Used Cars and Oxy-“Morons”

I’ve been searching for the perfect used car now for over a month. I’ve been looking for a wagon – Volvo, BMW, Audi, or Mercedes. Just a simple used wagon. But there is one other problem. I’m frugal. So, I find wagons and they’re out of my price range or I can’t negotiate the price I want. Or they’re too old. Or, and this is the most common killer of me finding my dream car, they smell like smoke or the chemical used to cover up the smell of smoke. That’s right. I’ve come close to buying several wagons, most of them BMWs, and guess what’s stopped me in my tracks – smokers. There’s a twist of fate there when people ravaging their lungs with cigarettes prevent me from getting a car. Every decision in my life is connected to breathing or someone else’s breathing, or so it seems.

My wife found this wagon for me, which tells you a little bit about her rubbing salt in the wound and the neighborhood we live in.

I also have the pressure of making sure I buy a car that is safe and reliable because should something happen to me the car I choose will be driven by my wife with my daughter riding in the backseat. They’ll also be driving and riding in it now, too, so it needs to be road worthy, unlike the 13 year-old Ford I’m driving. I don’t like them in the Ford and thus the reason for a new used car. This situation creates a mental hell for me when I find something older and inexpensive, which is easy on the bank account, versus something newer and more expensive. Can I take the chance on the older car? Then, I’m conflicted with the following logic: “well, I’m going to die soon anyway, so I might as well get a nice car and spend the money.” Argh, double argh.

During the last month, I’ve dragged my daughter to dealerships all over Los Angeles. We’ve had some fun, like finding an IHOP near a dealer in Santa Monica and having pancakes for lunch, which she loved; and discovering a cool outdoor shopping area in Glendale with a store full of robots. My wife gave us a strange look when she asked us what we did that day and we replied: “we had a robot fight.”

I wish the past month had been all fun and games. I’ve had some of the typical negative car-buying experiences, but I’ve had good ones, too, with very nice, honest sales people. I have plenty of stories, but here’s the one that best typifies the conundrum of my used-car buying experience – so far.

I called a woman selling a 2002 Volvo wagon. When I asked her for the VIN so I could run a CARFAX report, she told me I’d see a few minor fender-benders listed. However, because she worked for an insurance company, she was able to get the damage fixed and, as a bonus, had manipulated the insurance report to include getting minor dings and nicks repaired. She was proud of her cleverness, though some might consider getting your employer to cover repairs not normally covered to be a gray area of honesty. This became more confusing when I told her I was looking for a car free of damage and she replied with “at least you know I’ve been honest with you.” Yes, I thought. Yes, you have. But why do I feel one or us needs a shower right now?

And the search goes on. And on. And on.

8 thoughts on “Used Cars and Oxy-“Morons”

  1. When I was looking for my car last year I was also mindful of buying one that was going to be the safest I could afford, especially as we now have more need of travelling regularly to Sheffield, which is all Motorway. I used the Euro NCAP safety rating website to help me decide when trawling through all the used car ads. I ended up with a 5* rated ’05 Renault Megane 1.5dci and for the right price, just as a bonus it does 45-50mpg as well, very good as diesel prices have just gone up again! £1.28 a litre last week!! Happy hunting my friend 🙂

    • Diesels are starting to catch on here. We have strict pollution laws and had to wait for the new cleaner diesel fuel for them to make a comeback. As Americans, we’re going smaller in size too. The only thing I worry about in buying a small car is the giant SUVs we have on the road. They’re dangerous in an impact.

  2. Sorry its such a mess….I was looking for something similar last year when I bought my car….I ended up with an ’09 Civic Si, red, standard transmission, the racing seats design, with most all the bells and whistles except no built in GPS….I can tell you that is not what I was looking for, I wanted something at least 7 passenger, used so that the notes wouldnt be absurd, preferably not a minivan….like maybe a Traverse or a Flex……but i couldnt help it. I saw it, I loved it, i pointed and it was done…..i didnt even drive it until we went to put gas in it before we left the dealership….. The point? No, its not practical…..but I love that car. It makes me happy. I have no problem sending out that check every month… since it was January of ’10 and it was still an ’09 on the lot, I got paid below dealer invoice…..not msrp…..below invoice…..sweet!! 😉 Best of luck to you. I hope you find something safe that makes you happy too! much love! ~j

    • Red? Wow, that color surprises me, but not in a bad way, as I guess I forget sometimes that you aren’t just a mom. 🙂 I agree with you about the minivan. We have avoided that. I am not a minivan guy. But I am a “red car” guy and have been considering some models in red. Nice dealing on the car, as you know not to pay attention to MSRP. Thanks for the interesting comment. I like thinking of you zipping around in your little red car, Nurse Juli.

  3. We had an old Mercedes wagon when we lived in Germany…we got it after my dads BMW (of the same yr) crapped out on us. But this Mercedes turned into the best car ever and we still miss it, it worked well in the snow and everything. I reccommend a Mercedes! I hope you can find one without the interior smelling like smoke!

    • Anna,

      You lived in Germany? Very cool. I love that country and wish I could go back, but I don’t fly internationally anymore. Germany in the summer is one of the best places in the world to visit.

      I am looking at Mercedes wagons and may get one if I can ever learn to make a decision.

      Best to you,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s