Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Car shopping wraps up.

I knew it wasn't fair to keep wanting a Subaru Baja because there are almost none of them listed for sale, and almost none of them listed for sale in Las Vegas, and the same even for southern California.

Plus, Bajas were kind of more than we wanted to spend, unless we got a 2003 one that wasn't turbo, with tons of miles. And then how good of an idea was that, really?

So we started looking at trucks again.

J wanted me to test drive a Ford Ranger, since that was one of the types of truck we were considering before the whole Baja thing.

Last Monday there was a KSL ad for a Ford Ranger that was a pretty good price. It was up in Bountiful, but J wanted us to go up during his lunch break to test drive it, so it wouldn't sell before we had a chance to see it. (A couple of the other serious contenders sold before we could get to them.)

He called, and the lady told him someone was coming from Logan with cash, but she said she would call back if the Logan person didn't buy the truck.

She did call back (the guy just didn't show up), so we drove up to Bountiful in pouring rain to go test drive the truck. It was immaculate. They had it detailed every year, the lady told us. J and I both test drove the truck, and it was fine. The tires made a bunch of noise, but the lady's husband warned us that they would, so it wasn't any surprise.

I liked the truck all right. It was similar to a Tacoma, because it was kind of a narrow truck, so it didn't feel like I was driving Noah's Ark. It was nice because it had four wheel drive and a V6 engine, so the truck was capable of doing the truck things we wanted it to, but it was also comfortable to drive. Really, it was a pretty good compromise for J and me, because it was a TRUCK (instead of a vehicle shaped like a truck that has about the same power as a car...what's the point of that?), but it was pretty inexpensive, and it had 4WD like I wanted, and it was not so huge that I hated it.

We decided we were ready to take it to a mechanic and then, as long as everything was fine, we would buy it.

The lady didn't want us to take the truck down to our mechanic, because Bountiful is not super close to South Salt Lake, and she didn't want her insurance to be responsible for such a long drive. Fair enough. We took the truck to her mechanic (Evans Automotive?) instead, in North Salt Lake.

CJ (at the auto shop) had the truck lifted on one of their lift things, and had one of the mechanics start checking it out. We talked to him for a little while about trucks, and towing, and just a bunch of different things. It was pretty interesting. Then he took us out to the shop to see some things-- the front brakes really needed to be replaced. The back ones still had some life. The tires were worn really weird.

We went back inside for a bit, and they lifted the truck higher so that we could walk beneath it. It was in pretty good shape, he said. There was some rust, but it was better than average, for its age. The owners maintained it very well, because the... fuel filter? had been replaced. And when people don't replace fuel filters, you may end up with a problem with some pump that could end up needing to be replaced or causing problems, or something. But this truck was fine that way.

So we knew we would need all new tires, and new front brakes. Plus we were going to put a tow package on it, because it just had a tow hitch on the bumper (and those are pretty much the same as not having a tow hitch because they can carry almost nothing). CJ said in Salt Lake vehicles usually go for 10-15% below Blue Book values. He recommended asking the lady to cover the cost of brakes and tires, and he told us it was safe to buy the truck, but that it's usually a good idea to go home and think about it first. Mmkay, thanks.

I ran a CarFax* on my phone, and it came out great.

J called the lady back and negotiated with her, since the tires were worse than we realized, and they hadn't mentioned the brakes to us at all. She took a few hundred dollars off, and that was a compromise that we were fine with.

We all met at our bank to set up a car loan, and things went fine. We had already submitted paperwork** when we thought we were buying the Subaru, so things were ready to go.

After we officially bought the truck and the lady signed the title over, we went to follow her back up the hill to her house, to remove the truck's plates, to pick up our little red car, and to get her "Truck" file, with all of the maintenance records.

We drove out of the parking lot, turned the corner, J began to accelerate after the turn, AND!


Oh no, oh no, oh no.

The truck swerved into the oncoming traffic lane. J corrected*** and it skidded towards the curb on the right side. J corrected again and the truck slipped back towards the oncoming lane. He corrected again and it went towards the right curb again. J corrected one more time, and the truck began spinning forward down the street.

There was just no way to avoid an accident. (RIGHT right after we bought it!) The truck kept not gripping the road at all. We just never got any traction at all. J was not pressing on the brake or the gas, because he thought that was the right thing to do. It was just what I was afraid of, and just the reason I didn't want a 2WD truck. But I didn't think it would be a problem with this truck.)

