How Not to Buy a Car, Update #2: Searching For Some Trim

This hodge-podge series documents my efforts to buy a new car. It has unlimited updates. Who knows how long this shit is going to take? This is Update #2. For the next update, CLICK THIS LINK. To start at the beginning, CLICK THIS LINK. Thanks for reading!

Searching For Some Trim

I gave up trying to buy an electric vehicle (EV), after growing disillusioned with the scam it seems to have become, and the long wait just to buy one. So I decided to go the opposite direction, and try to buy a good ol’ American gas guzzler.

I figured that with gas prices the way they are these days, surely there must be some gas hogs for sale that nobody wants, and that I won’t have to pay an arm and a leg for, while waiting forever for the privilege of purchasing it.

And I was right. My wife and I visited our local Chrysler dealer and test drove a Chrysler Pacifica minivan. And oh my God, was it heaven! I never knew a car could feel so pleasant and thrilling to settle my ass into and accelerate down the road. It was as if we were sailing on a luxury liner. We were instantly sold on buying a Pacifica.

2022 Chrysler Pacifica Limited. A gorgeous tank.

But this was a two-year-old car with 68,000 miles on it. We wanted something new. But the dealer had no new Pacificas on the lot. “Supply-chain shortage,” he explained.

But that’s okay, Chrysler allows you to order a vehicle from the factory. It’s strange that most domestic and European automakers allow consumers to factory order, while none of the Asian automakers allow this. And what I mean by a factory order is a real order, and not a fake, Toyota-style “factory order.” So I asked the dealer to order one for me.

“No problem,” I was told. “But first you have to pay a $1,000 non-refundable deposit.”

I said, “Whoa, wait a second. Are you telling me that if I try to back out of the deal, for any reason, I’ll lose the deposit?”

“Yup,” the salesman smirked with a glint in his eye. The bastard knew this was a seller’s market, and he was taking full advantage of market conditions. And of my wallet.

I felt nervous about plunking down a thousand clams that I might never see again. And later research indicated my nervousness was with merit. State of California Vehicle Code Section 11736 requires all deposits on the purchase of a car to be refundable on demand by the consumer, prior to taking delivery of the vehicle. So the $1,000 non-refundable deposit was an illegal request from a crooked dealer.

I had enough of that bandit and decided to look for a different, more honest dealer. So I did some Googling and found a variety of Chrysler dealers within an hour or so drive from my house. I got on their websites to check out their inventory.

That’s when I noticed that whenever I opened up a car dealer’s website, a pretty girl instantly popped up in the lower-right of my PC screen, inviting me to chat with her. She always had a sexy name, like Sabrina, or Candy, or Velvet. This is a trick. Should this happen to you, don’t fall for it. She’s a robot.

She asks for your phone number. And if you give it to her then your phone will soon start ringing. But it won’t be her, it will be a sales associate (often a man), from the dealership, trying to sell you a car.

Don’t ask how I figured that out.

Anyway, none of the dealer websites I checked out had the car I was looking for. They had plenty of Chrysler Pacificas, but not at the trim level I desired. Trim has to do with all the goodies and doo-dads that come with a car. For instance, with Pacificas, the trim levels available, from lowest to highest, are the Touring, Touring L, Limited, and Pinnacle. You can also choose All-Wheel-Drive (AWD) or Front-Wheel Drive (FWD). I wanted a Limited trim level in AWD.

But none of the dealers I checked out had any trim level in stock, above the Touring L. This seems to be a problem with all car models these days. The higher the trim level you desire, the more scarce it will be, and the more likely you’ll have to order the vehicle.

So, to find a Limited trim, I tried a different strategy. I started an account with Autotrader.com. This is a website that allows you to buy and sell new and used cars online. It’s very similar to other car-buying websites, like Carvana, Vroom, Cars.com, etc. Hell, there must be a thousand of them. But Autotrader is the oldest of this type of online business, so I figured that by now, they must know what they’re doing.

We’ll learn how that went in my next update.

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How Not to Buy a Car, Update #1: The EV Scam

This hodge-podge series documents my efforts to buy a new car. It has unlimited updates. Who knows how long this shit is going to take? This is Update #1. For the next update, CLICK THIS LINK. Thanks for reading!

The EV Scam

Don’t buy a car. That’s how not to buy a car. It’s a seller’s market these days and dealers, in all their smugness, can and will treat you like shit.

