Saying goodbye to an old friend Part 2

This is the 2nd part of our car dying, car buying story. If you haven’t read Part 1, here’s the link.

My husband and I looked at each other. Now what the fuck do we do? We’re stuck at Carmax with no way home. I guess we’ll have to buy a car. So, we went back into Carmax, found our rep and went for a test drive in the cheapest car on the lot, a Mint Green 2008 Toyota Yaris 4 door sedan with 74K on the clock, priced at $10,599. It was a nice enough car, everything worked, including the AC and it was really quiet. I realized that the Ford sounded like a tank in comparison, not to mention that it had very little power upon acceleration. I also knew that it was too much money, but they had a 5 day return policy, no questions asked, 30 day warranty. He showed us the Carfax which showed that this car had not been in any accidents. As far as I understand it, the rationale behind Carmax’s “no haggle policy” and higher prices is that they do not sell cars that have been in accidents. Since they didn’t take credit cards and I didn’t have a checkbook with me, they let me take the car home without paying a dime, after I signed on the dotted line. I had 3 days to pay.

Since the Ford wasn’t going anywhere, I had no choice but to sell it for $50. Do you have the title, they asked me? The title…hmmmmm…I know I’ve seen it recently. If you don’t have it, it will cost $95 for a new one, so it was looking like it would cost me $45 to get rid of the Ford. I had probably invested $5K in the Ford over the past few years, so their $50 offer was depressing, but what could I do? I wasn’t about to pay to tow it anywhere else.

We drove the new set of wheels home and the first thing I did was look for the title. Miraculously, I found it in under 10 minutes. You have no idea what a personal victory this was for me since I have been in a constant state of funk for the past 13 years. Having moved 4 times since our son was born, it’s remarkable that I manage to pay our bills on time!!! By this time it was 4pm and we had left our house at 10am.

The next morning I took the car to my mechanic, Alex, to check over. The first thing Alex said to me when he looked at it was “this car has been in an accident and been repainted. Can you see the difference in the paint color?” No, I hadn’t noticed. I asked if I should still buy it. He put it on the lift and examined it carefully. His assessment was that the car had been in an accident where both the back and front bumpers had been repaired. Clearly, the owner had paid out of pocket and had not involved insurance nor filed a police report which is why it did not turn up on the Carfax. It should have been apparent to the Carmax appraisers.

Carmax…The way car buying should be…NOT!!!

Alex told me to ask for at least a $2,500 reduction in the price. I was actually happy to hear this since I wanted to find a simple way out of this deal, although supposedly, it is “no questions asked.” I decided I wouldn’t buy this car and now I had a couple of days to find another one.

My friend had recommended Evanston Subaru which was spitting distance from my house. I left my mechanic, BeeZee Auto Service, drove to the Subaru dealership, which, thankfully was only a few blocks away, and told him my story. They had 3 possibilites, all of which were considerably cheaper than the car I was driving. The sales rep was more than happy to allow me to drive each car to my mechanic to check out. I turned up with a Black Nissan Versa Hatchback which I liked very much. Alex told me it was dangerous and that the sales rep had no business letting me drove this car anywhere. It would cost me $1,000 in repairs just to be roadworthy. I didn’t want to have to start repairing yet another car from the get-go. I was very freaked out by this development. If this car was bad, would all the other cars be just as bad?

My new beauty, 2009 Toyota Yaris

A photo posted by Leslie Kahn (@kahnleslie) on

As it turned out, they had almost the identical car to the Yaris. Apparently, Mint Green is the color of choice. It was a year newer with 30K more miles and a few more scratches, but a nice clean car. I turned up at the mechanic with car #3 which looked identical to car #1. I had to explain to Alex that this was a different car. I was feeling like I was taking advantage of them, but they were so nice and they told me to keep bringing cars until we found one that I could afford and that was worth the money. Alex was happy with this car but told me I should try to get them to knock $1,500 off. I figured they wouldn’t go for that, but we split the difference and in the end, I paid $3,600 less for essentially the same car.

The next question was how was I going to get back from Carmax after I dropped off the returned car? The sales rep from Evanston Subaru graciously offered to follow me to Carmax in my new car, wait until I returned the car and got rid of the Ford and then came back with me in my new car to Evanston Subaru. I was somewhat trepidatious about returning the car, hoping it wouldn’t be a lengthy process. I have to give the folks at Carmax credit; the woman who canceled the agreement did so willingly, only asking why I was returning it. When I told her the car had been in an accident, her response was “good to know.” The sales rep who sold me the car tried to engage me in a conversation about it. But, I stopped him quickly, saying, you have a “no questions asked” policy and I bought almost the identical car for $3,600 less.

So, if you are looked for a recommendation for a car mechanic and a car dealership in the Rogers Park/Evanston/Skokie area, you’ve come to the right place!

Thanks for reading to the end. I am very happy with my zippy Yaris!

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