Saturday, December 24, 2011

New Car Smell Involves New Car Hell

My great Camry with roof rack removed-RIP

Kinda sad day this week--I bought a new car but that meant trading in my "beater," a 2004 Camry.  Before you say "that's no beater!," let me add it had 200,000+ miles, significant dents (one nice in the corner bumper that held a leaning bike in place real well,) and minor problems whereas passing smog check in the next month was not a certainty.  And even if I had the engine repaired, it still had 200,000+ miles; a little worrisome with all the "no man’s land" I drive to get to a bike ride.

But the Camry was my favorite car ever.  Even buying it was fun--I did all the dealing over the 'net with someone who had to search for the car...oh yeah...I wanted a stick shift and as it turns out only 6 Camry’s with a manual transmission were in California--and three were fully loaded (no-- don't need pin striping.)   After one crit I drove down to the dealer with my daughter (pre college)  saw it and bought it.  I was hoping for a bright blue metallic car, or a silver metallic car--and didn't want a black or forest green car.  Then there was white--no opinion either way.  Of course the car was--white, just like the piece of crap intermediate car from that "independent" (hee hee  hee) car company named after a planet.

Had an aftermarket moon roof put in--my dad was still alive and this bugged him as I was spending excessive money--but then I pointed out with a sunroof I wouldn't have to use the air conditioner (a rule I only broke 3 times--and one was driving a company client somewhere.)    I had top of the car outfitted with a bike rack and could look at the bikes when I stopped through the sunroof, or stretch and hold on to the roof rack after a long bike ride.  I had never been to Mono Lake-Bishop California or Mt. Shasta before the Camry.  We checked out my younger daughter’s college choice and rentals in it.  Took a nap in it before setting up at some god-awful time before a double--it slowly morphed into a perfect bike setup car--magnetic work lights and a list of crap not to forget hanging from the trunk.  Very dependable, very comfortable, and good on gas mileage for a non-hybrid clown car that was bigger than a SMARTmilk crate on wheels.

With the smog./ registration time fast approaching, and my doing my usual job of procrastinating, I waited for 1 1/2 months before the drop dead date to start my car search.  Hell, wasn't going to be much of a car search--just was going to get a manual transmission model of the "Newly redesigned Toyota Camry..with Toyotacare" (I'm sure you've seen scores of the obnoxious commercial’s)  Well, those SOB's really  redesigned the Carmy--so much so they DROPPED the stick model.

Oh well, gas is never going down, kids don't live at home, maybe I can get a smaller car and get a Toyota Corolla compact.  Turns out my wife has a friend of a friend who is a fleet manager for a large dealership so I email him with just a few requirement--lightly colored, manual transmission, sunroof and mp3 radio, but the last two can be aftermarket add ons.  Expected to have a list of choices in a week--just like my Camry experience in 2004.  But all I heard was how hard it was to find the car I want--there may be one at a certain price but it was unknown if this did or not include a sun roof no matter how many times I asked.  In short a month went by with nothing accomplished (to be fair I went into a local Toyota dealer to see the new Corolla and did hear that most stick models go into the ag belt and not the urban area--but the friend of friend was supposed to be searching all of California.

At the local dealer I finally saw a new Corolla (funny, they are still in the 2011 model year when everyone else in in 2012.)  I wasn't impressed;driver area looks small, controls seemed cheap, and trunk looked like some Rubenesque figure--it somehow was big at the ends but squeezed in the middle where wheel wells were .  And review was nothing to get excited about--still a quality car but lots of smalls cars  now on par quality and its ride was lackluster.  If I'm starting monthly payments again this seemed like a real downer.

At the Toyota dealer I also checked out a Scion TC--that's the one that looks like a mini sports car--not the boxy clown car.    Didn't mind sinking to the floor when I sat in it but windows were so tiny I might as well have been in a tank.

Nissan's small car entry, the Sentra, looked a little beefier so the next day i stooped at a Nissan Dealer.  Actually two dealers, as first had a salesman oozing slime when he begrudgingly opened the trunk so I could see if a bike would fit in there,  The Sentra's trunk was huge for a small car and they had a really good fold down seat opening.  Second dealership had a young kid who said there was no manual Sentra's on the lot, and they were hard to come by.  (I later read that  they were definitely two tiers below the best rated small cars.)  Kid dealer said I should look at the mini-SUV Juke--the whole line is manual transmissions.  When I got home checked it out online--turns out NONE of their models offer a stick except the 4 wheel drive.  So much for good information.

OK I'll have to make a choice within 3-4 weeks, and a friend just bought a new Honda.  Years ago when our used car was totaled we went to El Camino Real looking for our first new car with our small insurance payout.  In our mind, a car advertised for $7,500 MSRP should sell for $7,500.  What did we know. The Honda dealer laughed at us as his dealer sticker on the $7,500 car was $9,750--and we would have to pay THAT price and then could pick up the car when it got unloaded sometime in the future.  Our auto buying lesson continued when we went to two Toyota dealers that day--the first also had an inflated dealer stick but was not a haughty as the Honda dealer.  The second, when we told him what the first Toyota dealer offered the car at quickly dropped the price $500.  Later that week 3 more calls to different dealers had the price drop $500 a shot.  Shit, buying a car was like being at the middle Eastern Market.

So we'v owned 4 Toyotas and 2 Nissans and 4 (pseudo American) cars we hated and rather not talk about, and  we never considered a Honda.  But the Honda Civic was rated very high for dependability and drivable.  AND THEY HAD TWO MANUEL MODELS--one was bare bones and I could go to town adding the radio I wanted--just like our first few cars.

