“I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that.”
~ John Cusack as Lloyd Dobler
in the movie “Say Anything”
I feel the way about cars a little like lovesick kickboxer Lloyd Dobler feels about careers. I don’t sell cars, buy cars or repair cars. I drive them and sometimes I finance them, but beyond that, I don’t want anything to do with the acquisition of vehicles. I don’t want to do that. I leave that to the more informed men in my life.
I am amazed and impressed with my Beloved’s skill at acquiring and hawking used vehicles. Besides the standard in-person exchanges, he’s made a habit of buying vehicles long distance. He bought motor homes in Pennsylvania and Kansas City before taking possession of our current mode of transportation and camping, the 1983 Pace Arrow, which he bought from a Wisconsin man and has proven to be a smokin’ deal over the past two years.
Before he met me, he purchased a dump truck in Illinois and made a tidy sum reselling it in Minnesota. Imagine the bumpy joy of driving a dump truck six hours up the interstate highway. Last summer, he wrangled a Cadillac Escalade in Minnesota, which we picked up on one of our frequent trips north.
His advice to others who have found a vehicle on Craig’s List or eBay and are considering buying before seeing it in person is simple: If you don’t know what the heck you’re doing, don’t do it. The nuances of mechanics, negotiation and logistics are like yoga — they look easy to the uninitiated but they require years of experience to perfect. With the advice to proceed at your own peril, here are a few tips:
- Ask questions. Two questions I always hear my Beloved ask include “What’s wrong with it?” and “Why are you selling it?”
- Look at lots of pictures. A good internet ad already includes a dozen pictures or more with basic views of the car’s dashboard (which shows the mileage) and closeups of the tires (which show wear and possible wheel well rust). If you don’t see enough pictures, ask for more. An above-board seller will provide them.
- The seller matters as much as the vehicle. If it sounds too good to be true, don’t believe the liar. If he’s young (sorry youngsters — you’re too hard on your vehicles), if he sticks entirely to texting or email and won’t talk on the phone, if he’s vague on details, if he has no internet sales history to check (i.e. eBay ratings), steer clear.
- Finalize the deal in person. Even if you’ve traversed several states and included your transportation costs in the price of your deal, the final exchange should be made in person and not made at all if you sense anything fishy.
- Be willing to walk away. Remain suspicious until the final signature and last dollar, and then be mentally prepared to find the problems the seller didn’t disclose.
My wheeler-dealer husband scored another long-distance coup this week. My stepson had his heart set on a rather rare Nissan Altima SE-R, and my Beloved tracked down a 2005 version in superb condition in Denver, Colorado. They flew there Thursday to score the deal and made a father-son adventure of the 15-hour drive back to Minnesota.
Caswell is so happy!