I think most of you know I arrived in Oregon car-less. It is a long and somewhat pathetic story about why I have never, in my 45 years, bought or owned my own car. I have always wanted to but it has just never worked out. I feel like it is a rite of passage that I missed out on. Saving your own money and spending it carefully on your own car....good times.
I remember my friend Jenny getting her own car when we were in high school and she named it and took care of it and got to choose what kind of car she wanted, she even added her own accessories to make the car hers. She was so lucky. I still remember what she named the car.
So luckily this car saga has a happy ending. You see as of Monday the 18th of August in the year 2014 I bought my first car. I had hoped I could wait to buy a car for a few months but I quickly realized I could not keep expecting my parents to drive my 45 year old self everywhere and as much as I adore driving their Toyota Highlander (which was made for me :) I have been feeling some serious guilt about using it. So finally after about 9 days of being in Oregon I decided it was time to buckle down and figure this car thing out. I had a few thoughts about how this car shopping thing would go down.....
My first thought went something like this...someone rich would offer to buy me one of the new 2015 Mercedes S550's. They are starting at only $94,400. Yeah, I know, avoid reality much? :)
My second thoughts were more realistic. I knew I did not want a car payment in any way, shape, or form. So I needed the car to be under $5,000. I was hoping to spend $3,000 which some people giggled at.....it was inside of themselves giggling of course.....but they did not know I can spot inside giggling a mile away :)
I also adore manual transmissions. It is important to me that my kids learn how to drive them although ironically it turns out that only one of them up until now has. (Long, but very true story, about that :) Lets just say I have a most adorable child holding the number two spot in our family who is very persuasive when it comes to her likes and dislikes and managed to convince three siblings that driving a clutch is of the devil.
And of course my other thought was that I hoped that the car would be in good condition for its age and not be a pink MaryKay Cadillac.
I hate how most of us really do not know if a car is a good car or a bad car. I feel like maybe it is just luck that you always have a good car and I somehow always don't ...even though I know that can not be true. Can it?
Anyway I decided to start with Craigslist. After chatting with some of my peeps I figured I should look for a car that had a clean title. A car that had an owner that could produce service records would be nice. A car that had been owned by that person for awhile. A car that had not had a ton of owners. Please do not laugh at my methods :)
I started the Craigslist searching on Saturday evening. It took me a minute to focus and stop looking at the cars that people said were a dollar :) And the cars that were cool old vintage cars that needed work but were only $1,200 dollars :) But I finally found a Toyota Camry that looked really good and was only $4,400 dollars. I made an appointment to see it and then looked the car up on Edmunds.com with my dad to make sure they were asking a fair price and then anxiously waited for our scheduled time to see it. But by mid day on Sunday I got a text and they sold my car to the person who looked at it before me. Oh no they didn't! Yeah, so this is how the Craigslist thing appears to work....if a car is in good condition and priced right you have to be fast. Like Superman fast.
So I started searching again. It was very entertaining to scroll through the gazillion pictures of cars and read what people decide is important to tell you about their car. Also very entertaining to see where they decide to take a picture of their car. Also entertaining to see what people think they can sell.....and probably do :)
I found a few more options but every time I found the car I was sure was mine I was not the first one to look at it and the first person to look at it ended up thinking it was theirs and bought it. This was serious. I needed to be glued to Craigslist. I even called on one car that had been only posted 26 minutes and still got the second appointment and lost.
Finally I got the first available appointment on a 1999 Toyota Camry that was an hour away. Thankfully it was far enough off the beaten path no one wanted to go to the work to look at it. The car had been posted for five days but the owner had just re-posted it and brought it up to the top of the list. My dad and I looked it up on edmunds and gathered our information and on Monday afternoon we drove out to Monroe, Oregon. It was a beautiful drive past field after field of farm land. On the drive I asked my dad how this would all go down since I have never bought anything from Craigslist before. I asked him what we should look for and what we should ask the owner about.
We arrived in Monroe a half hour early. Monroe is a teeny, tiny, very pretty town of 680 people there was not really anywhere to waste time while waiting so we sat in the car a block or so from where we were going to be looking at the car and waited. Finally we saw the car turn the corner and I know it sounds cheesy but I knew that was the car for me. It is a four door white Toyota Camry and it looked so nice.
The guy who owned the car was the third owner and the second owner of the car had been his uncle who had owned it all except two years of its 14 years of life. He had records to show what had been done to the car. He had recently put new tires and a new clutch and new timing belts on it. The trunk was enormous. It was so clean. It was a five speed. It was clear that they guy had loved this car. He had taken very good care of it. I want to trust everyone and believe they are honest and it was so hard to keep reminding myself that I did not know this person and that he could be tricking me at any minute. My mind does not really think that way. I kept trying to be suspicious but I couldn't :)
To make a long story short I bought it. He had wanted to sell it for $4,000 but when you looked at edmunds it said a private party selling this car should ask $2,700. We told him that and he countered with the argument he had done a lot of work on the car. So we offered him $3,200... he asked if we could do better.... we said $3,300 and he said with a sigh...ok. I felt a little bad for him. I know how it feels to want to get a certain price for something and I wished I was richer so I could give him what he wanted but if I was richer I would be buying a new car off a lot not a car from a guy from Fiji who lived in a turquoise blue house in a town in the middle of nowhere :)
I got to drive the car the hour home all by myself. I did not turn on the radio I just listened to the car. The clutch was so much smoother than my Subaru had ever been. I was so happy.
I want to post a picture to show you but I left my camera battery in Massachusetts charging and I can not get the pictures off of my phone onto my blog so just close your eyes and imagine a sleek, white, four door Toyota Camry LE with 164,000 miles on it. Nothing is wrong with the body of the car. The inside is so 1999 grey :) But that is okay. It is clean and that is what matters :) I have a cassette player...just in case :) And a cd player. I need to buy an adapter so I can use my ipod shuffle.I can fit several bodies in my trunk if necessary and that is a good feeling :)
All I ask of this car is 90,000 more miles and I really think he can do it. I am determined to take perfect care of it to make sure my luck with cars is changing :)