Used car buying turns to new car buying!

20130911_185057After doing over a week of exhaustive research and changing my mind at least three times about what year, make, and model I wanted to get… I finally decided. Here is the story.

20130911_191606In a previous blog post, I was thinking about a convertible, after some research and test drives I found a convertible impractical. I also looked at a smart, until I test drove one. 😛 Also on the menu was a Hyundai, Kia, Fiat and others all ok. I looked very solidly at a Corolla. I thought I had settled on one. Partly I didn’t go with the Corolla cause of timing, what cars were available etc. In addition I spoke with a friend who had owned a Corolla for a number of years and had just recently traded in for a brand new Honda Civic.  She stated that the Corolla was “pure crap” when compared to the Civic. I hesitated to point out to her that a 2013 Civic and a 2009 Corolla really was not a fair contest, with the advance in car design just in the past two years  alone. However, I took the comment seriously and decided to take a look at the Civic. I have owned (or my family has owned) four civics. I loved my first Honda Civic CRX. I just have had some bad memories of when my older Hondas’ have gone to Fail! My father has a civic sedan that is still running quite splendidly; the odometer may very well have rolled over by this point.

2009 Honda Civic

Oh, the salesmen I encountered in my car hunt!  I made the decision to seal the deal with Port Charlotte Honda partly based on Customer Service but mostly on the salesmens’ willingness to deal. He did not have a shifty – non committal approach to his salesmanship. Saying things like “come on down and we can talk about it”. Whenever I heard a dealer with this approach I thought to myself ” What are we in the 1950’s? I am not going to waste my time *and* my friends time talking to this A-hole who can’t give me a straight answer to simple questions.” Most of the salesmen were pushy; and all the dealers used the “Let me get my manager” approach which does not work on me, well it works… it causes me to leave post haste! 🙂 One or two dealers were entirely ignorant about the car they were selling. Some of the less adept sales persons actually had labels on their desks like “best salesman of the year ’09 ’10 ’11 ’12”. I could not believe this! I could  not deal with a salesmen who had no idea about the vehicle or who had that pushy, jackass, car commercial tone. In these cases, I did my test drive and removed myself from the premises post haste. Notable was  Dewitt motors featuring a salesmen that gave me a “let me give you some advice about used cars” pitch; informing me that their used cars go so fast that I need to make a decision quickly. Three weeks later the Solara *with broken windows and door locks* was still on the lot, no doubt several people had passed it up.  Many dealerships lost my business for reasons to numerous to mention. If I went back to a previous dealership, I would ask for someone else. In every case the “someone else” was far more competent.

20130904_170242My first interest (after looking at a few old and busted convertibles mentioned above) was the Toyota Corolla. The car on the right had a missing rubber seal in one of the passenger door jams, also the salesmen tried to tell my friend (a car enthusiast/mechanic) that the car did not pull to the right, the road was er uh..sloped. I got in another car on the same lane of the road with no pull. This was from a dealer that prominently displays on their website “best auto service 2011” (The year is 2013) I went to several dealers within a 75 mile radius. After I discussed a possible deal with with one dealer, I went on to look at more models; Civics, Hyundai, Kia, and one or two other models. I also was not sure if I would buy a car that was used, certified pre-owned, or new.

Exhaustive ResearchOf course throughout the entire process I was doing a ton of research using consumer reports. I liked the Kia Optima and Hyundai Elantra but for only slightly more (or same) I could get the totally redesigned 2013 Civic so that ended up being my choice.

I also test drove a  2014 Corolla and was fairly unimpressed with the direction Toyota was going.

I was surprised to learn that several of my friends went to dealerships without doing any research and purchased a vehicle that same day. The actions of these friends has lead me to realize why dealerships can get away with the stunts they pull. If one does not demand excellent service with a lower price, than the industry will not change. IMHO the dealer industry could use a real overhaul, cars are so technologically advanced, it is odd to see sales techniques from a bygone era being employed to sell them.

I would like to thank all of my friends who helped me by giving me rides and moral support, you guys and gals mean the world to me! A special props is owed to Sarasota Monthly Meeting of Friends (Quakers) who’s community and advice proved invaluable.

Last but not least; I would like to thank my father, without his assistance none of this would have been possible.

My new car!

This is my new car, a 2013 Honda Civic

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I dislike the AD Port Charlotte put over the rear window.

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New 2013 Honda Civic

2013 Honda Civic

Large AD?

My only complaint is that I dislike the AD Port Charlotte Honda put on my car above the rear window

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Tom Wilson auto repair stands by the quality of their work … Not really.

Update on Tom wilson Auto

Life and times of 0m(N

This was my carI was the owner of a Chrysler Sebring Convertible. It was an older model. It caught fire! Here is a story about how  Tom Wilson Auto Shop in Sarasota, FL stands by the quality of their work… well not really.

I brought my car in for service July 30th. It had been smoking under the hood. I had them come out to look at the car while it was smoking and I asked if there was a risk of fire. I said “Where there is smoke there is fire.” To which the reply was “I have never heard of one of these catching fire before.” (oh boy) They kept my car for a day and a half and replaced my valve cover gasket.  I picked it up and the car smoked worse then it did before. I called Tom WIlson’s auto and they said that the oil would need to…

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Used car buying week one

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Search for a new used car

As is evident in my last post, I am in the market for a new used car. I still want a convertible and it would be wonderful if I can afford to get a Toyota Camry Solara

2000-2001 Toyota Solara photographed in Colleg...

