I bought a $1500 Car in the USA.

Buying a car is the dream for all young adults. The standard procedure for obtaining one’s driver license and getting on the road!! We got excited about getting a car and hitting the road the moment we acquired our license.

Well, for sure, I did not enjoy the experience of buying my first car. I had absolutely idea how to choose my first car!

Renting a Car in America

Let’s rewind a little. Today is the 26th of August 2017 and just one year ago from this very date; I came to America for the very first time. I was 20 at that time. My birthday was on the 6th of September. I was in Dallas at that time, and I wanted to rent a car to drive from Dallas, Texas to Florida (Where my next event will be taking place at).

I asked my sister to rent a car online, and she got one for me under Enterprise. We packed our luggage and went to Enterprise in downtown Dallas.

When I arrived there and showed them my booking, everything went very well.

Then This Happened…

When they asked me to flash my driver’s license to key in the details into their system, they said: “I am sorry, but we are not able to rent a car to you. You are not of legal age. You are only 20. You need to be 21.”

I argued and said, “Well, it is just a few more days before I hit 21. I do need the car, and we have lots of stuff to carry.”

The salesman just replied back: “I’m sorry, I can’t help.”

After that, I googled and searched for other car rental shops around my vicinity. I even had to use the Enterprise wifi to do it as I didn’t have a US phone number at that point in time. I called an Uber to send us there and guess what! We waited in line for so long, and the salesman told me they couldn’t rent any car to me as well. He also said: “No car rental company would rent any car to you. You are not of legal age to rent cars.”

That Uber ride cost me USD 5 and the most frustrating thing was that Hertz, the next car rental store that we went to was just a few blocks away, but we had too many things in hand and no internet line)

My Frustration at that Time

I was so anxious. I was frantically trying to get hold of my Mom in Singapore with my direct Singapore Line. (I bet the call was extremely expensive, but I had no other options.) In the end, she did not pick up the phone at all as it was already past midnight in Singapore.

I did not know who to look for. We had so many things to carry (because my poor luggage got lost in the AIRPORT) and there was no car. I had to buy some new clothes, and they were all in plastic bags. We had no hotels to go to as we did not expect this to happen.

I felt desperate. It was that moment that I felt so unprepared and stupid in America. A few moments later, I met a guy. He was just by the road, and he saw me looking frustrated and thought I might need some help.

The Nice Guy who Helped me out

Let me tell you. This changed everything. He helped me. I asked him where I could get a phone card and he said I could get it at Walmart. And he willingly offered us a ride to Walmart as well. I had never known about Walmart or any convenience stores in America. I feel so grateful that I met this guy who helped us during our desperate time. Till today, I still remember his name very distinctly: Adidas. Yeah, I felt funny that his name was a brand name, but it was indeed one of the most appreciative moments of my life.

We got a phone card, booked a hotel with the Walmart Wifi and stayed in Dallas for a few days before flying to Orlando and arranging our accommodations there.

Buying my 1st Car in America

When we arrived in Orlando, everything was going well, and it wasn’t as bad as the time in Dallas, Texas. My mom suggested that I should buy a car in America instead of Ubering around. Uber(s) in America costs a lot. I had to pay USD 5 for a trip that was less than 2-3 miles. It was so inconvenient as well.

I searched the web and called the shop to ask if the car was available. At this point, all I wanted was a car that could last me for two months at least. I planned to sell the car after using it for two months.

So I got the most straightforward and cheapest car at USD 1500. I was 20 at this point, and I had no idea how to buy or choose a vehicle. I was not a car fanatic. I had just obtained my driver’s license a few months back.

Obtaining insurance and all the legal details were a complete blur to me. I knew nothing about it. I had to consult my Mom who was an expert in this to help me. Sadly, she was not able to see the car to tell me exactly if it was good or bad.

The standards here in America are completely different as well. I bought a Chrysler car which had 150,000 Miles on it. My mom said that it could run longer (well, it can work in Singapore but not in America). (HAHA, I learned about this later.)

The car dealer told me that this Car would be able to last me two months or even two years. Well, I was stupid enough to have believed him.

