Saturday, July 21, 2018

The Search! The Search!

     Managed to go look at a car yesterday.  Lacking cash-in-hand and with actual (as opposed to notional) other buyers looking at the car at the same time, I didn't purchase it, but at least a used RX330 seems not out of reach and offers a driving experience very similar to my dear, totalled RX300.

     It appears more (all?) of the later models have all-wheel drive; the one I looked at had an electrically-operated rear hatch (!) and plentiful 12-Volt outlets.  That was nice.  A rather gadgety electrically-controlled double-door opening for the center console storage compartment left me cold: when I was growing up, gussied-up minor items failed first and were more trouble to repair than they were worth.*  Overall, though, it's a wonderfully-nice car and the example I looked at was nicer with nearly 150k miles on it than the only new I car ever bought† was the day I drove it off the lot.

     The rental car won't cost too much to keep for another week.  It's a nimble little Kia Soul, which would be on my list of cars to look at if only it were a little larger; as it is, I have a bit of trouble getting in and out (bad knee and all), and it probably can't carry 8-foot lengths of lumber.

     Tam's on deadline and I have a writing class this morning.  Hoping to meet the Data Viking for lunch and an update on his adventures this afternoon.
* Unless you had mechanically- and artistically-inclined youngsters to put on the job, which my Dad did: my siblings and me.  I do not.  On the other hand, having been exposed early and often to the idea that if somebody made thing in the first place, someone else -- me -- could fix it, I'm not terribly put off by the idea of doing minor repairs myself.

† A 1982 Chevy Cavalier, built to a price, possibly without looking too closely.  Certainly I didn't look too closely; it was shiny and pretty and for the first time in my life, I was within financing distance of buying a brand new car!  The cost to fix subsequent interesting problems, not all of them endemic to the vehicle, pretty well cured me of buying new cars: you get a lot better value for money buying gently-used ones.  My Dad knew this very well, but, wanting the lesson to stick, let me learn it for myself. I don't think he expected me to go buy an MGB in need of attention when clogged oilways and a warped head sidelined the Cavalier for months, but I could not have kept the thing running without having learned how to approach the job when I was too young to drive.  He was a source of good advice and slightly-exasperated pride the whole time I had one MGB or another as my daily driver.  As for me, having driven a car that handled nicely, I eventually sold the Chevy and kept an MG!  Despite needing looked after like a light airplane, it was more reliable and fun to drive.


Zendo Deb said...

Does your insurance know when they will provide you with "cash in hand?" The last time I had a claim with "Agricultural Prison" (not in Indiana) they were very different.

The one time I had an auto claim with them they had their preferred body-shop, so either times have changed, or Florida and Indianapolis are very different insurance-wise.

Anyway, here's hoping that it all ends well.

mostly cajun said...

I once ended up with a rental 'Soul' on a jobsite in Florida. It's the only car the rental company had in my class.

I was treated to guffaws when I showed up on the jobsite, then som eof my co-workers piled in at lunchtime, treating me to their version of that God-blasted 'ghetto hamster' commercial.

Can't buy one for tat reason. I love my little watermelon-shaped Honda Fit.

Jeffrey Smith said...

My first new car was also a Cavalier...
My philosophy is the opposite of yours. I am not mechanically/engineerically inclined to say the least, and my premise with used cars is that if someone sold it, they sold it for a reason, and I don't need to pay to fix that reason.
So I buy a new Corolla every few years and have maintenance done at the dealer. It's under warranty, they have the parts, they can fix it! But I think that beyond normal wear and tear I have had fewer problems total with my Corollas than I did with that one Cavalier, and I'm on number 6 now. Which is why I keep buying Corollas.

Will said...

If you haven't owned an AWD, bear in mind that tires become an expensive issue. They MUST all be identical (rolling circumference), otherwise the differentials become unhappy. Having a tire go bad after they have worn down a bit can be a problem, as finding a match is not likely. One ends up buying 4 tires more often than you would anticipate. Tire companies LOVE AWD vehicles!

Some SUVs can be switched between 2/4/AWD, IIRC, but I don't know how common that might be. Probably high-end units, as that would require control of the center diff at a minimum.

