Adventures in Car Buying (or Now that is Chutzpah!)

in Automobile, Case Study, Marriage, Procrastinate, Procrastination and Financial Planning

From 2010 buying a car was important. We ended up with a Toyota van, which served us well. I hate the process of buying cars, and all the games involved. The vehicle that was replaced was the reason we bought a long-term warranty.

For a while, Mrs. C8j and I have been hunting for a new family vehicle. We have had many arguments discussions about what type of vehicle we wished to purchase. I think we will not need a van for much longer and she sort of agrees but thinks we still need one for the short-term so we should get one, and after a great deal of consternation consultation I we agreed that a van would be the best way to go. I must admit that we did try a few SUKs SUVs and while they felt OK, they did feel a bit “truck-ish” for my liking.

We have been dealing with a smaller dealership who had in stock the van we were hoping to get (used) a Sienna from Toyota (please don’t treat this as me endorsing this model, or that I have received any compensation for this story). The salesman at the dealership seemed a nice personable chap, although maybe a bit slick for my liking, but we thought that might be where we wanted to make our deal.

We had decided before we got too far into this process, that we would purchase a used vehicle this time (we purchased new last time, but I decided a used vehicle was the way to go). We borrowed from the Ottawa Library the Lemon-Aid books and saw that in fact the Sienna from ’07 on seemed to be a good choice. If we were going to buy a used car, I was going to have my mechanic who I trust in these situations, to have a look at whatever we might choose to buy (I simply do not trust dealerships that much).

I mentioned to the salesperson we were dealing with that we wanted to take whatever vehicle we were thinking of buying to my mechanic to have a look at it, and the sales guy kind of got twitchy (i.e. tried to dissuade us), but eventually relented, figuring that he might lose a sale if he didn’t agree (smart guy).

I then called my mechanic and said I would like him to have a look at a vehicle and he said he would, and he asked who I was thinking of buying from, and when I mentioned the name of the dealership my mechanic hesitated. After a short pause he said he had had some dealings with the dealership and gave me some advice about possible issues getting the van off the lot and to his garage. When my mechanic makes that kind of statement the hair on the back of my neck starts to raise up. I thanked my mechanic and said I’d call back when I had decided on a specific van.

Time passed and eventually we decided (after consulting CarFax on line) on a specific Sienna that our original salesman had on his lot. My wife called up to talk to our salesman, but he wasn’t around, so she spoke to the “Owner” of the dealership.

Now this is Chutzpah

My wife asked the question, “What do we need to do to take a van to our mechanic to have him inspect it before we buy the van?”.

After a short pause the Owner’s answer was classic chutzpah, “First you buy the van, and then take it to your mechanic and whatever he may find that needs fixing, we’ll fix.”. This is most definitely not what had been discussed previously (we had been told no worries, it should be fine, you can have the car inspected BEFORE you buy it).

Let’s analyze this amazing piece of chutzpah, you want me to give you a large amount of money, have the car licensed into my name, and then once I am owner of the vehicle and my mechanic finds something, I should trust you that you will fix these problems? I do realize that in Ontario a bunch of new rules are in place dealing with used vehicles, but I am also not naive enough to believe that they will somehow protect me in this situation.

I guess it all comes down to who(m) do I trust, a car dealership that I have never dealt with (that I have heard some odd stories about), or do I trust my mechanic, who has fixed my cars for 20 years? As you can guess, we did not call back this dealership.

We have since found a similar vehicle with a larger dealership, which may cost a bit more, but they are fine with us taking the van to my mechanic (if I leave a deposit, and my current vehicle) and will abide by whatever my mechanic says (and will find another van if my mechanic finds an issue with the van). The CarFax report on the van suggests there should not be a problem.

Financial Moral of the Story?

None really, just that I am a very untrusting person and that if you try to sell me things, it doesn’t take much to get me to go elsewhere, or completely walk away from the purchase.


  • Jerry Hung January 25, 2010, 10:28 AM

    by the way, don’t trust Carfax as much as CarProof, so if dealer can (or you want to pay $30), get a Carproof report of the car, it has more Canadian history compared to Carfax

    I’m with you on this one, if they don’t deserve your money, don’t give them

  • Chris January 25, 2010, 7:23 AM

    I know it’s not directly finance related, but how did you settle on buying a ’07 Toyota Sienna? My family will be growing in a few months and we also decided that a minivan would be the best thing to buy. However, it will be our first one and we don’t really know which features are most important to choose the right model. We’re also looking to buy used in the ’06-’08 range.

    • bigcajunman January 25, 2010, 7:46 AM

      Didn’t really settle on that year (bought a lightly used ’09 in fact), but the Sienna seemed to get the highest ratings from the Used Car authorities out there. I have owned both GM and Pontiac products in this area, and have run into a lot of issues with major system failures (luckily under warranty) in both of the products. I own a Carolla already, and Toyota seems a relatively stable manufacturer (for now).


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