When I started looking for my first car I thought it was going to be one of the most amazing and delightful experiences of my life. You can read PART ONE HERE and hear all about the harsh reality of looking for a reasonably priced, reliable used car. After taking a look at various car dealerships, used car lots (and having a delightful experience at CARMAX) we decided to check out a few cars on Craigslist. We tend to try and explore all our options before making a decision, which we found doesn’t always work out very well when looking for a car…because when you go back to CARMAX (after taking a week to look at cars on Craigslist) someone has already bought the car you wanted… Unfortunately, my effort at buying a car on Craigslist was not the best experience of my life. And by that I mean that it was one of the worst…
To be honest, most of the cars on Craigslist were not the type of vehicle I was looking to buy. I really wanted and needed the car to be reliable and get me through my last year of high school and my college years. It is important to me to graduate debt free from college and having a car payment or huge repair bills during those years was not going to make that goal a reality.
I had narrowed down my choices to a Honda, Toyota or Nissan because of their reliability. In the weeks that we looked on Craigslist we found two cars that were within my budget and went to take a look.
The first car was a Honda Accord. It was well maintained and seemed to be in good shape. It did have a LOT of miles on it and was very sporty looking. I really thought that would be the type of car I liked (more sporty looking) but once I test drove it I discovered that I didn’t like how little room there was in the back seat. I’m tall and felt a little cramped. Like I said it had a lot of miles on it so I decided not to move forward and keep looking.
Next we found the perfect car! It was a sky blue 2011 Honda Civic. It had less than 30,000 miles and was in brand new condition. We found it under the for sale by owners section of Craigslist. The man who listed the car was named ‘Bud’. He told us the following in our first email exchange:
1 – He would have the title to the car within a week.
2 – The car had never been smoked in (important because I have asthma and cannot tolerate any cigarette smoke).
3 – The car had never been in an accident.
4 – The price INCLUDED tax, tag, and title.
Mom and I met Bud and his wife out near their home in a shopping center parking lot. The car was beautiful. It was so much nicer than anything I thought we could afford and it drove like a dream. After I test drove it I wanted that car. SO BAD. I would have bought it from them right there on the spot if I had the money with me. I know that doesn’t sound very wise but I’m just being real here. I wanted that car!
My mother, however, brought all of my happiness to an end when she insisted that our mechanic take a look at the car before we made the purchase. Bud and his wife agreed to meet us at the shop the next week. We had the money ready in our account and I fully expected to drive home with my gorgeous new (to me) car the day we met them at the garage. I felt giddy.
We met them at our mechanic’s shop. Tommy has been our mechanic for many years and it is such a blessing to have someone you trust! After about 45 minutes Tommy came in to let us know what he had found in his inspection. And if you think that all my hopes and dreams were about to be flushed down the toilet, you would be correct.
Tommy told us that the car had been in an accident and that he was concerned about something he heard in the engine when he took it for a drive – Lie #1. He also mentioned that he didn’t think the accident was major but more of a fender bender which wouldn’t necessarily mean we shouldn’t buy the car. However, he thought that we should proceed with caution because Bud had lied to us about the car being in an accident. Tommy also explained to us that Bud was actually a dealer and was not the owner of the car at all – Lie #2.
Mom and I went outside to talk things over with Bud and his wife and that’s when things got really uncomfortable. Thankfully, at this point my mom was doing all the talking (you all know that she normally makes me do it) but at this point she stepped in. She told Bud that we knew the car had been in an accident and asked him why he told us that it was accident free. He mumbled something about that it was possible the car had been rear-ended. She told him that we would still be interested in purchasing the car but wanted to be sure he hadn’t lied about anything else.
It was at this point that Bud said he wanted to sell us the car, restated the agreed upon price, and mentioned the couple of extra thousand dollars that tax, tag and title would cost us – Lie #3. My mother very calmly looked at him and said, ‘Bud, you and your wife have told us over the phone and in an email that the price included those things.’ And the man looked directly into my mom’s eyes and told her he had never said anything like that!
And then I saw the look on my mom’s face and I wanted to run and hide and pray for Bud.
To her credit, she did not get openly angry, but I just wanted to leave at that point because things were so tense. Bud and his wife are about my grandparents age. He looks like a big teddy bear. His wife had been so friendly and polite to us. During this conversation she just sat in the car and wouldn’t look us in the face. I could not believe that someone would stand there and lie so openly. He continued to deny ever saying that the price included everything and acted like my mother was the one making things up!
Obviously, I know this kind of thing happens but it had never happened to me before! I felt sick and just wanted to go home and cry.
My mom told him that she couldn’t understand why he would lie about something like that when we had it in writing. She shook his hand and told him that she could not wish him success in his business when he would conduct himself in such a manner. His wife never would look at my mom, even when mom shook her hand and told her how sorry she was to be parting under such circumstances.
They left and we went back to talk to Tommy. He was so glad we didn’t get the car because he had such a bad feeling about Bud and his character. He really encouraged me to be patient. I knew that we had done the right thing but to be honest I was so disappointed! We had been looking for months, I was almost 18 at that point, AND I JUST WANTED A CAR! That sounds really bratty looking back on it but I’m just telling the truth about how I felt that day as I watched Bud (now referred to in our home as the ‘lying liar’) drive off in my almost car.
Here are my tips if you are looking at a car on CraigsList:
1 – Do not think that someone is speaking the truth just because they look like a big teddy bear and could be your Grandpa. He just might be a lying liar.
2 – Do not take their word for anything. Get the CARFAX on the car that outlines the history (including accidents) of the car and make sure to have your mechanic inspect the car.
3 – Do not buy a car just because you like the way it looks. Make sure it is a good purchase and that the car will last. It’s too much money to risk making a bad decision.
Just so you know there were a few tears but we went to the BBQ place across the street from Tommy’s shop for dinner, then stopped by my Papa and Mimi’s house ’cause a hug from Grandparents along with some good BBQ makes everything better. I was still disappointed but I felt much better and knew eventually we would find something.