Friday, August 7, 2009

Our New Car

Welcome to our new car courtesy of the CARS program. In spite of a problematic start this was a very good deal for those that qualify. With a little effort and research the program made a new car possible for us.

Let me start by saying that my roommate and I are on fixed incomes due to disability. Our vehicle while still serviceable was old, inefficient and worth very little on the retail market.
First step on the road for us was to check our eligibility. We went to the web site. Be sure you are at a dot GOV site. This ensures you are dealing with the government. There is a list of Qualifications for your clunker. Less than 25 years old. Still drivable, street legal paper work for the last year, registered and insured. The idea of the program is to remove old gas guzzlers off the road and replace them with safer more fuel efficient cars so your combined MPG needs to be 18 or less. Our 1991 wrangler met all the requirements so we read the details, available as PDF files and then set out to find a new ride we liked and could afford. We checked a few sites like car and driver and consumer reports and talked to our insurance company to get the new rates for the top 4 finalists.
Armed with our research we went for some test drive’s
We needed maximum rebate and minimum cost so we were somewhat limited in our selection. We looked at the Hyundai accent, Toyota Yaris, Kia forte, Chevy cobalt and the Nissan Versa. We settled on the Versa base model sedan. We liked the size, feels like a mid sized, the handling was superior and our insurance company gave it it’s very highest safety ratings. The 5speed transmission shifts very smooth and the variable valve engine has horsepower to spare. The others were OK but all had some drawback for us. A tip for car designers. Back seat windows that don’t open suck. Cars that you cannot get anti-lock braking systems on are not my favorites either.
We picked our model and color then went home to wait for the rules to be set on the 24th of July.
After deciding on a car make your best deal. Keep in mind. The $4500 or $3500 ( and do your best to get the full amount. It will make the environmental part of the program more successful.), is just like cash to the dealer. A little effort that he will get compensated by the salvage yard for. He doesn’t have to sell your old car to get paid. In addition all the offers and discounts they are offering to non cars participants applied to us as well.
On the whole we liked our dealer with one exception, the trying to sell $3000 worth of insurance on a $13,000 car seemed excessive. Extended warranties are a bad deal and trying to sell me is an insult to my intelligence. We struck a deal produced the paperwork and waited for the website to approve us and that is when the fun began.
For those of you going now most of those problems are a thing of the past. The demand overwhelmed the system. I think if the 4 billion originally proposed had been appropriated people wouldn’t have been so stressed and the dealer would have been willing to deliver the cars when the contracts were signed as they were supposed to. Having to wait ten days foe the approval was not part of the deal and cast a bit of a shadow on the buying experience but we will get over it.
We got a new fuel efficient car (29 mpg combined rating is a 70% increase), that is much safer for us and everyone else on the road,( airbags and abs). The state of California gets a big chunk of sales tax. Mike and the guys at the local Nissan dealer sold 13 cars in a weekend when they hadn’t been doing squat. We have some domestic content but it was a NAFTA baby from Mexico. We would have liked to buy home made but could not afford the entry level Ford or GM products.
With the new funding approved and the kinks in the system solved this would seem to be one portion of the Recovery act that is working for the average American.

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