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Autoquest ’10: November update

Saturday, 13 November, 2010

Wednesday afternoon, my truck experienced a blown out tire on the way into work. The sidewall utterly collapsed. I’m not spending any more money on it, although I will buy another spare if I can ever find one. The time has come for me to stop screwing around and get into another car.

Here’s the deal. I am not naming specific businesses. It seems unsporting somehow.

  • Shaking loose money from my investment account is not proving as easy as described in the brochure. This was the source of the money I was going to lay down on a Hyundai Accent, but I can’t bring myself to do that. Besides, it would be a dramatic percentage of the fund. It’s getting about 4%. I seriously considered cashing it all in. Don’t tell me you can do better; I’m a cautious investor.
  • While I could possibly get a “loan” from my 401K in such a quantity the consequences would not be tragic, I see this fund as involatile. Uncle Sam helps with this. It’s somehow getting about 6%.
  • My Experian score is well over 700. Almost no one at my income level maintains this kind of score. With a proper car loan in good standing, it will top 800. I have great credit, five digits (the first is a two, however) in various accounts, but not so much actual money.
  • I have $2500 in actual money. Not dollar bills, but you know what I mean.
  • Despite my savings and so forth, I actually qualify, barely, for the vehicle-replacement-assistance program in my state. I could turn in my truck for three grand, if only I would apply and the stars would align. This would bump my fund, down payment or what have you to six-ish grand on a new vehicle without doing anything else. It would make the money I wanted to lay down on a new Hyundai Accent so high I would not qualify for conventional financing.
  • One of my cards is doing a 0% promotion for “big purchases”. Within the fine print they don’t care what or with whom it is just so it’s over $1600. They will let me drop up to $5050 on a single purchase and hope I don’t pay it off within a year. This card is not accepted within the automobile industry. I didn’t notice this until today.
  • Recently I have become uncomfortable with the idea of a new car, as I cannot tend to it properly. No garage, apartment parking, &c.
  • I’ve just spent around $800 on something I always wanted. The timing of this was inconvenient, but it turned out even better than my imagining.
  • In its present condition my truck is worth around $500 … as parts. I would actually get more for it through tax deductions as a donation to the charity of my choice.

Therefore I went today in serach of a reasonable four-thousand-dollar car. I suspect in almost any other part of the country this would be trivial. Several of the cars I saw today are in the condition my present vehicle finds itself. I went exclusively to lots. At this price point, pickings are quite slim.

Six people in my life, including my mechanic, explicitly recommend a certain sprawling franchised dealer of new and used cars. Three of the fifteen people in my complex purchased either new or used cars from them. They have no cars so very cheaply priced.

It seems just this passed summer several utterly mundane cars were available at that price point. I’m having trouble finding them. Taurus, Sable, Regal, Park Avenue, Century, Impala are on my shopping list. Used cars strongly tend toward automatic transmissions down here, and if it has an engine under two and a half liters I don’t think I could live with it. A precious few mechanic recondition and resell particularly cheap cars, but the ones I know about and checked today have no inventory … well, one shop has a 90s E-Class Mercedes and the most expensive car you can buy is a cheap European car. Although I am tempted yet again by a Vol-tech RWD estate.

Alas, I saw only one car today that I could readily live with and wasn’t on the verge of collapse. It needs $1600 of dealer repairs or $1200 at an independent. Otherwise a four-thousand dollar 2000 Buick Regal. I’ve even seen the Carfax, which reports that its been cared for. I may go back Monday and work at it. Even so, I don’t know how to squeeze money out of my system, at least before I am either destitute or fifty-one-and-a-half years old.

I should probably just get something nicer on a long note and pay it off early. So much for clever.

Special to Jjd: Among the cars I am seriously considering is a 2003 Jetta Tdi, and it’s black.

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