Well, Esther and I have bought a vehicle. What a relief. What a complicated and stressful task. Hundreds of questions keep tumbling over one another in the weary mind.
Now, fresh from the battle, I may be able to help others who will soon be buying. Having gone through the ordeal 18 times (ten cars, six trucks, one van, one SUV) I have learned a little. Damn little the first few times, I admit, but eventually I discovered answers to a few of the most troubling questions.
Question: Should I buy Two Wheel Drive, Four Wheel Drive or All Wheel Drive?
Answer: That depends. On muddy or snow-drifted roads you can, compared with 2WD, go much farther on muddy or snow -drifted roads with 4WD or AWD. And have much farther to walk back when you do get stuck.
Q: How much can I afford?
A: First decide what is absolutely the most you’ll pay, say $20,000, not a dollar more. Then, when you’ve looked at 40 or more vehicles add 20%. That’s what you’ll pay, at least $24,000. It’s true, worked every time for me.
Q: Which brand of vehicle should I buy?
A: Ask five of your friends. They will come up with seven conflicting answers. Write each answer down on a slip of paper, put the slips in a hat , mix them up and draw one out with your eyes closed. Buy that one.
Q: Should I get a top-of-the-line model or a less expensive one?
A: You can tell everyone that all the bells and whistles on the most deluxe model are important for safety and comfort and will be a valuable trade-in next time you’re in the market. No need to mention that your real motive is to outshine all your friends and neighbours’ buggies. Only a shallow person would do that. But you will.
Q: Should I trade my old vehicle in on the new one?
A: Maybe, if you trade when they’re still quite new. But as a young man who drove old vehicles until they were ready to die, it would have been far more fun to push it over a cliff and watch it go crashing down, and with no financial loss.
Q: Is the new car smell worth the extra cost of buying a new vehicle?
A: Depends on the odour you prefer. The new smell only lasts a short time. Sniff the money you save by buying used instead, it’s just as satisfying.
Q: How long should I haggle with the sales person before settling on a price?
A: Depends on how hungry or tired you are.
Q: Should I act tough and suspicious when dealing with the sales person?
A: Not necessary. Those sales people are usually interesting conversationalists. Enjoy the battle of wits, decide to buy or not, ask him to take his hand out of your pocket and walk out smiling.
While shopping for our recent buy I noticed in a list of options $400 for a block heater. That’s what I paid for my first car. The thrill I felt when driving it off the lot has never been equalled with any of the vehicles I’ve bought since (only three of which were purchased new).
Fast forward to the present. Esther (who had several vehicles before we got together) and I lived in a rural area. To access dental, medical, business, specific shopping needs and other services we travelled thousands of miles per year to Nipawin (64 km one way), Melfort (99km), Prince Albert (81km) and Saskatoon (218km). For that we needed a car. To purchase and bring home furniture, lumber and other large loads, and for pulling a camper, a truck was needed. So now that we live in the city where everything can be accessed easily, we’re selling off both car and truck (losing the latter is painful). The SUV we bought will be useful for both city and winter road trips for such things as family visits. So, three vehicle deals at once! Quite possibly the last ones we’ll ever do.