that the vehicle still hadn't made it to the lot (funny...I guess I had a different idea in my head as to what "ON THE WAY" means...), but would be there the next morning. We called the next morning. Still wasn't there. We told them to sell that van to someone else because apparently if they couldn't even give us a straight story on the whereabouts of the vehicle, we were pretty sure they wouldn't give us a straight story on anything else.

I was angry.

Paul was frustrated.

We ended up at a Kia dealership that afternoon. We told him our budget and what we wanted out of our van. He showed us a lovely Borrego and assured us the price was in our range and hey, it was the last day of the month and his boss was in a dealing mood. We drove it. We loved it. We wanted it.

He went to his good-natured, wheeling and dealing boss and came back with a "deal" of $19,500. I laughed. Loudly and borderline manically. I thought Paul was going to break a tooth or seven because his jaw was so clenched. I then told the salesman he was insulting and had wasted two hours of our time and that he could take his Borrego and his "deal" and just sit on it. We walked out. Mad. Then the guy called me three times a day for the next week. He was skeevy.

The next day Paul found a Chrysler Pacifica and a Town & Country at a dealership in Aurora, MO, an hour and a half from home. Both had decent miles and the price was right. The Pacifica sold within hours of him finding it, but the T&C remained. He spoke to a salesman, got a few more details, told him we'd be up there the next day and then we prayed. He took off work early and we gathered up our three kids, my niece and nephew and headed for the Show Me State. We drove it. We loved it. The passenger sliding door didn't work quite right. We addressed that. The salesman offered to fix it, but it might take two weeks. We told him we'd take it off the lot right then, the way it was, for a discount. He talked to his mechanic. He knocked $1000 off. We wheeled. We dealed. We offered. he counter-offered, Paul was enjoying the game, my blood pressure was nearly at stroke range.

But we got it. Paid cash. That felt really awesome.

It has leather, Stow & Go seats, a six-disc DVD player (we drove to Tulsa on Tuesday to The Aristocats and ran errands yesterday to Tangled), an on-board navigation system (that is nowhere as user-friendly as the Garman) and is a lovely mix of Cornflower and Sapphire blue. She rides like buttah, y'all.

And she wears that fine coating of red dirt pretty well. For a city girl.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Oh Diva! You're so inspirational! I wish I had the patience and the stick-to-it attitude like you and Paul. I love that you got the right deal and paid cash. One of these days, I'm going to do that same thing. One of these days.

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