I moved to Southern California a few of years back for work, until then I did not need a car. There was ample public transportation available in the city where I lived before. And now I came here and suddenly my life came to a standstill. It was as though I was put in chains. I couldn’t go out anywhere on my own. The bus service was pathetic in the city that I used to live. I carpooled with a few colleagues and it was awful being at the mercy of others to get to work and back home.
Although I walked as much as possible but still the idea of being dependent on others for getting the basic things was killing me. Finally I saved up some money and decided to buy a car. I am not a big car freak, so any small car would do. I did not have any big requirements. I asked my friend to help me look for a good used car. We shortlisted a couple of cars and went to see one of those on a Sunday. My friend took a test ride and felt satisfied, I liked it too although I dint test drive it.
Next day my friend suggested me to make an offer for the car. I was a little apprehensive because I did not want to buy the very first car that I saw. But everyone I knew suggested that it was a good car and reasonable price too. So I decided to take it to a technician to get it checked if there are any interior defects. Everything came out clean and there was no reason for me to not buy the car. It fit well in my budget too.
So by Tuesday I bought the car. I made the whole payment by check and the dealer gave me all the paperwork. But there was a catch. He did not show us the title and he said he would take care of the car registration too. He told it would take 3 months for the registration to be done. I did not suspect anything until after 2 months when I called the dealer, he started ignoring my calls or giving some lame excuses. After about 4 months I got a call from a finance company who told me that they had financed the dealer for a number of cars and that the dealer has gone out of business so he couldn’t pay them the money, hence they still have the title of car with them and they can’t give it to me until they get the money from the dealer.
I was shocked and literally in tears. I did not know what to do. The good news was, those guys in the finance company were very kind and helpful. They said that they have filed a complaint in the dmv against the dealer and also applied to the bond company of the dealer to pay for the car. They just wanted some documents from me to prove to the bond company that he sold the car without telling me the truth and in fact they promised me to give me the title back once the bond company pays to them. I had no choice but to trust them.
It took another 4-5 months (most of which was spent by going to the dmv, PD, finance company, detective agency, bond company etc) for the bond company to pay the money which the dealer took from me and I paid that to the finance company to finally get hold of the title after about 9 months. The only good part of this whole episode was that my car was good. It dint give me any trouble and even now after 4yrs it is still running good.
Although the pleasure of my first car came with a bit of painful experience but I did learn a few lessons from this episode and also some benefits.
1. Always look at the title before you buy the car.
2. Do a background check on the dealer (The dmv will have this information)
3. I learnt how the finance company and bond company works
4. I developed a few contacts in the DMV which was useful for me later too. I now don’t have to stand on long queues to get things done in DMV.
5. I had my first experience going to the Police Department (Trust me it’s no big deal)
6. This is the best one – I became the “Go-To” person among my friends and colleagues who would come to me for my opinion and advice when they need to buy a car or have any trouble with the dealer or dmv.