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I'm from the foothills of the North Georgia mountains. I was a woodworker for about 12 years. Well, up until I had the rug pulled out from under my feet, and I was laid off. I got back into photography in 2008 and decided to give that a try professionally, but haven't made any money so far because rednecks, white trash, and hicks are cheap. So, I'm working in a local grocery store where some days I hear and see the craziest stuff. I tend to complain a lot about things, but I'm too poor to afford a good therapist. So, I decided to make a blog and complain online to all of you instead. But I digress. I really just wanted to do the blog to share ideas and stories with the interwebz. =D
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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Car Shopping and Such...

I used to be the proud owner of a 2000 Honda Civic Ex coupe. My car was manufactured in September of 1999, and I bought it brand new in December. When I got it, it had something like 60 miles on it. I paid $16,000 for it.

Well, I honestly think I got my money's worth out of it. Almost 12 years later, it had 265,000 miles on it. I had only taken it to the shop for repairs twice. Once was more of a maintenance thing. I had the water pump, the alternator, and the timing belt replaced by a Honda dealership. The second time was to replace the catalytic converter, and to repair a burnt valve. 

The last set of repairs was done last year while I was down with my broken leg. I got the car back as soon as the doctor told me I could be up and about on crutches. The first place I got to drive to was to Zack Arias' studio in Decatur to meet the legendary photographer, Joe McNally. (That's me sitting on the floor by the crutches on the far left)

 The car ran fine from about October of 2010 until about mid April of this year. All of a sudden, it wouldn't idle anymore. Refusing to take it back to the shop, I started reading up online and trying to fix as much of it as I could myself. I made some significant strides, and I learned a lot about the car, but I never could fix the problem.

By mid May, I had narrowed it down to something inside the engine that was beyond my ability to fix. Oh sure, I could have probably done a little more myself, but I had moved into things that would require me to have a shop area of my own. I figure that I had it down to where it was something I would rather have a mechanic do.

So I began calling around and trying to get quotes on refurbishing my engine. This is the part that led us to the end results, and this is a note that all you mechanics out there should pay attention to:

Don't BS me. Give me an upfront estimate. Don't call or e-mail me back telling me what all the job will consist of  - Especially when I already know. Just give me an estimate for cryin' out loud. I know it's going to be expensive. Just do it.

The mechanics' song and dance went on for a couple of weeks, and then the car died altogether. It was time for action. My wife and I made the decision to start looking for a new car. 

Now, if you asked me what kind of car I wanted, I could have pointed you to several to start with. My wife, on the other hand, had NO idea what she wanted. It took me a week or so to get a price range out of her.

The first thing I decided to do was to go test drive some cars and see what I didn't like - Just so we could rule them out from the beginning. I had a day off from work, so I spent the day test driving cars - All day.

First up, the Chevy Cruze:

Personally, I've never been a huge fan of Chevy cars. My ex wife had two, my mom has had a couple, and my wife's car is a Chevy. None of these cars have ever really had any major engine or transmission problems, but ALL of them have been pieces of crap when it came to small details, and ALL of them have been uncomfortable to ride in for long periods of time. So why did I even look at Chevy? My wife has liked hers, and I kind of figured she'd be brand loyal. Another plus was having a dealership right here in town where we could get service when and if needed.

The Cruze turned out to be one of my favorites of all the cars I drove too! I couldn't believe it. This is definitely the car that will put them in closer competition with Honda and Toyota. 

Next, Honda Civic: 

Now, I've been a loyal Honda owner of 12 years. My mom had an 89 Accord that was as tough as a tank too. Honda's are legendary when it comes to low maintenance and reliability. However, I wasn't too impressed with the 2012 EX sedan. I mean, it was OKAY... but it didn't get me as excited as the Cruze did. I was honestly floored. 

Third, Honda Fit:

This will probably be my own next car (If I don't get a Prius.) Cheap, decent on gas, roomy, and fun to drive - The Fit sport was a fun little car. My wife wasn't interested at all. Oh well... Like I said, it will probably be the next car that I own myself.

The Kia Forte:

Unbeknownst to me, my wife had researched this car. Me? I wanted to look at a Sorrento. We had went looking in Athens, GA on Memorial Day, and the Kia dealership was the only place open. We were a bit shocked at how nice these cars were. Again, my wife had looked at the hatchback version of this car, and it was well appointed with a sunroof and internal GPS navigation, but I didn't really care for it. I didn't like the way ot looked either.

The Kia Optima:

While waiting on the salesman to grab a brochure and his card, we started looking at an Optima that was on display right outside the showroom. We went for a test drive, and I was thoroughly impressed. It was sporty, had tons of room. wasn't too bad on gas, and it looked like a more expensive car. My wife and I both agreed that we wouldn't need to move up to a midsize car if we had kids if we bought the Optima. So we agreed on the Optima as our next car. At last progress was being made! However, we weren't sold just yet. We wanted to find the best price. We also had hoped that we could pit a couple of local dealerships into competition with each other so that we could get the best price at the Athens dealership. Well, that backfired on us when we looked online and eventually went to the dealership in Anderson, SC. 

While in Anderson, we found a Forte sedan with manual windows and door locks for $14,000. Uh-oh. Now, I love my wife with all my heart, but she is not a bells and whistles kind of girl. When she saw the price tag, she was ready to take a test drive. It wasn't a bad car, either. Now, we had thrown another car into the equation, which took us back a step. We drove another Optima for comparison, and we left the dealership not knowing which car we were going to get. 

Since we were back to not knowing, I decided to take her by the Honda dealership and let her see a Civic. This was my chance to remain a loyal Honda owner! We drove the 2012 Civic EX sedan, and she liked it, but wasn't wild about it. Every car we had driven up until now hadn't set off a spark in her mind. They all were nice, but they were all the same. I was getting more and more frustrated.

We went to supper and looked through all of our notes and our brochures to compare and try to narrow the field back down. As we were leaving Anderson, I decided to go back by the Hyundai dealership I had visited the week before. I liked the look of the Hyundai, but wasn't too impressed with the dealership in Anderson, and I was hoping to go somewhere else. When I had first went, the salesman took me on the shortest test drive of all, and he had made the remark that all the Elantra's they had on the lot "would be gone by the weekend." Okay buddy. Whatever. Nice try. I wasn't falling for that one. However when my wife and I arrived at the dealership, all of the cars that were there the previous week WERE, in fact, gone! 

I liked the Hyundai when I drove it the first time. My wife, loved it. The one we test drove was a 2011 model, but the salesman told us that for $200 more, we could get a 2012. We walked down and looked, and she found a dark gray one that she liked. Her eyes lit up, and I saw her finally come around to a car that she wanted. 

"I like this one." She said.

"Then let's get it." I replied.

"Really? Seriously?" She asked.

"Yes." I answered.

Then she did that little shake she does when she gets excited. 

The car, had just came off the truck. It still had the shipping plastic on it. It had 3.2 miles on the odometer. We only got to drive it around the parking lot of the dealership, but we were sold. About a half hour later, it was ours. 

We left it overnight so that the dealership could remove all the shipping plastic, and prep it for sale. We returned the following evening and gave it a good inspection. We filled out all the paperwork, and in about an hour, it was ours to drive home.

My wife was so nervous with it, that I drove it everywhere we went for the first three days, but she's driving it now, and I've learned not to even ask if I can drive. It's her's and she's happy with it, and I'm happy that she's happy. =)

Now, my Honda had to be sold, but that is another post... 



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