My personal experience with AWD is a turbo Talon, and there is some definite advantages to it for performance driving, which can be counter-intuitive in application. It's also useful for moving on loose surfaces, like gravel and sand. For your area, it would be useful for snow, but I suspect a simple 4wd system would work about as well. In theory AWD should be better in snow, but I'm not sure most people would notice. I've never had an AWD in snow, just 4wd's, so can't accurately comment.

Old NFO said...

Good luck with the search!

pigpen51 said...

I have bought 2 new cars in my life. Of course, some of us are slow learners. The first was a Ford Escort, a 1984. How did I hate that car, let me count the ways, dozens of them.
Then I bought a 1990 Plymouth Colt, a Mitsubishi import, with a 1.5 liter, 5 speed manual tranny. I got an honest 40 miles to the gallon with that one. And it was a peppy car, comfortable for me, when I was driving a LOT.
The Colt, I bought by walking into the dealership, sitting down at a salesman's desk, and filling out all the paperwork, having them put a stereo in it, plus their usual prep. On the way out, I said, " Oh, I almost forgot, what color is it, and where is it, so I can at least see it before I pick it up tomorrow."
I know, the salesman had an easy sale, but I knew what the car was, and how much it was worth, and I told him if it had any problems, I would bring it back for them to fix. That is a car that I actually do not regret buying. I just was playing music, and working 40 miles away from home, and putting 40,000 miles per year on my car so in 2 years, it was already up there. I could have kept it a lot longer, but I got remarried, and needed a larger vehicle, and so traded it in on a mini van. They didn't laugh at me, but I only got what I owed on the trade in.

JC said...

I want you to find an identical Lexus, just so you can call it the 'clone car", just with a red ball for a nose.

Paul said...

My first new car was an 82 type 10 cavailer. Wife left me taking the car so I doubt I will ever have another new car. Worked pretty good for me while I had it. I suppose if it was problematic it is good she took it.

Had a 92 later in life and the only think it could not control was rust, but was good car overall.

Good luck on finding a new set of wheels

John said...

We have had Subarus for a while, and Will is right about having to buy four tires when one goes south.
Our current Subarus mandate tire rotation at intervals of 6K because the front and the rear axles get different percentages of power.
Knowing all the above, and living in the snow belt, we are not going to go back to two wheel drive.

On the powered rear hatch, don't push the hatch open button on the remote when you have 2x4s lashed to the roof rack. The overload reverse worked, but it could have been a bad thing.

Roberta X said...

The Lexus AWD is said to be a little better about the tire thing. It doesn't scare me; I usually replace all four tires at once anyway. I buy good ones and generally the tire failure mode I see is the rubber gets old and unhappy long before the tread wears out or the sidewalls go weak.

People nickel-dime themselves too much on cars. I do "broad swathe" repairs when needed: spend the money once so I don't have to keep messing around with a recurring problem.

pigpen51 said...


It does seem that the price of tires has actually not risen as fast as the price of some other things. What used to be a major expense is now not a huge factor when I look to buy a used vehicle. It is still something I look at, of course, but never a deal buster, like it was on a couple of cars in the past. I mean, you can put a decent set of tires on some smaller cars now for about 500$, and while not chump change, 500$, 25 years ago was significantly more money for me than it is now.
And like you, I try to spend money smarter, and just once, now than going cheaper and being sorry in a few years when having to repeat my efforts, and money spent.

Funny how I learned that earlier with buying cheap tools, but it took longer when replacing things like a water heater, or tires, or God forgive me, I have even bought a used car battery from a junk yard. I must plead on the last one, that it was not entirely my fault, as I was totally poor, and young, raising kids, and just didn't have the money to spare.
I still wish you the best on your search for the best car you can find, for what you want to spend. There is never a perfect car, but you will get something you are happy with, if you are patient. It seems like the times I have gotten bad cars are the times I was under the gun to find one.

Roberta X said...

Pigpen51, in one of the later Discworld novels, Terry Pratchett has a character reflect on how the rich can often manage to buy a thing only once, while the less well-off have to make do with lesser versions that don't last near as long. As my income has increased over time (still very modest), I have noticed the observation is accurate here as well.