Selling our Car

February 28, 2009


We have been planning to consolidate from two vehicles to one vehicle. We bought a 2000 Ford Ranger and traded in my wife’s 1992 Ford Ranger. Earlier I told about an irritating experience with a young woman from Chile who supposedly had a truck for sale. She wasted a lot of our time, but did not cost us any money.

Eventually, we ended up buying a new used truck from a dealer about a hundred miles away tho contacted us via Craig’s List. The good news is that the truck evidently is fundamentally in good shape. We had it checked by an outstanding garage. The bad news is that it is costing us about $1,500 more than it should have because non-fatal maintenance had been neglected. The outstanding garage was well-supported and rewarded last month.

We were taken for a ride by the dealer. This is embarrassing. I have been plotting revenge and restitution, but the prospects don’t look good. I don’t know if I will tell the story in detail. The reluctance is a) we are embarrassed and furious and b) I don’t know how much effort I want to put into telling a complicated story that embarrasses and infuriates me. David Rochester probably would. Should I use David as a role model?

We still have my 1998 Chevy Prizm for sale. It is dinged. I burns oil. It starts reliably and runs well. It has almost 200,000 miles on it. There is nothing serious wrong with it that I know of, but it might croak after a week or last for a couple of years. I will tell the buyer this.

I was going to place an ad for it on Craig’s list. I saw an ad seeking such a car (Corolla/Prizm). A Prizm is a Corolla sold as a Chevrolet but built by Toyota. We saved a thousand dollars by buying a Corolla with a Prizm label on it. (It’s like buying house brand aspirin instead of Bayer’s aspirin.)

I have been exchanging email with the person who wants to buy a Corolla or Prizm. We are selling it cheaper than others being advertised. He is going to meet me at the dock by the terminal on the mainland tomorrow, Sunday.

I told him all the good parts and bad parts about the car including that it may last a long time or it may not. I told him I want to be paid in cash. What I know about him is that

a) He needs a cheap car pretty soon. He wants a Corolla or a Prizm about the year of ours. He said that he is 58 years old and physically impaired, so he can’t beat me up. I guess meaning he won’t steal the car from me and refuse to pay me and leave me in a battered heap on the ferry parking lot. As there are usually Highway Patrol cars and police dogs around the ferry parking lot, I probably am safe in this regard.

b) He seems unwilling or unable to communicate by phone. I infer that he s living with somebody else and probably needs a cheap car of his own, perhaps to travel somewhere else. I once had a dying car that I offered for sale for $200. A man with a crippled arm who needed a cheap car with an automatic transmission so he could drive to California with one arm bought it from me. I said, “I don’t know if it will make it to California.”

He said, “Drive me to an ATM machine and I will get $200 out and pay you and take my chances.”

I have no idea if he made it.

c) I described myself so he can recognize me at the ferry terminal. He described himself. “I am an old white man. My stepson will be with me. He is a young black man. We will be easy to spot.”

We are supposed to meet at the ferry terminal on the mainland on Sunday at 3 pm.

Life is dangerous and uncertain, for both of us. Perhaps his young black stepson will beat me up and steal the car. (Perhaps he reads my blog and will beat me up for ndulging in racist stereotypes, of course.)

When I get there I will see if the state patrol officer will let me pet his bomb-sniffing police dog in the hope that the purchaser and his young step son will be intimidated. However, at least one of the bomb-sniffing dogs is a cocker spaniel. As “police dogs” go, this is not very intimidating. It would be just my luck to get a “wuss” police dog.

On the other hand, the old white man who buys the car from me (if he does), may travel a mile from the terminal and then my former car will emit a big cloud of blue smoke and expire on the spot, leaving him stranded.

As I said. Life is dangerous and uncertain. Be careful out there.

6 Responses to “Selling our Car”

  1. woo Says:

    Just as long as you are wearing a shiny suit, a camel-hair overcoat, a trilby hat and smoking a cheap cigar you will at least look the part. Of course, that particular part may only be correct if you were trying to sell a car in 1980’s England…

    Good luck.

  2. modestypress Says:

    I met the man at the ferry terminal. I did not dress the part. The man spoke with a slight accent. “Are you from Germany?” I asked.

    “Yes,” he said.

    He limped and dragged his foot, but otherwise seemed vigorous and alert. He seemed sophisticated about cars.

    I said, “You seem to have good experiences with Toyota Corollas,” I said.

    He said, “They are the best. They run and run until they are completely worn out. Hondas don’t last as long. Have you replaced the timing chain?”

    “No,” I said.

    He said, “That is what is most likely to wear out.”

    In my other experience with selling a worn out car cheap, the timing chain had broken. It was a Plymouth Valiant, though.

    He was terse and to the point, but also polite and good-humored. He seemed sophisticated about cars. He said, “Corolla’s are the best.”

    He drove the car a short distance. He said, “The engine sounds good. I hope it gets me home without the timing chain going out.”

    Because the cover of the back tail light is broken, and replacing it would cost $200, I said I would take $200 off the $1100 he had offered.

    He counted out the cash and drove off. I bought a foot passenger ticket, called my wife to pick me up at the ferry dock, and headed home.

    I am still contemplating if I can wreak revenge on the auto dealer who sold us the truck. But that’s another story.

  3. Yes, I vote that you tell the story.

    And I approve of selling your used car to a man who can’t beat you up. That’s always a wise business decision.

  4. modestypress Says:

    The man who sold me the car was named, “Bubba.” This is true. Shortly after he sold me the car Bubba was fired. This is true. When I talked to Bubba’s replacement, his attitude could be described as, “We don’t care; we don’t have to.”

    My interpretation was that Bubba was fired because he was too nice and too reliable.

    Given that the American car industry is collapsing around us, I can see why. Bankruptcy could not happen to a nicer or more deserving group of people.

  5. pandemonic Says:

    I’ve known dealers like that. We buy ten or more cars a year, so I have plenty of experience with dealers. One in a thousand will actually give a damn. The turnover rate for salesmen is astronomical. Probably one in a thousand make it a career.

  6. modestypress Says:

    Thanks for cheering me up, Pandemonic.

    I think we’re screwed, though I am still trying to figure out a way to wreak revenge.

    I have worked on an automobile assembly line, many years ago. I am thinking about telling a bit of that tale as well.

    I was offered an opportunity to go into General Motors management. I turned it down. Perhaps I would have done better than the monkeys who run the factory now.

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