2000-2001 Toyota Solara photographed in College Park, Maryland, USA. Category:Toyota Camry Solara (XV20) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The tools I will use can be found here:

Autotrader.com to search for cars in the area
Consumer reports
Edmunds both of these help to look at the reliability and value of a used car.
Of course Carfax

I first had my eye on a Smart fortwo convertible. But I read in Consumer Reports Magazine a subscription I highly recommend,  that the smart was a rough ride and did not have very good acceleration. Nor was it as good on ga$ as some other small model cars out there. Plus there is little data out there on it’s reliability. I might still test drive one if I run across one on the lot, but it is pretty much off the list unless I am really impressed. Although, I do think that having recyclable parts and aiming to have excellent gas millage is great, I think the company has a few years yet before I could invest in one. They sure do look cool eh?

2008 Smart ForTwo photographed in Silver Sprin...

2008 Smart ForTwo photographed in Silver Spring, Maryland

Stay tuned, I will be looking at cars over the next few weeks.

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Tom Wilson auto repair stands by the quality of their work … Not really.

This was my carI was the owner of a Chrysler Sebring Convertible. It was an older model. It caught fire! Here is a story about how  Tom Wilson Auto Shop in Sarasota, FL stands by the quality of their work… well not really.

I brought my car in for service July 30th. It had been smoking under the hood. I had them come out to look at the car while it was smoking and I asked if there was a risk of fire. I said “Where there is smoke there is fire.” To which the reply was “I have never heard of one of these catching fire before.” (oh boy) They kept my car for a day and a half and replaced my valve cover gasket.  I picked it up and the car smoked worse then it did before. I called Tom WIlson’s auto and they said that the oil would need to burn off the engine block and if it did not stop smoking by the end of the week to bring it back. It was smoking so badly I could not imagine that it was just burn off so I brought it back in on August 2nd, two days later, I mean there were clouds coming from this thing. I had taken pictures of oil leaks under the car. Other mechanics had asked me to do this in the past.

Method: If you center the car over a piece of white paper you can see where the droplet is. You can use this to get a rough estimate of what part in the engine is leaking and repair it.  I showed my picture to one of the mechanics at Tom WIlson’s auto. He an insulting sarcastic tone he said “I have never heard of anyone putting white paper under their car before, an old car is going to leek oil” It was not so much what he said but the tone of his voice and attitude. He did not understand, and did not care to understand why I had put white paper under the car, I was showing him a picture of an oil leek and he simply thought I must be insane. I had brought the car in because it was smoking, the smoking was presumed to be caused by an oil leak with droplets hitting the exhaust or some other hot part of the engine block.  After looking at the car the mechanic said a bolt associated with the power steering needed to be replaced and the belts were frayed. What this had to do with my engine smoking.. I am not sure, I trusted him to know what he was doing, even though he had an attitude problem… (Big mistake) They finished the repair same day. They were closed when I picked up the car and they had left my key in the ignition where anyone could have stolen it. I had talked to them on the phone 20 minutes earlier and they might have mentioned they were about to close and would be leaving my car vulnerable to theft.

Now here is where is gets tricky and tragic. After they replaced a few belts, the power steering pump, and replaced a bolt. The car was still smoking slightly, since it was a small amount compared to before, I thought this might in fact be oil burn off from earlier repair. After two days, and a long drive, it was no longer visibly smoking. I called Tom Wilson’s auto and said that it seemed the problem was fixed and thanked them.

I do not drive my car very often I mostly run local errands to nearby stores. From the 5th to the 20th, of August I might have made half a dozen of these short trips with little to no smoke. On the 20th the car started to smoke again, BADLY! I had decided to call Tom Wilson a 3rd time. On the 21st I went to a local restaurant and while it was parked outside, and ironically, when I was minutes away from calling Tom Wilson to arrange bringing my car in. It caught fire. The fire dept. responded within 30 minutes. However the car was a total loss.

My car on fireI called Tom Wilson to ask them for a full or partial refund. The mechanic told me that the fire could have been a result of something unrelated to the repairs and they would not issue a refund. OK, I agree that it may not have been something they did that caused the fire, but it was darn sure something they didn’t do. In other words they did not find the source of the problem, they thought I was silly for asking about an associated oil leak, and they downplayed the smoking under the hood and risk of fire. Leading me to believe it was not the very serious problem that it was.

20130821_150059 20130821_150533 20130821_150838 20130821_150847 My car on fire 20130821_151152 20130821_152905 20130821_152911 20130821_153027 20130821_174900

After filing a complaint with the Dept. of agriculture. Tom Wilson responded with what would best be described as misleading and erroneous information. They sighted economic circumstances for their decision to not properly service the car, they also mentioned age of the vehicle. Neither of these were discussed with me. They were not thorough in repairing the vehicle nor did they apologize for what may have been their mistake. Instead they made pointed statements about my economic status (which was very misinformed, some of which came out of thin air) Then they went on to say I should not have freedom of speech to voice my opinions on the internet when they have been in business so long. Somehow managing to imply that they can do no wrong because they are so expert. Expert enough to judge a vehicle that is 15 years old as junk and not worthy of their precious time. Do not take your cars here folks!
 

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