I am super terrific at obtaining cars, so I thought I should share my experiences and knowledge with everyone so that it may serve as a reference source for all of your car buying needs.
In my Rental House post, I referred to a girl I babysat for a really long time. Let’s call her…Kristen. Because that’s her name. And we’ll call her dad Simba. That is not his name at all, not even close. So Simba asked if I could babysit Kristen (she was about 9 or 10) over the summer of my freshman year of college, at his house, which was about 30 minutes away from mine (they didn’t live next door anymore). I didn’t have a car, so I couldn’t figure out how it was possible for me to do this. I don’t remember the details, but Simba was a car salesman and somehow obtained a 1983? 1984? Toyota Corolla for super cheap. The car was older than Kristen, I know that much. I named the car Lloyd and he served me well all summer, even though I had to drive up a really big hill to get to their house and every day I felt like it was less and less likely that I would make it to the top. I’d start leaning forward in Lloyd, trying to help him drive up the hill. At the end of that summer, I gave Lloyd back, because he was only temporary for the babysitting gig.
I spent my sophomore year of college without a car, and that was when I started working in theater. I’m terrified of public transportation, so that meant I had to get a ride with various actors or my parents had to drive 40 minutes to pick me up, take me to rehearsal, and then drive me back to the dorms. I took the bus ONCE to rehearsal. Given my nature, you would think I would have researched bus schedules, memorized them, asked people exactly what riding the bus was like and what it looked like and felt like – but no, I just chose a completely random bus stop and got on the first bus that was going in the direction I wanted to go in. About an hour and a half later, and a lot of walking later, I got to the theater.
The summer after my sophomore year, my mom drove by a car that had a “For Sale” sign in it. It was a 1989 Ford Probe, in perfect, lovely condition. It was a very cute sporty car. So, she stopped and talked to the people, got it for $2,000 and then came home and told me she bought me a car. The big problem with this was that it was a stick shift car, and no one in my family knew how to drive stick shift. We had to ask the people selling the car if they’d drive it to my house and park it in my driveway. They did that, and I sat in the driveway in Molly O’Lloyd. This was about 2006, I think, and I didn’t have a cell phone yet, so I took our cordless phone and called my friend from my bright red Ford Probe and it was really neat. Molly O’Lloyd had some quirks. For instance, I couldn’t fill the gas tank up more than 3/4 of the way because otherwise it would leak. The inside of the windshield would freeze with an inch thick layer of ice in the winter, and the defroster did not work. I would have to chip all the ice off the inside AND outside of the car. Last were the white spiders. They would randomly appear and crawl across the dashboard or the window and I would nearly drive into buildings and people trying to kill the spiders without letting them get on me. Obviously, I eventually learned how to drive stick shift, and the first time I drove for a long distance was when I drove to a rehearsal 45 minutes away. I made my mom come with me, even though she does not know how to drive stick and could not have helped if I needed it. She slept in the backseat of the car while I was in a four hour rehearsal.
We sold Molly O’Lloyd when my dad got a new car, which meant my mom got his car, which meant I got her car. It was a Neon, black with silver racing stripes. It was very cute and his name was Mark West. Mark West was totaled when I turned left at an intersection and a guy coming at me went straight through a yellow light and hit Mark West very hard.
So then my dad decided he’d get a new car again, give my mom his old car again, and she would give me her car. This was all working out very well for me. I now had another Neon, but this one was four doors and beige. There is nothing wrong with a four door beige car, but it just never really spoke to me. This is especially bad, but I don’t remember that cars name. Then the car started driving weird and on a Monday night I found out that it would cost $900 to fix it. So at 8pm I drove to a car dealership and said I wanted to trade in my car and get a new one. They asked me what I was looking for in a car, and I said orange. The guy said he had one orange car on the lot and I said I would take it. That was literally how it went. Here’s where you start cringing. The car didn’t have automatic locks or windows and was considered used because it was a demo car or something at the dealership? I don’t know exactly what. At any rate, that meant a very short warranty. So I’m sitting at this table while my sleazy salesman, Mike Ice, tells me to sign things. I thought, hey, maybe I should call my dad, just to let him know I’m buying a new car at a dealership, which I’ve never done in my life and am in no way qualified to do. The following conversation was the result:
Me: Hi dad! I’m about to buy a car! It’s orange!
Dad: WHAT??? WHERE ARE YOU? DON’T SIGN ANYTHING!!!
Me: I’m at the car dealership and I’m getting a brand new orange car! I only signed one thing.
Dad: WHAT THING??? WHAT DID YOU SIGN? GET UP RIGHT NOW AND WALK OUT OF THERE. RIGHT NOW. GET UP AND WALK OUT. LEAVE.
Mike Ice: (evilly whispering in the background) You’re an adult, aren’t you? What are you waiting for, make your own decisions.
Me: The guy says I should buy the orange car.
Dad: THE GUY IS WRONG. GET UP AND WALK OUT OF THERE. WALK OUT OF THERE NOW. I AM NOT KIDDING.
I don’t remember exactly how the conversation ended, but I do know there were a few mentions of “DO NOT LIST ME AS A COSIGNER. I WILL NOT COSIGN FOR ANYTHING”. Mike Ice was mean after that, and made me cry and made me think that the thing I signed was binding and that if I left without getting the car, he would basically be allowed to follow me home and murder my family while I watched, and then tape my eyelids open for the rest of my life so I could never blink again. So, of course, I bought the car. With $300 from my trade in and the $500 I had on my credit card. It took them a good 45 minutes to find a place that would loan me money. I now know there is something I should have paid attention to, called interest rates, but I signed those papers, too. My car payments were astronomical. But I have an orange car and even though there are no power anythings, it’s orange and I love it. His name is Dan Folino, but I mostly just call him Orange Car. I still have him, he’s a 2007 Cobalt.
To summarize, follow these rules when buying a new car:
1. Buy it if the price seems good, even if you don’t know anything about what a good price is and even if you are unable to drive the car because you don’t know how.
2. If someone breaks your car, give the money to your dad so he buys a new car and gives you an older one.
3. This is the most important – be sure you know what color you want your new car to be when you go to a car dealership. The rest is really optional information, the nice people at the dealership will just tell you where to sign.