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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Why I Absolutely Hate Buying Cars!

And another of Life’s Lessons:

I’ve always been a car guy and have been fortunate to have owned some great ones in my life. The buying process for me, however has always been stressful and it sucks. Although I’ve managed to get some fantastic deals on some awesome cars, I’ve also been ripped off, mostly when I was a much younger man, and those memories are not pleasant.

Almost two years ago, my old beater, work car (1999 Dodge Neon) seemed to be about ready to expire so I started looking for a replacement. Wanting to buy something reliable as a second car to get back & forth to work that would last a few years until retirement, I searched the online private seller ads for a decent vehicle. I came across an ad for a 2006 PT Cruiser convertible with a turbo that had only 50,000 miles on it. Owned by a retired couple who towed it down to Arizona every winter behind their RV. Great looking car with good paint and like-new top. The price was right about book value. This is gotta be good, right?. Didn’t do any other research, raced over, did a quick test drive, and plunked the money down. What a piece of crap that car turned out to be. It was a money pit that I couldn’t trust to even start after 2 tows to a dealer. I finally got fed up, decided to absorb a huge loss, and bite the bullet. I put the car in a local online ad Tuesday, trying to get a decent price for it, went out to clean it, retracted the top for the first time this year and the rear window wouldn’t go down. Come on! Another trip to the dealer? That was my breaking point.

Wednesday, I went online to search vehicle inventories at nearby dealers. I’ve spent a lot of time researching cars the last few weeks and found a 2016 Nissan Altima at a dealer only a couple miles away from me. I rented a 2016 Altima to drive back to Wisconsin last September (didn’t trust the PT Cruiser) and was very impressed with the roomy, comfortable car, great power and 38 MPG average on the round trip.

This car was one of the dealer’s own fleet vehicles, well equipped and had only 8,000 miles on it (some were most likely rental miles). It was first titled in July of 2016. The ad said it was a “Certified Used Car” with extended warranty, so I took the PT Cruiser over to see what they would give me for it, knowing it wouldn’t be much. To make a long story a little shorter, we went back and forth, me taking another $2000 hit on the trade-in, but the Altima was well more than $2000 under book. I’m thinking, go for it and get this POS Chrysler off my back....

Then the game begins:

The price of 15K for the Altima was only good if I financed it through Nissan. It amazes me that they don't even want your cash anymore. They make a commission from Nissan finance based on as much as they can lend for as long a period as possible, assuming they can qualify you. OK, for that price, I’m thinking, I can pay it off or re-fi in a couple months.

I specifically remember the exact words of the salesman when looking at the car, “ This is a ‘certified used car’ and comes with a 7 year, 100,000 mile warranty in addition to the three year factory warranty”. The salesman then had me at a table, another guy hanging out within earshot. We worked the numbers and I asked what other fees they would come up with. I specifically remember again the exact words, “document prep fee of $295, taxes, registration and license fees”. The other guy hanging out would jump in, coaching up the salesman(boy) after I asked questions. I agreed to make the deal. I then sat and twiddled my thumbs for 45 minutes while they “did the paperwork”.  Meanwhile, they take the license plates off my PT Cruiser and inform me that they’re in the trunk of my “new car”. Finally the finance dude calls me in to start signing papers.

He’s shoving papers in front of me to sign like I’m buying a freaking house, telling me I’m getting the first 3 oil changes and inspections at no charge. Paper after paper, no contract, I was getting a bad feeling this was not going to turn out well. Of course, the second last document was “the contract”, and that contract was about $3000.00 more than what we agreed to! Those first 3 oil changes? That was going to cost me a $100 maintenance fee. That 7 year, 100,00 mile warranty? That was $2000.00. Line item “Gap” charge $895.00? I asked “what the hell is that?”. Answer: “That is Gap insurance, in case you total the car and you are upside down on your payments”. Emissions and safety inspection? $100.00. Double the price you’d pay at a regular emission site.
My 64 year old temper then erupted. Without detailing the entire conversation, suffice to say a few bad words in a very irate voice were said by me, a gal that was busy photocopying, put down her papers and abruptly left the room. I told him "put the license plates back on my PT Cruiser, I’ll find somewhere else to buy a car". As I started to get up, he's got his hands up in the air saying “hold on, hold on, let me fix this”.

He had to tear up the contract and write a new one as well as redo the finance agreement, and he was not happy, desperately pleading non-stop that I absolutely "needed" that $2000 extended warranty. I told him that they should have been upfront with me at the beginning, I was not going to be played for a fool and I'm not paying for an additional warranty. After signing the revisions, he walked out of his office saying he would find my salesman. The prick never even said thanks or goodbye, leaving me standing there. He had the temporary registration tag for the back window in his hand and stuck it on the showroom door as he went outside while calling the salesman on a two-way radio. He never came back, the photocopy gal was gone, as well as a couple other people that had been standing around outside his open office door. The salesman came and got me after a couple minutes. That’s supposed to make me feel guilty? Think I would recommend them to anyone else? Hell no! I'm hoping Nissan contacts me for a review of my "car buying" experience.

You have to be prepared to stand your ground and remember what is stated, they will clean your pockets for everything they can get! One thing I learned over these many years, think clearly and be prepared to walk away from a bad deal. And doing some research would have saved me a bunch of wasted money on that PT Cruiser, a lesson I should have remembered! Consumer Reports has vast data on the reliability history of automobiles. If you're in the market for a vehicle, you can pay $6.95 per month for a few months while you do your homework. is a pretty good source also that is free.

Hopefully, if I have to buy another vehicle in my life, there will be a better way to do it, or in my old age, I may throw my future cane or walker at the next guy.


  1. Trying to buy my new truck was similar. Finally snatched my down payment check from his hand and went to another dealership. I will not reward that kind of tactic with my money.

  2. And that is why I don't buy cars. Ever.

  3. Nice Article! You have explained it amazingly. Really an informative and insightful post for all the readers. I’ll make a note of this article for sure. Debt of gratitude is in order for sharing. Keep it up.