Thursday, January 11, 2007

Cars and Birthdays and the State of Being Female

What a week! Not only did I turn 30 on Monday (whoo-hoo!), had a great dinner with my friends and another with my family, but I also got to experience the joy of a free AAA tow and the wonders of public transportation in Los Angeles.

Perhaps I should back up a bit.

On Saturday night I drove out to my parent's house, about 45 miles away from where I live. My thought was to go out there and help my mom and some of her friends put up fences at the horse ranch where they will be moving to soon. Horses need fences, y'know? I'm the helpful sort and I thought it was better than sitting around my new apartment all alone. I mean, a girl can only vacuum the carpet and organize her spice rack so many times.

So, I help the horse folks for a while, then go back to mom's and grab a nice bite to eat with my good friends Marz and T3. After dinner, I thought I was going to drive back to my place, feed the cat and get to sleep. My car had other plans. I turned the ignition and it sputtered. Tried again, more sputtering, the sound of squeaky belts and a smell of burning rubber. Not good.

I spent the night at the 'rents.
My cat went hungry.

Really, really not good.

Not to worry, animal lovers. I borrowed my mom's car Sunday morning and went home to feed the kitty. I had to go back out to mom's place though, 'cause I wasn't about to tow my car the 45 miles back to my mechanic.

Long story not so short - I got the car fixed on my birthday and took the Metrolink train to work.

Which brings me to my topic of the day - Women and car buying/fixing.

I actually ended up with a decent mechanic that my cousin and his parents have used a lot. After I got the car towed to this guy's place, my couz stopped by in the afternoon to check on the prognosis. Basically, I had a guy go check it out for me. When I went to pick the car up on Tuesday, my ex-boyfriend was in town and since we're still friends, he came with me and grilled the mechanic about what he did, which parts he replaced and how much he charged for labor. I am very grateful to these men for helping me out, but I'm a little pissed off that I needed their help in the first place. I mean, why is it women have made fantastic progress in the workplace and government positions but dealing with cars slams us back to the 1950s?

I dumped rather a lot of money into my 1990 Acura Integra and I'm thinking it's about time to cut my losses, sell the thing, and go get myself a car loan like a grown-up, thirty-year-old person. This is going to involve negotiating a decent interest rate, making sound mechanical decisions and being aggressive and informed about what I want. I'm fine with that. Hell, I just found out I got a "A" in Intermediate Algebra. I can do anything!


Since most car salesmen tend to either ignore women or try to sell us on how nifty the vanity mirror is, I plan on doing my homework. I found this website helpful as a starting place. It's sponsored by GM, but a lot of the tips and information are quite good. They have a list of things to consider when choosing a car and what to look for in a test drive.

Here's an interesting article by Julie E. Huston at called Women's Survival Guide To Buying A Car. I take exception to the idea that I need a survival guide because I have ovaries, but I still found the article interesting. It's kind of a "what to look out for" thing.

Finally, this website has some invaluable information on buying and selling a used car and why it may not be such a good idea to stay with your broken down car on the side of the road. The writing is conversational and informative, always a good combination.
And of course, don't forget This is the incredibly useful website where you can enter in a VIN number for a car and see if it has ever been in an accident, sold with a salvage title, in a flood etc. It won't tell you if a six-teen year-old drove it for two years without ever changing the oil, but it will tell you about the major stuff.

It's going to be a process for me to find a nifty car that I like enough to make payments on for the next two years. I have a good idea of what I'm looking for and luckily, time is on my side. I don't need a car immediately. I intend to go into this process with all the tools necessary to get what I want at the price I can afford. And hey, if I don't like the way I'm being treated I can always walk the hell out of there. One nice thing about Los Angeles is that there are more than a few places to buy a car around here.


Dori said...

I wish you luck with the car search. I had to laught at the truth and oddness of reading a buying a vehicle targeted to you because you have ovaries. Personally I like the Saturn commericals I have been seeing.

Marz said...

Dudette - good for you for doing research on buying a car! You are my hero. Besides homework, I also use my intuition, if I feel like they are trying to pull a fast one on me, they probably are. Keep us informed.

Oh and, "I take exception to the idea that I need a survival guide because I have overies"...uhhhhh...

meesh said...

Hi Dori - Thanks for stopping by! I will have to take a look at the Saturn commercials. :)

Marz - Yes, intuition is very good. I've also learned that if I don't like the vibe I'm getting from a sales-person, that I should probably walk away too.

And, uhhhh...what do you mean? My ovaries are just store bought and stuck on my hip once a week. ;P

Anonymous said...

It's ALL about the research!!! Treat it like you are doing a masters paper. I found that when we went to buy our new car (which is the one I drive) I tended to know more than the salesmen. If you go into it talking about the important things, not the vanity mirror the salesmen can see they will have a hard time scamming you. Try serching Condumer Reports or the Gov't Safety tests (sorry I can't remember the websites). They tried the vanity mirror thing with me too, I bought the same model of car at a different dealership.
Banana Split

Vicki said...

first, happy birthday, meesh! :o) here's the truth: if you can put up horse fences and get an A in int. algebra, then you can do absolutely anything! it's just a pisser that women get the shank when it comes to cars. i don't give a damn about cars....unless they don't run.