But if you don’t mind bending over and getting screwed, and then crapped all over, be like me and buy a car. This is what I have done. I have volunteered to brave the headwinds of the shitstorm that is known as purchasing a new car in 2022. And as a result, I am now covered in smelly, gooey excrement.

This series will document my attempts to buy a new car, with updates every few days, or as unfolding events warrant. I don’t know how many updates it will require, due to all the crazy unknowns in the auto industry these days. So fasten your seat belts, we could be in for a long, bumpy ride.

I first became interested in buying a new car back in 2021. That was back in the good ol’ days, when a car purchase was mere Hell on Earth, rather than the current tornado of razor blades, mallets, and diarrhea showers.

Back then I wanted to buy a plug-in hybrid car. Ha! I even posted a series about electric vehicles (EVs). How naive I was in those days. Little did I realize what a mare’s nest I was wandering into.

I decided to wait another year to make my purchase, in the hopes that EV technology might improve a little. That was a big mistake. Had I made a purchase in 2021, I might have found what I wanted with just a short little wait of eight or nine months.

But apparently, supply chain shortages have worsened since then. Nowadays, if you want a plug-in hybrid, or any kind of EV, there’s a good chance you’ll have to wait one or two years. And you’ll also have to pay out of a very long nose, so I hope you were born with a large proboscis.

Here’s the problem, as I understand it. The government, in all its wisdom, has made generous tax credits available to those who buy EVs. This has driven up the demand for such cars to such an extent, that the tax credit you receive is eclipsed by the inflated MSRP price and dealer markup.

Also, the demand is so high, that it has created an extreme shortage of electric vehicles. Plus, there is a shortage of semiconductors. EVs require a lot of semiconductors, so factories are stymied in their attempts to keep up with demand.

I have come to the conclusion that while electric vehicles were once a good idea, the electric vehicle market has become a scam. If and when you have the high privilege of being able to purchase one, you’ll pay an extraordinary amount of money for it. And there’s little chance you’ll save enough in gas, over the life of the vehicle, to make this purchase worthwhile.

I did my due diligence. I researched the hell out of the auto market, and narrowed my choices of plug-in hybrid vehicles down to three models: The Toyota RAV4, Kia Sorrento, and Hyundai Santa Fe. I then got online and found three local dealerships that ostensibly had these makes and models for sale. Stupid me. I relied upon what they advertised on their websites.

So I visited each dealership. What I found was that no, those vehicles had already been purchased before they even arrived on the lot. And I was also told that I could not order those vehicles. Apparently, cars made by Asian manufacturers cannot truly be factory ordered. Rather, the manufacturers provide cars to dealers on a willy-nilly, haphazard, random basis, while you wait for them to accidentally send the model and trim level you desire.

2022 RAV4 Prime XSE. A beautiful car.

So, let’s say you’re looking for a Toyota RAV4 Prime XSE. You go to the dealer, and the dealer will put your name on a waiting list (which is Toyota’s version of a “factory order”). You may also be asked to put $500, or more, down, which may or may not be refundable. Now you wait. And wait, and wait, and wait. Hopefully, eventually, the Toyota gods will smile upon you and accidentally send just the right RAV4 Prime you’re looking for, to the dealer. And if you’re next in line for it, you’ll be the Chosen One to buy it.

But this doesn’t mean it will be the color you want. That’s determined by chance. Also, the factory will have likely installed all kinds of expensive “options,” that you may or may not want. Why they call them “options,” I don’t know, because they seem to be mandatory.

Then there’s a good chance you’ll have to pay the full MSRP price, plus a $5,000 to $10,000 dealer markup over MSRP. They may also harass you into paying for a lot of unnecessary dealer “options,” in addition to the factory “options,” such as nitrogen in tires, VIN etching, protection packages, and your own custom-made horse cock shoved up your ass. If you refuse to pay for these mandatory “options,” you may be threatened with losing the deal, and the car going to someone else.

After I got a grasp of this situation I said, “Fuck those bastards!”

In a day and age where everyone wants to go green so badly they’re willing to pay thousands over an already grossly-inflated MSRP, I called bullshit and went the opposite direction. I began looking for the most luxurious, large, and spacious gas-guzzling monster I could ever want to steer over America’s highways. I wanted a tank.

In my next update we’ll discover how searching for a tank can be a tankless job.

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