Subscribe to the ZZZPTM Hotcraze Update list!

Email Address:
Jan 09
Nov 08
Oct 08
Sep 08
Aug 08
Jul 08
Jun 08
May 08
Mar 08
Feb 08
Jan 08
Dec 07
Nov 07
Oct 07
Sep 07
Aug 07
Jul 07
Jun 07
Apr 07
Mar 07
Feb 07
Jan 07
Dec 06
Nov 06
Oct 06
Sep 06
Aug 06
Jul 06
Jun 06
May 06
Apr 06
Mar 06
Jan 06
Dec 05
Oct 05
Sep 05
Aug 05
Jul 05
May 05
Apr 05
Mar 05
Feb 05
Dec 04
Nov 04
Sep 04
Aug 04
Jul 04
Jun 04
Jan 04
Dec 03
Nov 03
Oct 03
18 Jul 2006
Private Seller

Found the right car at the right price. It has four wheels and runs, so it's the right car. It was damaged, but also substantially below blue book value, so we can afford to fix it up. All's well that ends well, eh? Now I have to write because I want to meet a deadline, so adieu for now...

... although I should mention Malia did all her beach party homework from vacation. I don't know who assigned it, but she finished it. She told us.
by Dean Webb

03 Jul 2006
Police Auction

A few tips for the people who choose to buy cars at local police auctions...

1. Arrive early. Yvette and I got there around 8:15, well in advance of the 9:30 time to go view the cars. We got registered, filed our paperwork, and looked over the lot assignments to find where the cars we were interested in were located.

2. Do your homework. We knew which cars to look for because we'd pulled the VIN numbers from the Dallas Police Department website and looked up their Blue Book values and CarFax reports. We'd eliminated all cars with bad records from our consideration.

3. Set your expectations LOW. How low? LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWW...

There were reasons these cars were up for auction and hadn't been sprung from the pound by their owners. While quite a few had good reports from the last time they'd gone into maintenance, every one of them had some form of damage. Most were wrecks. Entire front ends mangled beyond description... major fender damage... burnt-out hulks... The ones that weren't in too bad shape had dealers swarming all over them, taking careful note of everything wrong with them. I listened in on one guy as he evaluated a 2000 Infiniti with missing grill, bumper, and headlight covers on the front of the car, but in what seemed to be otherwise good shape. I didn't think we were going to get that car, not at a bargain basement price.

Then there were the cars with busted windows. Some looked like they had damage caused by firearms. One looked like it had damage caused by an artillery round. One looked like someone had flown through the windshield into the car. That was bad luck, just seeing something like that.

There were burned-out hulks for sale. There was half of a half-ton pickup... I guess it's now a quarter-ton -kup. There were some cars that had been towed that looked like people had been living in them... very messy and stain-causing people with an affinity for after-market electronic devices.

We can't give anyone advice on how the bidding went or how to find a good tow service to get the car out of the lot because during the half-hour allotted to view the cars, we determined there weren't any there we'd want Raina to drive because there weren't any there that looked like they could be driven without some substantial body and/or engine work.

If you like to work on cars on your own and do your own body work, go for it at the police impound auctions. If you own your own body shop, go for it. Otherwise, the leftovers from highway accidents and other nightmares may not quite be for you.

We know they sure weren't for us.

We're going to hit the classified ads, now.

by Dean Webb

02 Jul 2006
Shopping For Ripoffs

We were looking for a car for Raina and got an ad in the mail for a huge clearance extravaganza at a local dealer who shall remain nameless. Not that I want to avoid prosecution for libel but because, based on anecdotal evidence, they're all the same. The ad promised $99 cars and others for zero down, $79 per month. The ad had a $3000 coupon towards the purchase of a car. Amazing stuff, right? Yvette and I decided to spend a fun afternoon together.

So we pull into the dealership. We walk on in and chat with the salesman. The salesman was a woman, but I'm not going to be obviously gender-specific by saying she was a salesperson. We asked to see the $99 car. She said we didn't want to do that. So we didn't see it.

