Monday, June 18, 2007

Buying a Car...

Photograph of a Q-reg car (which means its one of a kind) altered in Painter IX.5. I like to think the Q stands for Quirky. I don't know whose car this particular one is I was just drawn to it in the street and love the radiator grill!

We've been trying to buy a car. We haven't got one yet.

For the last ten years or more we've been very lucky and had Jim's brother's second company car for which we paid monthly, but for which we got a real bargain. Now, at long last, his wife wants the second car - I'd imagined that we'd stop having it as soon as they got married so that's about 7 years extra we've had it!

Now its bye-bye super-duper BMW (even if we always did go for the cheapest!), new every 9-12 months, taxed, insured etc without more effort on our part than simply paying the monthly charge and hello... well what?
  • Jim wants a car that he can easily put his band gear in (bass amp, bass, loads of other bits and bobs...).
  • It must fit on our drive (which is not long).
  • We need something reliable as neither of us knows the first thing about fiddling with cars (and that's despite the fact I grew-up on a garage... my father would be horrified at my total lack of knowledge in this area!)
  • And no where near as expensive as a BMW!
The first question is should we buy new or used. In the dim and distant past I've done both before. I was happier with the new car in many ways as the second hand one had problems which it was much harder to get the dealer I bought it from to fix... though they did in the end. (Even longer ago I also had absolute wrecks and have no intention of going back to one of those if I can help it!)

As I said I'm not a car person - but I can get into researching anything (or so I like to think!) - so I have the current issue of What Car?. What caught my eye was the "Shock Report" on the cover about who gets the best deal from car dealers - men or women. Then I read the report.

How many men and how many women would you send out to find out whether its men or women who get the best deals?

And what other aspects do you think you might need to take into account? Maybe age, perceived class, accent, perceived wealth, perceived attractiveness, smell, knowledge about cars, car currently driven, postcode, previous experience in negotiation, shyness...

So how many of each sex would you send out then? 100? 50? 20? 10?

What Car? clearly think they can tell from sending out just one man and one woman! In the report they do admit that negotiating skills vary from person to person but they continue to plug their result as showing that its men that get better deals than women.

Given this abstracting from an overly small subset what use is the rest of the "information" in the magazine? Am I right to abstract from this single example of a very poorly researched article into assuming that all their car tests are equally one-sided?

Of course two cars of the same specification from the same manufacturer are a lot more likely to be similar than two randomly selected men (or women) - maybe that is where they have gone wrong.

My main conclusion is that if there are two of you - go and negotiate separately and take whichever the best deal is that you can get between you!

So far we have test driven a nearly new Vauxhall Meriva - it has fabulous storage space - Jim especially liked the flat space available when the back seats are down. But it seemed hugely expensive compared to new ones available via brokers on the web. And the salesman wasn't budging on price for either of us!

Have you any experience of buying via a net based broker?

And any suggestions for other cars to look at?


steve said...

Awww, the joys of car hunting. The month I needed and searched for one , and especially the week I made my final purchase/decision were stressful as well as exciting. I used the interned to first do most of my research. The plethora of info is almost overwhelming but at the same time, can empower the consumer with far more knowledge than, say ten years ago. Then go out and look and even test drive some vehicles. Buying slightly used saves a ton of money and also the car is already somewhat broken in (in a good way). I don't know if they sell Hondas out your way, but I LOVE my Element! Talk about storage space, power, easy driving and good milage! It would be perfect for a band and touring even. Anyhow, that's my two cents!

Caroline said...

Hi Steve - yes its definitely stressful... I've just done a search on the Honda Element and discovered this article which implies they are not available here... sounds good though!

Ian russell said...

it's still shopping, caroline! I hate shopping and I'm not enthusiastic about cars. I just go to our local man and say, get me something that's not too gaudy a colour and make sure the radio works!

Caroline said...

Ian - yes it is and I'm not as keen on shopping as all that either - I much prefer looking at things without buying!

But in this case we'll have to get something... and we don't have a "local man" as we've been looked after for so long by BMW...

Joanna said...

Keith swears by German cars, so that's Audi, BMW, which you've already had for a few years, Mercedes and VW, I have a polo which Keith bought me, since having it I have noticed that there are alot of VWs on the roas, and alot of old ones still going, which fills me with confidence, my last car a fiat was always going wrong, Keith was looking into changing his car although is changing job now instead, he was looking at Audi TTs and would have bought brand new off the interenet because the dealer couldn't get the price any lower.

Caroline said...

Jo - thanks for your input! The last car I personally owned was an Audi 80 - it was great to drive but very expensive to service. It was also the car that I had a hard time getting the dealer I'd bought it from to fix... despite their "1 year" guarantee...

I had a Fiat too before that one (it was an Uno bought new) and it was fine in its way. A huge step up from the last of my wrecks - and I really appreciated it at the time.

So it looks like I've had almost the inverse of your experience - an Audi that was hard to get fixed, and a very reliable Fiat.