Public Post!

Have you ever pur­chased a new (to you) car? Let me tell you, that was an Experience. I am offi­cial­ly the new own­er of a white 2016 Subaru Outback and it’s quite amaz­ing, but get­ting here took a long time.

Back up to high school, the sum­mer before my Junior year I decid­ed to take a sum­mer class for chem­istry. I knew I wasn’t going to enjoy it and I want­ed to get it over with in the con­densed for­mat of a sum­mer class. The day before I start­ed school, my moth­er remind­ed my father that he need­ed to pick up a used car for me since he was dri­ving to the air­port and I need­ed to get to class. ”Welp,” he said, and that after­noon I was hand­ed the keys to a Saturn I could bare­ly dri­ve.

I hat­ed the Saturn. It was white, first of all, which is the most bor­ing of all pos­si­ble car col­ors. Secondly, it had man­u­al locks and win­dows, which felt like a bit step down from my mother’s then-Suburban, which I learned how to dri­ve in. Third, it had man­u­al steer­ing. MANUAL STEERING. What dev­il invent­ed this?? Finally, it was a man­u­al trans­mis­sion, which I was very skep­ti­cal of at the time. I’d only dri­ven my dad’s man­u­al truck a hand­ful of times, and when I was hand­ed the keys to this mon­stros­i­ty one after­noon I was not entire­ly sure I’d be able to get it home with­out some­thing explod­ing.

I almost stalled on the onramp to the free­way.

The next day I almost stalled through an inter­sec­tion where a guy behind me decid­ed I was fuck­ing with his day specif­i­cal­ly, and then it turned out he was also going to my school so lat­er when I parked he marched over to my car and yelled at me through the win­dow.

Suffice to say, this car was not a pleas­ant expe­ri­ence.

I even­tu­al­ly learned to enjoy the man­u­al trans­mis­sion and appre­ci­ate the gas mileage, but I’ve always had a love-hate rela­tion­ship with the car. The man­u­al steer­ing was sim­ply a deal-break­er. But I drove that car from junior year in ’04 all the way until yes­ter­day, ’18. For almost 15 years this car has been my only vehi­cle. It moved me in and out of col­lege, up to Long Beach and back to San Diego, up again to Aniheim, then back down to San Marcos, then up to Ventura and down to Oxnard. This car has been to Las Vegas four or five times, to Mammoth, to Lake Tahoe, and stayed overnight at every air­port in the area. This car has SEEN things.

When I met Mr. V back in ’10 he was imme­di­ate­ly adamant that I get a new car. But want­i­ng a new one and being able to afford one are entire­ly dif­fer­ent beasts, so though his frus­tra­tion mount­ed when we start­ed dat­ing, and con­tin­ued to sim­mer for sev­en years, he nev­er pushed me to the point of a bad finan­cial deci­sion. He just grum­bled about it when­ev­er he had to dri­ve my car.

About two years ago, Mr. V hit some sort of per­son­al lim­it and decid­ed, dammit, if I wasn’t going to replace the car, he would. He start­ed look­ing for some­thing to buy by mak­ing a list of his favorite mod­els and pric­ing out all the options on their var­i­ous web­sites. It quick­ly became appar­ent that the car Mr. V want­ed was entire­ly out of our bud­get. He per­sis­tent­ly stud­ied the mar­ket and checked for used cars regard­less, but I didn’t hear much come out of it.

About three months ago he announced that It Was Time. He had enough for a down pay­ment on some­thing, we just need­ed to set­tle on a vehi­cle to buy. Again I let him take the lead here, because I know next to noth­ing about a car or it’s qual­i­ty and again Mr. V couldn’t nar­row his list down to afford­able mod­els. We talked and talked and talked for months about what cars would work for us, what the bud­get was, what we thought we could get for financ­ing, and all the oth­er details that car-buy­ing entails. Then we talked about them again. And again.

I final­ly had enough. We were going in cir­cles with con­ver­sa­tion, it was time to make a deci­sion. So even though Mr. V was anx­ious about it, I put ”Test Drive” on our shared cal­en­dar for the fol­low­ing week­end.

On June 23rd we test drove two cars: an Outback and a Toyota Tacoma. Because the vehi­cle was going to be pri­mar­i­ly my dai­ly dri­ver, I had final veto, which I used on the taco­ma. I couldn’t get close enough to the ped­als with­out my knees hit­ting the dash, and I was too close to the wheel for safe­ty. The Outback was the win­ner by default. It was also a new­er vehi­cle with more bells and whis­tles, so I wasn’t too sad about that.

We heard the deal­er offer for car financ­ing and left with a deci­sion to make: buy the car, or no? I spent a week look­ing for car loans that could beat the dealership’s num­bers. I couldn’t find one.

On Thursday I texted the deal­er­ship: if the Outback was still avail­able, we’d come in on July 1st to buy it.

On July 1st, the car was avail­able, but one doesn’t just walk into Mordor a car deal­er­ship and out with a car. It’s a PROCESS.  It involves hag­gling and watch­ing your num­bers. It takes math, and patience, and knowl­edge. I’d come pre­pared: my lap­top, my phone, my exter­nal charg­er. I had com­pa­ra­ble cars queued up in my email at dif­fer­ent deal­er­ships. Mr. V solicit­ed advice from work and was told it could take up to 8 hours if the finance guy want­ed to try and jerk us around.  We came with an entire cool­er of food and drinks. If this was going to be a bat­tle of attri­tion, we were not going to fade out from lack of food.

The morn­ing we went into bat­tle, I cut my hair, worked out on the sta­tion­ary bike, and dressed up for the nego­ti­a­tion. Mr. V had the cash to get the car, but I know con­tracts, so bring­ing the price down was my job. And it turned out, we were a lit­tle over-pre­pared. Our sales guy didn’t play games or try to slight-of-hand the num­bers around. They knocked the price down to a rea­son­able com­pro­mise, gave us an accept­able financ­ing offer, and we signed a lot of paper only two hours after we’d arrived. I drove off the lot in my new subie with a huge smile.

So today is my first day with the new car and I love it. I’ve jumped from a ’99 to a ’16, it’s still white (sigh) but in every oth­er aspect I feel like I’m in the FUTURE. (Push to start!) The car is bril­liant and the entire expe­ri­ence was about as low-stress as one could expect. To top it off, the old Saturn sold this morn­ing to Mr. V’s cowork­er, so even that loose end has been neat­ly tied up with a new bow.

Both Mr. V and I dri­ve our cars until they no longer func­tion, so this Subaru will be my only car for the next 15 or 20 years bar­ring any acci­dents. There are a few minor things we need to pick up, like an emer­gency kit and a win­dow stick­er 😉 It’s all going up from here, though. We’ve planned a camp­ing trip for the 4th of July hol­i­day, through the weekend–with the new car!

I’m super pleased, and so is Mr. V. Can we ask for any­thing more?