Upon reflection, I think I would have wanted to see that car. I mean, how awful must it have been for a dealership to offer it up for only $99? Heck, I'd pay a buck to see the $99 car and ooh and aah over how messed up it was. Anyway, the small print in the ad said it was a 1993 Saturn with a lot number 16709568A. With that $3000 coupon, sure, we could get a '93 Saturn for $99.

She takes us out into the lot. There, right up at the front, is a 1993 Saturn. The lot number? 16709586A. Wow. What were the odds they'd have TWO '93 Saturns with nearly identical lot numbers? As we hold the ad, checking the numbers, the salesman asks if she can show the ad to her manager. Why not? It's not like it's our only bit of information for us to use in calling them on any scam they may be trying to run. It's just the only piece we brought with us that day.

But that's cool. We get a test drive, right? We're still interested in the little old car from '93, so we get the key and go for a spin.

I suggest we drive home, pull up a CarFax on the VIN and check to see what other people sell their '93 Saturns for. So we test drive it home, pull up the info, and test drive it back to the dealer.

The CarFax noted the vehicle hadn't been involved in any wrecks. It also had the same number on the odometer as we had. In fact, the odometer didn't budge a millimeter as we drove it. That would make computing miles per gallon difficult. It had a slight pull to the right and damage to the interior surfaces, but, hey, for a '93, a lot more could be wrong with it. Other people were selling theirs for $1500-$2000, so we decided to open our bidding at $995-$1195 and come up from there.

We get back, walk back into the dealer, CarFax printout in hand, and show how the odometer didn't budge. We mention others were selling their '93 Saturns for around $1500, but with the damages, we'd think $995 would be more appropriate. She gets the "Clearance Manager" to come talk to us.

In our research, we also found the image of the vehicle on the dealer's website and had printed it off to see if there were any obvious defects on the exterior. It also had a sticker in the window for $2980. That was too high, we weren't going to pay that. We weren't going to go over $1500 for that car, in fact, but we hadn't told them that in so many words. Anyway, hotshot takes the picture and explains how that's a price on the vehicle for the pre-clearance sale and it wasn't a real price and it shouldn't have been there and we're sorry it misled you.

So I was misled by a used car dealership? Shocking.

He then goes on to say that the bank owns that car for $9760. "I know you'll find this hard to believe, but, yeah, that's the price." Yvette and I did our best not to laugh out loud, but it was clear we were dealing with a lying snake. We weren't going to buy a car that day, obviously, so everything else was for entertainment and education only. "Now, we can come down from that with the coupon to $6760. If you can't pay that in cash, we can finance it for you today."


Ha, I say.

I said there that was way over. I had no idea how the bank had that much money on it, but, yeah, that's a sad story, buddy, and I'm sorry you're stuck with a $1000 car with a $10,000 sticker on it. Life is hard. We can't go over $1500 for the car we're looking for and that one ain't even worth that. It's in need of repairs and $995 is a fair price on it.

"What if we can get it down to the price in the window?"

"That's still too much. We'll just try the police auction on Monday."

The "Clearance Manager" and the salesman both went and talked with other managers and when we said to one what the other told us, we got informed the chain of authority around there was rather entangled. Reminded me of reading in Chester Karrass' book, Give and Take about how having limited authority can be a great negotiating tool. By the way, you should definitely read that book. It's amazing. I own two copies of it, one for home and one for where I teach at school. We're firm on our $995-$1495 window.

Salesman then says she's got a car slightly out of our range and asks if we'd consider it. Suuuuuuuuuuuure. It's a crapped-out Nissan Quest with completely custom-stained interiors, a hood that doesn't quite open or shut, and doesn't even start when we turn the key. The paint job screamed "Danger, Will Robinson!" and we decided not to take it for a spin.

Would we consider spending a little bit more to get a better car? No. We would consider going to the police auction to get a better car.

After we got home with our prize for coming in that day, a $5 gift card at Wal-Mart, we found, where we could look up the Blue Book values on any car for free. Blue Book on a '93 Saturn? In near-perfect condition, $2000.

We checked out the values on the cars at the police auction so we wouldn't overbid on anything. We'll see how that goes tomorrow.

by Dean Webb

Posted at:10 Jan 2009 06:21:48 PM

No Words portraits and romantic illustrations.

What's there to say?

I got words and pictures.

I got a message board.

Like I said, what's there to say?