Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Used Car Shopping . . .

It's about as much fun as a slow poke in the eye with a sharp stick. (And feel free to quote me on that.) New car shopping is indefinitely more fun, but writing the check hurts a lot more. And so, until being a stay-at-home mom pays a lot more (dirty diapers and slobbery kisses just don't buy much at the store), used it is.

It's been a long, slow process. But we finally have 2 vehicles now!

The search for my "family vehicle" was the less painful venture. At least less painful after I convinced Eric I needed something bigger than a 5-seater car, and then informed him in no uncertain terms that I would not be driving a mini-van. (That boy seems to have his heart set on a dadgum mini-van. It's like some kind of dream of his or something. All I ever hear are all the glorious attributes of the things. I told him he could have a mini-van to drive instead of a truck, but I wasn't driving one. And no offense meant to all the mini-van-moms out there. But it just, well, it just isn't me. Combine that with the fact that I informed my father at the tender age of 13 that I wouldn't drive one and, knowing I wanted a big family one day, he bet me I would - and he probably doesn't even remember that, but I hate to be wrong. So basically, it just boils down to no mini for me!!!)

Enter Buick Rendezvous. Never even considered it when we first started looking at cars online while still living in Brasil. I really wanted the option of a 3rd row of seats, but we didn't want to sacrifice fuel economy with a big SUV (there are a lot of miles between Iowa and Georgia). The Ford Freestyle caught my attention pretty early on, so we were mostly looking that route. Then I came across a Rendezvous in the classifieds for the Athens newspaper. We sent my Dad over to look at it and then made the purchase. Good condition, not too high mileage, and the price was right. Done. We picked the car up from my Dad and drove it from Georgia to Iowa after New Year's.

Eric's vehicle search has been a bit more of a process. Our initial idea was an older 4-wheel drive truck. Nothing fancy, just something to make the 1 1/2 mile commute to work each day plus a truck to pull the boat down to the Mississippi River and haul stuff for all of our home projects.

The truck search began while we were in Brasil on The highlight of that effort was a scammer. Well, make that two of them. Luckily that becomes real obvious real quick when the phone number they give is not in service, and they want money up-front, but they are unable to let a friend of ours come look at the truck. Um, yeah, sure.

We continued looking once we made it to Georgia after Christmas. The featured event there took us to a used car dealership in Gainsville, Georgia. Upon pulling up we noticed all the signs were in Spanish and 90% of the vehicles on the lot had 20" chrome rims and low-profile tires (not trying to encourage stereo-types here, just reporting the facts of our particular situation). We thought being at a Mexican dealership could have advantages - Eric has always had good luck bargaining on stuff in Mexico. After being referred to as "Hommes" several times, driving the truck, and giving it a good look-over, Eric was ready to make an offer. He pulled out his print out of the Kelley Blue Book Value on the truck. He told the salesman he was willing to pay the dealer blue book value, but nothing more than that. Confused (or feigning confusion) he called over his manager. They both said they didn't know what this "blue book" we talked about was and informed us that they were a dealer. Um, okay, yes, we gathered that. They then went on to tell us how the used car market is booming and they can get pretty much whatever price they want. To which we laughed, and then we left.

Once in Iowa, we continued our search. Too much rust, too much money, too many miles. We just couldn't find anything that suited us. Saturday morning we found a Chevy Avalanche in Keokuk (not too far from us in Burlington). It was in perfect condition and the price wasn't bad. We were pretty much ready to buy, but decided to go home and do some online research first (since we really hadn't been looking for an Avalanche specifically). Our search turned up the exact same vehicle for a couple thousand dollars less over in Peoria, Illinois. We decided to make the drive over to look at it on Monday, since Eric had the day off (MLK Day).

It was Saturday afternoon by this point, and all the banks were closed until Tuesday. "What if we want to buy the truck on Monday?" we wondered. Most places don't really want to take a personal check. Enter in brilliant idea: withdraw the maximum amount possible from the ATM using our three different ATM cards each day for the next three days so that we literally have cash in hand on Monday.

We ended up buying the truck. With cash. All 20's. It is a bit nerve-wracking to have that much cash in my possession. Each night I told Eric, "If the house catches on fire, I'm going to get the baby. You are in charge of the cash, okay?" We also had the same agreement on the 1 1/2 hour drive to Peoria (you know, in case our car spontaneously burst into flames or something.) I have also never felt like I was doing something so wrong in my life. Eric and I both were apologizing and explaining to the guy why we had thousands of dollars - all in 20's - and promising him we weren't drug dealers nor had we just knocked off a gas station ATM. The guy just smiled and continued counting. Eric even offered to show him all the ATM receipts. hehehe

In the end, life is good. We have two sets of wheels now (pictures will be forth-coming), so I no longer have to get up and drive Eric to work in the mornings or pick him up in the afternoon. I also don't have to drive a mini-van. And for that I will be eternally grateful.


Ray Adkins said...


You guys did great!
I love that you two got American made cars...that is kinda rare nowadays.
I am a Ford guy myself, but Chevy's are ok when you look at all the foreign invasion and all the American Car companies shutting down operations...

Katiebell said...

I am SO with you! I have to remind Justin all the time...I refuse to drive a mini-van! My 4-Runner's just fine for now! Glad you found something...can't wait to see pics b/c I've never heard of that vehicle.

Emily said...

The funny thing is we are totally Ford people too. But when it comes to buying used, sometimes you just gotta go with what's available and what's got the best price tag at the moment. Hence, how we wound up with two GM vehicles! Our fathers (both are Ford guys) are very disappointed in us, I'm sure. ;)

Jenna Davis said...

sounds like an adventure:) hey i know jimmy has been trying to get in touch with eric and has had a hard time knowing which number to use. can you send me your guy's home address? we have been holding onto your wedding invitation and i'd like to get it to you guys ASAP. my email is - thanks emily! i hope all is well - looking forward to seeing you in march!

Rodney Chandler said...

I will cast my lot with your Dad -- you'll eventually come around! ...I always hated the mini idea. And then it happened that a multiplicity of children arrived. Long trips hauling Christmas or vacation loot, and the ease of using those great big doors (especially with the auto-sliders) made us love the mini-van. ...come over to the dark side!

Beth O. said...

I won't get a mini-van either. Someday I might be a soccer mom, but I can do just as well in my SUV!

Jill said...

Had to laugh about your mini-van bet! I drove a pontiac mini-van (made by my brother (and a few other people!)) fro 8 years, and thought I was ready to get an SUV... I actually sort of miss it, not just for the better mileage, but because it had better storage behind the 3rd seat AND you don't have to worry about kids opening the door too far in a parking lot!! I"m pretty sure the boys are relieved we don't have a mini-van anymore, though, as they approach their driving years!
Enjoy your Rendezvous!