The Problematic Car

This car had so many problems. Once, my brother and I had a little meet up in downtown Orlando. It was about an hour’s drive away from where we were staying. The trip there was smooth, and the problems started to happen when we wanted to head back. I tried to start the car’s engine, and it didn’t work. Holy. We did not have any freaking idea why it was happening. We rang our Mom up, and she told us that the Battery died and we needed someone to help us jumpstart the car.

Me and My brother trying to be Positive after our car broke down:

These terms were entirely new for me, and all that we could do was to seek help from the people around us. Luckily, we found someone that helped us solve this car problem. He told us that the battery was not the problem. It was the engine ignition that was the problem. He advised that we send it in for a service to replace the ignition.

Hence, we went to Ford. In the end, they told us that the car was perfectly fine and there was not any problem with it.

Yeah, it was terrible. The second unfortunate incident that happened to us was a flat tire in Tampa. Tampa was so far away from where we stayed. It was an hour and a half drive, and the tire died on us. Oh god, it was horrendous. We had to replace it with a spare tire which we, fortunately, had in the car. We googled and searched on how we can replace the tire itself. No one helped us. Everyone was merely just looking on.

The Most Feared Incident Happened…

Well, the third incident was the worst. We had an event in Florida, and it was a 3.5 to 4 hours drive from the place that we were staying at. The event which we were going to attend was in Fort Myers, Sanibel. The car ride to Sanibel was smooth. Everything went well.

We arrived at the Sanibel Harbour Marriot Resort, parked there and in the evening decided to head to town (About an hour drive) for dinner. On our way there, the car suddenly had a weird smell coming out of it. The accelerator was not working as well. I could not drive faster than 50km/h, and I was hogging the entire road.

The smell was like a burnt smell, and we had no idea what was happening. The next moment, a weird and loud sound was coming out from the car’s engine. It was a continuous and monotonous sound. The sound kept getting louder and louder. We had no idea what was happening and was scared. The engine smells got bigger and bigger. It felt like the car was going to get burnt or something similar to that. It was that bad.

We went to the auto repair store, and he said he would help me check it out and call me the next day.

The Quotation from the Auto Repair Store

The next day, I got a call from the repair shop, and they wanted to charge me USD 6000 to change the entire engine. The prices were insane. I rang a friend whom I met and became acquainted with in Dallas, Texas to ask him about this repair store. He told me that these repair stores tend to hike up the prices. It would be better if I went for a second quote instead.

In the end, I did not repair the car. It had too many problems. I donated the car away. I could not sell it as nobody wanted a spoilt engine car. I had no title with me. It was that bad. We donated it away, got some freebies (Which I didn’t utilize much as well) and bought a new and much better car.

Finding our New Car

We had a phobia of cheap cars that we searched everywhere for a good car. We searched all around Sanibel, Fort Myers. We went to every shop that we saw and asked for their prices and tested the engine.

We took the entire afternoon till the evening and chanced upon our last store: Seven Mile Motor. I vividly remember the name of this store as the salesman was so good at it. He was friendly. I test drove about 3-5 different cars (I can’t remember precisely). I told him I needed a car for long distance drives, but he let me decide which car I wanted first before suggesting anything to me.

At the very start, I chose the box-shaped car, but he advised that if I wanted to travel a long distance, the convertible would be a much better choice.

The car cost about USD 6000. He gave me an extra discount on top of it as well, and it had only about 54,000 Miles at the time I bought it. It was a good car indeed and one of the best customer service I have encountered. Extremely patient and professional.

I love this Car till Today!!

Up till today, this car is so good. It has brought me and my sister (Diana) around to many places in Florida. Till today, it has brought me from Orlando, Florida to South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Washington, New York City, Ohio till Colorado and Utah! I still love the engine. Although the Side window is spoilt, we figured it out and fixed it! It is still running very well!

This is my experience of buying a car in America. Good and bad. Haha. It was a good learning experience for me.

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Bunny Hop Travels: Charmaine Leow 

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By |2018-10-30T09:25:35+00:00May 9th, 2018|Uncategorized|Comments Off on I bought a $1500 Car in the USA.

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