Being as my old friend, a 2001 Dodge P/U, passed away not too long ago, I now find myself in the market for a replacement. I have often found the process of searching for a new car kind of fun. Let me clarify though, that by “new car” I mean a gently used car that is new to me. I generally leave the “new” new cars to someone else. From what I’ve read, when you drive that new car off the dealer’s lot, it immediately loses 99% of its value, so....
Funny thing, with the proliferation of the internet as a marketplace, the whole process of buying a used truck has morphed into something nearly unrecognizable. Gone are the days of running a classified ad in the local newspaper. Nowadays, a seller can reach a nationwide audience without breaking a sweat. And a potential buyer can peruse hundreds of vehicles at their leisure, most with photos and videos included. Plus, they can research the price, ask questions of the owner, etc., all without leaving the comfort of a favorite La-Z-Boy.
Since the sellers have access to this great new online marketplace that has no limit to the amount of characters in the advertisement, it seems like they all have become William Faulkners or Mark Twains as they write flowery narratives to describe their vehicles. A standard classified ad back in the day might have read something like: 2014 Malibu, 4-dr, g/c, cold a/c, $8,500 obo. 936.555.5555. Right there is everything you need to know to decide whether or not to pursue the vehicle further.
Looking at some of the ads currently on Autotrader. com, a popular used car site, the descriptions get rather lengthy. Like this one: “Owner is widow... no longer able to drive... on a fixed income... needs to sell the car to reduce her monthly expense for car insurance... no longer needs the car for transportation.” After reading all that, I feel like I know this woman’s entire life story!
Or this one, which starts out with “Don’t you hate to purchase a used car and then have to spend money working on it later for repairs?” Yes I do, which is why I would pass on this vehicle post-haste.
The personal connections that people include in these rambling ads are really something: “... after my wife stopped working, we don’t need any more cars. I would keep the car but have too many vehicles...”. Quit bragging, buddy.
Here is another more somber intro: “This car was our family’s parents’ car. They passed away last year.” Looks like I missed the funeral but, if I play my cards right, I can still get the car!
Now more than ever, it is buyer beware. I’ve seen the exact same truck advertised online at multiple websites for varying amounts of money, only to find that the information is really old. That the truck actually sold way back in 2018! It just goes to show that content on the internet is a lot like herpes. It just never goes away.
Johnny McNally is Grimes County’s Best Dressed Businessman advocating for Grimes County and writes a bi-weekly column for the Navasota Examiner.