About a week and a half ago, I bought a used 2017 Toyota Corolla. As some of you know, I’ve been in the market for a used car since the beginning of the spring. The pandemic, as with many other things, introduced some uncertainty to the used car market for me. So I basically just signed up on some car selling sites and got sent emails of new listings for Toyota Corollas that were 2016 and newer.
In hindsight, I may have been able to save about $500 maximum had I pulled the trigger on a purchase in the April or May time period when prices were slightly lower. In the end though, I’m satisfied with the price I paid. I didn’t get it for a steal but I had bookmarked this car for about three weeks and waited. It didn’t get sold right away, so I took a chance that the dealer would drop the price. My gamble paid off, as a few days before I took a test drive, the dealer lowered the price by $1,000. When you factor in the 12% tax on used cars, I saved more than $1,000 in the end.
So here’s the somewhat amusing thing about buying this car. Despite knowing that on paper that a used Toyota Corolla was a sensible choice for me, I had not driven a modern Corolla until I test drove the car I eventually would buy. If I were a completely smart buyer, I would have gone into any dealership and test drove one, just to get the feel for the car on the road, which is something you can’t determine doing research online. Lucky for me, I found the Corolla to be fine. Keep in mind, I’ve been driving a 1994 Honda Accord for the last twenty years or so. While it was still running, it definitely was on its last legs. It had trouble getting up steep hills. When you drove it down a hill and you had to stop the car on an incline (because of a light or something), it would stall if you had a quarter tank of gas or less. The steering felt really loose. It also didn’t feel safe to drive at speeds of 80 km/h or higher. At higher speeds, you could turn the wheel in either direction a considerable amount and the car would not deviate from going straight. When that happened, it didn’t feel like I was in full control of the car. As such, I avoided highway driving if I didn’t need to go that route. So yeah, going from that to a fully functional and modern 2017 Toyota Corolla was perfectly acceptable to me. One of the knocks against that model year of the Corolla was the acceleration sucks but I have to say, it accelerates much better than that old Accord does.
The actual purchasing part of buying a used car was one of those necessary evils of life. I think that despite the Internet giving buyers the power of research and knowing prices across an entire nation for almost any car, buying a car from a dealership still sucks. The dealership I went to is one of those “no haggle” ones where they promise to give you their best price first and there’s none of that awful back and forth BS. Now to be fair, the price they posted for the car was a good one. If you considered the model year, condition, and mileage on it, it was probably one of the best deals in the greater Vancouver area for that year, make, and model. While the price was great, it didn’t stop the dealership from trying to take more money from me. They tried charging me some sorta “key insurance” fee, where for $300, if I lost my keys in the future, they’d get a new one made for me. I know that getting modern car key replacements are expensive but I don’t need to give them my money for that right now. I also paid cash for my car, so they couldn’t extract extra money from me by chaining me to a car loan at an extravagant interest rate. They also tried to pull a fast one on me the day I brought my bank draft to the dealership to pay for my car and to drive it away. In the finance office, the finance guy took my bank draft and then tried to sell me some extended warranty for my car. He said that since my Dad has bought two cars previously from this dealership, he’d give me a “good deal”. He also said that everyone who buys a car from here gets this extra warranty. So, I kept my cool but I was pretty annoyed that this guy was trying to sell me this. First, I had no idea if I was getting a “good deal”. I had no frame of reference at all, nor did he really try to show me how I was getting a good deal. Second, how could I verify that “everyone” buys this extended warranty? Third, having done my research, I know these extended warranties warrant a long and thorough read through the terms and policies, to see what is covered and not covered and in what situations. When in you’re in the finance office, you’ve just given the guy the money to buy your car, you don’t want to sit there for half an hour looking at warranty terms. You want to get out of there and drive your car home. I think they take advantage of that and they hope you’ll just say yes to the warranty to just move things along, so you can get the car you just paid for. It should come as no surprise that I did not buy the extended warranty, especially since the car is still under the powertrain factory warranty.
The finance guy was pretty friendly and cordial up until I declined the warranty. After that point, he was still polite but he was pretty much all business with the forms and stuff. The jokes and banter were gone. I was thankful to get out of that office and I was led to the insurance counter. I had to get new insurance and plates because I traded-in the Accord for $250. The insurance was only $200 more per year compared to what I paid last year, so that was a relief. Just for reference, I paid less than $2,000 for an entire year to insure the Corolla. The guy at the counter said he had a young gentlemen come in last week and wanted to buy a new car but his insurance would be $10,000 a year, which would have been more than his car payments. I feel for young drivers because their car insurance is astronomical.
With the insurance done, I was given the ok to drive the car off the lot. People have had worse experiences buying car at a dealership but I think it still kinda sucks.
So, I’ve had the car now for about a week and a half. I’ve driven it some but not a whole lot, which is to be expected. We’re still in a pandemic and I’m still not comfortable going places. As this is a relatively new car, I now have a vested interest in keeping this car running in great shape. This means that I need to devote more time, money, and energy into maintenance and stuff. When I had the Accord, it had been a beater for many years, so I didn’t do any upkeep with it. I never checked the tires, didn’t wash it once, and maybe checked the oil myself once. I can’t do that with this car.
So yeah, I have lots to look forward to with this vehicle.