Sunday, July 27, 2008

Car Dunce Seeks Car

one of the models i'm considering: a mitsubishi mirage

I admit it - I am the quintessential lady driver. You know, the kind that most (chauvinistic) males drivers roll their eyes about and in whose presence they wonder (aloud) why women were ever allowed to get behind the wheel.

I have a fairly stuffed sense of direction complemented by an occasional tendency to be indecisive about what route to take. I do know (in theory) how to change a flat, but I know absolutely nothing about the mechanics of a car. Frankly, I don't really mind that I don't, as long as it runs when I put the key into the ignition - awful, I know.

It's quite easy to understand why, as I am beginning my foray into the world of second-hand car hunting on a budget, I feel like I am jumping off the deep end into water teeming with sharks.

Sometimes I wonder if I really do need a car, specially since I am thinking of staying only a year (for the moment). To be fair, I've been getting on okay with walking and public transport.

On the other hand, weekly grocery shopping has become a bit of an Olympic sport for me - a hybrid of long-distance walking and weight-lifting every time. I've also been drenched fairly regularly by motorists cruising down the highway, as I, the lone pedestrian, plod to work in the rain. And, since walking along the fairly deserted highway late at night is hardly a wise idea under any circumstances, I've had to endure taxi waits of over 2 hours from the end of my shift.

In an ideal world, a car dunce like me would be best off buying brand new, regularly bringing the car in for prophylactic servicing, and then selling it off before it has any serious problems. Unfortunately, I don't live in an ideal world - but I need a decent car on a very modest budget that won't cost me more to service it than the price of buying it.

I'm not really looking for anything fancy - just a fairly well-maintained little hatchback that won't kill me with fuel expenses and car repairs. I've been doing a bit of research, and I've already zeroed in on certain makes and models that may suit. However, given my current automotive know-how, anyone could hand me a lemon of a car and I'd probably drive it away with a smile on my face - until it refuses to take me anywhere and needs to be towed to the nearest service station as soon as I've bought it.

Frankly, I can't think of any solution around this dilemma at the moment. While I have made a few acquaintances here, I'm still a bit wary about dragging any of them car shopping with me - not only because I wouldn't want to impose, but also because I don't know who might have the best amount of know-how to help me out. Short of taking a crash course in appraising cars, I'm not sure what else I can do. Of course buying anything that pre-owned always comes with risks, but despite my desperation, I wouldn't want to throw away my money on a dud.

If there are any natives out there reading my blog - I'd love to hear some suggestions. (Or maybe you have trusted friends who are considering selling off their cars!) As for my readers from back home and elsewhere, let's just all cross our fingers together and hope I don't get gobbled up by the sharks alive.


Manggy said...

Would it be too freaky to get a bicycle? :) (well, that'll still get you splashed...) I'm sorry I can't be of much assistance... Your description of your own car-knowledge approximates mine! :(

dr_clairebear said...

i have heard that suggestion a few times, but aside from a bike not being splash-proof, i haven't been on one since... college, i think! *lol* it would probably be suicide for me.

ness said...

duh, clairebear,

wala talaga akong maibigay na advice about cars. i'm just as clueless as you, or worse kasi i have decided that changing tires will not be one included in my repertoire of skills.

as for the bicycle, good idea and good for exercise too but like you i'm not very confident of my biking skills.

so ang masasabi ko, sige, go get that car na. mahirap maglakad especially kung gabi na or kung masama ang panahon. or masama ang tiyan. ;p

ereyserhead: said...

well if you intend on staying for just a year in there, why not lease? i presume you have those in australia much like here in the US. saves you the time and effort plus the headache of depreciating car values when that time comes when you have to leave the country for good and has to sell it.

Panaderos said...

If you're going to buy a second-hand car, buy Japanese. Aside from being fuel efficient, they are of very high quality (especially Toyota and Honda) and should tide you over for the year.

I do think you ought to get one. Aside from convenience and greater control over your own personal schedule, a car will also help you address health and safety concerns.

SRR said...

Here in the states car dealers often off "certified" used cars. You pay a bit more, but they will provide some sort of warranty. I have no idea if something like that might be available near you.


duke said...

ako wala akong alam sa kotse kaya bago yung binili ko. para di sya masira agad at kung masira man eh kasa yung mag-aayos.

pero syempre, budget permitting din. make sure na yung second hand na bibilhin mo eh maganda at recertified. and go for japanese cars. ;p

Vanessa said...

It sounds like we share the same tendencies with cars, put gas in and turn up the radio to drown out any horrid sounds!

dr_clairebear said...

hi, everyone! i'm still in a major quandary, and i'm getting so discouraged... maybe i shouldn't buy one at all.

about leasing: the major hurdle here is that i currently have a one year contract/one year visa. plus to i think you'll have to get one brand new. and to get out of it, you have to pay the excess that you hadn't paid for. BIG PROBLEM for me.

about financing: same problem as above. will any bank allow me to get financing? somehow i seriously doubt it.

cash may be my only option -ergo, much limited budget on one hand, high risk of buying lemon. or waiting till i have enough cash, wiping out my savings (what was the point of coming here again?) on a car that i would have to sell in a couple of months because i was heading home/moving elsewhere.

hay! it's a lose-lose situation!

Pinay MegaMom said...

Hey Claire! Don't despair. You may be able to find a good deal. Why don't you check bulletin boards and advertising boards at the hospital? This is how I ended up with a 2nd hand Honda Accord in the US in top condition and I only paid 1/3 of brand new price. That car served me well.

Can you go to the hospital's HR department and ask for some good leads?

I'll ask my Ozzie friends for tips on car-buying down under.

dr_clairebear said...

i'm trying to hold on to the possibility that my future car is a great bargain and treasure waiting to happen. :P i'm on an optimistic upswing.

ness said...

how about...
moving to a dwelling place that is very much closer to the hospital? para maglakad na lang. and lakwacha time would be the time to commute.
i say, don't drive, don't ride, save the planet. ;p