How I bought a Camry V6.. Part 1 – The Search


The last 2 times I was in US , I was on short term assignment’s.
1st one was for 3 months to Philly..Public transport was available for home-office-home..in the evenings, I’d ride in my friends ’95 accord. never needed to own a car.
2nd time I was in Birmingham,AL for a month and I did need a car – rented an Altima for a while and then switched to a corolla.

in the beginning of 2010 I was deputed to the US again. this time, I was gonna be in US long term and knew very well I needed to buy a car..
why buy a car? couldn’t I have just rented ? answer is yes and no…
yes I could’ve rented any car for long term and I could’ve got good monthly rates too. but I did not. I chose to buy.

searching for a used car suddenly became a primary activity for me while still being in India. the online sources I used were :

1. Craigslist – Classifieds site where one can buy anything and everything. not like ebay though.
2. Autotrader – Dedicated automotive classifieds.
3. Carmax – used car dealer who has nationwide presence.
4. kelly blue book – to check for value of car based on the condition of the car.

now this got me excited. very excited. so i start looking for all the cars I always wanted to drive..
my logic was “whoever goes to US ends up buying a jap car.let me be a bit different.I’ll buy a car I want to drive..german, american or british ”

found quite a lot of ‘good looking’ cars but I sure knew the good looking cars did come out of a detailing shop where all the blemishes are removed. So, then, I started to look beyond the surface finish. high miles is something I was avoiding. there are very few cars I come across with low miles on them. Americans drive around a lot you see. so my checklist was :

1. less owners
2. relatively lower miles.
3. no engine work (done previously or pending in near future)
4. no mods whatsoever.
5. direct seller..I avoid dealers.
6. not repainted.
7. no accidents/dings/dents
8. carfax report.

good.now checklist was in place and i was still in India at this stage.

started searching Carmax inventory. why carmax when I hated dealers ? coz this is not the typical mexican car dealer. carmax has nationwide presence and the experience ,I’m told, is as good as buying a new car. therefore carmax was an exception. if they’ve got a car sitting somewhere in NY, they’ll ship it to this location if I buy it. so, all this sounds cool and sounded like the place to go to for used cars.But then, who told all this came free? the feel good is obviously a ‘purchasable’ commodity. prices of all cars were way higher than the norm market price. but this was the only place I could find low miles cars.could I afford it ?
Then came the issue of budget. My pockets were definitely not deep and nor could I get a loan.my credit score in US is not great and without a good credit rating, one cannot get a good loan. that’s when carmax went out of the search and so did low miles car.
back to craigslist and autotrader. in both these sites you can find dealers and individual sellers.I chose to look from direct sellers and looked up a long list of good cars..the list included a lot of Range Rovers (thats a car I always loved to buy) a few jeep wranglers.
I was more inclined towards the Rangie and found a low miles car for a very good price !! a 2000 model Range Rover SE 4.0 with 69000 miles for $ 5000 !!

cQ_640 (1)

pic source : google images. credit to owner.

Doesn’t it sound like a good deal? immediately emailed the owner and I even tried calling him but could not talk to him.to email he did respond. he said He’ll wait for me till I get to US to make the deal. I appreciated his patience and sat back relaxed having frozen on a car.I even remember chatting with a few fellows members on some automotive forums about this car.

..aah the Range Rover.in typical brit green.I kept dreaming about this car coz I had made up my mind about it and it being a terrific offroader, I had even started looking for Off highway Parks, 4X4 trails etc. I even made some ‘Jeep’ friends in ATL much before I even bought this car.such was the enthusiasm. this is when I ended my search for a car.till I reached Peachtree City,GA.
I landed on a sunday and called the owner and told him that I’ll meet up with him on wednesday that week. He was cool with it. I found it weird that at such a price, it is still available. am I missing something here?

aah yes -the carfax. for the uninitiated, Carfax is a complete report of all cars in US. this report will tell if the car in question has ever been in an accident and all service records all with the VIN as the reference number. Pretty cool stuff. Now I was just heeding to excitement and I’d not even checked on this rangie’s carfax report. called him again and asked for one.he did email me the report and promptly told me that he has been changing oils all by himself and therefore , the last few oil changes will not figure out in the report. I was cool with that coz I knew that servicing at dealerships is super expensive in US.

I went through the report thoroughly and found nothing to be worried about. I still knew that there has to be something that’s not right with the car. So I preponed my ‘meet the rangie’ plan and rented a pontiac G5 coupe on monday and went out that evening to Atlanta. btw, Peachtree city to Atlanta is a 30 mile drive.
met Frank, the owner ( a 60 yr old man) who took me around to his Range Rover.it looked fantastic and just the way I had imagined it to be. it was going to be my next car.MPG (miles/gallon) be damned.

1. body condition. check
2. no accidents. check
3. suspension. check
4. engine oil level/condition . check
5. fan belt . check
6. tyre wear.check

untill this time, Frank spoke nothing and then, I asked ” so Frank, why are you selling this car?”
he says ” off late I am having some transmission trouble..”
”oh ooh” I said ” what kinda trouble ?”
Frank ” there is some unusual shift behaviour”
I said ” what do you mean”
Frank ” well, in ‘Park’ it should not roll, this car does. There is a lot of noise from the transmission”
I said ” did you get it checked?”
Frank “no.I guess I need a new transmission”
now that is the reason for the low price.this car was worth just $2000 without a working transmission…I totally hated this guy for having hid the fact. since he had never taken his car to a service center since a long time, this issue never got into carfax.
I silently walked out all frustrated. did not even bother to test drive it.

Now I was back to car hunting.

– to be continued.

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