I’m currently in the market for a new car. "But why, Chryst? Didn’t you just get a new car less than 3 years ago?" you ask. I did, but it had 36 months left on it. Wait, you didn't ask? You didn't even realize this column was by me? Oh, OK, bylines are for losers, I guess. Anyway, yes, I was looking for a used car even though I already have a very sexy and hip Chevrolet Aveo that brings all the boys to my yard.
But that's for my family. I wanted a “non-uncle” (sorry Chevy driving Uncles!) car, mostly for carrying my shopping from Orchard to home and for getting food. My goal was to buy a used Lancer or a Civic for $20,000 to $25,000.
In my search, I met five distinct kinds of people, and here they are!
The Can't Read, Write, or Speak So Well Guy
Did you know that selling a car has no requirement for being able to write or speak in full sentences? It's true! Anyone can post an ad. Even if English is not your first language and you don't know anyone who speaks English. Even if English is your first language, but the notion of using nouns and verbs correctly is offensive to you. None of these things can legally stop you from posting your car on car classifieds and then attempting to communicate with people who want to buy it.
One of my favorite ads was for a car no longer needed because its owner was "going off to univarsity to stay at hostile." Now, I’m not too sure if he’ll be dealing with multiple confrontations and will be left with no time to drive, or he meant “university” and “hostel”. Hopefully, once he gets there, he'll learn how to spell and communicate. See, this was early in my search, before I instituted my one-strike policy of dealing with people, so I actually contacted him.
I asked where I could see the car, and he said he'd "be at the location all day." I replied that the location wasn't provided, to which he responded, "I'LL BE AT THE LOCATION ALL DAY." Five minutes later, someone must have taken pity on me and explained the communication problem because I finally got an address, which, of course, I did not go to.
Before I leave this topic, I'd also like to mention the guy selling a car with a "swapped motor." When I inquired as to what that was, he explained: "My bro posted it. He a idiot. Original motor. I swapped out the cluster." Yeah, I didn't see that guy's car either, but I'm super glad he has my contact info.
Although initially infuriating, I've come to love the omitter. The omitter is the guy who doesn't list things in the ad that you definitely need when buying a car. Specifically, proper pictures, exact model, and mileage. The omitter is not to be confused with some schemer who fails to disclose latent defects -- that's our next entry. You expect[/size]shady shit like that when you're buying a used car. The omitter is somehow almost worse because he's not playing the game right.
But ultimately I came to love the omitter because he made my decisions so much easier as I scrolled through a barrage of new listings. No pics? It's a piece of crap. No miles? It has over 200,000. No make? OK, I'll text you and ask because maybe you're a grandma who didn't think to include it.
The Big Liar
Everyone expects a certain amount of puffery when buying a used car. People say a car in good condition is in great condition, they don't mention the occasional overheating episode or the wonky passenger window. We're all grown-ups here and we get it. I'm talking about the big liars. The people with brass balls who just don't care.
There are used car dealers who list their cars as private parties online. They do this so they can get away with not offering dealer warranties, they do this so they don't appear to be running a lemon mill, they do it so they can do a bait and switch, and they do it because they're big liars.
The biggest liar I met was a dude posting a Toyota that he described as being in "MINT" condition. All caps and everything. For kids at home, "mint" means perfect. If it were a Magic card, it would have no creases or damage of any kind. So I clicked on the pictures and I could have sworn I saw a slight dent over the front driver's side tire. Then I clicked another one and saw a fist-sized dent in the back rear bumper.
When I called this private party, I learned it was actually a dealer, and I continued talking: "Are we even talking about the same car? Unless I'm crazy, this car has dents."
"Yeah, well, you see the pictures," he said. "It has some dents. Do you really care about that?"
"I actually don't care about minor dents," I said. "But I do care very much about buying a car from a guy who describes something with dents as 'mint'."
The Guy Who Doesn't Want to Sell His Car
Did you know there are people selling cars on car classifieds who really don't want to sell their car? Case in point happened to me the other week. I found a 2007 Lancer GLX with 185,000 kilometres on it for about $25,000. It looked like it was in good shape, and the best part is, it was being sold in my favourite colour complete with the aftermarket parts I intended to get anyway. How wonderful, I thought. He'll be relieved to know it's a fellow appreciator who’ll be taking over his ride.
He posted on a Saturday afternoon and I contacted him within two hours, asking to see it right then. Late Saturday night, he advised he'd call me Sunday. I explained I was seeing a car at 11 a.m. on Sunday, but would gladly come see his before or after. No reply.
On Sunday, after seeing the other car (in the entry below), I contacted him again asking to see the car. It was sold.
Let's recap. I contacted him within two hours of posting and asked to see it right away. He ignored or put me off for 36 hours until he said it was sold. I dug deeper and all he wanted to know was how much his car could fetch and the compliments that came his way. Kind of like guys who like it when other men leer at their wife.
The Decent Guy
It's hard to believe, but it's true: You can meet some decent people selling used cars. One gentleman was selling his elderly father's 2009 Honda Civic for about $24,000. The car was driven infrequently for years, had low miles and was beautifully maintained. He answered my inquiry promptly. He used full sentences, and everything was smooth sailing.
We met at an agreed location, and I looked over the car. It was in very good condition, but not excellent. Still, it was an acceptable embellishment. His asking price was slightly higher than what was listed but again, acceptable. The AC worked and the car drove well. If he would bring the price down a few grand, we would have had a sale.
Then this gentleman disclosed to me that when there was heavy rain, the driver's side occasionally got damp. I researched that. It's a Civic thing. If it's wet with rainwater and not a coolant, then it's probably rust damage to the underneath, allowing water to come in. I quickly imagined myself having a mold-induced allergy attack and passed on the purchase. He divulged something that cost him the sale because it was the right thing to do. He was an honest man. A decent fellow.
And I found him on the Internet, no less. But as of now, I’m still searching for my next set of wheels.