Time for some post-purchase notes. All of the finalists were very close in terms of features and price, so I could have picked any of them.
First are corrections. I kept talking about whether the lights flash or the horn honks when you activate the car alarm. What I really meant was which does it do when you lock the car with the key fob. The “honk the horn when car is locked” was one of the first things I turned off. Just like Woodman’s Ram (pickup?), the doors auto-lock at 15 mph.
Lane departure assist will slightly apply the brakes on one side to bring you back into the lane instead of turning the steering wheel. That makes more sense than what I thought about it moving the steering wheel.
Second, I mentioned about putting stick-on blind spot mirrors on the car even though it has blind spot detection (BSD). These have helped make sure I can still see the car even as it goes into the blind spot. I have to check the manual, but I think there’s a minimum speed you have to be going at for the BSD to work. The small mirrors compensate for even when it’s not active.
These work a lot better than what I saw on one car: factory-installed rounded blind spot mirrors. The problem was they were in the top-outer corner and they prevent you from seeing traffic behind you. The further away from you a car is that’s behind you, the higher it is in your mirror.
Third, contacting dealers via email let me be more in control of communication. The ones that were slow to respond made it easier to weed them out. I did have one email that got responded to by a different person and they didn’t mention anything about handling my inquiries now, so I was left wondering if the first person wasn’t at that dealership any more or whether the second person poached me as a customer. When I stopped in for the test drive, I got confirmation it was the former.
When I was ready to get prices for vehicles, I had picked three models and gave the salespeople a week to respond. One responded promptly. The other two, I sent out a second request a few days later. They were still not responding, so I added a price request from the salesperson that was my fourth place choice. I didn’t give that one as much time, but they lost a day or two because they didn’t have their email flagged as being on vacation. But what I got from #4 wasn’t very clear what it was for and when I finally got an initial response from #3, they didn’t get a price to me before the deadline passed, and I had even extended it by two days.
So the end result was the one dealership that worked with me the way I wanted and had responded promptly got my business. They even had the color I wanted as my first pick and the car was in stock. I think I wound up with an automatic transmission instead of the CVT I preferred, but since I don’t have to do any more shifting when I drive, i don’t care about that. Getting from one place to another is a lot easier now.
When it came time to make the purchase, the price I had been given in the email given was reasonable. I never bothered to dig into the invoice cost nor try to get them to go lower because of it.
During the financing part, I was given the usual pitch for the extras that Consumer Reports says you can skip. It was laid out on paper with column 1 having everything and column 3 just having the extended warranty and GAP insurance. Column 4 was used for a couple of calculations based on how much I thought I’d be driving. I recognized it was deliberately displayed like that and decided, “You know what? I’m just going to do it,” and got the extended warranty. And yes, I’m going to pay a little extra each month because it’s included in the amount of the loan.
Maybe it will turn out to be money that I gave to the dealership that I don’t recoup in repair work. But that doesn’t matter to me. I had a good experience in looking for and buying a car. The remote starter has come in handy a couple of times already and the moonroof helps with ventilation on warm days. I am anticipating being able to pay extra on the loan each month and nibble away at the interest, maybe even being able to get it paid off as much as a year earlier.
I’ll offer one last bit of advice that I got when I was thinking about buying a house: “When you’re looking at the home you’re meant to be in, everything will go smoothly.” That applied to this car purchase.