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March 7, 2010

I'm just burning, doing the New Car dance

*note* 1 million Quatloos to whoever gets the musical reference in this post's title

It's so disheartening, listening to your car's death rattle.  Not only because the car's been a constant companion to you for the longest time, but also because that means you have to go to the expense of buying a new car.  This is what happened to our Saturn last week, the one that we bought in December 2000.

When I say "death rattle," I'm sure the car can be fixed, though it could be over $1000 to do it.  It started making this high-pitched grinding noise when it was being driven, only going away when I was stopped.  I thought it was the brakes, as they really haven't been serviced much, but somebody else said it was a wheel bearing.  Anyway, upon thinking about it for a little while, and realizing that there was every possibility that things would keep happening to it, we decided that it was time to bite the bullet and buy a new car.

Those who know me know that I am horribly indecisive about big decisions like this, and I kept going back and forth between repair and new car, worried about the money and all of that stuff.  My wife is a trooper for putting up with me when I get into a mental ping pong match like that, trying her best to ease the decision-making.  She's also the one I depend on for working out the financial aspects, as I am horrible with numbers.

So yesterday dawned bright and sunny, and we decided to head over to North Vancouver's Auto Mall, a huge street with nothing but car dealerships on it.  You can just park your car on the street and walk to about 8 or 9 dealerships, browsing the cars on the lots and getting harassed by the sales people (I kid, actually, as the sales people yesterday were pretty good, with one exception).

We headed over the Lion's Gate bridge, reached the Auto Mall, parked on the street, and proceeded to spend what seemed like the longest day in my life looking at cars.  I had done a little research beforehand, looking at small, affordable cars (other than driving to Iowa, the car won't get put through much so I don't need an expensive one).  I found the U.S. News & World Report top 25 Small Affordable Cars rankings, and read up on what would be good ones.

I had my eye on either a Hyundai Elantra (which seemed very good for the price) or a Kia Forte (which also seemed very good for the price, though when I looked up Vancouver prices, they were much higher than what this article said they generally are).  Unfortunately, Kia isn't on the Auto Mall, in fact they are on the opposite end of the city, so that was a fallback position if we didn't find anything here.  We got up and wandered through the Toyota dealer (nice salesman tried to help us there) before heading to the Hyundai one.

Unfortunately, the Hyundai salesman was the worst of the bunch.  They didn't have any basic Elantras to show us, and kept herding us to the more expensive ones.  We wanted to drive the car off the lot yesterday if at all possible (that screech really made me wonder if the car was going to fall apart, and it was very unpleasant to listen to), so not having what we wanted at the dealership was disappointing.  Still, we might have done it but the guy didn't seem that interested in helping us.

So we moved on. Walked over to the Chevy dealership, then Honda.  Helpful and talkative salespeople there but the cars either weren't in our price range or didn't turn me on (and I am pretty much the only driver).  We hit the Mazda dealership, more out of hope for a used car than anything else (Mazdas are way too expensive) but didn't find anything there either.

By now, it had been an hour and a half and we were running out of dealerships.  There had been a couple of cars that had seemed "ok" and might be worth a test drive to see if I would fall in love with them, but we decided to head over to the Nissan dealership first.

There, we found a Nissan Versa that seemed very nice.  It has power doors and windows, air conditioning (which will get my mother-in-law off of our backs), spacious interior and it looks very nice.  I decided it would be good to take a test drive for this one.  We headed up the North Vancouver hills and onto the highway, going about 20 km round trip to test the thing out on the highway.  Getting used to a new clutch and transmission was a bit hard, but I think it was just me and not the transmission itself.

Once we got back, I decided that this was the car we would try to get, depending on whether we could make the finances work.  So we went and retrieved our Saturn and brought it to the dealership, went inside, and entered New Car Hell.

Oh, I don't blame the dealership.  I know it's standard procedure, but we were there for over 3 hours getting everything done.  The salesman (a really nice guy named James) did his thing, but when he wasn't off doing something for the transaction he was talking to us about the Canucks as we watched the Toronto-Ottawa hockey game in their little waiting area.

