Monday, July 13, 2009

The quest to find a used Honda Accord

Car salesmen will do anything to make a sale. In 2004, we were looking to buy a Honda Accord 4- door vehicle. Since we lived in Northern California, we have to travel down to Southern California. Though we had a few leads, we decided to do a cold search.

We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Garden Grove. While the Garden Grove hotel is close to Disneyland, it is still a little further than the other notable hotels located near the park. I like the location because they have high speed internet, the room is comfortable, and the hotel serves breakfast.

We started our search at the Car Max near Irvine. The moment we walked onto the lot, the car salesman attached to us like a leech, trying to suck our money dry. The vehicle inventory was not as we expected and the prices were ballooned. Our new goal was to get out of there as soon as possible. I just told the vehicle sales consultant that we changed our minds.

While driving, I called a few car dealerships in the area. I heard that Honda World had a good selection and some affordable prices. What I immediately found out; most of their inventory was older and the prices were not as low as advertised.

On a hot Saturday afternoon, it was around September, we drove down to a small car dealership, next to Sepulveda Boulevard, near the 405. Sepulveda is one of those roads that extends for over 40 miles. I believe the location was past Sherman Oaks.

The dealership advertised a 1996 Honda Accord 4-door. I knew that when we arrived at the dealership, we were going to take the vehicle for a quick test drive and if we like it, we would make an offer.

The blistering heat was a killer. I was driving a rental car at the time. Luckily, we had the luxury of AC, otherwise we would have been dehydrated.

We passed the dealership, which was on the left side of the road, right after the 405 - the interstate bride was right above. I made a U-Turn down the street, returned back, and then entered the dealership.

Right at the exact moment I docked in the dealership, the car sales associates were hovering over us like vultures, waiting pick our minds.

Most car salesmen usually drive with customers. Their main goal is to sell the car through building a rapport. In this case, we were instructed to take the car out for a test run without them. Did I mention it was a hot day at the end of Summer in Los Angeles?

When we drove that Honda off the lot, we were burning like grilled steak. The windows were broken, the AC failed to work, and hot, steaming air poured-in through the vents. What made it worse is that I was hoping the engine would not fall apart. It sounded as it I were driving a lawnmower. She told me to drive the car back to the dealership before it exploded.

What the dealership trying to make us drive the car so it would breakdown? After we pulled into the dealership, the sales associates was eager to make the sale. I mentioned all of the broken parts

The electric window mechanism was broken. He said, "We'll fix it." The air conditioning didn't work. He said, "We'll fix it." The engine sounded like a ticking time bomb. He said, "We'll fix it." "What about the stereo player that is missing?" I said. He said, "We'll fix it." If the dealership were to fix everything that was wrong with the vehicle, they would be spending more for the repairs than I would in buying the car. I looked at her and sent off a stare like, we need to go.

The car salesmen seemed as if they were programmed to tell the customer what they wanted to hear. This Honda Accord was a disaster. I was surprised that it wasn't in a junkyard. The body of the car looked as if someone had pounded it with a sledge hammer. The interior was stripped, and we were there viewing it after the theft. A chop shop wouldn't take the chance in buying this morbid disaster. We left the dealership right after.

Eventually, two days later, we found the perfect Honda Accord in Escondido, near the I-15, close to San Diego. That was also an interesting experience too. This small dealership was located in the middle of the mountains, before Harrahs Casinos. The lighting was poor and the area was deserted.

The salesman was dressed in shorts and a tank top shirt. His name was Wally. I felt as if we were at Sea World. Wally was eager to sell the Honda. We wanted to pay part cash and other other part with a cashiers check. Because of the nature of the transaction, trust was indeed absent from the moment.

Wally wanted us to leave the full amount for the car. There was no way we would leave $3400 with a stranger we didn't know. She was too afraid to do that because we didn't know who this guy was and how would we prove he had our money if he cut out.

In order to feel more comfortable about the situation, we took the keys to the car, left $100 as a deposit, and had him fill out a piece of paper with signature on it. We only did this because, the day before, he claimed that another person was looking to buy the car and they could return again. We drove into the local city, about 20 miles back.

Once we purchased a few money orders and took out more cash from the ATM, we returned back to finalize the deal. There was some negotiation going on, but he was willing to lower the price of the car from 3950 to 3400. This car had about 175,000 miles on it. It was definitely driven a lot, most likely freeway miles.

Wally gave us a sales receipt. He claimed that the car was registered under another lady; he was still waiting for transfer of ownership. On that very night, we had over 500 miles to drive back home with a car that smelled like it was burning oil and an alarmed that wouldn't stay quiet. I followed behind the Honda with the rental car.

A few months later, I was pulled over a few times, concerning the registration, which the police officer claimed was under another owner. After waiting for more than 4 months to receive new tags and the title, we called Wally a few time regarding the issue. He kept making excuses and never seemed to resolve the matter in a sufficient amount of time. I filed a complaint against him using a DMV form.

The title and sticker finally arrived. We had the car for 5 years now. It hasn't drive for the past year, but just needs minor repairs and a smog. Last summer, we drove the car down to Mexico. This car is defintely dependable because I invested over $1700 in repairs to fix the belts and the cooling system last year.

On the last note, watch out for car sales associates. They will do anything to make a sale. Keep in mind; you don't have to buy a car that you have doubts about. Take your time in making a purchase. Use the Internet to do research. Know what your budget is beforehand and stick to it.

In the end, you are the one that has to pay for the vehicle. Be sure to use good decision making the first time around to avoid having any regrets and losing a ton of money in the process. Because of finance charges, repairs, and for other unforeseen issues, you may pay triple the amount for a used vehicle. Good luck on your vehicle search; be direct and you'll get a good deal.

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