Drumroll – we got a car! We ended up with a 2002 Suzuki XL7 with 92,000 miles (I still can’t/don’t believe that part). It looked to be in pretty good shape for 3k. Pfew, what a load off, or so we thought. A week later, it broke down, $hizzf*ckmutherbast@rd!
Starting from the beginning, here’s how it happened:
We hired a couple who lives here to help us find and purchase a vehicle. The company is called Rincon Car Finders and they help people like us – mainlanders who don’t know shit about buying a car here – to purchase a vehicle. They walk you through the process, then do the searching for you, send you their leads and if you like one, they will go with you to test drive and check the car out. Jennifer does the back and fourth and paperwork and money side, her husband Carlos does the checking out the car, communicating with the seller, verifying the running condition side. They charge $300, which includes taking you with them to look at the vehicles, going with you to the title place for the transfer, translating, etc. For us, it was about 4.5 hours of their physical time, when they were out with us looking, and an unknown amount of time spent searching listings at home and on phone calls with sellers. After having searched for weeks and weeks with discouraging results on our own, and running into language barriers and the knowledge that someone could sell us a lemon and we’d be no wiser – we felt like $300 was worth alleviating those risks. That was the hope.
Jennifer and Carlos got us the car just in time to take a little road trip, and on the way, we discovered just a few of the (smaller) reasons the owners were willing to let go of a decent looking vehicle with low miles at that price:
- The car has a security system, and 30 seconds after you get out, it automatically locks all the doors for you. The catch = the key fob does not work to open the doors about 50% of the time. We have been locked out of the car for hours before, once with a basket full of groceries warming in the parking lot. Good times.
- It leaks or burns oil – but that is not so uncommon with an almost 20 year old vehicle. Hopefully we can keep an eye on that and keep it full.
- The driver side window is mechanical and the roller-upper/downer is about broken, so we can’t roll that down until we get it replaced. The passenger side back window is almost as bad, and every time one of the kids rolls it down, I cringe.
- The brakes are a little squishy – too squishy for my husband’s liking – so we were going to have to add “brake-job” to the list.
We got back from our trip, mentally (if not emotionally) prepared to choke out the cash for these repairs, and a few days later, SSSSPPEEEEEEEWWW – radiator fluid shooting out from under the closed hood, smoke streaming out of the front grill, and the temperature gauge maxing out as we pulled up to the house. We just wanted to crawl into a hole and cry.
That was yesterday.
This morning, we walked up the hill to EconoMax and bought more radiator fluid and filled her back up. We called Jennifer and Carlos to get a recommendation for a repair man, which they were happy to offer and even offered to meet us there to help with anything lost in translation. B is going to try to make the 15 minute drive in a few minutes and hope nothing explodes or cracks on the way there. Lord knows how much this is going to cost . . .
Castles made of sand? Did we get a lemon after all? Or is this a smallish issue that can be fixed? I’ll keep you posted.