An Article from Aaron's Article ArchiveFreaky Friday, and a New Car for Aaron
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Freaky Friday, and a New Car for Aaron
Monday, 18 August 2003 10:48 PM MDT
It's Monday again. This evening, I joined my parents, youngest brother, and two of my sisters for a Family Home Evening activity—going to see a movie, Disney's Freaky Friday, the new 2003 remake of the classic Jody Foster movie. Wow! Disney managed to do it right, just like they did with the remake of The Parent Trap. This newest remake was well written, and the parts were marvelously portrayed by Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan. I had a blast! I wish all Disney remakes were this good. They really have a mixed track record. This one's going on my "must buy" list of DVDs once it is released.
After the movie, since the St. George Rec. Center was still open, after a quick change-of-clothes, I headed over for a late work-out in their fitness center. As out-of-shape as I've been, I'm slowly improving my endurance. Carrying extra girth, I just don't have the cardiovascular endurance to jog or run much at all, so since January when I began working out (then at the Dixie State College Fitness Center, and now at the St. George Rec. Center), I've had to stick to walking on the treadmill, or very, very low settings on the stair climber machines (those that could handle my weight). Today, however, I ran a bit. Or rather jogged. After a 5-minute warm-up, I jogged for six minutes, about a half mile (I'm not speedy), then walked for another 10 minutes, then jogged anothe half mile, cooling down for another 8 minutes or so, and ending with 5 minutes on the stair machine until closing time. For me, that's really good! I admit, I think I overdid it just a tad, but I left, sweaty and happy that I'm making progress!
Did I mention I have a new set of wheels? A week ago Saturday, before I went to Texas, I bought a new car, a 2003 white, four-door, automatic transmission Hyundai Sonata GLS. I added an extended warranty, so that the car is now covered, bumper-to-bumper, for ten years or 100,000 miles. That's an unbeatable warranty, and was a large factor in my decision. And this last Friday, I got the windows tinted (a must in the ever-intense desert sun of southwestern Utah). I'm loving the new ride!
There's a bit of a story behind the acquisition. I've been mulling over the idea of a more street-worthy vehicle for some months now, and even went for some test drives with my father (my trusty vehicular consultant). But the time wasn't quite right.
Don't get me wrong, I love my 1993 black 4-door Chevy Blazer S10 4x4, and have bounced around a lot of local dirt roads with it. But it's aging, with many annoying things that don't quite work now. I've poured a lot more money into repairs each year on it than I've ever had to do before on any vehicle I've owned. So I've had it in the back of my mind that I need something more reliable to use for day-to-day city and highway driving, preferably something that isn't going to eat money for repairs, and something that will get a bit better gas mileage.
So a week ago Friday, I was driving my Blazer north from St. George to Cedar City to attend a summer barbecue hosted by my employer, InfoWest. Shortly after the Zion National Park Kolob Canyons freeway exit, after the transmission shifted down for a bit more power as the freeway continued its gentle climb in altitude, I felt a loss of power. The engine stayed at the higher RPMs, but I was slowly losing speed, and when I let off on the accelerator, the transmission would not shift back into overdrive. So I pulled off the New Harmony exit, and parked, called my brother Kendall on my cell phone, and invited him to the InfoWest barbecue, so long as he had time and was willing to pick me up. What a deal, no?
After the very enjoyable barbecue (excellent food, great company) in the much cooler air of Cedar City, my brother and I headed for Hurricane where I spent the night at my parents' house, my crippled Blazer still just off the New Harmony exit.
The next morning, my father graciously drove me back up to get my vehicle, ready to tow it with his little S10 truck if necessary. We looked my Blazer over. The transmission fluid was at normal operating levels, and looked clean and good (I'd had it exchanged/serviced just weeks before). And the transmission seemed to work okay in reverse. But when going forward, there was a mushy lag as though power from the engine were slowly, grudgingly transferred to the wheels, forcing me to run the engine at a bit higher RPMs than normal to achieve the same speed. Also, the transmission refused to shift into the highest gear. Fortunately, this let me drive it back to St. George, but I had to be gentle, go slow to keep the RPMs down, and let it coast in neutral down all the hills. My dad followed me behind, both vehicles emergency flashers activated.
Once my Blazer was parked in St. George, I wondered what to do about wheels until I could find out what was wrong. I really don't want to pour a lot of money into repairs if possible, since the value of the beastie isn't that high in the first place. So that clinched it. My dad was willing to spare some more time, so we went car shopping.
Some years ago when my dad worked selling cars, Hyundai cars had a bad reputation when it came to service and reliability. In fact, rumor has it that a local dealership that had the Hyundai franchise sold it because of all the problems they had with the cars. Recently, however, we've been hearing better things, that they've really cleaned up their act and turned the company around. So we thought we'd take a look.
I instantly liked the looks of the Sonata. It reminds me of a much more expensive Jaguar or something in the shape of its front end. We took one for a test drive. Not a bad car, though it did (and does) lack just a little in get-up-and-go power (I do like to accelerate quickly to speed from a stop). And they really had a lot of extras thrown in. The salesman, one Mr. Cottam, had the perfect demeanor for selling a car to someone like me. He was friendly, but quiet and not overbearing, relaxed, and knew the answers to our questions as we asked. If I decided on a Hyundai, he'd be the one we bought it from.
Next we test drove a Chevy Impala. Now I have a totally illogical preference for G.M. vehicles, and an equally illogical dislike of Ford. I can't explain it. It really doesn't make sense, since there are some really great Ford vehicles, and likewise some GM duds. While I didn't care for the Impala's front end (my dad liked it), I like the rest of the car. And the version with the 3800 engine has the pep and get-up-and-go power that I really do enjoy.
Unfortunately, the Chevrolet warranty looked weak and paltry compared to the Hyundai, a wimpy 3-year beastie. And all the little tiny extras that made the Hyundai nice, were missing. Then there was the price. To get the Impala I'd like to drive, I'd be into the car another $5,000, and I really didn't want to pay that much.
Finally, there was the salesman. He seemed a sociable fellow, and I didn't dislike him personally, but though he claimed hot to be a "high pressure" salesman, in reality he was applying pressure. Though he was somewhat new, he tried the old sales techique of "get the customer to like and want a specific product before giving details like price" methodology. Sorry, that's exactly the wrong thing to do with me. I am a question-asker. I want to know everything. And if a salesperson doesn't have the answer, he'd better be sure he can find it.
This fellow hopped into the car with us without a clue in the world about the car. If I were a new salesman and someone wanted to test drive a car, the very least I would do is grab a brochure on the vehicle to take with us so that if the customer asked a question that I did not know the answer to, I could look it up.
Near the end of the drive, he was asking for information to see what factory discounts I could qualify for. He asked me if I was a college graduate. I am not. My schooling was interrupted by the Internet. I joined InfoWest while at Dixie College, and have been with them since the start. I told him I was not a graduate. He responded, "We'll just say you are for this." I replied, "No, I would prefer you didn't. I'm not a graduate, and I don't want to lie."
Once back at the dealership, we went inside and sat down at a desk. I whipped out a pen, grabbed a sheet of paper, and started asking questions about various Impala models, asking about pricing, feature sets, and warranty information. I could tell the sales guy wanted to drive the direction of the conversation, but my inquisitive nature refused to budge.
Once I had all the information I wanted, we got up to leave. On came the pressure. He wanted to keep us there, and even asked, "Are you the kind of customer who likes to be pushed into a deal? I know some like that?" I responded, "If you do that, and if I choose to buy a Chevy, I'll ask for a different salesman." We made it out the door after a few more failed attemts to keep us around. Outside, I had a good chuckle. I found his behavior amusing.
He's exactly the kind of salesman I never want to deal with. I told my dad, "If I decide to buy a Chevy, let's drive to Cedar City and buy it there." After the experience, the more and more I thought about it, the more and more I disliked how this guy handled things. If he was dishonest enough to try to get me a good deal, how in the world could I trust anything he was telling me? I couldn't. Honesty is so important. If you bend your integrity a little, no one can believe you anymore. I now fell sorry for this guy. I hope he cleans up his act.
Now there really are people who come back and buy again and again from pushy salesman. My dad told me of one salesman he knew of who had a reputation for never letting a potential customer get out the door without a sale, pushing and pushing, trying to get the deal done. And many if not most of his customers, after the fact, seemed happy with the deal. But that just won't ever work with me. I'm a facts man. Give me all the facts and details, and let me make up my own mind.
After lunch at the ever excellent Pasta Factory, I made my decision. The Hyundai Sonata would be my new car. It was less expensive, and while a bit less powerful than I'd like, it really looked like an excellent buy. I hadn't bothered test driving any other cars, since I was already familiar with the market, and knew that the Hyundai deal couldn't be beat. I absolutely did not want to buy a car and have the warranty run out before or just as I finished paying off the loan. I wanted a goodly chunk of warranty left afterward. The Sonata was a fit.
I had considered going for a used car, but figure that while I'd save some money going into the deal, I would inevitably make up for it in repairs, as I've done with all my prior vehicles. So I bit the bullet and bought a new car. It's the first new car I've ever owned. I hope that once the years roll by, it really turns out to be the good deal I think that it is.
After the purchase, the following Monday, the day I flew to Texas, I called my insurance agent and heard some good news. To switch full coverage from my Blazer to the Sonata, dropping all but minimum liability on the Blazer, would raise my rate by only $50 or so every six months. Sweet! I was worried that insurance would go up considerably.
The downside in all of this, is I've now committed to a five-year loan. I do want to get out of debt. I hope that I can prepay on this car and get it paid for sooner.
Oh, one other nice thing. Besides the 10-year/100,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty (fully transferable should I sell the car), I've also got 5 years of roadside assistance, towing, key lockout service, and so on. Not bad. Another of those extras Hyundai threw into the pot that nobody else did.
While in Texas, Randy and I rented a Hyundai Elantra for tooling around town. That car had some problems. I really hope my Sonata isn't too closely related! I hope that that an exception, a fluke, or an older model that shares a lesser genealogy than my new Sonata.
There, I've rambled and rambled about my car. Time will tell as it always does if this was a wise move. So far I think it was. I think I got a good deal. Now I just hope that my Blazer can be inexpensively repaired so I can use it for dirt-road adventures and geocaching.