The boys and I started this week over 600km from Barham in the New South Wales Central West city of Orange. I was handing over a bank cheque to a stranger and taking delivery of our new (2nd hand) car.
After twelve years and 358,000km, I had finally decided to retire the “Trusty Nissan”, a 1997 Nissan Patrol I’d bought in May 2001. Our new “Barrmobile” is a 2011 Mitsubishi Pajero, under factory warranty and still permeated with the new car smell.
Buying a car is a multitude of big decisions, not the least of them financial. I found the process quite nerve-racking and worried a lot about being taken for a ride (no pun intended) by paying too much or buying a “lemon”. At the risk of setting the women’s movement back several decades, at the start I just wished I’d had a boyfriend/husband/partner who waltzed through the door (oozing sex appeal) and said, “Don’t you worry dear, I’ll take care of this.” Luckily for me, I did have Farmer Bill, my older brother Tom and a number of mechanically minded male and female friends willing to help me in my quest.
Armed with my address book and phone along with my laptop and Google, I began some in-depth and intense research into the mechanical world of cars. The first thing I did was telephone people I knew who owned the type of vehicle I was interested in (a seven-seater 4WD wagon) to ask them their personal opinions and experiences with their own vehicles.
With my choice of manufacturer down to three (Nissan, Toyota and Mitsubishi), I then read reviews, compared specifications on each model and worked out which one fitted my budget. The Internet makes this quite easy and www.carsales.com.au became my new favourite site with the Mitsubishi Pajero coming out on top for what I wanted.
I found two in Victoria and Tom found one near Orange, New South Wales that fitted the description I was after. Tom’s pick won as it had fewer kilometres on the clock and was still under factory warranty. My whole car-buying experience became a family affair with my sister Rachel (who lives in Orange), offering to do the inspection and test drive for me.
Following the inspection, Rachel phoned back and gave the Pajero the thumbs up. I was now into the home straight and the nitty gritty of negotiating with the seller.
In stepped the next person in my “Help Annie Buy A Car” Team, my friend Sal (a car-buying guru) who advised me to study www.redbook.com.au to get a comprehensive knowledge of used-vehicle valuations and then coached me on what questions to ask the seller and advice on negotiating a good price. Under Sal’s strict and careful guidance (and a couple of stiff drinks), I reached an agreement with the seller on a price that was within my budget.
So there we were late on Monday morning, leaving Orange and heading home in our new Barrmobile… the first time I’d ever even driven a Pajero (minor detail). Although I enjoyed the long drive back to Barham, I didn’t completely relax until after work the next day, when Brum put it over the hoist and gave it the all clear (I know, I know… one should always have a mechanic check out a vehicle before you agree to buy it… not after you’ve handed over the money).
Hopefully like the Trusty Nissan before it, the Barrmobile will take us on many excellent adventures and I won’t have to worry about buying another vehicle for a decade or so.