If you are lucky enough to be able to afford a vehicle, you can also discover new lessons in life, love and human pathos.
Local businessman and philanthropist Don Cose knows automobiles. He collects them, trades them and obviously likes them. His advice is good about what to buy or what to avoid. A person like Don is a good place to start asking questions.
Next, a smart customer goes to the Internet and studies different vehicles that have been recommended. A consideration is what one wants and what one can afford. New or previously owned, it pays to do your homework.
Between Consumer Reports, Edmunds and Kelly, there is plenty of information. Add ratings and statistics from a good Google search and you may be ready.
With the advice of friends and armed with product knowledge, one can begin going out on the quest for the best vehicle.
Certainly, choosing a dealer or place to buy is very important.
There are dealerships where the salespeople seem to have gargled with WD40 to get their jaws moving fast. Other dealers employ a system of two prices: take it or leave it.
Some of us remember watching a member of the sales force write a price on a piece of paper and slide it across the desk for us to read. This would be followed by checking with the sales manager, a trip to the finance manager and three hours of feeling as if you were watching Henry Kissinger arrange peace in the Middle East.
Negotiating a fair price was once the norm. It took great skills and patience. Every buyer felt he or she got the best of the deal, even when it was not true.
While not as exciting, it is clearer cut to go through buying services at Costco, AAA or AARP. These groups negotiate a price and take both the adventure and the game out of the process.
We all know that car dealers have to make a profit. They have big buildings and large inventories. The sales staff has to make a living, as do the support personnel. The buyer has to be realistic.
While it would be nice to pay 20 bucks for a $40,000 car, it is not likely to happen.
Pundits tell us the economy is turning around, and this is indicated by the accelerated sales of new cars. Local dealers report increased sales.
It is almost patriotic to march down to the local auto store and sit in your dream car and then bravely take it for a test drive. These cars, as extensions of personality, give us a new life and vitality, if not a smaller bank account.
There is a wonderful smell to a new car and a feeling of pride dispelled only by the first parking lot ding from the lady with her overloaded shopping cart.
New cars become used cars very fast. They don’t last as long as hernia surgery, but you may be just as glad you got one.
• Mike McLellan can be contacted by calling and leaving a message at 830-4201 or emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.