Shopping for a Car: At least there’s the internet now

Yesterday we bought a car.

When I learned the old gray Toyota, which we’ve driven for the past four years, had a couple more confirmed issues I knew it was time. At 258,000 miles the car wasn’t worth putting another $2,000 into, even though it still runs well.

I loathe the process of shopping for and buying a car, although admittedly the internet has made the process much less painful. Yesterday’s adventure, ahem, still became a four-and-a-half hour ordeal. The car we wanted to test drive was at one of the dealer’s Lincoln locations so it had to be transferred. Just before they drove it to Grand Island, however, someone in Lincoln wanted to buy it. The local salesman and his manager fought for us (and their own commission) and in the end the car made it to our town, albeit two hours late.

Here's hoping the new car lasts us 10 years.

Regular readers will know, moreover, I loathe the fact that I have to own a car at all. I would rather walk or bike to work, and to the grocer and post office and church. I would rather spend the money that goes towards a car on a table saw, donation to charity, new kiln or trip to China than petrol, insurance, tires and then after it all, another car. I won’t go into more depth here since I’ve talked at length in the past about New Urbanism, community planning.

What was most interesting throughout this two week auto purchase process was that three people in the car business told me they also disliked the fact that they had to own a car, had to pay for an automobile. Two people at the dealership said this, as did the manager at the shop that changed the oil in the old car. I don’t know how sincere they were; the salesmen may have simply been commiserating with a potential customer. The oil change manager was easy to believe though.

James Kunstler’s book The Geography of Nowhere pointed out (if I recall correctly, it’s been 10 years since I read the book) how visitors to places like Disney World often can’t articulate one of the reasons they are so happy to be there: There aren’t any cars around. You walk around the park, take the ferry or monorail to your hotel. What will it take for us to realize how ingrained the automobile is in our culture? In our community design, our architecture, our economy, etc.?

The car we bought yesterday is a 2003 Toyota Corolla. It’s in fabulous condition and was a great buy. It should get twice the gas mileage of our old car — and it has a radio, and a working door handle.

I plan on it lasting 10 years. Or more.

I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

About pcNielsen
Paul Nielsen founded The Aesthetic Elevator late in 2005. He owns a piece of paper, located somewhere in his house (not on the wall), stating that he earned a B.F.A. from the University of Nebraska around about 2001. While there, he studied studied architecture, graphic design and ceramics, graduating with a degree in studio art. Paul presently serves as communications manager for a small non-profit doing their print design and marketing. He spends as much time sculpting in his studio as possible — which is not nearly enough. Visit his website at

4 Responses to Shopping for a Car: At least there’s the internet now

  1. Thomas says:

    I dislike buying cars and I work for a automotive group. The last two cars I bought have been a cluster. The first time they would not process the paper work until all the other car buyers paperwork was done because I was a employee. The last time the salesman refused to show me the car I was interested in. He thought I would like a different car instead. It was only when the owner of the automotive group stopped by, mentioned me by name and asked if I was buying a car, did the salesman become more attentive to my request. He still lost the sale. I bought a different car through a different salesman.

    I love my car. I just hate the car payments

    • pcNielsen says:

      Payments aren’t any fun, no. We did finance this car (we’re behind, so to speak, in the finance department after only having part time work the past six months), but hope to pay it off in 12-16 months.

      Sounds like a less than brilliant salesman you had there. And that’s all I have to say about that.

  2. sojournwanderer says:

    Congratulations, and I hope yours lasts ten years. (And I hope mine lasts ten years!)

    I love the silence out here. A car’s passing is an event. Moreso on Wednesday, our snow day. Before the 3:30ish plowing, a pickup truck went by, a pickup truck went out and back, and a tractor went out and back. That’s it.

    In the city I resented driving more. Now I drive every day, and with the cold it’s become a ritual: start the car, finish gathering everything together, go out, drive. But it’s also become a welcome solitude, an in-between space of being.

    • pcNielsen says:

      Driving in the country is, for sure, a very different experience. When I commuted ~30 miles for a couple college classes I learned some of that welcome solitude.

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