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Keith Davy

A harrowing experience of buying a used car

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I just got my driving license, so I wanted to buy a used car to practice, and I'm usually quite busy at work, so I didn't have time to go to major second-hand car markets to look at cars. I was told that there was another honda civic with a newer year and leather seats + 5 new tyres (one spare), so naturally I felt good and said I would go and see the car the next day and trade it in immediately if I could. The next day I saw the car, although the interior was a little problematic, and after looking at the insurance records, there were several claims, but the salesman swore to me that it was just a small scratch, not a big deal. Well, since I came a long way to get there and I really liked the civic (it was the red colour I wanted), I decided to buy it. The salesman said that they were a one-stop service and that all I had to do to get the car was to get a liscense plate, so I was told to just wait in their meeting hall.

At the time I thought their service was professional, but they were actually swapping out parts of my car while I was waiting for them. Firstly, they replaced the new tyres with old ones (and the tyres were the very, very old kind, with the tread on the rear tyres worn flat). Secondly, it turned out that the car was already a third-hand car, which had been transferred twice before (well, it's my fault for not asking properly, I didn't ask and of course they wouldn't tell me, I just trusted them too much) and by the time I found out, it had already been transferred into my name. 

After the purchase, I rushed off without looking carefully at the car. It was only after some days that I noticed that the tyres had been changed, and then when I called the salesman, he didn't even answer my call. I hope that anyone who wants to buy a used car will learn a lesson from my experience and not get ripped off by them. 

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It's not just USED cars that can be a harrowing experience because you can be badly burnt when buying a NEW car too.  I bought a brand-new Chevrolet pickup truck from the local Chevrolet dealership.  The truck was a lemon from the factory (which wasn't the dealer's fault) but the dealer wouldn't honor the quality standards that the company touted.

The fuel tank on my new truck read "E" when I drove it out of the Chevy dealership so I went to a nearby service station and got it filled up.  As I prepared to leave, there was gasoline splashing around the accelerator, clutch and brake pedals and the strong fumes were almost overwhelming.  I drove directly back to the dealership where a service tech told me that the filler neck hadn't been welded into the fuel tank, but was just stuck in there.

"We'll have to remove the gas tank to weld the neck into the tank but we can't do it today.  You've filled the tank up!  You'll need to drive it until it's almost empty and then you can bring it back and we'll do it."

"I don't THINK SO!  I'm not driving around in it with gasoline running around inside the cab.  You trying to get me BLOWN UP?"

"Oh, okay, but we'' have to drain that gas out that you put in it and fill the tank with water so we can weld on it."

When I got it back the engine would sputter and balk from the residual water in the system.

Four days after taking possession of the vehicle, I took it into a self-serve car wash.  You know, the type where you walk around with the sprayer wand and wash it yourself.  To my shock and amazement, the water spray struck the side of my new truck and huge sheets of paint were stripped off down to the bare steel!

I picked up a piece of paint measuring about 20 x 30 inches and looked closely at it, turning it over in my hands to discover that the steel had never been primed.  The factory had just painted the color coat directly on the steel body.  I went back to the dealer and he told me, "There's no warranty on paint on a pickup truck."

A week later as I was coming home from work and approached an intersection, I attempted to downshift from 4th gear but the transmission was locked in 4th gear and couldn't be forced out of gear.  I drove all the way to the Chevy dealership in 4th and pulled up right in front of the service door entrance.  A service tech yelled at me as I got out of the cab...

"Hey?  You can't park THERE!  We have to get in and out of that door!"

"I can't move it.  It's stuck in GEAR!"

"Well, you can't leave it THERE!  You're going to have to MOVE it!"

I ignored him and walked on into the showroom of the building where a salesman approached me...

"Sir?  Is that your truck?  You can't leave it parked there.  They have to keep that door clear."

"I can't move it because it's stuck in 4th gear."

"Well, you can't LEAVE it THERE!"

I ignored him and walked on into the service department where the service manager yelled at me...

"Hey?  You're going to have to move your truck away from that door!  We need to get in and out of there!"

"I can't move it.  It's stuck in 4th gear and it won't back up."

"Well, you CAN'T leave it THERE!  You're going to HAVE to MOVE it!"

"Go ahead and move it if you want it moved."

"Ah, dammit!  Are the key's in it?"

"Yes, the keys are in it but it's stuck in gear."

"Joe, go out there and move that truck someplace so it's not blocking the door.  His keys are in it."

So Joe went out and got into my new truck and started it up.  I could see him yanking and shoving on the gearshift lever.  After more attempts, he opened the driver's door and partially stood outside where he could yell at the service manager...

"I can't MOVE it.  It's STUCK IN GEAR!"

"Well, just bring it on in then and put it in Bay 3."

After about a week went by, it was ready for me to pick it up.  The salesman told me that all those model of Chevy trucks were doing that and locking in gear this year.

In all, I had that new truck for about three weeks before I took it to the Ford Dealer and traded it in on a Mustang.  Needless to say, they only gave me less than wholesale price for my trade-in even though it was less than a month old and had only a few hundred miles on it.  I went ahead and accepted the several thousands of $ of loss, chalking it up to ' Experience' and to avoid spending any more grief or money on the Chevy truck.  Experience is often an expensive lesson.


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