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May. 21st, 2013

KaboomMobile 2.0

Since about Wednesday of last week, I've been doing essentially nothing but sitting around- sitting around in banks and sitting around in car dealerships, because I needed a new car after my original one was totaled. I am happy to report that as of last night, the deal went through and I am now the proud owner of a 2013 Chevrolet Spark.

I've never actually driven a Chevy before, and my father seems to have an irrational hatred for any kind of automobile that is not a Ford, but the Spark was the cheapest car I could find that a- wasn't used, and b- I actually liked. In fact, it is one of the least expensive new cars on the market today (they start at$11,000 for a base model with a manual transmission), and it is also very cute! Later today I have to go pick it up, and I'm so excited! This is about the first thing that's actually not turned into a clusterfuck in a while, so I'm actually happy for once.

I'm just sad I can't take it with me to Japan, but I don't think a car will fit in my carry-on luggage.

May. 15th, 2013

Good News, Bad News

Well, the good news is that my car is fixable- for four grand.

The bad news is that the insurance doesn't want to pay for it because it's an old car, over 10 years old. Of course they don't take into account that the car only has 60k miles on it and that it runs really reliably. Nope, it's just old and they don't want to pay for shit. Stupid insurance company. And even if they total it out and pay us, they won't give us much money at all, probably barely even enough to put a down payment on a new car.

I may need to have to look for a new one. And yes, I do mean a new car- not a used one. My family has had horrible luck in the past with used cars, and on top of that someone who I greatly respect told me to never buy a used car, even if it has the Carfax because even with the Carfax, there's no way of knowing exactly what that car went through. Used car salespeople will tell you, all the time, no matter what, “oh yeah, this car belonged to a little old lady who only drove it twice a week- to church and the grocery store!” If that was true, then there are a LOT more little old ladies than I thought there were- they must be at least 90% of the population, if used car salesmen were to be believed!

I really don't know what to do.
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Apr. 3rd, 2011

Car shopping

So yesterday my dad came to visit me, and we started looking for the new car that will eventually be the second KaboomMobile once I graduate (this summer I get my dad's old Ford Taurus, which as far as cars go isn't half bad- it's just really huge and more like driving a boat than a car). We spent most of the day driving around to various car dealerships and taking a look at what we want. This makes it difficult, because this car will eventually be my car in a few years, so we have to get one that is both acceptable to me and him, but we seem to be more or less on the same page.

The car I'll be inheriting is, well, to put it lightly, a land yacht. No, it's not an RV, but the damn thing is so huge it might as well be. The car is long, and really wide. It's like trying to park a boat, and because of its length, there's a very fine line between pulling in way too far, or not pulling in far enough so that the back of the car sticks out the spot. You literally have like two inches of margin of error, and it's really quite annoying. It also makes very wide turns, because the car is so wide. It's not a bad car, it runs very well, and it's not ugly, it's just... really, really big and kind of unweildy. But it's a very reliable vehicle- most of the time (about three weeks after I got my official driving license I tried to take it to the grocery store, and the battery died on me. I ended up lurking around the grocery store parking lot for three and a half hours while I waited for my mother to bring her van over from my brother's soccer practice in the next city over). But other than that incident, it works quite nicely. And since it was very rarely driven anywhere further than a local office building, it doesn't have a lot of miles on it, which means that it will be fit to give to my brother once he reaches driving age.

Anyway, my dad has always hated how hard this vehicle is to park. I don't think he realized exactly how problematic this would be, back when he got it in 2002, but it eventually came clear that the car is approximately the exact same width as the average parking space. Which isn't too much of a problem, when you have the option of parking farther away from the store/restaurant/theater/school/whatever, but it is a bigger problem when there's only one space, and it's between some guy with a Hummer and a moron who can't figure out how to park their Prius, and the spot is literally the exact same width of the car, and Prius Dude parked right on the line. So, this time, the car has to be reasonably sized. Not huge, not SmartCar sized. Also, storage space is kind of important, because I may be potentially using this car to move with, so we've decided on a hatchback.

Now, even though it's not a hatchback, my favorite model of car is the Nissan Cube. I fucking love the Cube. I want the damn Cube. But my dad thinks it's the fugliest vehicle he's ever seen in his life, and he's convinced my aunt would laugh at him if he got one. So even though it has tons of room, yet isn't enormous, the Cube is out of the question, unfortunately. If I want a Cube I'm going to have to buy it myself, and since a medical emergency in the fall basically cleaned out my savings, it's going to be a while before I can afford even a crappy used car from the late 1990s, let alone a new car.

My dad really likes the 2012 Ford Focus, although we didn't get the chance to see one of those today (the car dealerships hadn't gotten them in yet). As it stands right now, it's likely that one will be the final choice, but there's still quite a bit of time, and research to be done before a final decision is made.

We also looked at the Toyota Matrix, which was alright, although I didn't really like the positioning of the gearshift- it was in a really awkward place, but since it would be an automatic and not a manual (I have no idea how to drive a stick-shift, so that's kind of important) it wouldn't be such a big deal. We also looked at a Chevy Cruze, but my dad is pretty dead-set against getting a Chevy (he had a horrible experience with a rental Chevy Lumina catching fire back in the early 2000s, and one of the people who I respect the most once told me to never by a Chevy unless you want to have the transmission fixed every six months), and I just didn't really like the aesthetics of the vehicle. I'm sure it's a lovely car, just not one I'd personally choose. It also had a strike against it for not being a hatchback.

The Hyundai Elantra Touring is a nice car, I liked it a lot. If I had to go out right now and choose any car other than the Cube, I'd get this one. I like the options it comes with, I like the space it has, and it's just an attractive vehicle. My dad wasn't as impressed with it, but I think that's because he's really excited about the Focus.

As it is, it's going to be a while before any final decision is made. We're probably going to buy the car back at home, not down here, and before we buy it, we're both going to have to test-drive it, then think about it some more, then do some more research, then to go some other car dealerships to see if we can get a better deal there... it's probably going to be mid-June before we get it.

Another thing that really stuck out to me was the stereotype of the car salespeople being really pushy. Seriously, as soon as we walked in the door to the Ford dealership, there was a guy in a fox costume with a big sign that said “Car Fox” on it who gave us balloons. It was like going to a fair or something, only at this fair they're trying to get you to buy the bouncy castle. It's kind of funny- they give you candies and snacks and do everything they can to make you comfortable, just so that you'll be more willing to buy a car from them.

One of the people who I respect the most once told me that buying a car is a battle of scammers- they try to scam you, you try to scam them, and it turns into a recursive scam cycle. The best you can hope for is to not get scammed too badly.

And all I can say is- I can't wait. I'm so tired of having to share the car with my dad when I'm home, because he kind of has to go to work, and to get to work he needs to drive. And my mom is never home, and even then I really dislike driving her van because I can't park the damn thing.

Yesterday was an experience, one that I hope I won't have to repeat for a while, though. It's really exhausting.
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