4/30/13

Suddenly, a car.

My wife had a 3-year lease on a Nissan Sentra, and her monthly payment was $56 a month.

How did she manage this, you ask?  Three years ago, she traded in a car worth about seven grand because the air conditioner didn't work.  After we had spent about $900 getting it fixed.  So for three years, life was good.

Then it was time for me to go out of town for a week.  Immediately, the funny noises started. In the car,  not my wife.  So the sequence of events went something like this:

Friday 

"My car sounds loud."
"It's fine."
"No, I think something is wrong with it."
"Well, you have to get the oil changed tomorrow, have them take a look."
"It sounds like the muffler is falling off."
"It's only got thirty thousand miles on it, the exhaust system should be fine."
"But maybe something happened to it when I hit that giant rock in the middle of the road."
"…"

Saturday, after returning from the dealer's "free" oil change

"Well, I don't know what they did to it, but it's really loud now.  They said I need new brakes and a new exhaust system and it's going to cost about $700. They said if I don't get it fixed, it will leak carbon monoxide into the cabin."

There's nothing I hate more than some dirtbag mechanic trying to scare a woman into repairs because she doesn't know any better.   I go outside and have her start the car and it sounds like my lawnmower.  I look underneath it and I can't see much of anything except for rust.  Apparently Nissan is making their new exhaust systems out of old exhaust systems just to save time.   I follow the pipe backward to where it goes over the axle, and it's completely rotted away from the flange and hanging in two pieces, supported only by the connection to the motor in the front, and by one half-rotten hanger in the back, with the bulk of the muffler's weight resting on the top of the axle.

"Well, you can't drive it like this."
"What am I supposed to do?  You're on a flight out of town tomorrow, and I have to get to work on Monday."
"I can try to wire it up with something tomorrow."
"It's supposed to rain."
"You could drive it like it is. You'd probably be fine. Probably."
"Gee, thanks."
"You could drop me off at the airport and drive my car all week.  If you could drive a stick."
"Yeah, yeah, I know."
"It's your own fault. I offered to teach you."
(dirty look)

We've been married a long time.

The next thing I know, we're driving her car back down to the dealership,  because at this point it seems to be the least painful option.  Our plan is to talk to a sales guy about turning in her lease a little early and getting a new car.  Which, it turns out, she already did.  She introduces me to Shawn like they're old friends. Possibly lovers.  And he knows every detail about the car and the existing lease and the work that needs to be done on our existing car.  Dammit, I've been had. We really have been married a long time.

Shawn is a slick little black guy who reminds me of a young Sammy Davis Jr.  When she introduces us, he sticks out his hand to shake mine and I reciprocate, but something goes horribly wrong and the next thing I know he's got the tips of my four fingers in his vice-like grip and I feel like a big pussy.  Dammit! He's an early closer! 

At first I can't tell if he did it on purpose, or if it was just bad timing on my part.  I feel like I should curtsy.  The early close is a power move that I used to be on the lookout for when I was in sales, but I don't shake many hands in my current job.  It gets worse then, because he's not letting go right away (ok, it's a power move),  I'm forced to extricate my limp asparagus fingers from his manly shake by quickly yanking my fingers out of his grip like it was some kind of rat-trapped glory hole.

And then we get down to bargaining.  I've already lost.

He throws out all the typical car salesman crap -- we can either pay to have the other car fixed and pay the $350 "turn in fee" (eff you Nissan) or we can put the same amount of money down and walk out with a new 3-year lease on a new car.  He can offer us a deal if we do it right now, he has to clear it with his manager, but it's a smokin' deal, what can I do to make you walk out of here with that car today, blah, blah, blah.

He actually wrote some very large numbers on a blank sheet of paper.  I don't mean large numbers as in the car was expensive.  I mean he wrote them in 2" high text.   I don't really know what his angle was there.  Maybe it was just a visual aid.  Anyway, that's the paper he "took to the manager."   It looked like a second grader's homework, but he was on a roll, so I let him go.

Our other option, and one that I was seriously thinking about for a few minutes, was to fix the brakes and the exhaust and buy the original car outright.  I could tell that my wife wanted a new one because she kept saying, "If the muffler fell off at thirty thousand miles, what else is going to go wrong?"  I didn't argue because I just wanted the reaming to be over. And she was possibly right. The only benefit to a lease is no maintenance, and I haven't had much luck in the "drive it til it drops" arena.

