From Daddy: Today was the last day for the Old Daddy Car.
This was the only Daddy Car that he has ever known.
On September 2, after I dropped him off at school and filled up on gas, I drove in congested traffic toward the East Bay.
The car was on the verge of overheating on the overhead freeway–the temperature dial ran counterclockwise beyond the “H” in the hot-cold indicator. I pulled over at the next exit. After parking and waiting a while for the engine to cool, I tried to proceed but the engine once more heated after a few minutes. I parked, excused myself from work meetings, and later limped to a nearby Firestone that I have used.
Firestone would say that the car was beyond their help. I drove the car to the very nearby dealership in town. They worked on it the next day and estimated the repairs to be $4,775. The Daddy Car was done.
I didn’t want it to end like this. I hoped for an opportunity to be patient and selective about the next car and to have built a better reserve to pay for the next car.
The car drove fine on the way home. They obviously filled it with plenty of coolant (which the tech said that the car “drank” during diagnostics).
Weeks of research…
…and negotiations began.
Finally, after much negotiation, I was ready to pull the trigger on a Civic Hybrid–best features of all except perhaps the most loaded Mazda 3 and the Volt; mileage rated only slightly under the Prius; and very favorable quote less than the fully-loaded Mazda, mid-range but loaded Prius, and what I would assume to be the Crosstrek’s price or fully loaded Impreza’s–at the most local dealer. It was also the dealer where they tried the repair and I had a feeling that I could negotiate a credit based upon the $160 that I already paid for the diagnostic. Their price was $23875.50 out the door or just over $389 per month on a five-year 0.9% loan with a downpayment of $1000. (The “out-the-door” price and/or the monthly payment seemed to me to be the best way to gauge a final number; I would not know what fees could be added to the car’s price otherwise.)
How did this price compare? I received better quotes from two dealers about an hour away (by almost $200), but this dealership stepped up and basically made it a wash. Cool.
Then some important things happened:
- I visited this dealership yesterday morning. The sales person did not show (he was busy and it was last-minute; I understood) but his associates said that he’d be back within minutes. He wasn’t, so I got another sales associate to show me colors. Only the black was available (not in my top three of choices). Next, they offered me only $100 to trade-in the Daddy Car which I accepted. Then, he printed out an offer sheet (after consulting with the original sales person who has since returned and was helping someone else). Later, I would notice that the offer sheet was greater ($390.xx per month) than the previous offer that the sales associate made ($389.xx) without the trade-in! After my friendly e-mail, the second sales associate agreed to change it when I returned. When I asked for numbers by e-mail, he didn’t reply. When I called him that late afternoon/evening, he said that he needed to confirm with the first sales associate.
- During this time, the first dealer where I test drove the Civic stepped in with an offer within $100 of this one ($23,975 out-the-door). Also, they had three of my favorite colors. I was ready to go there!
- Also during this time (and the previous evening), one of the dealers an hour away offered a quote of $23,717 out-the-door with a black unit and silver unit. That might not have been enough to make me drive far, however…
- …A dealer an hour away came in with a bid of $21,280 before fees / $23,495 OTD. The bid was in his e-mail (i.e., documented though not on hard copy) and he had my three favorite colors. Also, about $385 per month for five years with only $900 down. Dare I spend the time and risk driving the Daddy Car out there?
I e-mail last pleas to all other dealers. The dealers dropped out of the bidding, give best offers greater than all four of the above, claimed that the low quote was fake, and/or claimed that other fees would eat up the difference. (By the way, none of the car buying services came close to these preceding quotes.) What would I do?
I decided to drive out there this morning. I left the house about half an hour later than expected due to trying to accomplish some work, taking the above photos of the boy and the Daddy Car, emptying the Daddy Car, and retrieving the Fasttrack transponder from the minivan that I borrowed from Yeah-Yeah and Ngen-Ngen.
- I test drove the car and learned more about driving hybrids. (I don’t think that I ever test drove the Civic Hybrid model.)
- The deal was solid. (Great. I saved about $400 in exchange for the nearly hour-long one-way drive!)
- They offered my $200 for the Daddy Car. (Score!)
- They had three colors in stock. While “urban titanium” was nice in some types of light, this morning it looked too brown. The “modern steel” looked dark and fantastic, but the sales associate warned that blacker cars do not conceal dirt as well as lighter cars. Hello, alabaster silver.
- The deal was $382.01 per month. My room for negotiation was pretty much gone. I tried to get them down to $379 per month. I only got to $382.00 per month. To achieve it, they bumped up the trade-in to $200.50.
Then to the finance manager.
- He tried to sell me on a security package for $549. The car had automatic shut-off and sound if the glass is pressured (or breaks) or elevated (for stripping) without the key. I thought of where I park near our satellite office (the Daddy Car’s right back window has been shattered and once the stereo of the car beside it was stolen). I bought it for $539. It would be financed.
- Then he tried to sell me the extended service contract for $1795, covering the car for seven years or 80,000 miles, good at any Honda dealership. I declined but admitted being tempted. I bought it for ten years or 100,000 miles plus he waived the $47 processing fee for my not bringing the Daddy Car’s pink slip (which I tried but couldn’t find this morning). The Daddy Car has acted up these past years and also the urban legend of hybrid batteries weighed upon me. I felt okay about buying this. It would also be financed.
- He asked if I wanted to write a check for the downpayment. I said sure, but I left checkbook back at the sales associate’s desk–unless I could put the $900 downpayment on the credit card. Done. (Score! I might even get some cash back on that!)
Final tally: $422.61 per month for five years. I still felt pretty good about this, I increased my payment by barely one dollar per day for five years, and the Daddy Car lasted over 13 1/4 years.
I thanked, in turn, the finance manager and sales associate for their time and courtesy, and said that I hoped that I returned the favor.
It was time to go to the cleaned and fueled new car. The sales associate gave me a great tour of the controls. (More on this tour in a later blog post.)
Finally, it was time to transfer the remaining desired contents of the Daddy Car to the new car.
The new car and I spend a lot of time driving home and occasionally dealing with very congested traffic. According to the on-board computer, it’s mileage on the way home: 44.1 miles per gallon.
I’m glad that my work is done. To wrap things up, I e-mailed almost every dealer still in play (including the local dealer) that I bought the car today.