Car Shopping

Yesterday started with taking my 2003 Ford Taurus to the garage to diagnose why the engine was running hot yet it had no heat. The estimate came to $800-$900 to repair an engine coolant leak, replace the heater coil, and replace the thermostat. Knowing the suspension needed multiple things like struts and a ball joint in order to pass inspection this spring, it was time to put her down. So J and I went to Freedom Toyota. Honestly, I have no idea why I went there other than I hear their advertising every day.


The very nice and charming salesman showed me a very nice Hyundai Sonata. Took it for a test drive. Loved it. It was a 2008, low mileage, we worked up a deal. He got the payment close to my limit. Then he started pushing me. Subtly. But still pushing. I don’t like that. In fact, that’s the biggest thing I hate about car shopping. Never mind that it’s a huge financial transaction and picking the wrong car could mean countless headaches, agrevation, and expenses in the future. He finally talked me into driving it off the lot when I went home to get Max and my title. It was almost a done deal. But when I went to start it again, it wouldn’t start. The starter clicked but nothing. The universe was screaming at me to take my old car and get out of there.


Came home and started looking on line. I’d bought my previous two cars (before this Taurus which was a gift) from Sutliff Chevy. Found some good potentials on their site and J, Max, and I went there. If I’d been thinking, I would have also looked online at the car I was thinking about getting from Freedom (which was now fine as the wires to the battery apparently hadn’t been tightened).


While i was there, we pulled up the carfax for cars I was considering plus the Sonata. Turns out the 2008 Sonata had had four owners, had an outstanding recall item, they offered me $300 less for my Taurus than Sutliff did, and the guy from Freedom was trying to sell the Sonata to me for $1,000 more than they were listing it for on their website.


In the end, I got a 2011 Ford Focus that had just one owner for a payment that was lower than the Sonata yet the car cost almost $2,000 more. (Same number of months financing). And, it also turned out that due to my prior patronage, I had almost $500 in accrued rewards dollars that I had forgotten about that came right off the top.


So I got a newer, higher priced car, with better gas mileage and more features for a lower monthly payment. But more importantly, I never felt pressured. I wish I’d trusted my gut and gone to Sutliff in the first place. I won’t ever make that mistake again. The entire experience was great. (If you’re in the Harrisburg area and need a quality used car at a fair price without the pressure, go to Sutliff and ask for Dan)

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