February 16, 2021 – The advantages of owning a used car.

Do you own a used car and it’s still got a little ‘life’ left in it? Do yourself a favor, unless you’re taking it to the shop continuously for repairs, hang onto that gem! Yes, there are serious incentives to purchasing new vehicles. When you drive a new vehicle off the lot, what a rush! The car looks and smells amazing. You feel powerful when you get behind the wheel and take it for a spin. It starts right up when you turn the key and oh, baby, it runs like a dream when you take it out on the road! Your ‘old beater’ has got nothing on this beauty! Unlike your ‘old beater’, everything works like it should. There are no more ‘doors that stick’ or ‘wonky locks’ or stained upholstery that (no matter how many times you’ve had your vehicle’s interior detailed) refuses to come clean. Your new car’s interior and exterior is pristine, inside and out. There are no scratches or dings or nicks or dents. It is truly a sight to behold!

As nice as it is to own a brand new vehicle, there’s much to consider before winding up in the ‘financial quagmire’ that is associated with purchasing one. Sure, there are only 33 miles on the odometer when you drive it off the lot. Not only that, it’s got that enticing ‘new car smell’ and every surface (inside and out, top to bottom) is untarnished and beautiful. The paint is flawless and the chrome rims shine. And everything works as it should! The engine purrs, the lights turn on and off, the windows go up and down, and the car stops when you apply the brakes. When you think of it that way, who wouldn’t want a new car?! Hang on. Let’s discuss. First of all, there’s the ‘financial quagmire’ you’ll be facing if you purchase a new vehicle. Once you choose the vehicle that you’re happy with, and sit down with the salesperson, if you haven’t already, that’s when you might experience your first case of ‘sticker shock’.

Yes, new cars these days aren’t cheap! We’re talking a minimum of $20,000 of your hard earned dollars for something in the ‘economy class’. Sure, if you need to finance it, the finance department at the dealership can find a way to make it ‘affordable’. What are you able to pay each month? $300? $500? $700? Oh, yes, they can make that ‘work’, no problem! On the other hand, if you’re determined to pay off the vehicle in 48 or 60 or 72 months, they can make that work, too! Once a price is agreed upon by both parties, seller and purchaser, the ‘negotiations’ that follow seem endless. There are contract terms and whether you intend to ‘buy’ or ‘lease’ and if you already have a vehicle, whether you’d be interested in trading it in to help offset the cost. Whatever you do, don’t fall for the ‘trade in’ tactic.

Do you know what happens when you ‘trade in’ your vehicle as you simultaneously purchase a new vehicle? I don’t know a nice way of putting it other than to say you’re allowing yourself to be ‘doubly’ screwed over. Do you want to know ‘who’ comes out ahead when you do this? I’ll give you a clue. It isn’t you! The dealership is not ‘your friend’. They are going to milk you for all that you’re worth, which brings me to the ‘extended warranty’. This term sends a shiver down my spine. Everybody wants to sell extended warranties on practically everything nowadays, even Office Depot. What I ‘love’ about extended warranties on vehicle purchases is that (just like time shares) the longer you hold out, the cheaper they get! The last time the topic was broached, I was informed that the extended 3-year warranty was available for the more-than-fair price of $2,500.

Whenever that ‘topic’ comes up, I always respond with a resounding ‘NO’. Whether it’s extended warranties on $50 office chairs or $500 television sets or $20,000 vehicles, I’m not having it! “Why would I even need it?” I think aloud, “I shouldn’t need to purchase an extended warranty if I’m already paying a pretty penny for a reliable vehicle from a reputable manufacturer.” “Yes,” the salesperson agrees, “However, you never know if you might need it (using the fear factor). The original warranty is for 5 years and it only covers the drive-train. The extended warranty covers everything, bumper to bumper. Without the extended warranty, if something were to happen, depending on what it was, you might have to pony up $5,000-$8,000 for parts and labor.” “No,” I’ll calmly reply, “I’m still not interested.” Flabbergasted, the salesperson usually stands up and abruptly leaves the room.

Upon returning, more often than not, he or she will pose the following question, “What if we could offer you that same warranty for $1500?” Ack! So many ‘games’! We haven’t even addressed getting through the juggernaut of sales people that are all vying for your business. Spilling out the doors of the showroom the minute your tires make contact with the dealership parking lot, they nearly trip over each other trying to reach you first. The one that does usually wants to learn your name and ‘make your acquaintance’ right away. A business card is usually thrust into your hand at that point, while the salesperson repeatedly states their name to ensure you don’t forget it. They can usually tell by my demeanor that I don’t want to be bothered, so before they depart, I am told something to the effect of, “If you just want to walk around and take your time, once you’ve settled on something, be sure to ask for me.”

I haven’t even brought up all the choices. Just the thought of all there is to consider makes me dizzy! Do you want a 2-door coupe, a 4-door sedan, an SUV, a truck, or a mini-van? Would you prefer the basic or sport model? How many people would you like to accommodate? There is also fuel economy to consider as well as the environmental impact. With that in mind, are you interested in a car powered by regular gas, diesel, electricity or a hybrid? Oh, Lord! I wish that was all that had to be ‘decided upon’ but I haven’t even begun to talk about colors and materials. Do you like black with gray, red with black, gray with white, or none of the above? Would you prefer upholstery or leather, and if you choose leather, how about upgrading to heated seats? How about a Lojack in case someone steals your car? Food for thought.

And if you’re not already overwhelmed, don’t forget the ‘joy’ of test-driving numerous vehicles to see which one ‘handles’ best. What I ‘love’ most about test driving is when the sales person sits in the back seat and breathes down my neck the entire time. NOT! Look, do you really want to go through all of that? Do you really want to commit to 5+ years of $300 & up (per-month) car payments along with significantly increased insurance costs? What about all the stress you have to endure once the ‘honeymoon phase’ is over? The ‘honeymoon phase’ starts when you initially purchase the vehicle and ends when you get that payment booklet in the mail from the finance company and actually have to write out the first of dozens of checks for several hundred dollars each. Once you get that payment booklet, the honeymoon is officially over!

After that phase concludes, buyer’s remorse is sure to follow. That’s when you ask yourself, “What was I thinking? I’ve just signed a contract for tens of thousands of dollars that is going to take years to pay off. I’d better get used to eating ramen noodles and hotdogs for a while and hopefully no major appliances break in the meantime or I’m going to be in a world of hurt!” My friends, all I ask is that you think about it before you drive towards that dealership. Do you really want to put yourself through all of that, all the things I just mentioned? If that doesn’t convince you, think about all of the memories that you and your ‘old beater’ have made together. Haven’t those memories brought you ‘closer’? Your car never judged you when you drove a half a mile with the parking brake on or the countless times you turned onto a roadway and drove off the curb in the process (causing you continual alignment issues).

Your car took hit after hit during the freak hailstorm and never complained once. It didn’t get angry when you left an unopened can of orange soda in the front console and the can exploded after the outdoor temperatures exceeded 105 degrees. It forgave you when you…oh, never mind, I’d better keep that one under my hat. My point? In a roundabout way, all I’m really trying to say is, unless you’ve got a serious ‘hooptie’ on your hands, hang onto that used car! If you maintain it properly and get it serviced regularly, it should last you upwards of 20 years or more. Think of all the money you can save! You take care of it, it takes care of you. Thanks so much for stopping by! For the folks that are ‘following’ me, I am grateful for you and the continued interest you have in reading my blog. I love to write and I try to infuse humor into everything I do and I hope I was able to make you smile. If all goes well and I haven’t run you off, I trust you will return tomorrow as will I.

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