Picture this: 3:30 AM, I had just gotten off work from a late shift at the restaurant where I worked at the time. I'm halfway up the very steep East Sycamore Street, on my way to my Mt. Washington home, when my car shuts off. "What is happening?" I look at the gas gauge; it's reading at a quarter tank full. I try to back my car up and coast down to the gas station just to get it out of the way, but the windy turns make it impossible. I call a tow truck. "This is going to cost me for sure," I thought. Two hours later, just before the tow truck arrives, a friend sees me stuck on the road and pulls over to help. He is able to get it to the gas station, and we fill up the tank. I turn my key and it starts. That's the day I learned my gas gauge was broken, and that was the beginning of my car problems.
Two gas leaks, a full alignment, an oil leak, and a full re-build of the rusted frame of my car later, and I'm stuck thinking, "I should probably think about getting a new car." I loved my car. It was a 2005 powder blue Hyundai Accent. It had low mileage, and even with all of its problems, it was a little champ of a car. I lovingly referred to him as "Ham" because I always said he was so little that he ran on "hamster power" rather than horsepower. I wasn't sure I was ready to give him up, but if I did, I wanted something that met all of my credentials.
I wanted something small, like Ham, but I wanted to be higher up to avoid needing another alignment after crashing hard into all of those Mt. Washington potholes they won't fix. I wanted something newer, but not a lease, and I wanted something that would be an inexpensive car payment. When I began my journey, I looked at a bunch of sedans. They were in my price range, but nothing really seemed to feel right. "I like it but... The back window is too high, the seat doesn't go up far enough, it feels like I'm driving a boat." The 'buts' just kept coming and I couldn't find anything that suited my fancy, until I test drove a Chevy Spark. It was very small; it was up higher than a regular sedan; it was a hatchback; was in my price range, and can you believe it? It comes in YELLOW. I was completely smitten, but was on the hunt for the perfect one. Low mileage, one previous owner, all that jazz.
I found a yellow one, pretty far out of the city. It had low mileage, but it was quite a bit overpriced. It was listed at $1,300 over the Kelly Blue Book value of the car, and I wasn't going to drive 45 minutes out to look at a car I couldn't afford.
That's when I found a little black one at Joe Ball GMC in Gibsonia. It was listed at a low price, the carfax report was squeaky clean, and I was feeling good about my find. Although it wasn't the color that I wanted, everything else was perfect, so I made the appointment to test drive it. Bill Bauer responded to me in just a few minutes and was very flexible with my busy schedule. Just after I made the appointment, I got a call from the other place (we'll call it 'Jim's' for the purpose of keeping it anonymous.) They wanted me to test drive the Spark. I told them it was out of my price range, and they came down on their price by $1,500 on the phone. "Whoa, I'm good at bartering," I thought. "Okay I'll go to Jim's first and we'll see what happens."
I get to Jim's, take the Spark for a test run, and I'm smitten. So we go to talk about pricing Ham for a trade, and they come back with heart-breaking news: only $200 for my dearly beloved Hammy. I was shocked, and red with fury. "How dare they price Ham so low! He's worth so much more than that." In fact the Kelly Blue Book value was $1,200 for it in fair condition. I felt like I just got punched. "No!" I screamed. The salesman said, "We already came down on the price of our car quite a bit, so we can't give you the full worth of your car." I'm fuming at this point. I stand up and look at the salesperson in the eye and say, "Yeah you came down on the price of your car. It is now a fair price. If I'm going to pay a fair price for your car, I'd like a fair price for mine. Have a good day." I walked out. I hopped into ham, and lovingly drove him to Joe Ball's and I couldn't help but think he'd be proud of me for standing my ground when I was alone in that situation.
I hopped over to Bill's desk and we get down to business. He prices my trade - far higher than the last place - and tells me what my monthly payments will look like. He was amazing at answering my questions, and was very kind about my situation. I felt wildly comfortable, and decided to make the move to buy. I couldn't purchase the Spark until Monday, but Bill assured me that he would hold the car until then. He took my information for the credit check and when I came back on Monday, everything was already set up for me.
I met with Michael Carvelli in finance to sign my paperwork. As I fumbled to find the latest PDF of my pay stub on my phone, he insisted that I use his computer instead because it would be easier for me to find. We cracked jokes back and forth, and he had lots of questions about Moxie. It was honestly a little fun, which I definitely didn't expect to say at the end of this.
I went outside to see my new Chevrolet Spark, ready to drive off the lot. Bill had put the new plates on and was installing OnStar for me. I hopped in and drove off into the sunset feeling really comfortable and happy about my choice.
The car buying experience for a young female that is approaching the situation alone can be super scary, but I learned a lot in the process. I learned to not be pushed around, and to stand my ground when things don't go the way you expected. You can't settle for less than what you want, and I'm so happy that I had the experience I did. I would truly recommend Joe Ball GMC to anyone that's in the market for a new ride. The experience was easy, fast, and fair and I'm very happy with the purchase of my new car, that I lovingly call "Bean."