hankrules2011

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Posts Tagged ‘BMW’

New Car

Posted by Scott Holstad on April 19, 2014

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:

 

2011 Toyota Camry LE V6

2011 Toyota Camry LE V6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

View from the front

View from the front

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The back of the car

The back of the car

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The car from an angle

The car from an angle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The gearshift

The gearshift

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The stereo

The stereo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The back seat

The back seat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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More Stuff

Posted by Scott Holstad on November 23, 2013

I know, I know, I haven’t actually blogged here in a long time. It’s been mostly book reviews. But that’s what you people like, right? So anyway, this week was the 14 week anniversary of my dad’s death. And I finished up a grief support group I had been in for eight weeks. I’m not sure how helpful it was. Some of the people were there who had loved ones die years ago. I honestly think I’m handling this much better than many of them. And mine was the most recent. Of course, I miss Dad a lot. But I’m moving forward. It’s the only way to go. Meanwhile, Mom’s going crazy on the weekends, which is when she and Dad used to do things together. She’s very lonely. She’s considering moving back to Knoxville, where she has hundreds of friends and where her home church is. We had all talked about moving together, but Gretchen and I like the house that we’re in and we’re not that keen on moving, so Mom might go on her own. Which would make me worry and feel guilty. *sigh*

Our cat, Toby, has been having some problems. I took him to the vet three weeks ago. He has kidney damage. He’s overweight at 21 pounds and drinks water incessantly. Of course, he is a Maine Coon, and they like water, but still, it’s amazing to see how much he drinks. He actually gets in the shower with us, gets in the sink to drink from the faucet, drinks from my wife’s bath water. It’s crazy! We’ve put him on some kidney food the vet prescribed. This is actually the third one. The first two, neither cat would eat. They went on two three day hunger strikes before I caved and fed them their old food. The vet said don’t let them starve — if they don’t eat the “right” stuff, feed them their old stuff. Fortunately, this third type of food they are eating. I don’t know how this will help Toby, but we want him around for awhile. He’s only six.

My Steelers have won two in a row and play the Browns tomorrow. I really think we’ll win that one. My Vols play Vandy tonight and it’s a must win game. If we win this and beat Kentucky next week, we should get to a bowl game. If we lose, the season’s pretty much over. And Vandy’s no longer a pushover. They’re pretty good. So, I don’t have high hopes. Still, go Vols! Meanwhile, my Penguins have won three straight and are now 15-8 and leading their division. Sidney Crosby is leading the NHL in scoring, which is cool. I hope he wins another MVP this year. He deserves it. Of course, he has to stay healthy, but hopefully he will.

I was having trouble with my car seat. It wouldn’t move forward. Instead, it turned to the right, thus twisting my body right and making it impossible for me to see. Therefore, I had to put my seat all the way back at its lowest position and couldn’t see over the steering wheel. In any case, it was dangerous, so I took the car into the garage. I also asked them to check a window and to replace my two windshield wiper fluid jugs, both of which had cracked (for an astronomical price). Turns out they wanted to charge me a fortune just to take my seat out and apart because it was so complicated. It’s a Nissan dealer, but I have a BMW (which I’ll never buy again). They told me it was either a motor or a track issue and the part to replace it from the BMW dealer would be about $1,000 and all the work together would come to almost $2,000! I was astounded. Still, I had to have it done, so I said go ahead. I’d just have to put it on my credit card. So I was elated to get a call from them a couple of days ago telling me they could fix the front to back tracking and the recline, but not one other thing, but if I was okay with that, they wouldn’t need this extra part and it would save me a grand. Naturally, I jumped at that! When I picked it up yesterday, it was considerably less than I expected it to be, so I was overjoyed. Still, I’m never buying another BMW as long as I live.

In case you haven’t noticed, I haven’t been reading the usual sci fi. I’ve been reading biographies. They’ve been pretty interesting. I’m in a zone.

This poet I met in Atlanta a few weeks ago — Cliff Brooks — and I have exchanged some books we’ve written. I got an email from him yesterday saying he really thought the books I sent him were awesome and wouldn’t mind featuring me on his radio show. That’s pretty cool. I was once interviewed on Air America for 30 minutes, but that was years ago. Still, it was a national show and that was neat. Who knows?

Gretchen and I live in a nice middle class neighborhood, but there’s a shocking amount of crime here, and that’s disturbing. You may recall that our house was broken into in August and some things were stolen. They kicked in our front door, which was wooden. We subsequently got a metal door. And an alarm service, which makes us feel a lot safer. It’s possible we may have a handgun for emergencies, but we really wouldn’t have much need for it, other than target practice. I found out a couple days ago, I’m going to be getting my old .22 rifle (with scope) I used when I was young pretty soon. It was a great rifle and it’ll be fun getting out on a range again with that. And it can be used as home security too. Can never be too safe. We also each have pepper spray. We carry that with us all the time. The crime really is worrisome. And the cops don’t seem to care very much. They care about the rich areas of town, but the rest of us can go suck it, right? *sigh*

Ending on a positive note, there’s a large likelihood I may be selected to serve on our church’s vestry in a few weeks. If so, it would certainly be an honor and a responsibility I wouldn’t take lightly. I might even attend church more frequently. LOL! Gretchen’s in the new bell choir they just started. She’s also in the flower guild, and I serve as the church’s webmaster. We’re fairly active there.

I guess that’s all for now. Cheers!

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