It took so long that the people who were dealing with us had to stay way past closing time.  We kept offering to come back on Sunday, but they wouldn't hear of it.  I suppose they didn't want to take any chance that we might back out of the deal.  The day was getting very long by this point, and now is a good time to mention that I was getting sick too!  All throughout the day, I started feeling worse and worse, feeling run down, tired, and my nose was running (in a couple of rather embarrassing spots too).  I was really starting to drag.

But we finally got it all done and we are now the proud owners of a 2010 Nissan Versa:

This one isn't ours (I'll post a pic of it when I'm feeling better and actually go down to the garage), but it's remarkably similar, even to the colour.  Ours is Magnetic Grey (which this one might be too, I can't tell).

We have nothing but good things to say about the Nissan dealership people. James was great, and the other people were very nice too.

It was so nice to finally be home last night, though.  I actually went to bed early.  I hate doing this kind of thing, as I'm always worried about money.  But I'm satisfied with the choice we made and I think this car will be with us for just as long as the Saturn was.

The poor Saturn looked so forlorn as we drove away into the dark last night.  I really hated to do that.  It had been a good car for over 10 years, serving us well on our many trips to Iowa and just getting around town.  I miss it.

But sometimes, you just have to sever the apron strings and go on to something new.


  1. Sounds like it was a stressful day. I know how hard it must have been for you. I was wondering how you feel today. Is it just a cold or was it something worst? We don't want you sick when you come home. Congrats on the new car. The picture looks good.

  2. Nah, it's just a cold. My head's stuffy, but I honestly feel a little better today than I did yesterday. I probably won't go to work tomorrow, but we'll see how I feel. I'll just keep popping the cold pills. :)

    Thanks for the new car congrats. :)

  3. at least they didn't charge *us* to take the Saturn. just kidding. it was a great car, but man that noise was scary.
    - the wife

  4. Dave, Your story has brought back some horrible Flash backs of buying cars... There just isn't a nice way of doing it... But you do have a new car now... I hope you have the best of luck with it, and it keeps you and your family safe........

  5. Congratulations on the new car! How many miles did the Saturn have? I'm glad it served you well for a decade. Hope your new Nissan will as well.

  6. Next time take me with you! I love playing the new car game and I tend to get pretty good results. Must be the New Yorker in me. Sorry it was so stressful. Also thanks for the tip about US News and World Report, as I am soon to have to go through this process too.

  7. I assume you checked out a Honda Fit. Same class as the Versa. We love ours. I have a friend who's very happy with her Versa. Hope you have a similar experience.

  8. Wow, all of these great comments!

    Michael: I hope so too. I think I will be happy, though. :)

    Pat: The Saturn had 102,000 KM on it, so not that many really. That's because we didn't go anywhere. :)

    Ca: I will keep you in mind when we next do this, 10 years from now. :) Good luck on your odyssey!

    Dave: We did look at a Fit, but we just couldn't make the finances work. I hope we have a similar experience too.

  9. Ah yes, fix it or buy another. I know how that goes. Very recently in fact. Only we decided to do both. Sorta. We bought the used van and are hanging on to the Nissan to fix another day. It's good enough to get me to and from the doctor, if not much else.

    Congrats on the new car. I know it must be a huge expense. But dude, it'll last you awhile.

    Nissans are good cars. You can't currently tell by my Nissan, but my Nissan is old. And it's totally completely my fault that it's faulty. Though I blame the curb I hit. Hard.

  10. Thanks, Karen! Yeah, it's a bit of a daunting expense, but it will take care of us for years to come, I know.

  11. Dave, I'm always amazed at long it takes to "buy" a car. I worked with car dealers for years when I was In banking & even though I know all the "stuff" they try & pull it still took me over 1.5 hours the last time we bought a's no fun but I hope it's worth it for you. Congrats on the new car.


    P.S. The song reference is "Neutron Dance"

  12. Bill gets the Quatloos!!!

    Don't spend them all in one place. LOL

    And I do hope it's worth it too. It should be, I think. I'm anxious to get out and drive it, but staying home sick today didn't help.


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