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Opinion October 2012

Buying a New Car Can Drive You Crazy!

By Denton Harris

Then I remember that those "enjoyable" weekend trips aren't the pleasures they used to be. What with traffic jams, toll roads, construction and excessive speeders, we can no longer drive innocently through the rural areas embracing the scenery we once enjoyed so much.

Recently I had the simple thought of maybe buying a new car to replace the one that now has more than average mileage.

Boy, did I open a can of worms that almost drove me nuts! Maybe you've had the same nerve-racking experience.

What type of car? I waded through the newspaper advertisements, and that's when the confusion began. Do I want a model and name I'd known over the years or should I forget how foreign-made autos were once frowned on by the public? To my surprise many are made right here in our country by American workers. So much for that. Now I'll spend months, it seems, in picking from Ford, Chevrolet and Chrysler and the dozens of "foreign models."

I stand in the dealership, surrounded by slick, colorful cars and fondly remember my first car as a teenager. It was a used Model A that was so simple I had no problems because it was frugal on gas, my girlfriend approved and, all in all, I really believe it was the best car I ever owned.

Ok. The list is out here in front of me, waiting my choice. Will it be what I call a "regular" car, a sports vehicle, a convertible, maybe a pickup truck or some other glamorized sedan with multiples buttons and other strange things that confuse?

No, I'm sure I'll just look for a four-door car that will give me dependable transportation during the week and maybe little enjoyable trips over the weekend. Then I remember that those "enjoyable" weekend trips aren't the pleasures they used to be. What with traffic jams, toll roads, construction and excessive speeders, we can no longer drive innocently through the rural areas embracing the scenery we once enjoyed so much.

Back to newspaper advertising for automobiles: It seems dealers are dazzling us here in the public with all kinds of reduced prices, bonuses, incentives and gimmicks. This makes me wonder: how a dealer can offer a $5,000 discount on a car that lists for $28,000?

In fact, there are so many discounts, bonuses, special deals, excessive trade-ins that I wonder how can that dealer make a profit? That's in addition to being snowed under with attractive models, dancers, plus crazy commercials dreamed up by an advertising agency in New York or Chicago. I'm not surprised when somebody else asks, "Are you as confused as I am in buying a car?"

Finally, I decide I want a plain four-door sedan with door locks and some kind of guarantee. I get tired of arguing with the sales person on the best price, my trade in value, whether cash or credit or a dozen other things we must go through to make the final decision.

As a business person, I sometimes wish a car dealer would have one price, exact terms, no camouflage.

But then, we agree on the model, the price, the trade-in, the guarantee and other details and we have a final decision. Sort of.

The last big question is what color? The salesperson rolls out color samples that make me dizzy. Then I recall the big Daddy of the auto industry, Henry Ford himself. His conclusion when you bought a Model T Ford: "You can have any color you want as long as it's black!"


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