By Maria Koropecky, Homespunspa owner
I’m on a mission to buy a new car. As much as I love my 1990 Ford Taurus wagon, it’s time.
Last week, I had to pick my mom up from the airport and on my way I had to go through one of those drinking and driving checkpoints. As I slowed down and pulled up to the police officer, he took a giant step back, put his hands in the air like he was being arrested and said, “Whoa!” At first I thought it was my garlic breath from dinner but then I realized it was the sound my car was making. It’s rattling. Something is shaking loose and I have no idea what it could be. People are staring at me as I’m driving around town. (At least they’re not pointing and laughing… yet) I’m just praying to get back home safely as I’m clutching my steering wheel.
The stress of driving around in an old car is one thing but the stress of buying a new car is another. I must admit, I am losing sleep over this.
They say, (whoever “they” are) that buying a new car is one of the most stressful experiences in a person’s life. I guess it’s stressful because cars are a big ticket item and nobody wants to pay more than they have to and then get stuck with a lemon. Have you ever noticed how the temperature goes up a few degrees in a room (air conditioned or not) when people talk about money?
Anytime I think of sales people, I picture “Herb Tarlek” from WKRP in Cincinnati with his checkered polyester jackets and big white belts giving me some slick sales pitch that I somehow can’t resist.
It just seems that salespeople have advantages over people like me. They’re pros in this game and I do this once every 10 years or so, if that. They know the game and they have their strategies. The thing I don’t like is how they size you up the minute they meet you and then decide how they’re going to manipulate you into spending your money, so they can make a living, all the while being “friendly.” I’m not a poker player, never have been, and they can see me a mile away. I’m doing my best not to show my hand. That’s the stress and pressure for me.
If I don’t want the wool pulled over my eyes, I have to come prepared. And I have advantages too. First of all, I can do research on the different car models I’m interested in ahead of time. I can decide how much money I’m willing to spend right now and not let them convince me to spend a penny more. I also have the bad economy on my side (there’s something you don’t hear every day) because generally, most people aren’t buying new vehicles these days.
My accountant also told me, “the best time to buy a new car is at the end of the month (last day is best) because the sales reps have to make their sales quotas and if they don’t want to lose their jobs because they’re not making any sales, they’re much more flexible with price.” And the end of August is even better because it’s the end of the season and they want to get rid of the old models before they bring in the new ones. I don’t know if I can wait till the end of August, so the end of July will have to do.
So yesterday I made an appointment to take my first test drive. I was interested in the Pontiac Vibe. My sales rep didn’t turn out to be Herb Tarlek after all. She didn’t pressure me at all and didn’t make me feel stupid.
I liked driving the Vibe but it had a cigarette smell in it that put me off a bit. My sales rep said they can “Ozonate” the car to get rid of the smell, but I wasn’t so sure. Is that service something they would add to my price or is that something I can use to lower my price? Or is it six and one half dozen of the other?
Then she introduced me to the Chevrolet HHR, a model I had never heard of before. And I haven’t noticed any on the roads. It’s kind of funky looking but it’s growing on me. I liked the ride very much and I thought the dials on the 1940’s style dash board were very elegant. And I liked how I could plug in my iPod. Going from a cassette player to mp3 technology is pretty cool. I especially liked the feature that tells you how many kilometres you have left in your gas tank (as my sales rep said, “Who wouldn’t like that?” — I said, “Me, I like living on the edge”) and another feature that tells you — to the percentage — when you should change your oil. For someone like me who is clueless about car maintenance — this is a huge bonus! Less stress, less stress, less stress.
I said I would have to do some research on this car but I’m strongly considering it. But what kind of name is HHR — just doesn’t roll off the tongue. We’ll see. And the Vibe is still an contender, too.
Today I’m going on more test drives at a different dealership to see what else is out there. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, check out this article about car colours and how they reflect your personality. My current blue car says I’m a communicator. There’s a surprise.
What your car colour reveals about you
Psychology behind choice
BY JODI LAI, NATIONAL POST JULY 14, 2009
“Automakers conduct all sorts of studies to determine which colours consumers will pick when buying a new car, but, sometimes, according to DuPont, psychology, cultural influences and science also play roles in colour preference...”