Adventures In Car Shopping

Nothing makes a girl feel like a useless toddler than car shopping with her husband. To give some background, neither I nor my husband know much about engines. I know in most cases they are under the hood. My husband doesn’t have much more information than I do, yet 85% of the time the salesmen always look to him to discuss power and size.

This infuriates me.

As the youngest of three and the only girl, I am forever trying to live up to my 5T shirt that said “Anything Boys Can Do Girls Can Do Better”


When a salesman begins by dismissing me immediately for my husband we are off to a bad start. This happened at the first lot where we were excited to try out an H3 (Hummer). I know it sounds insane, but it was a lot of fun. We are replacing a very fun to drive car that got terrible gas mileage and we wanted something comparable. A Highlander just didn’t seem to cut it, ya know?

Anyway, we drive the Hummer and it’s fun. Same lot, same salesperson, we drive a Tahoe. It felt loose and all over the road and just not worth the $35K + price tag. Next up, an Acadia. I got in and immediately noticed the power steering was nonexistent. I may not know where the power steering fluid goes, but I know a hard ass steering wheel when I try to turn one. The salesman’s response? “Naaah, you’re just used to driving the truck. This is going to drive differently.”

As in not at all? So we heave the steering to maneuver onto the road and as soon as I hit 45mph the whole thing shimmies. “Hey look at that. It needs an alignment.” Salesman: “Naaah, that’s just under inflated tires.”

Long story short we bought nothing from this guy. The car we wanted to buy as it turns out was never even inspected before putting it out to test drive. Obviously the same can be said for the other 2. Thanks, but no thanks.

Recently we have been looking at Tahoes. After the catastrophe of the first lot, I went ahead and drove one on a different lot and guess what?! It felt totally different! It didn’t feel like it was being held together by Legos and chewing gum. If you’ve never priced these vehicles, don’t bother. They are way expensive. Because of this we are looking for a very used and not-too-abused one. We found one we liked, but weren’t ready to sign docs. As research we tried another lot last night and had a very eye opening experience. As it turns out, just because you can’t name the engine parts doesn’t mean you shouldn’t crack open the hood.

Tahoe 2 was a couple thousand more, but had 15K miles less so it seemed like a no-brainer. However, closer inspection caused the hood to open and lo and behold, we found a treasure trove of, “What the hell is that?”s and “Is that normal?”s. Behind the front tire we found a ton of rust, too. After pulling the carfax it turns out this sucker had been from CA to CAnada and back through no less than 5 auctions.

Here is a comparison of Tahoe opt 1 and Tahoe opt 2:

Car buying is like a tandem pap smear, root canal, and labor. We have to get through it to get to the good stuff, and you rarely know what is being said around you while you are getting through it. Sometimes if you can dull the noise and follow your instincts, you might actually make a good choice!

Here’s hoping the process ends quickly for us.

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