Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The New Car Challenge

Buying a car in the US can be quite a challenge. There are so many options and variables that it is almost impossible to tell if you are getting a good deal or not. Add in the factor of buying a used car and it is even more of a challenge. Now, try it in a different language, in a different country and in a different culture.

That’s what we’re facing.

Today I went out with a co-worker, Saul, to go look at cars. He said that he had a neighbor that had a car for sale and offered to take us there. So, I went with him to go look at the car, while Kelly waited at home for Nick. Apparently, the neighbor is a dealer and has a lot of about 15 cars along the side of the road. So, I looked over the car and made a mental list of everything that was wrong with it. I also took it out for a test drive and checked the acceleration, handling and ability to climb hills. I added to the long list of issues that the suspension probably has some issues. I also noted that the gas gauge was well below the “E” line. I guess they don’t want you to go far if you decide not to return the car. When we got back, we “talked” some more about the issues with the car and the dealer assured me that everything could be fixed in about 20 minutes. Yeah, right! Nothing is done in 20 minutes in Honduras. The one thing the car does have going for it is that it is well within our price range.

Then we went to another “dealership” about 200 feet away. This guy also had about 15 cars and actually had a small shack for an “office”. After looking around at a couple, I picked a car that I wanted to test drive. As I was checking it out, I inquired about the blinkers. He said they were like “bomberos” (firemen). I guess they flicker back and forth like those on a fire truck. I wonder if it comes with a siren, too? A little skeptical now, I decided to ask if I could take it out for a test drive. For some reason, they seemed very reluctant to let me take it (They must have seen me out the road before!). After some convincing from my friends, we were able to go for a test drive with the dealer’s brother in tow. This car also had no gas in it, so my chaperone had me pull into a gas station so he could put about a quart of gas in it. After driving it around for a bit in the heavy Tegucigalpa traffic, we returned to the lot and I inquired about the “check engine light” being on. He said that all the cars on the lot have the “check engine light” on. Despite that, this car was in much better condition, but it also came with a price tag that is slightly higher than my budget. 

Tomorrow Saul and I will visit a few more dealerships. I’m hoping for some better luck (and maybe someone that speaks English!).

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