We bought a “new” used car yesterday, a 2000 Saturn SL1. Here are some of the (potentially) interesting details:
* Now that we’ve more or less decided that we’re staying here, we needed to get a car to replace the previously stolen minivan. Living off of one car was getting pretty old. In theory, we can both walk to work. But since Annette is always carrying around about 40 pounds of books, she rarely walks. Neither one of us likes walking to school a whole lot when it is icy and cold, pretty much the case in Michigan for 4 to 6 months. Besides that, I teach quite a bit at night and I’m not interested in walking home at 10-ish. And besides all that, our very involved and active 7 year-old kid requires being carted around quite a bit. So four or so months with one car was enough.
* Annette absolutely hates car shopping. I don’t like it much either, but Annette hates it so much that she gave me carte blanche to buy whatever I wanted in our limited price range. Kidding around, I asked if that meant I could buy a pickup truck; “I don’t care,” she said. I played around with the idea briefly. As many of you know, I look good in a pickup, and a vehicle that would allow us to haul stuff around would be a good thing. But we also needed something that all three of us could ride in if necessary, so I decided we needed to go the more conventional car route.
* Our price range was $3,000-$5,000; ultimately, this thing cost almost exactly $5000. I looked at the “budget wheels” section in the paper and a bit on autotrader.com, and I am pretty sure I could have come up with something for closer to $3000. But the problem is that just about everything in that price range was 10 or more years old and/or it had 100-125K miles on it. Granted, this is for just around town and just for basic transportation, but I didn’t want to get something that was going to fall apart in a year either.
* I bought it from the Saturn dealership in Ann Arbor and I have nothing but good things to say about them. Unlike our experience with buying the minivan, the Saturn guy didn’t do anything to yank my chain at all. We had a little tiny bit of bargaining, but after that, it was small talk over the paperwork. And these folks took the time and effort to give me two sets of keys and an owner’s manual (I don’t think the pricks who sold us the minivan did either one of those things).
* It’s got 85,000 miles on it, the color is “blackberry” (when you get up close to it, you can see that it isn’t quite black, but rather, it’s a really dark kind of purple), and it’s got a manual transmission. It took me a few minutes to remember how to drive a stick, but I caught on again pretty quick. It’s got a few scratches and such on the outside, but it still looks good. The interior is black and grey, and with the exception of a sort of mysterious-looking bleach stain on the floor in the back seat, it is extremely clean and “new car-like.”
* This car also has one of those things that allows you to lock and unlock the car remotely, a feature that we don’t have on our Honda Civic. I never thought much of not having that, but I am already beginning to see the appeal of the automatic door opener thing-a-ma-bob.
* I’m almost certain that something is going to happen in the next six months with this thing that will cost us $500 or so to fix. This has been the case with the other two used cars Annette and I have previously owned. Fortunately, I know have a mechanic who I like and trust, and who also works on Saturns.