The street had a 30mph speed limit, so the cars coming toward us could see that we had lost control of the truck. They stopped in their lane, 6 cars all lined up.

The truck spun across the road and finally landed in the oncoming lane, right where all of the cars were lined up. When the truck stopped, we were facing our lane (at like, 5 o'clock position from where we started).

J and I didn't really feel the truck hit anything, but J opened his door to survey the damage. The we had stopped spinning 3 inches from the line of cars. It really was a miracle--we didn't even hit mailboxes or parked cars, or anything. J closed his door, and got us back into our lane that we belonged in. We pulled over as soon as we could, because we were both so shaken from the experience.

The lady we bought the truck from came back, and parked in front of us. She had been a little ways ahead, but in her rear-view mirror she saw us spinning in the middle of the road. She said nothing like that had ever happened to them while they had it. ["This. Truck. Needs. New. Tires," I told her, super irritated and shaken. Because when you just buy a truck and then it spins out and you wonder what you've gotten yourself into, you feel irritated and shaken, and it's ok if you let the person who just sold you the truck know you feel that way. "I was actually going to wait until next spring to replace them," she said.]

We put 4 wheel drive on (it had been in 2WD, because you're not supposed to need 4WD for just rain...) and followed the lady home very, very slowly.

Our warm-fuzzies for the truck were gone, and neither of us wanted to drive it all the way home from Bountiful. I agreed to drive it, because it was supposed to be my truck, and I worried that if I didn't drive it, I would be afraid to drive it in the future.

I took State Street home, instead of the freeway. I drove slowly, and accelerated slowly, and I don't think I ever went faster than 35 or 40mph. I kept it in 4WD the whole time.

We had already planned to replace the tires and brakes ASAP, but those tasks became even more urgent. Neither of us were going to drive it again until the work had been done. Also, in the maintenance records, the top record (from September of this year) had a highlighted note about checking the brakes and alignment. Heyy.

So I price-shopped and compared different things, and ended up taking the truck to Big O Tires, since I think like 7 people have independently recommended them to me, and their prices were reasonable. We got all new tires, new front brakes and rotors, and had the alignment corrected--it was wayyyy off. (The wheels were pointed outward, so...no wonder we had problems.) Plus, the truck had 10 ply tires, and it was actually supposed to have 4 ply tires. That means that the tires were wider than they were supposed to be, and that means that the truck was less stable because the weight of the truck was distributed over more square inches of tire than it was supposed to be.

Anyway, after that I had an emissions test, registered it, had a tow package installed (by U-Haul****), and I insured it. Now it's just great. It feels completely different to drive. J and I both feel safe driving it.

This past Saturday we used my truck to tow the DOOOOMSBUGGY. No problems. It towed like a champ.

One final thing: want to see something funny? Look at the second picture on this post. My truck is the one in the back. The one in the front is our neighbor's truck. We have the same truck. They look almost identical. Except if you look closely, the neighbor's taillights look black. And our neighbor has a black plastic thing across the very front. But they're the same truck, both white, both with an access cab, both 4x4s, etc. Pretty funny.***** (Also, if you look closely at the picture, Paley is in the driveway and her eyes look creepy.)

* A real one this time.
** Banks want a ton of paperwork from us--full leases for all of our rentals, etc.
*** Over-corrected.
**** Poor guys! We were talking to them about whatever that thing is that you put a ball on, and then you stick it into the tow thing with a pin...? We wanted to take our tow ball off of the bumper and put it on the new metal thing, because the ball we already had was a 2" ball, and that was what we wanted anyway. They volunteered to go out and take our ball off of the bumper, while we were inside paying. Except, the ball was rusted. And they really couldn't get it off, even with their spray stuff and their tools. They decided to take the tow package off, so they could access the bottom of the ball better. So they actually installed our tow package twice. Thanks! (It was nice, though, because we never would have been able to get the thing off by ourselves, without impact tools.)
***** J sent him a funny text about how we like his truck, but please don't park in front of our garage, ok? Or something like that. It was kind of funny, except our neighbor never replied to the text, so then it just became awkward. I'm sure they must have noticed our truck by now, so maybe he was just confused when he got the text.

No comments: