Exploring the joys of buying a new car


Did a little car shopping last weekend.

If you’re not in the market for a car right now, but would like to experience the feelings that accompany shopping for a vehicle, I’d suggest wrapping your head in aluminum foil, stuffing said head into a microwave oven and then start cooking on high for about 37 minutes. Yeah, that’s the feeling.

It was brutal. Now, to be fair, the salesman that was helping me was helpful and knowledgeable, the finance woman I dealt with was efficient and nice, and the manager of the dealership was as gracious as could be. They truly made it as painless as possible.

However, it was still right up there with getting a discount colonoscopy from a “doctor” who made his offices in the back of a bowling alley arcade. Trust me on that one. No matter how good a deal that coupon promises, it is not a good idea to get any kind of medical procedure performed by a guy wearing rental shoes with chalk all over his hands and ...

But I digress.

Car shopping is not fun. Sure, there’s that bit of excitement as you’re driving to the dealership, and it’s pretty exhilarating when you spot that car that catches your eye, but the fun kind of stops there. See, that’s when the test drive happens.

I’m a sap. Always have been, always will be, is my guess. Once I sit down in a car and that salesman starts telling me how great a car I’m driving, I buy it. My head nods up and down like a bobblehead doll while he’s telling me about the power of the engine and the convenience of the cup holders, and I practically start giggling as soon as the mirrors on the visors are displayed to me. I went in to this process thinking about two cars I wanted to drive.

I never drove the second one.

Nope, Sucker McCann was convinced. This was the car for me. I didn’t care at that point what the price was, or if it was good on gas mileage or if it even had four wheels. All I knew was I was getting myself into a pretty darn cool car. The salesman told me as much.

With that being decided, we went back to the office to discuss financing. This is where the comparison with the bargain colonoscopy came in to play.

See, my negotiating leverage was at about zero. The drool hanging off my lip and the checkbook already in my hand pretty much guaranteed as much. As they started talking financing, my head drifted off to another time — a time when I was driving around in my new car and I didn’t have a care in the world. I heard something in the background about interest rates and gap insurance, but all I could really get my head wrapped around was the vision of me driving triumphantly down Route 26, as the greater community stood roadside and cheered me and my new car eating up the miles.

My mind continued down those thoughts as I was told about my payment date, payment amount and which sunglasses would look best on my head as I motored about Sussex County. See what I mean? I was useless at this point.

We finally got to the point of signing papers. Now, short of enlisting in the Marine Corps, buying a house and writing letters to various members of the Swedish female volleyball team, I had never signed my name this many times in my life. Actually, in the interest of full disclosure, I should say right here that it wasn’t always my name I signed on those letters to the Swedish volleyball team. You have to keep a suave image at these times, you see. Sometimes I write my name, sometimes I scribble Dr. Cool Pants and sometimes it’s just signed Mark Hardt — regardless, you have to keep them guessing.

Just another useful tip from your friendly neighborhood columnist.

Paperwork complete, I happily shook hands with all the nice people at the dealership, got the keys to my new car and started my way to a cooler life. That’s when the salesman told me that he’d follow me to the closest gas station and fill up my tank for me.

Man, the good times just kept coming.

As we were standing at the pump and chatting, I took a glimpse at the gas pump and shook my head at the way prices have been going up again. Well, at least I have a small car now, I thought — that’s bound to help with the old wallet.

Transaction complete, we shook hands one last time and I was heading down the road. “So smooth,” I thought. “This thing really handles nice.”

I took a few detours on the ride home, going down back roads and finding any longer way home that I could think of without ending my trip in a scene out of “Deliverance.” It was a nice ride, and I was all smiles and happy thoughts when I finally made it to my driveway.

That’s when I noticed that I had already burned about a quarter tank of gas. “Wow, this little thing really eats through gas,” was my newest thought. “I hope I just drove a lot more than I thought I had.” My next step was to take a look at the specifics of my financing.

Hey, have you guys ever heard anything about “buyer’s remorse?”

Apparently, that’s the final step of buying a new car.