Monday, September 01, 2008

How I Acquired a 2005 Hyundai Elantra

This past April, I was getting itchy to purchase a different car. For the past 10 years, I had owned a Neon (an emerald green one from '98-'05 and a red one from '05-'08). There were a number of minor problems I was having with the red one, the most insufferable being a lack of A/C (I had the same ish with the green one). With summer quickly approaching, I didn't want to be without it this year. Other problems: The odometer only worked about half the time, actually I didn't have a problem with that. The windshield wiper fluid dispenser didn't work, the dome light was dead, and the speedometer only worked some of the time (that wasn't too big a deal since I just traveled the same speed as other people on the road). I'd had a mechanic look at these various things, but he stated it would cost quite a bit to make the repairs. It was great not having a car payment each month, but I knew the time was coming for me to update my "ride", as the kids say.

I started looking at the cars available at dealer lots on the internet. I was still interested in getting another Neon. Call me crazy, but I was very accustomed to its layout and didn't want to get a boring silver, black, or white vehicle. Not finding much at the dealer websites, I moved on to I started out looking for cars that were $5,000 or less. That way I wouldn't still be making payments at the end of Hillary's first term (this was when she was still in the race). I came to realize, though, that spending a few thousand more could probably get me a pretty decent car. So I upped my top price to about 8G's. I went on car websites every day for a couple weeks.

After a time, I got the gist of what cars would be priced at based on their mileage and make. I was quite surprised, then, to find a dark blue 2005 Hyundai Elantra with just 41,000 miles on it priced at $8,000 (I'd done some research and knew that Hyundais were pretty good cars). The guy selling it lived in Mankato, a city of about 50,000 located about 80 miles away. I'd actually never been to the city before. I emailed the seller and asked him some questions about the car. He said he'd bought it new in Michigan and had had no problems with it thus far. The man said he was a hospice pastor and only really drove the vehicle around town which explained the relatively low mileage. Now, if I couldn't trust a pastor to be telling me the truth, who da hell could I believe?

I set up a time to drive out there, take a look at the vehicle, and go for a test drive. Imagine my shock when the next morning I went to and found a "sold" icon placed on the car. As Cartman would say, "Goddammitt!!!". I called the pastor about this. He said a guy had come that morning and offered him 8.2. I told him he could go to hell (probably not the wisest thing to say to a man of God). I'm kidding. I wasn't able to reach the seller, but was able to contact his wife. She was surprised to hear that the car was listed as sold and said that this wasn't the case. Thank God! The seller later said that the ad had probably expired or something like that.

I was curious why he was selling the car, so asked him about this in an email. Here was his reply:

"We are selling the car because a friend of mine bought a hybrid and decided to give his Honda Accord to us for a nominal price. This way we are free of monthly car loan payments."

Sounded reasonable to me.

I had recently ordered a CD set from called Classic Soft Rock (doesn't the title just instantly put you at ease?)

It actually was part of an 11-CD set, but I didn't want to get it all at once, so ordered the 2-CD Ride Like the Wind for a discounted price. Check out the full track listing.

It was a sunny day as the girl and I set off to south-central Minnesota's biggest city. Even if I was fully satisfied with the car, I wasn't gonna get it that day. I would "sleep on it" as they say. When we arrived, the car was in the driveway.

We took a quick look at the interior before heading in to meet the pastor and his wife. They were very cordial. The seller then gave me the car keys and said I could do the test drive if I wished. I was glad he wasn't accompanying us. That way, I could concentrate on the car and not have to worry about making small talk.

After driving it for a few minutes, I can't say I was too impressed. I liked the small size of the vehicle, but wasn't used to the feel of the seat. The CD player that he had installed was a relatively cheap one, not like the Pioneer I had in my Neon. Ah, well. Time to try the cruise. But where is it? I looked all over, but couldn't find anything that could be construed as a cruise switch. I tried everything. How could a 2005 vehicle not have cruise on it? What the fudge? This car is definitely a no-go. Conversely, my girl thought it was pretty nice for the price and said she rarely used cruise herself.

I headed back to the seller's house and asked about the cruise. He confirmed that the car didn't have it and said the person who'd come to look at the car earlier in the week had also inquired about this. I asked if he'd consider lowering the price. He said that his asking price was quite fair, but that he could drop it down to $7,800. I said I would contact him in a couple days with a definite answer.

Going to bed, still dead-set against making the purchase, but feeling that I should still sleep on it, I printed out a pic of the car and put it under my pillow :P

Though I wasn't crazy about the car, I probably wouldn't find a better deal. The same car with the same amount of mileage was for sale at a local dealership for at least $2,000 more (and it was a bird-crap white!) I found out that cruise could be added to a car for a few hundred bucks and I could have Best Buy put my Pioneer stereo into the Elantra. After discussing it with a few people (including God, jk), I decided I should go through with it. I got financing with my bank (4 years, $199.85 a month) and sent an email to the pastor that I would like to purchase the car. Here was his reply:

"I am glad you are buying the car. I am sure you will be happy with it.
I will not drive the car anymore. I will just go through the car-wash and park it in the garage.

It was another sunny day as my wife and I headed once again to Mankato to pick up my new vehicle. The pastor gave me the keys and the warranty information as the three of us headed to a Mankato bank to complete the sale. He said he was originally from Poland (he did have a bit of an accent) and quite enjoyed living in Minnesota. He also said I should give him a call if I had any problems whatsoever with the vehicle. All was well as we said goodbye to him. On the drive home, the CD player totally konked out and I had to listen to the radio. I hate listening to the radio!

But the car was starting to grow on me. Later that day, I had Best Buy put my Pioneer stereo into the Elantra. Now I just had to get rid of the Neon and I would be happy for the rest of my lives!


Sarah said...

This is a super funny story. I love all the detail and internal dialogue.

Thomas said...

Thank you, Sarah. Later this week, I will post a follow-up called "How I Got Rid of my 96 Neon".

Timothy Smith said...

Great story. I have to thank you for that link to the prank website, I spent hours laughing out loud! Thank you very much.

I am waiting for the Chevy Volt. Here in Phoenix I have a special rate plan and a special computer hooked in to my homes fuse box that monitors and adjusts electricity use (just ask for details its actually pretty cool!)

This means I pay next to nothing for my power at night and we almost never travel more then 60 miles a day.

The idea of a plug-in car fascinates my wife and I.

The MPG rating of the volt will reduce my costs to under 10 cents a gallon at current electricity rates.

I cant wait....

Trading in a Corvette for a Volt? Well someone has to do it!

Thomas said...

Tim, I also spent several hours on that prank site. My favorite was the fake pictures taken of that Google bicyclist. For those who missed it, the link is here:

Chevy Volt. I've heard of it. Interesting to think of what types of cars we'll be driving a decade from now.

I also look forward to getting a plug-in one day.