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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Oh No! Our Daughter Gets Her First Car - Updated

Fall, 2012: Our 18 year old daughter obtained her first job a few weeks ago and is on the way to growing up and making her own way in the world. The job is in retail with varied shifts, weekend hours and of course the busy Christmas season coming up. A problem then developed of how she would get back and forth to work, as one of our vehicles was not always available. A second problem then became, how was she going to pay for a vehicle, as we are not in a position to buy her one and she was going to have to budget for all the costs of owning a car.
I had been talking to a guy at work that had a $2500 used car for sale that was supposedly in very good condition. After seeing a couple pictures of the car and knowing how he takes care of his vehicles, we informed Tauni to see if she would be interested, which she definitely was. Since she had a savings account at our local America First Credit Union, I suggested that she and her mom go down there and see if she could qualify for a car loan. They actually quickly qualified her with proof of employment, but without any credit history, the interest rate would be about 13%. If Mary was willing to cosign the loan, the interest would drop to about 8%. Since she has always been thrifty with her money, mom and I agreed that we would trust her to follow through and be responsible for the loan. (However, I would not suggest this as advisable for all kids!)
So the next step was to send them over to look at and drive the car. As it was very clean and appeared to be in good shape for a 150,000 mile car, they drove it over for our mechanic (Brent) to take a look at and see what he thought. The owner had even given us a Car-fax report which turned out clean. He gave us the thumbs up and we made the deal with Will. The credit union would not give the funds out until she brought in her first paycheck, which took a few days.
As I was doing some research on that make, model of car, we discovered some unsettling information. It’s a 1999 Honda Civic with a 5-speed manual transmission and just happens to be the second most stolen car in America! The first most stolen car is the Honda Accord. In fact Will, who sold us the car, told us that it had been stolen twice in the past. I had previously owned  a 1990 Dodge Shadow  and that car was stolen in Las Vegas, so I know how easy those cars with manual transmissions are to steal. All the thief does is, after gaining entry, whack the ignition switch on the steering column with something and break it off. You can then stick a screwdriver in there and operate the car just as if you had the key! From what I have learned, it is extremely difficult to even find a steering column from an old wrecked Civic in a junkyard, as so many are needed to fix the stolen cars!
Since my Dodge was stolen (and recovered) in the late 90's, I have been using “The Club” on the steering wheel of my newer Dodge Neon. A simple device that you can buy for about $30, it’s a lockable bar that extends over the steering wheel that impedes you from turning the wheel as you sit in the driver’s seat. The device is not a guarantee, however, as you could take a bolt cutter and cut through the steering wheel to remove it. It is a deterrent though and hopefully would send any prospective thief who doesn't happen to be carrying a bolt cutter down the road to an easier target. If you drive one of these easily stolen vehicles, you may also consider installing a hidden battery or fuel cut-off switch hidden in the vehicle.
So, Tauni’s first ride sits locked away behind the fence until next week, when she can get it inspected, licensed, insured and theft proofed before she takes off! I remember the feeling I had when I bought my first car. It was exciting!
If anyone lives near Salt Lake City and is in need of a reliable, honest mechanic that charges fair prices, let me know in the comments section or email me at the address in my sidebar. I will get you the name, address and phone number of Brent!
Tauni's newer ride.

Update: August, 2014 Well, it's almost two years now and Tauni's first car experience was a success. No accidents, one minor speed ticket, it didn't get stolen, and the car still ran great with no major breakdowns. She made all her payments on time every month and was able to save enough to pay the loan off early.
After obtaining a new job, which necessitated a much longer commute, she decided on purchasing a newer car a couple months ago. She found a good deal on a 2011 vehicle and we were able to sell the Honda for $2000, which helped in the affordability of her new purchase. With her now excellent credit history, obtaining financing at a decent interest rate was no problem. Good job Tauni!
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  1. Since every car owner runs the risk of having their car stolen, your fears for your daughter’s car and her safety are definitely founded. However, that’s more reason to go out and find either a safer car or more safety precautions. Installing keyless entry and a loud alarm would be a good start. Steering wheel locks should also never be underestimated. The sight of them may prove to be a deterrent to would-be thieves.

    1. Good points, thanks for the comment!

  2. Yes, Ernest did make some great points about car safety. I think another thing that you could try is to buy an OnStar kit for your daughter’s car. You can find one at Best Buy. It has Roadside Assistance, Hands-Free Calling and Navigation. It might put your mind at ease a little more if you know that you can reach her easily in case of an emergency.

    1. Thanks, I wasn't aware that you could get OnStar on a non-GM vehicle. Good information and thanks for the comment!

  3. Love reading your blog!! Really informative.