How Buying a Car Is Like Dating… Maybe

You can sell me anything. It’s true.  If it comes in plaid, I’ll take one.

A few weeks ago, I tried to convince my husband that we should install an electric lift in the garage attic, so we could optimize storage. He didn’t even respond to that text…

I have spent the past few weeks configuring a personal/household budget, curbed my shopping, and lowered several bills, yet I STILL almost signed up for a bouquet delivery service b/c some pretty (really pretty) pictures of flowers showed up in my news feed in Facebook.  That’s right.  Even with the voice in my heading saying, “You don’t need $75 bouquets of flowers showing up randomly at your door,” — I still clicked–  just to take a peek.

No, I didn’t buy them.

This is why I was so nervous when I went shopping for a car this weekend.  Let’s recap. I don’t need a car right this minute, but my eleven-year-old car is getting — well older, AND since I am trying to figure out whether I can actually afford to go part-time or not, I need to consider future expenses — like said car.

I knew what might happen.  I might fall in love with a new car.  I’ve had mine for over a decade.  I expected to be dazzled by all the new features.  I’ve been planning on this purchase for several years.  I was ready to regret being talked into purchasing a new car. I was ready to be SOLD! I was ready to hand over my loyal car and move on to something new.

That didn’t happen.  Instead, I met with a sleepy salesman who kept yawning and saying he was just so tired.  He stood on one side of the showroom vehicle and talked to me through the open windows, mumbling details  — in a bored delivery.  I frequently had to ask him to repeat himself.  I even had to initiate a test-drive — he seemed ready for me to buy without a test run.  Driving made our discussions even more difficult.  I had to again, keep asking him to repeat himself — this time without the ability of seeing his lips move. He didn’t sell me at all.  He was really more interested in what I did for a living.  It was Sunday.  I don’t feel like talking about work on a non-workday.  This wasn’t a date.  This was a sale. Perhaps, feeling my indifference to his lack of sales game, he instead tried to convince me what a piece of shit my current vehicle was.

“So, we’re going with that tactic, aye?”

He ridiculed the fact that my company (Suzuki) had left the U.S. market during the economic downfall to which I informed him that if they hadn’t stopped selling vehicles, I’d be at a Suzuki dealership buying a new version of the vehicle I currently drive.  He scoffed at the fact that it had 130k miles on it.  Yes, it does, but that’s because I have had it for over ELEVEN years (which doesn’t seem bad at all) and that I have not had any repairs beyond the usual maintenance.  I figure I could probably go up to 200k but am not really comfortable testing that theory out. This is like dating someone new and having them bad mouth your ex (or the father of your children).  We don’t know each other well enough to bash exes on our first date.

I found myself defensive of my current spouse car — or more specifically defending myself on owning my car — the car that had saved me during a rear-ending where the vehicle behind me simply never stopped for the red light.  It’s the vehicle that I brought my son home from the hospital in.  We’ve gone through three different versions of car-seats as he has grown.  All 130+lbs of Finn, fits in the cargo area.  I can tell you what caused every scratch on that car (from the drunk man who opened his car door into the rear passenger door to the rogue shopping cart that slammed down the driver’s side on a particularly stormy and wind driven day while I listened to the metal squeak as I sat inside helpless to stop it). Two (different) old ladies backed into my car in two separate parking lots, and the right side of the bumper has a scuff from when I had the flu and accidentally backed my car into the gutter of the garage before climbing into bed and falling unconscious for three days.

I felt like that test-drive had been some sort of insult to my beloved Suzuki (or ex/spouse).

When I got back in my SUV, I appreciated the location of my cup holders.  The pretty faux wood-grain interior (the new car was all plastic and lacked the decency to even disguise it).  The steering wheel was wide and my hands fit just right.  The new car lacked sophistication.

My husband asked me if I liked the test-drive — and all I could think to say was. “It was kind of like driving this car — only that one would come with a car payment.”

What I think I meant was this, the newer car was:
A) comparable to what I currently drive and
B) didn’t have ANY of the bells and whistles of a newer car — AT ALL.  It didn’t even try to woo me. There was no passion. It had heated seats standard which was pretty neat, but I didn’t turn it on during the test drive — so I hadn’t even thought about the temperature of my butt. It had a moon roof, which kind of annoyed me, honestly — also standard.  I asked if I could get a car without the moon roof and he scoffed and said, no.

What I really wanted was some luxury (court me dammit!! — read me poetry and subscribe me to a flower delivery service in which I will never know that you signed up for automated deliveries rather than taken the time to send me flowers each month — love is a game anyway and more points to you for efficiency!) along with a remote starter – mine died a few years back and I never fixed it b/c I was figuring on getting a new car.  I also want the lane change warning thingy that probably has  fancy name.   Also a  GPS system b/c I hate having stupid devices/wires everywhere (and the salesman was kind of *condescending about why I was insistent on getting GPS anyway). These things meant I’d have to upgrade to the next model — leather seats and blah, blah, blah. The sleepy salesman pointed out the touchscreen console while I was driving which was A) distracting and B) would be useful for the “GPS system you’re telling me I don’t need to get.”

It was also annoying that whenever I asked about lease vs. purchase, he tried to remind me that “No one leases these b/c they love them so much they only want to buy them.” To which my inner voice replied,”If you make me puke with this nonsense, I swear I’ll do it in the back of that expensive hatchback hybrid over there.”

I left feeling wildly unsatisfied by the experience and all the more driven to cling to my current car.  It felt like trying to have an affair only to realize that your spouse is what suits you best.  More accurately, it was like trying to have an affair with someone who was just really into — themselves.

…Actually, it was even worse.  The lack of a sales-pitch was like showing up to our first date in sweat pants (the kind with elastic around the ankles) and a sweaty tee-shirt that’s a size too small.

For those of you keeping track, this is a good thing for someone trying to save money — I think.  Unless of course, my car dies (I do recall the mechanic mentioning rust developing underneath and other bad stuff I tuned out).  In which case, I might end up buying a new car in the not so distant future.

I did at least earn a $50 giftcard for test driving a vehicle that I was planning to purchase which feels equivalent to at least getting a good dinner even if the date was awful.

*Note — don’t be condescending to me — especially if you want me to shell out hundreds of dollars a month.  

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