Thoughts on Car Buying

2000My sometimes hated (but mostly beloved) minivan is no longer in my possession. After a few days of car shopping, I traded it in for a used Toyota. The van, a Honda Odyssey, was sixteen years old, so I suppose it was time. Still, it ran beautifully on the way to the dealership, so that drive was bittersweet. On the way, I passed by a yard sale, offering bikes and other things I might have purchased, because having things to do at Grandma’s house is where I am in life, but I didn’t stop, knowing that those items would probably not fit in the trunk of the sedan I was planning to purchase.

Buying a car has changed since I bought my first vehicle, that’s for sure. Now, the first contact is often online. Whether one picks the “chat” function or sends an email, there will soon be a contact. The phone starts ringing. Go in for a test drive, and (in Athens, Georgia) there is a mandatory meeting with the “sales manager.” Then, a couple of times, I got an email to see if the salesman met my expectations.

After I finally said I might be interested in a used Honda, I got an offer of $500 for my old van. As it has been more truck than family vehicle for a while, with the typical bumps and scrapes associated with that duty, I wasn’t expecting much. But, that deal had me paying more than the maximum KBB value on the seller’s car, with half the typical auction estimate on mine. Really, that wasn’t what I wanted to hear.

Eventually, I ended up at a more rural dealership which didn’t use the “meet the manager” approach. I got $900 for my old van, which was still a very low number, and a newer car for less money. Oh, and I got to keep the new to me car overnight and take it for an inspection prior to purchase. The dealer even gassed it up for us before the extended test drive.

After I’ve had this vehicle for a while, I guess I will know if it was a good purchase. But, I can say that the pressure to buy was less out in the country. In the mean time, I guess I’ll be looking for some accessories for the “new to me” ride.

Wedding $

A while back, I was in Target, shopping for some trinkets for the kids, and I saw a couple of “bigger kids” who were obviously getting married. The young woman was trying to keep her groom to be under control as they went around the store, with a handheld bar code scanner, generating their wedding registry. In one way, it was sad, watching this guy scan games and other items which had no real place on a registry. To him, creating a wedding registry was obviously like making a list for Santa Claus—on steroids. The young lady seemed more interested in finding items that they might actually need. As I watched them, I chuckled, hopefully silently, watching this guy run around the store, trying to pack as many of his preferred items onto that list before his bride wrested the scanner away.

Today, however, there might be a better plan—Amazon. There are some great benefits to this program, including a huge selection of items, the ability to share with friends and family who might not live near a chosen brick and mortar store, free shipping, 180 day returns, and Amazon will even generate a “Thank you” list. And, yes, the groom can list his favorite video games as purchase options. Hopefully, with some time to think about it, the bride and groom can pick items that help them create a new household, without the wrestling match over the bar code scanner.

I’ve noticed that my own kids, who are now young adults, would much rather order anything online. My daughter will pore over the toppings offered by Pizza Hut, sometimes taking a quarter of an hour to build the perfect pie. Truly, I am amazed at the way the internet has altered the shopping experience. I live near a “Carvana” facility, and I simply can’t imagine buying a car without a test drive, but they will gladly bring a nicely detailed used car right to the customer’s door.

Weddings are bigger business now. Venues charge in the thousands for a few hours of their time, and catering and a d.j. are the norm. At least, with Amazon’s wedding registry, guests might be able to provide appropriate gifts, with a minimum of hassle.

Backup Camera and more!

AutoVoxx2If you have a newer car, it has a back up camera, courtesy of federal regulations. But, if you drive an older one, as I do, you might want to add that functionality. Sadly, I decided that I needed both forward and rear recording capabilities also. That’s sad, because no longer will the testimony of a sound witness hold up in court. In the age of security cameras, body cams, and cell phone videos, people (such as cops and juries) demand video and audio confirmation of actions and words. So, rather reluctantly, I opted to purchase a mirror/backup camera which also records my driving front and rear. Here’s a link to the current unit that I had installed in my ride: AUTO-VOX X2 Mirror Dash Cam and Backup Camera

Like any other purchase, there are pros and cons, but overall, I am quite pleased. The unit fits over the original rear view mirror, which is good—but it is considerably darker than my original mirror, which is not so good. When he drives the car, hubby just activates the rear camera, which is easy to see in the screen, which is actually slightly larger than my original mirror. As the screen is reflective, but dark, I mostly use the side mirrors for a rear view, however, the mirror does display very accurate speed via gps, so it is handy even when not being used as a screen for the rear camera. When I do back up, the unit provides a good view behind my car, making parking lot maneuvers much easier.

The dash cam has very good video resolution of the road in front of the car, and while the rear resolution is less than the front, it is acceptable. Until I reviewed some of the rear footage, I didn’t realize how much one misses while just driving. Sometimes that rear footage is funny, such as seeing the driver behind my car picking his nose when we were both stopped at a red light. I have also gotten video of deer crossing right in front of the car, which seemed a lot more dramatic when it happened than it did when I watched the recording. Fortunately, I haven’t had any accidents, but the camera is always on, just in case. Left alone, it will eventually record over previous footage, but it is easy to keep old recordings by transferring them to a computer.

A few months ago, I was stopped by the local gendarmes when driving home from church, and my rear camera captured the incident, both audio and video. Reviewing the recording convinced my husband that I deserved legal representation. I preserved the footage by simply popping out the mini SD card, and that way hubby could look at the video and hear what I said, as well as what the deputy said. Without that footage, I might have had to pay that ticket, so this camera has already helped me quite a bit. If you have an older car, check it out.

DeputyJ

Still shot taken from the video recorded by the rear camera of my AutoVox unit.