I bought a used BMW 530i four and a half years ago and it’s been a lemon from Day One. During my first week with it, I had to spend $1900 on repairs. I should have learned my lesson then and dumped it. Don’t get me wrong — it looked great, drove smoothly and powerfully, and it felt good being a BMW owner. The downside, however, was in repair expenses. It’s EXPENSIVE to repair a BMW and through their engineering, they don’t make it easy. For instance, in order to get at some basic hoses that anyone with any other car could easily reach, a mechanic has to take the whole engine out. It’s ridiculous. Over and over I’ve had to take my car in for repairs. $1800 for an air conditioning repair. $700 for a new seat belt. $600 for a new window motor. $300 for a new windshield wiper fluid jug. It’s plastic. It probably costs $3 to make. BMW is making a killing from repairs. I have sunk more money into repairs over the past four years than I did in buying it, and that’s damn stupid!
My family has been wanting me to get another car for awhile now, and after two recent repairs and after wanting to charge me $1700 for a new oil pan gasket, it was time. I had a budget, but I wanted to go back to Japanese cars. I had a great Nissan for 14 years before buying the BMW. However, Gretchen and Mom are both Toyota owners and I got a lot of pressure, mostly from Mom, to get a Toyota. So, I got online and started looking. I wanted a fairly new Camry with a V6 engine and, ideally, not that much mileage, all for a reasonable, if not low, price. And with AutoTrader, I found it! I found a 2011 Camry LE V6 with only 29,000 miles on it for a shocking low price in Kennesaw GA, about 90 miles south of me near Atlanta. It was priced about $5000 less than other similar cars. So I wondered what was wrong with it. I got the CarFax and it looked good — one owner, no wrecks, good service record. I called Cobb County Toyota and asked if the owner had been a smoker and that’s why it hadn’t sold yet and was priced so low. They went out and ran the AC and heat for 15 minutes and reported that it smelled great, that the owner had not been a smoker. This was this past Wednesday. Well, I wanted to test drive it and maybe buy it cause it sounded too good to be true. I told them I’d be down Friday, yesterday. However, as Wednesday wore on, I got the feeling that I should go down the next day, Thursday. So Thursday morning, I called them to let them know I was coming and to ideally hold the car.
I got the title for my BMW and hit the road. About 20 minutes away from the dealership they called to find out where I was and I told them. I found out why when I got there. Apparently someone else from out of state — Alabama — was driving there for the same reason I was — to get this great deal and drive away with a Toyota. The first person to arrive would get it. And I beat her by 20 minutes. Boy, was she ticked when she arrived and was told it had already been purchased (which wasn’t true, although I was in the process of filling out paperwork). Heh.
I went out to look at it. It was silver with a gray interior. It looked like it was in good condition. The tires looked good. The trunk was huge — I’ve never seen a bigger trunk. I looked under the hood and was able to identify everything, just as one should on an average car. I got in and the seat felt great. And there were a lot of options for adjusting it, ones that were much easier than my BMW. It was an automatic, which I prefer. The steering wheel felt good. It had a roomy back seat area. It had lots of openings for cup holders and the like and two places to plug in a charger for my phone. It had what looked like a great stereo system. It had a moonroof. The only thing it didn’t have was one of those fancy new built in GPS’s, complete with Internet access so you can Google and check your email while you’re driving. I honestly wanted one of those, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford a newer car like that, so I was content with it the way it was.
We took it out on a test drive. It felt smooth and powerful. It drove quietly and kept external sound out. I didn’t get a chance to go on the freeway, which kind of bothered me, but I did get some isolated back roads that were long and straight so I could open it up a little. I was satisfied with the test drive.
Afterwards, we went to the service garage. There, they got on their computer and told me what all they’d done to it. They’d done a 160 point inspection. They’d given it all four brand new tires. They replaced the front brakes. The balanced and aligned the tires. They’d done a few other things. They also had given it its 30,000 mile tuneup, which was great cause I wasn’t looking forward to having to take it in in a month for that and spending the money for it. All told, they claimed they did $1600 worth of service work on it. Sounded good. I decided to get the car.
