Car Crusaders

handmade greeting card, collage artMethodical deliberation is not one of my strong points.  The bipolar temperament tends towards the impulsive and, later, lots of head-slapping.  But, I’m determined to do this car-buying thing differently, if at all possible.

Yesterday, I took my dad’s truck in for an oil change and general look-see by my trusted mechanics.  The folks at Alley Auto have been very good to me—they’re like family.  (Wait.  My cousin’s husband owns the shop, so they really are family.)  They always figure out the cheapest way to fix a car-related problem, make sympathetic noises when I have my car-stress-induced crying jags, and even bought my old Ford Escape when it got too expensive to fix anymore.  They rank high on my list of Real Heroes.

I knew I could count on them to give me the real skinny on compact cars, and I wasn’t disappointed, even thought would not mind getting 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser, too.  We nattered in the office for a half hour—Rose, the tough office manager with a Lauren Bacall voice; Todd, the tender-hearted wise guy; and Bob, the all-round nice, decent, human being my cousin married.  Boy, howdy, did I get an ear-full.

The Smart Car, it seems, is not the car of choice – as well as cars of the Ferrari 250 GTO type.  Foreign-made, with no dealer in Iowa, any repairs would be expensive and done long distance. This is why most would choose to shop at a Chevy dealerships or dodge dealership with more comfort and familiarity.  And even though it is teeny-tiny, its gas mileage is only average.  There are other compacts and sub-compacts of similar price that offer more car and better mileage.

The Dodge Dart was a favorite.

And they threw out the Ford Focus.

Also the Honda Fit.

Honda Fit

And maybe the Ford Fiesta.

We have dealers in town for all these cars, so my car posse suggested I go drive them all (when the snow stops and the roads are shoveled).  Bob said once I find a couple I really like, then the team will do some research on reliability and repair stats to see how they hold up over time.  They’ll also give me pointers on what questions to ask the dealer and other car-Ninja techniques.  In the meantime, they’ll keep my old truck running on the cheap.

I was weak with gratitude as I hopped on Google to research these other cars.  What a giant relief to have a whole team on my side, ready to help me make a calculated, well-informed decision.  Even when I eventually leave this oasis of stability, I can hold onto these Car Crusaders for support.  Maybe I can really do this thing.  And, maybe this time, I won’t have to deal with so much post-manic, decision-making face palm.

captain picard, face palm

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20 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. minlit
    Mar 05, 2013 @ 05:42:25

    Wow….are you buying a NEW car? OMG….That’s major! I’ve never bought new. I kinda like to let someone else pay the £3000 for that privilege, and then I buy it ‘pre-loved’ 🙂 (Or maybe I’ve just never had that much to spend 😉 Brian and I both drive really old Peugeots. Totally reliable, and the 200 series (think they’re at 208 now) are a great car. The Peugeot 205 is my all time automotive love. However, we’ve both decided to move to Skoda when these are done. Had them as rentals on holiday and the Skoda Fabia combi is great on fuel and great on space. Exactly like a VW but cheaper.
    Maybe you should set up a car-advisory consultancy online with your formidable sounding team – I’d definitely want to run my car choice by them! Have fun.

    Reply

    • Sandy Sue
      Mar 05, 2013 @ 08:47:43

      Well, you’ve got all those cool European cars to drool over. I wouldn’t be able to afford anything like that, even used. And I’ve been so burned by used cars! They look and sound fine at first, then turn into a financial black hole. At least that’s been my experience. So, I’m opting for new this time around.

      Reply

      • minlit
        Mar 05, 2013 @ 10:10:55

        Trust me…Skoda will NEVER be cool. They still retain that Iron Curtain anti-chic effect that will take several generations to wear off. The Peugeot 205, on the other hand, is an icon.

  2. Kitty
    Mar 05, 2013 @ 07:59:08

    The Smart Car is not so smart… Who knew?

    Here’s my two-cents on economical cars…
    My Dad drove a Focus many years ago and has never stopped raving about how reliable it was… and my son’s girlfriend drives one now and loves it.
    I used to have a Hyundai Sonata, but didn’t love it. When I got a new car last year my Dad recommended I give Hyundai another shot… (“They’ve come a long way.”) I got a Hyundai Elantra, which I do love. Note: It does not get quite the gas mileage they claim, but I think that’s pretty typical. And with its little 4-cylinder engine, it has plenty of zip for my taste… which the Sonata didn’t for some reason.

    Happy car-trails to you!

    Reply

  3. louisva
    Mar 05, 2013 @ 10:02:53

    Just to add a little more info, I had a successful (and cheaper) transaction by purchasing a year old car from Enterprise Rent-A-Car. On average they sell when they have 10,000 miles on them and I have been very pleased as I still own the car four years later.

    Reply

    • Sandy Sue
      Mar 05, 2013 @ 18:13:00

      That’s how I got my Toyota Rav4 a million years ago, and I loved that car. My car posse also suggested rental cars, so I will definitely check into them. Thanks!

      Reply

  4. pegoleg
    Mar 05, 2013 @ 10:16:10

    Yeah for Car Crusaders! Might I suggest, however, that you test drive them now, when it’s snowing? Based on my limited experience of Iowa’s snow removal prowess (really, really lousy, at least on the highways), how they handle in the snow would be a major deciding factor in buying a car.

    Reply

  5. ManicMuses
    Mar 05, 2013 @ 11:27:20

    Reply

  6. stevebetz
    Mar 05, 2013 @ 15:25:20

    Exciting!

    The Dart has gotten some good press, but I’m always a little leery of new models. The Focuses (Foci) I’ve driven have been pretty solid.

    Reply

  7. indytony
    Mar 05, 2013 @ 19:21:21

    Good for you to look for solid advice from trusted car guys (and gals). I applaud your anti-manic deliberations.

    Reply

  8. Evolution of X
    Mar 07, 2013 @ 06:38:27

    Two years ago we bought a Toyota Yaris (which coincidentally looks just like the Honda Fit). We’ve had no problems so far, it gets amazing mileage, and when we bought it, it was pretty darned economical. (I swear by Toyotas and think they generally have twice the lifespan of most American cars.) Just my 2 cents.

    Reply

    • Sandy Sue
      Mar 07, 2013 @ 08:01:21

      I love Toyotas, too, Tori. So, I couldn’t believe how much trouble my friend had with her Yaris and the horrible service she got. Isolated incidence, probably, but it put me off their cheaper models. And I can’t afford anything bigger. So, oh well. Thanks for those 2 cents! Keep ’em comin’!

      Reply

      • Evolution of X
        Mar 07, 2013 @ 08:06:53

        Really? What a shame. I hope it is isolated. We couldn’t afford any of their bigger models either. (I drive a 4Runner but it’s a hand-me-down from my mom. Very dependable but it’s a guzzler and I feel guilty every time I start it.) Bronwyn’s sister drives a Honda Fit and I think she’s had a good experience with it. I will inquire.

  9. Karen Roessler
    Mar 31, 2013 @ 21:43:56

    Frank and I are loving our Honda FIT. Great gas mileage on the highway.
    Lots of space for the dog (before we lost the lovey) and a pretty comfortable ride. I agree with your friend above, we bought it used with a little over 20,000 miles. That practice really paid off for us when we bought the Subaru Forrester – she is still going strong at 120,000.

    Reply

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