If you follow me on social media, especially Instagram and Twitter, then you already know the good news. After 22 days of looking, I finally bought my car. It’s not the fun Nissan Juke that was my first choice or the sporty Hyundai Veloster that was my second choice, but Seth is one lucky boy to be sitting in my suburban driveway.
Before I share Seth’s story, let me start where I last left off. In doing so, I will also explain why I ran away from Nissan with my heart in my throat and why the Veloster didn’t make the cut.
August 1—12: Car Insurance
Some of you may remember this insanely high quote I received from Amica for car insurance. Other companies like AllSate, American Family Insurance and Liberty Mutual all denied me because of my brand new license.
Here are some of the discouraging quotes I received from other companies:
- State Farm: $225.58 per month or $1353.50 for 6 months if paid in full.
- GEICO: $286.12 per month or $1686.70 for 6 months if paid in full.
- Progressive: $290.20 per month or $1428.00 for 6 months if paid in full.
- Unknown: $388 per month
Naturally, these numbers were not encouraging. They were much higher than even the car payments I had budgeted for. I began to consider whether or not I could even afford a car.
Finally, I tried Esurance and was happy to receive a base quote from them of $997 for 6 months, which had to be paid in full. It wasn’t cheap, but it was the lowest I had gotten and it was doable.
August 14—15: Defensive Driving Classes
To secure the rate from Esurance, however, I had to successfully complete 6 hours of defensive driving class, which had already been suggested to me by one of my friends. I learned a lot in those six hours of class and believe it really has made me a better and more careful driver. I recommend that class to everyone, but to new drivers especially.
In this class, I made friends with a guy my family now affectionately calls “Speedy” because of his souped up BMW with its gold rims and turbo engine. I probably would not have Seth today if it wasn’t for him. My parents and husband do not have flexible enough schedules to take days off to run around with me from dealership to dealership, looking for a car. Speedy, however, did. Even better is the fact that he was a mechanic.
August 20: Nissan Heartbreak
We started our car hunt by looking at two Nissan Jukes with another licensed mechanic, who I booked through YourMechanic.com for $90. He was very thorough in his search and he and Speedy talked quite a bit together about the cars. At the end of their survey, I was faced with the bad news that both Jukes had transmission problems.
“This is a common issue with Nissan cars,” the mechanic told me. “How fixed are you on getting the Juke? I would really recommend staying away from Nissan and Ford, and considering something else.”
When I told my mother about this, she confirmed that everyone she knew with a Ford had transmission problems. I also found out that the one time my Dad’s Nissan broke down with us, it was the transmission that went out. I remember that day. We stopped at a red light on a busy street in Midtown, at the top of a hill and when the light turned green, the car would not move.
We were in one of the middle lanes and cars were flying by us, while those behind us honked loudly. Every time, we tried to move forward, the car would cry loudly and then begin to roll backwards. My Dad turned on the hazards and got out of the car and a homeless guy nearby helped us push the car to the side of the road, while mum steered. It was a terrifying experience. Can you imagine if this had happened on a highway?
I resolved to set Nissan aside after that. After half a decade of being in love with this car, it was a painful decision to make, but a necessary one.
August 20-21: Veloster & the Credit Union
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I was hoping to end today with a picture of me sprawled out on my #NissanJuke but the car gods have conspired against me. Both Jukes I looked at had transmission problems and the mechanic says that's common with used Nissans. I'm taking a break from car hunting tomorrow to lick my wounds and rethink my strategy, because transmission problems are no joke. Wednesday I think I'll be looking at the Juke's rival in my heart, the #HyundaiVeloster. The one above is the one @rumcreamgod and I drove out west this spring. What was shopping for your first car like? Tell me your equally terrifying stories in the comments 😂 . . . #veloster #car #cars #sporty #desert #deserts #utah #archesnationalpark #travelling #travels #traveldiaries #carhunting #carbuying #firstcar
Next on my list was the sporty Veloster, which aside from my Dad’s car, is the one I have the most experience driving in America. I love the look of the car and love the MPG even more. The problem was that it was grossly overpriced and I was concerned that owners didn’t seem to hang on to them for as long as the Juke before selling. A pattern of short-term ownerships with cars is a bad sign.
Along with this, the APR on them were ridiculously high. And insuring them? Even worse. It would have cost me another $200 or so on my 6-month insurance, and some insurance companies charged as much as an extra $500 for the Turbo version.
One of the dealerships I spoke to recommended that I try the Credit Union for an auto loan, since their financing options would have much better rates than Capital One. I then suspended car hunting to go to the Credit Union, but they denied me because of my green card.
It was back to the drawing board after that, but I was not without options. As you might remember, I had a strong list of backups if the Juke and Veloster did not work out. At the top of the list was the Hyundai Elentra and Hyundai Accent. I could not find an Elantra in my budget range, but soon came across a white Hyundai Accent exactly within my budget. I could not believe my good luck.
When I called the dealership, I learned it was still under warranty, that it came with another 12,000 miles/1 year of warranty from the dealers and that the only addition to the price tag was $31. I booked an appointment for the next day and called Speedy to see if he could go with me.
August 22: Meeting Seth
When Speedy and I arrived at the dealership and was introduced to Seth it was love at first sight for us. He was a 2016 SE model with some cosmetic damage here and there, but otherwise almost brand new. He is a former rental and had 42,000 miles on the dash, but still had that new car smell when I stuck my head through the window.
Speedy did his walk-around appraisal. He checked the bodywork from a fender-bender we had seen in the car’s report. He then started up the car and popped the bonnet (hood for you Americans). Our first observation was how smooth the engine sounded. When I handed him the keys (always let your mechanic test drive the car!), our next observation was how smooth the ride was.
He commented on the great handling, the smooth acceleration. In fact, Seth received nothing but compliments. But the best compliment of all came from the machine he used to check for any errors or codes the car might generate. There were none!
After that, it was my turn to test drive the car back to the lot. I loved how the car handled and just how comfortable I felt behind the wheel. I could trust Seth and that is a very important feeling to have in your car.
When I drove that Jeep Renegade and often when I drive my Dad’s Nissan, I don’t feel an ounce of trust! I had felt trust driving the Juke, but that was lost after all the transmission codes.
August 23+: Getting to Know Seth
Seth and I are only just getting to know each other, but already I think we will get along just fine. He is the little guy everyone underestimates, but who then over-delivers and surprises them all. He wasn’t born into luxury, but he is eager to please and tries to be sporty and athletic even when he lacks the muscle.
My only complaints with Seth is that there is no Bluetooth and the visibility through the rear-window is dangerously limited. To remedy this, I bought an aftermarket backup camera kit and a Bluetooth adapter that plugs into the cigarette lighter. I also plan to change the car from key to keyless.
I’m sure you guys will be seeing more of Seth as we plan our adventures together, so get used to his handsome face!
Did you name your car? Tell me why or why not? If yes, what type of car do you drive and how did you come up with the name? I look forward to hearing all about it in the comments below! 🙃
Thank you to everyone who shared their advice and cheered me on via social media through some of the worst obstacles I encountered. Special thanks to my family and the following friends.
- Tristan, for helping me build my original list of first, second and backup choices, which included the Hyundai Accent.
- Audri, for checking on me both of the days I went to dealerships, and also for suggesting defensive driving classes to lower my insurance.
- Speedy, for taking two days off to run around to dealerships with me, inspect the cars, and then drive Seth back home, because I was starving and terrified of the highway.
- Morrecia, for insisting I get a car still under manufacture warranty or that comes with warranty from the dealer.