How I bought a car...in the modern age.

They told me it would cost many 1000's of dollars to get the transmission/torque whatchamacallit fixed. And that's the exact moment I fell out of love with my 2003 Audi A4 which had only 91K miles on it. I had purchased it new and expected many more years out of it. Not so much.

But I didn't want to keep shoving money into the car. I spent more than 2K in repairs only (not regular maintenance) in 2014, of which $1700 went for a new locking system.

Here was my game plan.
-Figure out the resale value on my Audi.
-Find similar sized cars on Consumer Reports.
-Start eliminating them for any and all reasons.
-Eliminate any and all German cars.
-Find a car I like.
-Buy it.

My friends told me I'd never step down from the Audi. What cost me 40K in 2003, was now 62K. For that kind of $$ I would definitely jump off that ladder to lower ground. I didn't realize so many thought I was so high-strung about cars!

Three days before Christmas I visited the Honda, Toyota, and Lexus dealers. Each one met most of my criteria. The Honda place kind of gave me the creeps..but I test drove a Civic.

The Toyota place was very different. He asked the 'which' and 'want' questions. Which do you prefer? Want do you want? Which size would work best? It all narrowed down to a Toyota Corolla.

I had a Camry for 10 years, before the Audi. The Camry was too big for me these days. I cringed thinking I would get a Corolla. Those are kiddie cars.  The gentleman then said "Let's take this out on the rough roads of Oakland.  The city never maintains the roads behind the dealer's lots, and it's great to see what any car can do out there." He made the rough roads sound good for me and the car. I was impressed. I told him I was heading over to Lexus.

At Lexus I had a kid (well, everybody's a kid to me now), who used to live in, and attend local schools in Alameda (nice connection and blah blah blah).  He let me test drive the car on the exact same rough roads of Oakland. This was rather strange because he was telling me that he was sorry the roads were so rough. I would have thought the Lexus would have literally floated over any of the dips and gouges in those roads.

The Lexus guy really wanted to take my car in trade. I told him that I was planning to sell it myself and I told him based on Edmunds.com, it was worth about $4200. But I had the time...I'd see what he would come up with.

I told him everything about the car and how I treated it. They ran the CarFax and it supported my claims. He came back with the generous (not) offer of $2500. I said no. "What did I want for the car?" he said. I said "No - you tell me!"

I believe he had a button under his desk that he pressed..and it buzzed back to the folks who were probably watching me on camera. He whispered he was "really on my side for this trade in." Oh sonny boy, you are too young to be tossing these lines out to an older woman. How stupid did he think I was?

He left and then came back with a $3000 offer and that would be taken off the MSRP. Really? I said "I wouldn't pay the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price because it was SUGGESTED!" I left in a huff (well, it was in the Audi.)

I made an appointment with the Toyota man for the day after Christmas, 9am. We test drove the exact car that I wanted (had 3 miles on it). By 12:30 I had cleared out the Audi, and put my stuff into the freshly detailed, 2015 Toyota Corolla Sport Premium (all the bells and whistles included). AND the dealer gave me, without any prompting by me, $4500 for the Audi. We shook hands on it. "Deal," I said.

The next day I drove to Lake Tahoe with Joyce (baby Cadel's other Grandma), acting as my co-pilot in the new car. I figured out how to get the phone and navigation working and drove using Ms. Lady, to the house where we met! Joyce was in charge of finding the In & Out restaurant using the nav system, where all three cars and their passengers, met for lunch.

And I've never looked back...because I have a backup camera. Well, I do look back because I forget about the backup camera. Oh, and I filled up the car while we were heading up the mountain. I got into the car with a big grin! Joyce asked about it. "I've made money on this car already. This is the first time I've put regular gas in my car in 12 years! And so little of it!"

Live richly, marilyn

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