Sunday, April 29, 2007

Thinking of buying a new car?

Although this isn't pc and tech related, you may find some interesting information below. :)

I finally bought the bullet and bought a new car. My old chevy van had enough, although the engine was upwards of 350k, the transmission couldn’t get the job done. It had finally seen its day. I have no doubt that the engine could have gone to 500k if I plopped down the $1800 for the transmission rebuild. This of course doesn’t take into account the other repairs the van needed. It was at the time of its life that most of us dread - The invisible ½ way point between a good reliable vehicle and a money pit.
In getting some transmission re and re quotes, the price was $1800, thinking that $1800 was a down payment towards a new vehicle, we decided to shop around. This was definitely a good thing for the family. I hadn’t had a new car in almost 20 years, and had moved from beater to beater. Even the van itself was purchased from auction for $250; It e-tested and certified for total of $400. I actually spent more on towing to the mechanic tahan I paid for the van. It lasted us 1.5 years with only 1 repair which was a pulley with a total cost of $40. Amazing van, powerful engine, and tough as nails, but being a mid 90’s model, the rust was starting and the repairs required were adding up to an easy $3000.
There are a number of car dealerships in my area and we decided to pay them a visit. The first dealer Georgian Pontiac, offered a 2004 Buick Rendezvous. It was a luxury SUV, cost was about $15k and It had some factory warranty remaining. After talking with the salesman, we arrived on our magic number. The monthly payments were within reach, but it just didn’t seem a good fit. GM offered a $1000 rebate called “Car Heaven” for the old van, and we had some cash but I had to think about it. Just tire kicking for the moment. I couldn’t justify that monthly payment for a used car without a full warranty. A full warranty by the way is in excess of $1500 for 1 – 3 years.
Ok, so one GM dealer put their offer on the table, we had one more GM dealer to visit. I know the imports are better rated and have a higher customer satisfaction rating, but I’ love the GM brand, always have. The last remaining GM dealer was Paul Sadlon Motors. They hadn’t left me with a good impression from previous visits. Although I was just browsing, we had actually walked right through the showroom on a Saturday afternoon without ever being approached by a salesman. I thought this was poor service and vowed not to return. Oddly enough, we ended up buying our car from this very same dealer.
My wife and I decided to visit this dealer and immediately were approached by a salesman named Owen. We quickly set out our needs, and mentioned that we visited the competition. We outlined the deal he gave us and asked if he had anything similar. “Step into my office” he said. I asked about the GM car heaven program and he confirmed we were eligible. He also asked us about our particular needs – what we used the car for, family size, space and seating requirements. I had always dreamed about the new Chevy HHR,

but was most likely to settle on a Chevy Vibe (Toyota Matrix) crossover. I need a vehicle as close to my Astro van as possible without the same characteristics of the gas guzzling beast (I say that lovingly) and I do still miss my Astro van!
In arriving at a monthly payment scheme, we were just above our budgeted amount until the dealer mentioned a neat little surprise – an additional $1000 GM Loyalty rebate. This put the car within reach, and not just any car, but my Chevy HHR! Just to satisfy the boss (the wife) I
had to check out the Chevy Uplander. These came in at a great price, under $20k, however upon actually sitting in one, I wasn’t ready to purchase one. It has all the features one could ask for, but from a purely vain perspective – it just didn’t “POP”. My HHR did, and I could have it! You could have thrown anything at me and I would have said no. The decision was made. My wife was now even convinced that the HR was the way to go. Something sporty, semi-roomy, great fuel economy and that it was “cute” I’ve never used the word cute in context of a car’s description – but hey, if the wife’s happy, then we’re all happy. I must admit how differently the dealer's treated us. Had the 1st GM dealer mentioned a loyalty program, we may have bought from him. Oh well.

We purchased a black HHR LS. This is the base model, but includes many things that the higher models may have included. Air, CD Player with iPod jack, Cruise, Onboard car computer (2 trip counters, oil life, coolant life, fuel usage and statistics on your average MPG) etc.
When we sat down to go over the financing, I was reminded of the research I had done, including what I should and should not purchase as extras. Insurance, not the regular automobile insurance but Life, Disability, and damage insurance were offered by the dealer. Each of these were roughly an additional $16 per month. Add $16 per month, over 48 months and the total is $768. Rust proofing, paint protection, were also options that could be purchased separately.
Paint protection could be installed by a 3rd party company, so no need to purchase it. Rust proofing is nice, but I don’t like the fact that they actually drill holes into my car to apply it. You are left with little black caps everywhere. Isn’t there a better way to rustproof without drilling holes?
The factory warranty covered 5 years power train and 3 years bumper to bumper. If you wanted an extra 2 years bumper to bumper – again, you could purchase it separately. A recent radio report I heard said Consumer Reports magazine has warned potential car buyers to stay away from these options. They are nice to have, however are not financially smart. Each option you add means approximately $768 extra on top of your monthly payment – for which you are paying interest on. Paint protection (keying, scratches etc.) can often be purchased, but may end up costing you more than the actual damage. I’m no expert, but repairing a chip or a scratch should be much less than $768?
Leasing vs. purchasing – well the decision is yours, but the differences are pretty clear. Ownership vs rental. Leasing affords a lesser monthly payment, allows you to write off a larger portion of the lease costs towards your business, but has annual travel restrictions. 24k km’s per year is standard and .12 cents/km over and above 24k. Depreciation in an owned vehicle is often said to be 30% as soon as it drives off the lot, regardless of the actual numbers. Both leasing and owning have factory warranties, so you’re covered. GM’s roadside assistance will tow your car to the nearest GM dealer, CAA and Canadian Tire Auto Club will tow you to your preferred mechanic (depending on what plan you purchased)GM roadside covers the car, CAA covers the member in any car.
As for my HHR, I love it, and you can stay tuned for the review. I’ve never done a car review, so please heed the warning now.