Offcuts: Car Buyer By: Don Heisz

Yesterday, I was involved in a rather serious accident that completely destroyed my car. The airbag is probably what kept me from getting seriously injured. Whoever designed that thing, a big thanks to you.
While it would be nice to rest after such an incident, especially since it feels like an elephant mule-kicked me in the chest while a gorilla tried to pull off my arms, the practical matters of life weigh in. The main one right now is the fact that I will continue to need to get me and my stuff to work. So, I went looking for a new vehicle yesterday afternoon.
I wasn’t in much of a mood for shopping, so I only went to two places. I decided I wanted something a little bigger than what I had, since I do sometimes have to move around quite an amount of tools.

The first place I visited, I looked at a bigger SUV-type thing. I can’t offer a better description than that, because pretty much everything that isn’t a truck or sedan now looks like an SUV. Some are small, some are medium-sized, and some are larger, some are huge. After awhile, they all look the same. It’s like trying to tell the difference between eggs without being able to measure them or compare them side-by-side. So, I was just judging the thing by looking in the back. If it had enough room, that was good for me.
I wanted to get something a few years old, to get a lower price on something that is probably reliable. The first one I looked at was 4 years old. The salesman assured me it was in perfect working order. I told him the tires were bald and the brake-pads, which I could get a look at through the rim, were worn down to an eighth of an inch. He assured me that his sheet said everything was good.
I started it and mentioned that it sounded a bit like a lawnmower. He said it had probably been sitting around for a while.

He insisted that I come inside and look at the file on the vehicle. He showed me that they had replaced the shocks and a few other things, that the brakes were indeed “in the green” (which means that they were not worn so much that they wouldn’t work) and that while the tires were pretty much bald, they were not likely to split open or pop.
I asked about a note on the service report that mentioned rewelding something. He said he had no idea. I figure that someone drove the thing off a few hundred curbs, over some fallen trees, into a few ditches, through some potholed dirt roads, just to be like in the car commercials, and it wrecked the suspension.
I think that would’ve been a bad purchase. What really gave it away was the fact that the salesman was wearing aviator sunglasses and looked like Donnie Brasco.

So, I went elsewhere. My second attempt was successful. I picked something out that seemed fairly sound and fit the right profile and wasn’t priced such that I felt like I might need a blood transfusion. I could see the salesman’s eyes, he didn’t seem to have a trace of cocaine in his system, and he didn’t annoy me by lying about the car. I’m not a fan of liars. I realize salesmen have to lie, since almost everything in the world is just a few steps away from being complete and total garbage. But I also don’t respond well to people trying to sell me things.
The second guy I talked to, after agreeing to buy the car, tried to sell me additional junk. He didn’t understand that I really don’t care if the car gets rusty. It’s going to get rusty – it’s made of steel. I don’t need to spend any extra money to preserve the paint job so it’s nice and shiny in ten years but still has every mechanical part worn out. A rotten apple is still rotten, even if the peel is polished.

He almost chased me away with his silly insistence on additional warrantees and so-called “peace of mind”. But I didn’t want to go look at anything else.

Hobbling out the door, a different salesman congratulated me on my purchase of a new car. I laughed. Not exactly the circumstances under which to be excited about any purchase. Just lucky the purchase wasn’t a coffin.

I hope the airbags work in the new clunker.