Buying a Car

You know you’ve entered the real world when you decide it’s time to buy a car. And not just the old used car you drove in high school. The one your parents paid for. I’m talking about the time when you buy your first new (or close to new) car. The time when you walk into the dealer and you look at the sticker prices and you freak out and think you’re resigned to drive a rust bucket, but then your wife pats your arm and forces you to press on.

I’m talking about test drives and sales people and brochures that don’t tell you anything and those annoying car commercials with deals that sound so great until you realize the fine print targets the whole package at born suckers.

The other day we went to a dealer for the first time and had the quintessential salesperson experience. The guy was vague, overly friendly, and too eager to sell us something for as much as possible and give us as little as possible for our trade-in. The price he gave us, complete with rebates and discounts, was in the same range as the price the web site gave me. Something tells me he’s pricing us a bit high.

Tonight we went to a couple other places. One was hassle-free. Whoa. What a difference. At first the salesperson seemed kind of high and mighty, but then I realized he was just being hands off. He sat quietly in the back during the test drive and didn’t pitch the car to me. He only talked when I asked questions. He answered our questions and gave us tons of numbers to take home and pour over. The other place would let me right stuff down, but he didn’t give me any paper — just his ink-jet printed business card, which a sixth grader could do a better job designing.

Then we went to another place and had that feeling about a car that you really like. Suddenly you realize you can get something really nice for your money, and it’s a good feeling. It’s certainly no luxury car. It’s the car a college grad should be driving. Economical. But it doesn’t make you feel like a tight-wad. That’s always nice.

I’m a little scared of what I’m turning into. I think they call it an adult.

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