Dropped into Honda dealer and low key young salesman greeted me--cause I'd walk right out if one of the loudmouths with a cheap jacket and cologne and utter bullshit was my contact.  Salesman was amazed I was interested in the bare bones model:
-But it has no power doors.   Me-"That’s OK".
-But it has no power windows. "That’s OK."
-IT DOESN'T HAVE AIR CONDITIONING.  "That’s OK, I never use it."
-It doesn't have a center console.  "(I think) Problem, as really do want a place to rest your elbow."

Salesman said he's never seen one, went off to check and there weren't any available in Northern California (this had been confirmed when I did a web search.)  So I'd have to consider the stepped up manual model, which the dealer didn't have but would look for.  Ok--the stepped up model came with a USB port radio and a center console. 

First sales guy started dealership patter of trying to get top dollar.  Took me out to the lot to see/test drive and automatic model and showed me a car with a dealers sticker--which was $3k over manufacturers.  I got a little annoyed and blurted out "don't even show me a dealers sticker" where sale guy immediately became apologetic and said "some people will pay that, but we'll just show you manufacturers sticker."

Back inside he asked me if I'd buy the car for $100 less than manufacturers sticker.  Now, if I played the call a bunch of dealers, or walk out and maybe come back later, I'm sure I could have gotten another $500 knocked off the price.  (And if I actually wanted a car sitting on the dealers lot the incentive for them to sell would have been much greater.)   Maybe a month ago--when I started the car search I would have hesitated, but Toyotaman had wasted a month of my time, interest rates on loan were OK so I  did agree 

The next "price dance " was over my trade in.  I wasn't going to ask the dealer if they wanted to take my beater in trade, they asked me.  I had indicated to a friend who was interested that I'd sell the car for $500, so I told the salesman I was looking for $750.  Salesman disappeared with the car, came back in awhile and told me they could only give me $500--so I said forget it I'll keep the car.  Salesman quickly disappeared and came back two seconds later saying "we'll have to get it an auction house but we'll give you $700 for it."  Now why couldn't he/ they have said that on the first go around.

I added aftermarket sunroof dealer would install (so it falls under manufacturers warrenty.)  OK--price and trade in settled in--and salesman came back and told me I had a choice of two cars they located--white and silver.  Yahoo--finally a nonwhite car.  Salesman came back 5 minutes later and said oh, they made a mistake the silver car was an automatic.  OK, annuder white car.  

Real fun ratched up to see the finance manager .  Now I wanted fog lamps and bluetooth but desided against as both expensive via dealer.  Luckily I was talking to salesman who told me real price of these items as  finance manager never talks about real price but how the montly will only go up slightly.

Finance manager reminded me of car dealer William Macy in Fargo.  First he went into a 10 minute routine about how things will go wrong on cars--not the mechanics but the electrical.  Then he offered the extended warranty--where factory warranty would go from 3 to 8 years (kinda desirable for me as  the way I drive the 3 year warranty would be over in 1 1/2 years due to mileage.)  He then mentions that this comes with a minor dent repair component.  The cost--(and I don't recall exact figures)--only $50 more a month for ALL THIS PROTECTION.  Told him I didn't want it, and he asked why--I said it was because I was buying a quality car and not a Dodge Colt, and plan was expensive.   

Finance manager then pulls a classic--he says "wait wait wait--Honda sent me  a coupon" and he starts rummaging through his desk drawer until he finds something he says is a coupon and then grabs calculator and now ALL THIS PROTECTION is only $40 more a month.  No--told him still not interested.

HOLD ON-HOLD ON--furiously hits the calculator keys--and then asks if I would take it at $30 a month. I shouldn't have out of principle  of these floating prices(just like when we once turned down a dealer loan that suddenly dropped 4% points after we revealed we had our own credit)  but I did need an extended warranty so I took it. 

Later at home I was pissed when I saw that the dent protection was a separate component from the extended warranty and increased the warranty price by  20% ---I stayed pissed until I read the contact and saw I could cancel Dent Protection within 60 days--which I did when I picked up the car.

So instead of being stoked about buying a new car (to be picked up in 2 days), I was drained when I drove home.  And this local dealership actually had better folks to deal with that most dealers. 

Weasel postscript--I emailed the Toyota fleet manager who spent 4 weeks NOT finding me a car and NOT being able to give me a solid price for one--thanked him for his help and told him I was going in another direction  First email from weasel:

*Weaselman*-Not a Toyota ......Amazing  ...Givin' their Amazing dependability etc.   oh well .........what Route are you going  ??

After I told him I purchased a Honda Civic got the following slimy email

*Weaselman*-cool ......... you should have checked with me ........ as we also own a  Honda Dealer  ..............and could  saved  hundreds or even Thousands ........but  hey  it's Only Money .......right ??

Wow, Weaselman could save me $1000's, though obviously not on a car. (As he couldn't save me $1 after a month)    Maybe he can save me money on other things. 

I sent Weaselman's emails to my friends as a public service so they could save alot of money.  My car pool buddy, Melissa, is in line for a new Toyota this year but she had a strange reaction to Weaselman's  emails--"what a douchebag--I wouldn't go to Hayward Toyota." 

I also emailed Chris Robinson of Robinson Wheel Works who had just built me a great King Hub/ Stan Rim wheel:

 i coulda have had a king wheel built cheaper at toyota hayward and saved millions

Chris Robinson of Robinson Wheel Works--he built me a great new wheel but didn't offer me a coupon so obviously overpriced. 

But Chris reminded me

But did he have a coupon ?? .......Because without a coupon its all bogus!..............

He fails simply for the egregious usage of ...............................

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