I was going to trade in my BMW and had checked its trade in value on Kelly and Edmunds, and the value wasn’t that great. I was hoping for only a little and when they discovered my oil leak, even less. Well, they drove it around and offered me twice what I expected for it. I jumped at that deal! It brought the purchase price down to a ridiculously small amount. However, they charged a ton of money for Tennessee sales tax (even though I was in Georgia) and that bumped it up pretty far. Still, less than list price.
I filled out paperwork and while doing so, I was surprised to find out I had to apply for credit even though I was buying it outright and paying cash for it. That didn’t make me happy. My ex destroyed my credit a few years ago by maxing out my credit cards and burning through a huge amount of money in a matter of months. Also by not paying bills that still had our joint names on them. However, when the guy returned to the office, he told me I had excellent credit. I was stunned. Indeed, apparently I’m in the top 3% of Americans in terms of credit. I was stunned even more. When I run my own credit reports, that’s not what I get, so I don’t know where he was getting his information, but I was happy to hear it.
I was then ushered into the business manager’s office, where I had to sign tons of papers and surrender my BMW title (gladly). He then talked to me about warranties. The Camry came with a 12 month, 12,000 mile warranty, which actually didn’t impress me too much. However, he told me about warranty upgrades, the best of which was the premium upgrade and that would cover just about everything and do so for 7 years and 100,000 miles. For $995. I immediately felt like it was a smart option, so I got it and even adding that extra grand, my purchase price was still less than the list price. I felt like I was stealing from them.
Finally, everything was worked out and I was given two master keys to the car. They showed me a few more things about it and then sent me on my way. I felt great! I got on 75 North and traffic was kind of heavy, so I couldn’t open it up like I wanted to. The speedometer went up to 160 mph, while the BMW’s only went to 150. I routinely went 150-160 in my old Nissan when I was younger and more stupid. The fastest I ever got the BMW to go was 130. I wanted to see how fast the Camry would go. Unfortunately, because of traffic, I never got it over 90. That’s okay though because I don’t normally drive that fast anymore anyway, and I don’t anticipate needing to drive that fast very often. I kept it at about 80 for the drive back to Chattanooga. The car handled pretty well. The wheel was a lot more sensitive than the BMW, which worries me a touch. The BMW wheel was heavy and very steady. The Camry’s is susceptible to a light touch, so I’ve got to be careful when driving at high speeds. It drives most comfortably at about 65-70. I cranked the stereo and it sounded good. It was too loud to turn all the way up and see how loud it could get. I tried out the CD player when I got home and it works well too.
The car comes with a comprehensive manual of about 400 pages, which I’ve already read. It’s much better than BMW’s manual and it seems to cover everything. I’m elated to find out I no longer have to put in only premium gas. In fact, they don’t recommend it — just regular unleaded. That’s saving money right there! I got in the back seat and there was lots of leg room. It’s great for extra passengers. The back seats fold down, meaning I’ll be able to haul lots of things I couldn’t haul in the BMW. Oh, one of the things the manual said was don’t drive over 85 mph unless you have a certain type of performance tire, which I’m betting I don’t. Maybe that’s why it didn’t feel that great when I exceeded 85…. Still, good to know.
So I have a new (used) car and I’m elated. My wife also has a silver Toyota, so we’re a Toyota family now. I’m so glad to be rid of that money pit, and I feel pretty confident with this warranty that it’ll be far less expensive to maintain and repair and it’ll probably last for a good long time. I’m counting on that. So I’m going to post some pictures. Here they are:
2 thoughts on “New Car”
Congratulations! It looks nice. I was reading along and kept waiting for some evil hammer to fall and ruin the deal but it had a happy ending. Yay! But whats up with the credit check? That makes absolutely no sense. Enjoy the new ride.
Thanks! It did have a happy ending. I’m so pleased. They said they’ve been burned on cash transactions (bad checks), so they run credit reports on everyone they sell cars to. Weird though. Cheers!
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