Welcome again everyone to today's Monday Marker.
I'm excited to welcome a guest blogger today.
Lisa Hetzel is a sought-after freelance writer who recently published her experience in a four-part series, A Journey Through Kidney Donation in The Rockdale Citizen. Definitely a must-read! Kidney Donation Story
Lisa is a single mom, a recently retired school teacher and director of our local writer's group, East Metro Atlanta Christian Writers.
Today Lisa shares her slightly humorous, yet seriously eye-opening used-car-buying experience with her teenage son.
It started with a Ford Ranger. I wasn’t even looking. However, my son and I had talked about splitting the cost for a late model, used vehicle. (For those of you who get confused like me, late model means old. That’s cool. At 55, I can now refer to myself as a late model.)
My friend’s grandson was thinking of selling his truck. I went to look at it, took photos, and showed it to my teenager.
First piece of advice, NEVER show your child something that you are thinking of buying without expecting their immediate desire to have it NOW.
Six years as a single mom has taught me that every penny counts. So, I sat my soon-to-be-out-the-house son down and proposed a plan.
Our budget would be $3000.00. The car had to meet all of my requirements: safety, low insurance rate, low mileage (under 100,000 miles), low miles per gallon, low ad valorem, an inspection by our mechanic, along with ANY additional criteria that I deemed necessary.
While he continued to look for his “dream car,” I started a search of my own on the internet. I found several checklists of things to consider when looking at a car, as well as, things to check when running a test drive.
If we went to a used car dealer, we could ask to see the vehicle health report. If it was a private seller, we could order a report (usually costs about $40.00).
Either seller should be able to produce the title. If the word “salvage” appeared in the title, walk away from the deal. Also, the name and address on the title should match the dealer.
When he found a car, I felt pretty confident we could look. The photos and information looked okay. The seller lived an hour away, so we took one of my son’s friends (who works in a garage) with us.
Little did I know that this was a teenager’s dream car. In spite of my attempt to become educated, I didn’t understand that there was no way I should help my son buy a 1999 Ford Mustang GT, with a V8 engine, custom wheels and some kind of fancy muffler that made the house rattle.
What did I know?
While my son drooled, I looked under the hood, at the tires, in the interior and in the trunk. I thought I was being pretty thorough. The name on the title matched the seller. Lots of work had been done.
However, the plates on the car were from New York. We live in Georgia, so there would be ad valorem taxes.
There were at least 3 large dings and scratches and it had been in a wreck. The passenger door had been hit, so it would have to be replaced.
In spite of the fact that the car was designed for STREET RACING, I was drooling, too. It was pretty.
Thank the good Lord that the seller wouldn’t accept a check. I told him that we were interested, but would have to check several items before buying:
- My auto insurance rate wouldn’t raise.
- Ad valorem would be less than $100.00
- The vehicle health report would be good.
- My advisors (big brother, neighbors, and local mechanic) would agree it was a good deal.
I felt that I had done a great job. However, my gut was telling me to be cautious.
It was Sunday, so weren’t able to find out about insurance or ad valorem until the next day. After church, I told my friends about our latest find. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen such rapid head shaking.
Immediately, they replied, “Walk away!”
Between that night and the next morning, I learned that the car would need a lot of work, use a lot of gas, and most importantly, be a huge temptation for speeding.
I hadn’t even started the health report yet.
Telling my son this wasn’t the car was hard. However, it was a good decision.
I’ve learned a lot since then, including consulting at least one of my advisors before showing my son a serious interest.
I’ve come across several reliable sources for anyone looking for a used vehicle. If you are ever in the market, here are some links for you to consider:
Popular Mechanics’ list when you look and test drive a used car Popular Mechanics,
Kelly Blue Book www.kbb.com. There are pages of checklists and things to help you make an informed decision,
CarFax, www.carfax.com (they provide low-cost vehicle health reports).
In the meanwhile, I’ll continue to help my son search for a car that meets both of our expectations.
So far our car-buying venture is successful because of my many advisers.
As Proverbs 15:22 states, Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.
What car-buying lessons have you learned? Feel free to share in the comment area below.