I brought up the topic of the crappy exhaust system on the original car and Shawn kept saying it was an anomaly.  He said it like he was on the bridge of the USS Enterprise, and there was some weird noise coming from the engineering deck.  "It seems to be some kind of anomaly in the exhaust system, Captain."  I asked him if Nissan was using old license plates to make their exhaust systems these days since I have a Honda Fit with twice as many miles on it and the exhaust system is fine, but he had no answer other than it was clearly an anomaly.  Ensign red shirt, we need you for the away team.

We eventually got down to the point where we walked the lot looking for cars.  It was cold and miserable, and just as it started raining we found a Sentra that was both priced right for the $199 monthly payment we were looking for, and also a color that my wife could stand.  Her original car was bright blue and rather sporty, and this lot was full of silver, black, grey, grey and more grey. Seriously, they had three different shades of grey. It looked like the parking lot at the FBI building.  She grudgingly opted for silver.  We went back inside and signed on the dotted line five minutes before they closed, and they were nice enough to let us borrow a car until the next day so we didn't have to drive home sounding like a Harley Fatboy going uphill.

As we were leaving, Shawn stuck out his hand to shake mine and that bastard early-closed again.

"Dammit!" I said, yanking my fingers free and repositioning my hand before he could react.  I then gave him  my most manly handshake.   He looked a little startled, but I didn't care. It was the principle of the thing.

Early-closing son of a bitch.


34 comments:

  1. I'm pretty sure a colonoscopy is less painful than shopping for a car. I hope for the sake of your pride that Shawn was a red shirt.

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    1. It's more painful. With the colonoscopy, you go to sleep and wake up a few minutes later and your butt hurts a little. With the car buying, it's like a colonscopy without the anesthesia.

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    2. I've had the Colonoscopy WITHOUT anesthesia and it hurts like a MFer. So you really really got it bad huh! My brother is one of the top five Nissan Mechanics in the country. I'll ask him about the muffler. He has said they aren't making their cars as well as they used to do. Their motors are still top notch but that's not much comfort when the body starts rusting away around you. The ones from the 90's are good though.

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  2. I hate car shopping. I've been real lucky with the "drive 'em til the wheels fall off", though I admit I started shopping after my Jeep shed its idler pulley and therefore its serpentine belt at 55MPH on the Downtown Expressway on the way to work. It only had 258,000 miles on it. The previous truck died at 385K, the one before that at 285K, and the one before that (we're now back to 1981) broke the driveshaft the day after I picked up the one that lasted 285K! BUT, every purchase has been an emergency buy, this last one more so than the others. Hope your wide's new car lasts more than 30,000!

    Peace <3
    Jay

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    1. Where the heck do you live? Winter destroys cars up here.

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    2. Richmond, VA. We don't get a lot of salt on the roads, thankfully, but I've driven those vehicles all over New England (in the winter - that's what got the body of the 285K truck), along the coast, and they never get washed or garaged. I do like Nissan (though the Jeep wasn't a bad vehicle, just not as long lived, and the amount of maintenance on it was monumental compared to the Nissans).

      Peace <3
      Jay

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    3. Went car shopping last weekend. Honda Fit is the top of my list. Tell me you love yours and I will pull the trigger and buy one.

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    4. Mine is a 2008. Never had a single problem with it. I would buy another one in a second, and probably will. You can get a ton of stuff in it, the seats fold completely flat. Good mileage, too. I got the sport just for the aux input on the stereo. Crazy, I know.

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    5. Sounds like something I would do, but for perfectly placed coffee cups.

      Thanks for the input. Now off to find the perfect deal........

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    6. Our Nissan has over 220K on it (although it's on its third engine - the first two courtesy of Nissan) and we love it. My husband is pretty set on buying another one, although he keeps eying the FJ Cruiser as well.

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    7. See, that right there doesn't instill any confidence. No car should need an engine every 73K.

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    8. It didn't. That car is one that Nissan gave is because Reasons. It was brand new. Two weeks later we took it on a trip and it threw a rod in the middle of BFE New Mexico. Nissan had a new engine put in and flatbedded it back to Texas for us (so the original engine had less than 1000 miles on it). They did a lot of other awesome stuff too which is one reason we are very loyal to them. Then a couple years ago, when that first replacement engine had about 190K miles on it, my husband was driving down the road not paying attention to the temp gauge. LSS the seals were shot and the engine had to be replaced if we didn't want a new car. We didn't, and here we are about 40K miles later (I was wrong on my earlier estimate), still really happy with it.

