Wow, my first post since moving to San Diego and it only took 52 days to do it! That’s pretty horrible, I must admit. Here I thought moving to a new city would inspire me to be more active in my photography and blogging. Nope. Turns out moving and starting a new job means you have next to no free time. When you do find yourself void of responsibilities, all you really want to do is relax with your iPad and new season of Nikita on Netflix. Perhaps I’m projecting a bit… Clearly I really love that show.
For all the years I lived in San Francisco I never owned a car. It just wasn’t necessary. I walked almost everywhere in that city, and loved it. It was a healthy way to get around and it allowed me a little time to myself. When I needed to go further than a say a mile, I’d take the Muni. And despite what many of the locals might say, we have a stellar mass transit system.
My apartment had a Walk Score of 98 and a Bike Score of 95. My office had a Walk Score of 92, a Transit Score of 100 and a Bike Score of 89. Basically I had the world, just steps away. San Diego, well it isn’t quite the same here.
One of the first things I came to terms with on my visit to San Diego was that I was going to have to buy a car. Ugh, what a pain in the ass. I’ve never been the kind of person who loves buying cars. I know people who seem to live for the negotiations and the back-and-forth nature of car hunting.
I grew up in the Amazon.com world. I like to see a great deal, compare it online, use social proof to decide if it is worth buying and then have it delivered to my door within two business days. That’s the Millennial in me. Well we haven’t gotten that far with cars just yet. Or health insurance for that matter.
So, I had to buy a car quickly. I didn’t want, and couldn’t, spend weeks searching around and wanted to get something for around $15,000 tops; if I didn’t lease a car. I went to the blog and asked all of my friends, family and readers for help. On the blog I got over 40 comments, on Twitter I got over 200 tweets and on Facebook I got about the same. It’s too bad I didn’t use a hashtag to properly track all of this!
All in all dozens of you gave me ideas. We discussed leasing vs buying, new vs used and even went as far as this dealership vs that dealership. It was amazing and you all made my decision that much easier to make. Even still I had nightmares, cold sweats and nearly an anxiety attack about the entire ordeal. I really don’t like buying cars.
On my first few days with the car hunt a Hyundai dealership in San Francisco tweeted at me about buying one of their cars. They were amazing. Even though I was moving and wouldn’t be able to buy a car from San Francisco, they put me into contact with a Scion dealership in San Diego who was equally excited about helping me out.
So began my conversations with the Scion dealership. I even went in for a test drive when I got into town with Kayla. I loved the 2014 Scion tC but knew I needed to look at a few more cars before I settled on that model, which was already $3,000 over budget. So off to a Pacific Honda. They weren’t on Twitter but had great Yelp reviews so I went for it. I tested out a 2013 Honda Civic and was unimpressed.
Its 4-cylinder engine lacked the oomph I wanted for battling traffic on the 805 but the interior was nice enough and it’s a Honda so reliability and gas mileage were top notch. I probably would have gotten had it not been for the really horrible handoff from my initial handler, Eufemio Mendoza, to my second who I conveniently blocked out of my memory. He was pushy, presumptuous and just all around rude. Kayla and I walked out after talking down the lease by nearly 50%!
That’s when things started getting European. A few of my Facebook and Twitter friends kept insisting I look at the 2013 VW GTI. It had all I wanted, two doors, fast, fun, safe, bluetooth-enabled… Something just didn’t feel right with the GTI. I can’t tell you what. Maybe it was the stereo quality, maybe it was too small, maybe I was hungrier for food than a new car at the moment.
If I told you that five minutes after talking about getting the VW GTI I had as many people tell me to get the Subaru WRX, I’d be underestimating the situation. Seriously, people came out of the woodworks recommending Subarus. I thought it was a joke at first but then I realized that I have a lot of friends who own Subarus! So I went to an absolutely horrible Subaru dealership. Here I come, on a Saturday afternoon, ready to buy or lease a car and no one will help me. One dude is too busy eating his Ritz Crackers ‘n Cheese Dip to give me the time of day.
I was passed on to three people before someone would accept me as a customer. How does this place stay in business?
