We Bought A Car



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About nine months ago I wrote about how we bought a van. Well, over the weekend we bought a car.

The Reason

The reason for buying a car was similar to the reason we bought the van - to have a bigger vehicle for our growing family.

My old car - a 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt - was in decent shape, at least mechanically. It was starting to have a fuel leak somewhere underneath the hood (which I was pretty sure was either the fuel injectors or, more likely, the fuel injector seals). It needed tires, too, mostly from dry rot.

There was some cosmetic damage to the rear end from backing into a mailbox many years ago.

I began my search on CarGurus, which shows used car prices from traditional dealerships. I also looked on CarMax’s website and Carvana.

I compared the general trend of prices in of traditional dealerships in my area to the general trend of prices on CarMax and Carvana. I found that local dealerships tended to be cheaper by a few thousand dollars.

Since my wife is a Honda person (and comes from a Honda family) I looked for a full-size sedan from Honda. It turns out, Honda doesn’t have a sedan that is considered “full-size.” The Accord is considered “mid-size.”

I also considered the following full-size sedans:

  • Toyota Avalon
  • Chevrolet Impala
  • Ford Taurus
  • Hyundai Sonata
  • Nissan Maxima

I’m more of a Chevy person, but I’ve heard rumors that GM will be discontinuing many of their car platforms, including the Impala and even the Camaro, and isn’t putting resources into developing these platforms.

In the end, I settled on the Accord. I actually narrowed it down to two specific cars at the dealerships: a 2015 Honda Accord LX and a 2016 Honda Accord LX.

The Buy

We test drove the 2016 Accord first.

I peeked under the hood while the salesman went inside to get dealer plates. Everything looked okay - but since it has a CVT (a Continuously Variable Transmission) there was no tranny dipstick. I went to each corner of the car and pressed down to check the suspension. No bounce, that’s good.

Thankfully the aluminum rims allowed me to peak at the brakes. All four wheels had plenty of brake pad left. The rear discs did seem a bit rusted and grooved, but nothing to be concerned about.

For the test drive, I made sure to hit a bump on each wheel. No clunking sounds.

The front tires where new - they still had what I call “the pokey things” that are a product of the manufacturing process. (Apparently, they have a name - “vent spews”) The rear tires still had plenty of tread on them.

While having new front tires is a good thing, it does prevent me from seeing the wear pattern of the old tires. An even wear pattern would indicate the car had good alignment. An uneven wear pattern - say, the inside of the tire is more worn than the outside - could indicate bad alignment or even a bent suspension.

Enough about the 2016 Accord. Now onto the 2015 Accord.

I only test drove the 2015 Accord; I didn’t look closely at it mechanically. I did notice an odd vibration at idle. This vibration was barely noticeable and might not really have been anything, but definitely pushed me towards the 2016 Accord.

The salesman didn’t accompany us on either of the test drives, so it gave me ample time to discuss things with my wife in private. We pretty much settled on the 2016 Accord while test driving the 2015 Accord, which is why I wasn’t concerned with looking it closely.

Oh, and we turned down the extended warranty, which the finance guy was not happy about. When explaining the extended warranty to us, he heavily implied to us that we had to choose one of the options he presented. When I told him I tend to work on vehicles myself, he told me Honda wouldn’t let me and that things were “proprietary.” He was full of, well, you know.

The 2016 Honda Accord LX The 2016 Honda Accord LX

My Old Car

It was time to say goodbye to my 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt. I bought it new - so one owner - and, being that this year is 2019, I’ve had it for 12 years.

This is the longest I’ve ever driven a car.

I took it down to CarMax to see what they would offer me.

Before I did I checked its value on CarMax’s website - although it seems they don’t have the online appraisal anymore.

I came up with two numbers - $200 and $700.

My Cobalt had the airbag light come on intermittently. The $200 value was if the light was on, and the $700 is if the light was off.

So what did CarMax offer me? $700! The light was off!

Here are the last two pictures of my old car, moments before CarMax handed me the check:

The front of my 2007 Chevy Cobalt The front of my 2007 Chevy Cobalt

The back of my 2007 Chevy Cobalt The back of my 2007 Chevy Cobalt

I had lots of memories in that car; I’ll miss it.

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