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    9. Ah, that makes more sense. I was beginning to think you either had seriously bad luck, or you drove like a maniac.

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  3. hahaha early closer. I'm glad you showed him who the real man behind the wheel was, so to speak. (Pun intended)

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    1. I should have given him the two-handed politician shake.

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  4. Early closer is a power move? Damn. Got this tall guy who does this to me. Isn't it enough that I'm short? Bastard.

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    1. Next time, maybe you should say, "If you keep pulling my fingers like that, I might fart."

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  5. I never have any luck with vehicles. I'm currently driving a 98 Saturn that is pretty much a glorified Power Wheels that can go 55mph. Thankfully, it was a gift, so the only money I have in it is in maintenance. It has about 130,000 on the clock right now, so I'm expecting it to spontaneously combust at any second.

    My girlfriend, however, drives a 06 Tundra that started out as a company truck. It has close to 290,000 miles on it, and when you stop at a light, you can barely tell it's running. Damn thing is still smooth as hell. I think I know what brand I'm going for next.

    Johnny,

    I have to admit, I prefer a nice manly handshake. I've shaken hands with some guys, and it felt like I was holding a wet mackerel. I don't need someone to give me a bone breaking grip, but dammit, put some backbone into it.

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  6. I'm pushing an Alfa Romeo 159 around at the moment, nice car, but if something goes tits up on it, I'm looking at at least a thousand in repairs. It seems that the have to take the car apart to get at anything.

    Next time I'm going back to a Benz or an Audi.

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    Replies
    1. Nice ride! What year?

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    2. 2008 Sportwagon, with the 2.4 turbodiesel. Goes like sh*t off a shovel.

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  7. Hmmmm. I owned a Nissan Sentra once upon a time. We had problems with the damn muffler on it, too.

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    1. And TODAY, I got a certified letter from Nissan saying I owed $120 for "excessive wear and tear" on the car, and they actually charged us for the exhaust system. Never again, Nissan.

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  8. Loved this post! So funny.

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    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  9. Last guy who did the short-finger shake on me, I let my arm go completely limp, and when he looked up at me, I told him that if he didn't let go and learn to shake hands properly, I was going to punch him in the throat. Startled him a bit, it did. The snarl probably had something to do with it, maybe. It certainly gets my dogs' attention, as well as the entire 8th grade.

    As far as I'm concerned, I'd rather have a radical prostatectomy without anesthetic than buy a car. Since I'm going to get reamed anyway, might as well at least lower my cancer risk.

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    1. I'm gonna try that next time.

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  10. I can't believe I'm just now seeing this. I bought a new truck about 3 weeks ago. Would you believe I don't even really know how a lease works? I just know my dad always shook his head when he saw commercials about leasing cars. That was how my dad explained things. He shook his head at them.

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    1. Basically you give them a lot of money and then rent the car for three years, all the while paying for maintenance. It's a great deal.

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  11. I sold my old Nissan pickup for $600 because it had over 200K on the odometer and well, I had to use baling wire to keep the battery from jiggling around. I had wrecked it twice and the repairs (done by a former family friend) were nothing to brag about. My Ex got mad at me for selling it (you just knew there was going to be an upside, didn't you) because she had bought the pickup for me. Hitch hiking to work is a huge pain.
    Anyway I still see that pickup on the road occasionally...

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    1. Oh man, sounds like me! I bought a new Nissan in 1989 and let the 1981 model with 285K miles on it sit in the yard for a year. The body was rusting off of it. The buyer (for $500) jumped it and drove it away!

      Then the 1989 blew its engine at 385K miles. I dumped for $1500 trade-in, moved away, and friends told me they saw it driving around for 3 more years.
      Jay

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  12. Did you look for hammer marks on the old muffler? With no winter to speak of down here, body work lasts forever. Mildew eats the paint, but mostly stops at the metal. Our primary muffler hazard is potholes. And dead armadillos.

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  13. JV, I ended up getting a Honda FIt two weeks ago. Love it! Thanks for the recommendation.

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    1. excellent! I hope it's good to you. Just paid mine off this month, and plan to get at least another 5 years out of it.

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