I’m a big believer in learning from past mistakes.
So…. with our IRS tax refund we received this year and our pennies we’ve tried to pinch, our plan is to replace our ailing minivan.
Let’s just say… it’s ready to see its end. I won’t bore you by listing its issues, but suffice to say, they would cost much much more than the vehicle is worth.
Yet… our replacement fund stash is, well, not that big. So we’ll be replacing the vehicle with an older model… which always makes me nervous because, well…. let’s just say, we’ve made some mistakes in the past when purchasing older model cars.
The biggest mistake being that yours truly gets inpatient and just says, BUY A STUPID CAR AND BE DONE WITH IT ALREADY!
Case in point (and the experience I’m trying to learn from this time…)
In 2006… I was 6 months pregnant and was rear-ended on the interstate on my way to work by an 18-wheeler. Um. Yeah. My trunk was gone– needless to say totaling my Toyota Camry that we’d had for 7 years. Thankfully baby-in-my-belly (Gabriella) and I were unhurt, only a little sore.
A few days later, my neck still recovering from some pretty yucky whiplash… I made Scott take me to the ER, thinking I was going to die because I couldn’t breath.
Turns out, I had a massive case of gallstones. But because I was in my 3rd trimester, they wouldn’t take out my gall bladder. Told me I had to use pain meds, limit my diet, and live with the pain until after she was born.
Needless to say, this was not a stellar week in the Phillips’ house.
After I recovered enough to feel like I could do crazy things like breath and walk again… Scott and I went car shopping.
Usually this should have been enjoyable. But we were having a hard time finding a replacement in our price range that would work, and we had to get a car like immediately because I needed it to get to work and back and Scott needed a car at home, too.
So we went one day, knowing that we HAD to buy a car that day.
A storm was brewing….
Literally. Like, calling for tornadoes and all that fun stuff.
So, we were at the car dealership… a little windy but sky still mostly clear. We told the guy our price range and he showed us this car that looked great. It was in our price range, had mileage we needed, and didn’t look like crap.
The salesman told us to go stay at the office and he would bring the car around.
LESSON ONE: Always start the car yourself. Don’t let the sales guy “bring it around” for you. He’s not being kind. I promise.
It took longer than we thought it should, but eventually the car got there. It drove fine, but a minute into the test drive, the sales guy suggested we head back because of the storm coming. He was sure to tell us that in their “meeting” in the morning, they’d warned that there was “no” safe place in the dealership, so we really needed to be on our way before it hit.
LESSON TWO: Car dealerships care about worker’s comp claims too.
We got back. We were paying a portion (almost half) of the price in cash, and the rest of it with our debit card since we were using our settlement funds from the wreck. We handed the cash to the sales manager when requested, then were escorted to the “money” guy to sign all the paperwork.
LESSON THREE: DON’T PAY A DIME UNTIL YOU SIGN PAPERS!!!!!! (and never pay it to the sales guys. Seriously? Just plain stupid…)
As we drove away, Scott in his car and me in our new car… something happened. The car stalled as I pulled out of the parking lot. (looking back, I believe theyd had trouble starting the car… and knew they would, thus the reason for “pulling” it around for us)
But…. my phone was dead, so I couldn’t call Scott. The wind was now howling and the sky had turned this pucky color of green and gray… NOT a good sign. And I was able to get the car restarted.
During the 30 to 40 minute drive home, our “new” to us car proceeded to stall at EVERY SINGLE STOP LIGHT.
Thankfully, we got home in one piece. But when we got home, we immediately called the dealership.
LESSON FOUR: CHECK THE RETURN POLICY before you buy
We were told that they had a policy of no returns. No matter what. That we could bring it back in if we wanted to and pay them to fix it.
Um. Yeah. No.
The next morning, not sure what to do, I went out to go to work.
Our new car wouldn’t even start. We tried to jump the car. Nope. That wouldn’t work either.
I drove Scott’s car to work, fuming all the way. Another call to the dealership gave us NO help.
That day, we were having a corporate wide luncheon to discuss the status of the company. While I ate, I was relaying our horrific car buying experience with a coworker. Our CEO overheard and grilled me as to why we would buy a car without having a mechanic give it a look over first. Honestly? I’d been in the hospital and in a major car wreck. I just wanted a dad gum car that worked and got me to work. And now I had nothing.
To my embarrassment, our CEO used my story in his speech to the corporate office as an example of what NOT to do when giving quality customer service to our clients/coworkers. He then announced that he was so disgusted with our story that he was authorizing our legal department to champion my cause, whatever it took, to get justice from a car dealership that obviously took pleasure in taking advantage of people.
My face was the color of a nice, ripe tomato…. but I appreciated the gesture.
After discussing my wee little issue with our corporate attorney… he got on the phone and ended up talking to the dealership’s corporate attorney (they were a national dealership.) and told them that they really needed to cut their losses because they had a pregnant woman who had the full power of a corporate legal department behind her…
I, um, got my money back. From a very mad dealership manager. Oh, and remember that cash I’d given to the sales guy?
Yeah, never turned in. They had turned in only the debit card transaction as a total amount paid for the car. Thankfully I had my copy of the bill-of-sale for the total amount so I got that money back too, even though the guy almost literally had smoke coming out of his ears.
So… money in hand, I still had no car. Instead of demanding God show us something immediately and taking matters into our own hands, we decided to wait a few days and pray about it.
A few days later, I was at work and talking to our risk management guy, who happened to mention that he was trying to sell his car. We talked about price and mileage and all that stuff. Scott and I looked at it and test drove it. It was, to say it mildly, PERFECT for us.
That was almost exactly 7 years ago. We bought it with 150,000 miles on it, and it is now over 250,000 miles and while it has it’s issues, we’ve put almost no money in it besides maintenance and it still drives nice and smooth. It was probably the best $5k I’ve ever spent!
LESSON FIVE: Good things come to those who wait on God.
Which brings me back to present. I’ve been looking online daily, praying that God would show us the right vehicle at the right timing that is at the right price and in the right condition. That He would give us wisdom and peace about the matter. So far, all I’ve heard is God’s quiet voice in my heart each time I’ve looked that says, “Wait, Krista. Not yet. Don’t rush me in this. I know best.”
By an extreme miracle of God, our van is still running and hasn’t given up the ghost yet. And oddly enough… I’m okay with being patient. Which is not normal. At all. I’d usually be freaking out right about now and taking matters into my own hands and buying the first thing we could afford that even close to meets our needs.
But I’ve learned my lesson. God redeemed our mistake last time, and I aim to prove that I can be patient and wait for what HE has for us this time.
Discussion: Have you ever rushed God and regretted it? Any stories about how you waited on God and were SO SO SO glad you did? Or you can always share your car-buying-horror story with us!!!