Friday, May 29, 2009

Expanding My Comfort Zone: Part 1

I'm a pretty conservative person and I don't mean in the political sense but in how I live my life. I don't take a lot of chances that I don't calculate out in my engineering mind to be in my favor. I suppose that can be considered a good trait to have but I don't like it and always admire those who seem to be less uninhibited when it comes to making some of the larger decisions in life. This is why when a coworker bought a truck off eBay all the way across the country a while back, I became fascinated.

I accidentally walked in on a conversation he was having with another coworker about the truck and so was let onto the story though not given many of the details. Being the cyber snoop that I am, I logged onto eBay and soon found out all the information I wanted such as how much he paid for the truck, etc. I'm not into that kind of thing but it got me to thinking about the act of buying a car over eBay. I have bought six cars in the past, two new and the rest used. When buying a used car, I generally just walk through the used car lots nearby or answer classified ads and when I see one I like, I test drive it, kick the proverbial tires and buy it. I'm not a mechanic and don't know much about the stuff so if it starts up, runs without knocks, clangs, or thuds, I assume it is okay. However, this method has the major drawback that you don't have a lot to choose from and you have to be vigilant because popular cars tend to disappear quickly. EBay on the other hand, only sells cars by timed auctions so you know when they will disappear and you have virtually millions of cars to choose between to find one that is exactly like what you want. The one drawback is that you have to buy the car sight unseen.

My coworker did this but when I found his ad, I saw several dozen high-resolution pictures so virtually every angle of the truck. I felt as if I had been there and kicked the tires. The only thing I couldn't see from the pictures was how the engine sounded. In my entire vehicle buying life, I have never started up a car for sale where the engine or transmission sounded like crap so I began to think that perhaps my coworker was onto something. When he told me how reasonable it was to pay for someone to haul the car by trailer all the way to Iowa, I really started paying attention. On the spur of the moment, I typed in the made and model of a vehicle that my wife has coveted for a long time.

My wife has wanted a CR-V for many years. I am pretty much anti SUV, even the small ones, but she will be working at a job soon that will bring in about as much money into our home as my job works. So despite my reservations, I have been looking through ads for a while in our local area but the CR-V's were few and far between and usually newer than what she wanted. She didn't like the newer ones and wanted one in the 1998 to 2001 vintage. Her current car which we bought for a song and has seen its better days, I didn't like driving anymore because it just felt unsafe. It was a Chevy and just hasn't aged as gracefully as my three year older Honda. She needed a better vehicle but used cars in the makes I had been looking in are very pricey these days and new ones are even pricier. I didn't know what to do and so many months had passed by without anything being done.

Then my coworker had bought a car over eBay and an hour after hearing him tell me about the vehicle still down in Florida, I was looking at a 2001 Honda CR-V (Special Edition none-the-less) with low miles and in mint condition sitting in Chicago somewhere and about to be sold in five hours. I emailed the link to my wife who immediately replied she loved it and told me what her max price was. I still hemmed and hawed a bit and did what a conservative engineer would do. I researched the vehicle on several sites to find out what the going blue book value was, researched buying vehicles over eBay and even called up the guy selling it asking him some questions and most importantly asking him if I could back out should I win the bid, get there, and find it wasn't as advertised. He said I most definitely could. And so after pondering it for another hour or so and with just a couple hours left on eBay, I put in a bid.

13 comments:

geri said...

Did you win yet?

Ed Abbey said...

Geri - The answer shall be revealled on Monday.

Sage said...

My daughter had a special "little lamb" that was no longer made and when the one was no-longer functional, we brought two more off ebay for a couple dollars each--way less than the store price. I don't know if I'd buy a car, but I have looked at a few boats.

The Real Mother Hen said...

Your wife has good taste. CRV is my favorite too, but lately I'm into hybrid ;) ummm should I go onto ebay now and up the bidding price just to make your life difficult? Nah, that's too evil. I hope you win anyway.

Murf said...

Interesting choice of model year. Why does she like that range? I liked CR-Vs right before they made the recent updates and took off the spare tire in the back. One of the model years even featured a picnic table in the back but I think it's a newer model than what she likes.

Murf said...

Hmmm...I don't know how eBay works for such things but I don't see an expiration time to make an offer on this vehicle like on other auction items...

Pretty car though. ;-)

Beau said...

Neat! I hope it works out well for you. Bought quite a few other things on eBay, and have looked at classic cars, but never bought one!

Ed Abbey said...

Sage - Up until a month ago, I would have never bought a car either.

Murf - She liked the boxy look with the spare tire on the back. This might spill the beans but it does have a folding picnic table in the back.

Murf - Not sure where you are looking but the auction I am referring to expired quite awhile ago but you can look at any current ones and they have a countdown clock.

Beau - This is the biggest thing I have bought...er... possibly bought. Stay tuned on Monday when I tell you about the rest of the story.

TC said...

Did you get it?!?!!?!? Oh man, waiting until Monday (or more likely later on in the week with sparse internet) might kill me!

Ron said...

I'd have a hard time buying something like that sight unseen as well. I detest shopping for cars in the just-spendy-enough-to-be-risky range.

Ron

edifice rex said...

Good luck and hope it all goes well.

Woody said...

Here's hoping you the best. I would be damn near terrified to buy sight unseen but I get all twisted anytime I buy a large ticket item.

peace

Ed Abbey said...

TC - If you die between now and the next time you read my blog, don't be hanging the guilt over me!

Ron - On your first point, I am the same way hence the title of "Expanding My Comfort Zone." On your second point, I go back and forth and have done both. The car I just sold I bought very very cheaply and it has served us well. However, for driving perhaps 500 miles per week as this vehicle will be doing for 3 years, I decided to spend a little more money.

Edifice Rex - As my latest post shows, it did go well.

Woody - I was careful to call the guy first and get him to allow me to back out if it wasn't as advertised. That comforted me... some. I'm not sure how it would stand up in court if it had come to that.