I loved the way this car drove and how it felt inside. It was a four door when I wanted a coupe but I was willing to let that slide. The engine felt like butter, really fast butter. I couldn’t believe that somehow the only helpful person that willing to help me, and the ride of this car, was going to turn the horrible initial impression of the dealership right-side up. I was even looking past the extra $10,000 this car was going to cost!
Then I heard the sound system. I couldn’t imagine being stuck in the kind of crap traffic we have here with that sound system. I told Brook Goran, my helpful salesman, that I’d have to sleep on it. He was nice, gave me his card. He was great, despite the rest of his sales team.
That’s about the time that I got a tweet from Volvo. Yes. Volvo. I went from “rice cooker” to “responsible family guy” to “gay car guy car” to “basically you’re a lesbian with anger issues” and now… Volvo?! What kind of evolution was this? I believe my first tweet to McKevitt Volvo started out with “lol” but I can’t be too sure. Well I talked a lot with this Volvo dealership and decided I’d give their cars a look. Immediately I fell in love with the Volvo C30. And I bought one, and then took a picture so it would last longer. (I’ve got all the jokes)
Unfortunately, the Volvo dealership turned out to be in San Leandro, no where near San Diego. I was so disappointed. Here was a Twitter account that somehow converted me from a $15,000 car buyer to a $35,000 car buyer, from a Scion tC to a Volvo c30, and I wasn’t going to be able to give them any of my actual money.
My Volvo dealership didn’t use social media very effectively, several tweets to them never got any response. Nevertheless I gave them a try and test drove the Volvo C30 with Rich in tow. He even made up a hashtag for the event. Four hours after entering the Volvo dealership I was driving away with a Volvo C30.
And no I didn’t end up paying the sticker price, or anywhere near it. Why? Because I had so many Twitter and Facebook friends giving me advice on the back end. I want to call out a few of them here. @Shayes287 and @seismic007 both advised me as current Volvo C30 owners. Then @TheDutchessD dropped me some awesome tips and even a massive Excel spreadsheet. @AngieRobert gave me the recommendation of Volvo dealerships and who to talk to specifically. Special thanks to local car fanatic @motoridersd who went as far as to offer to drive me to a dealership and help me deal!
Like I said earlier, there were dozens upon dozens of people who helped out from my Fiat daze to my BMW dreams. I can’t possibly thank you all enough.
I ended up getting a pretty great deal on the car and a month later I’m still loving it and it fit almost every criteria I put before it.
Cost – I’d like to spend less than $15,000 if I buy a car. I can spend more if I must but I’d like to be smart with my money so it goes further. No one likes a car payment!Ok, so I went a little over budget…
- Miles Per Gallon – Great gas mileage is important. I’d go hybrid or electric if it fit my budget but I have a feeling even for $20,000 I’d be short for a decent hybrid/electric.
- Keep it Small – I prefer a small car like a Honda Civic. Just seems super easy to get around town in and makes parking a breeze.
- POWER! – I don’t need 500 brake horsepower but I need to win the fight of the I-5 entrance ramp. San Diegans are VERY aggressive drivers.
- Features – Doesn’t have to be the definition of luxury but I’m known to like a great audio experience and am a gadget dork so these sorts of things make me happy.
- Reliability – I love mechanics but I hate visiting them at work.
- Status – Used or new I don’t really care. Either way I will finance it with the intention of paying it off within a year. No one likes a car payment!
I love this car. The power, the interior, the features, the safety and don’t forget the best-in-class audio system. If I hadn’t gotten this car I’d have probably gotten the first car I looked at, the Scion tC. I’d have saved around $10,000 and I’d have a great car, but I wouldn’t have felt it fit me. Once I purchased this car all my stress went away. No more bad dreams and no more, literal, stomach aches.
If it weren’t for relying on social media, I would very likely have purchased a 2010 Honda Civic from CarMax for $14,000. TO me this is proof that more car dealerships should be using Twitter to acquire customers. Even the dealership that ultimate weren’t able to sell me a car at least got me in the door. That’s a huge deal.
I think it’s about time to put this epic post to bed, and for me to go to bed as well. I did want to point out one more thing. Within a month of me buying my car, three friends went out and bought new cars; each of them consulted me for the things I gleaned from this car adventure.