Car Shopping


Did you know that three out of every four cars you see driving around are in need of a service and/or parts. My car is most definitely one of them. See, I’m not a “car” person and my sum-total of all mechanical knowledge has been acquired through computer games and the occasional episode of Top Gear. As such, when something goes wrong with my car I run the problem through a little mental flowchart. Is the issue critical (ie. can I still drive the car or not)? If I can’t, then I’ll either need to do something about it, or just choose not to drive my car for a bit until I get around to having someone look at it. If the issue is not critical, then I will usually choose to ignore it until it becomes critical, or the next issue occurs which may escalate the problem (but usually it doesn’t).

As a result of this ridiculous automotive decision-making tree, my car now has the following ‘minor’ issues – the stereo doesn’t work; the dashboard clock doesn’t work; the internal door trims are coming off; one of the headlights is a bit dim; the tires are a little bald; there are a few small scratches and little dings scattered around the body of the car; it makes an intermittent squealing sound when either the aircon is on or if you try and turn sharply; it smells a bit like yeast (which is an improvement, because it previously smelt like red wine… long story, but basically I left a bottle in there while the car was parked in the sun and it exploded) then after the red wine smell faded, the car started smelling like a bread-van… and that’s the obvious stuff I can see without lifting the hood.

Then E’s car stopped working recently which wasn’t entirely unexpected as it too has a plethora of issues, the biggest being that it leaks random coloured fluids like a lava lamp made out of chicken-wire.

So we figured it was time for a new car.

Although things get a bit tricky when you take a geeky guy that has never owned a vehicle larger than a Mitsubishi Lancer and bases his research on cars he’s driven in Gran Turismo mixed with sarcastic comments made by Jeremy Clarkson. Then, when you cross that with the vehicular requirements of an environmentally conscious mother with two kids and a penchant to transport restored / upcycled furniture around. Finding a happy medium can be tough.

Fortunately, we did have a few likes in common. We both like comfort, we both like good build quality and we both like performance and speed.  I was also open to get something that was a bit more spacious, as long as it didn’t feel like I was driving a bus and E was happy to get something sporty as long as it didn’t burn through too much fuel and had enough room for the kids.

So, after some substantial online research, we decided it was time to actually get behind the wheel and test-drive some cars.

First car yard we went to somehow managed to compile all the possible cars that we had absolutely no interest in. The second place was better and we had a young tattooed blonde lady look after us. She didn’t strike me as an authority as far as motor vehicles go (possibly due to her wearing so much spray-tan that she looked a bit like an umperloomper) but she was lovely and very helpful. Unfortunately the cars she could offer us just didn’t quite meet our requirements. The one I was ok with (and that’s not to say I loved it, but thought it’d be fine) wasn’t E’s pick. And the one E liked just felt far too big for my tastes.

So the journey continued to the next dealership where we came across a Mazda 6 Sports Touring wagon. E had previously suggested one, but it didn’t appeal to me when I saw it online. However, when seeing it in real life, I thought it looked kind-of sexy (even for a wagon). Then I sat in it, and it was like sitting in a sporty lounge chair. So we grabbed the keys and took it for a drive.  I expected that despite it looking nice and being comfortable, there’d be no chance it’d have any power to it. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Not only did it not feel like a big car, it was incredibly responsive and knew exactly what to do when you put your foot down.

Unfortunately, the model we test-drove was the top-of-the-line, fully kitted-out, push-button starting, auto-parking, distance censoring robot car of the future and way out of our price range. So, with our poutiest sad faces we moved onto the next dealership.

Now that we knew what we wanted, even the coolest cars at the next place seemed bland in comparison, so we figured we’d go to one last place and call it a day. While on our way, E suggested I do a few searches to see if there were other places with more cost effective models of our new favourite car available, and to my surprise I found one. A private wholesale dealership with a second hand Mazda 6 that still had all the awesome features we wanted, but was a lot closer to our price range and only 20k on the clock. Incidentally, it happened to be the first one E had shown me online that I originally wasn’t fussed on. It’s funny how Inception, Jedi mind tricks and actually driving something instead of just looking at pics on the internet can change ones perception entirely. While I’m now willing to accept this in the case of cars, I’m afraid I’m still not comfortable applying the same approach to hermaphrodites. Sorry.

But back to the story – We gave the dealer a call to see if we could check it out and even though he was out of town, within a couple of quick calls to his mechanic, he teed-up an inspection and we were able to take it for a spin. Needless to say, we were impressed.

So now we’re in negotiations with the dealer. He’s been away a couple of days and nothing formal is in place yet, but if all goes well we might have a new car soon. Fingers and toes crossed.


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  1. Good luck!!! Shopping for cars, although I haven’t done it, I imagine is as hard as shopping for a house. Fingers crossed for you – will you pick us up from the airport? 😉

  2. Great post, Pete. I hear you about the first two car dealers. Exactly same thing happened to us. 🙂

  3. Pingback: New Car, Christmas Party & Shopping :

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