On monday, after much research and travelling around the "greater San Jose region", we went to buy our first car.
We first looked at it on Sunday. Shortly after inspecting a very cheap Corolla (and discovering a great many reasons why it was so cheap), I got a call from a seller I'd emailed on Craigslist, asking if I was free to look at a car in a couple of hours time. Here's the ad we were responding to: http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sby/car/299635354.html
For those who are interested, this is what we were looking for:
- Automatic (neither of us can drive manual yet)
- Slightly larger, four-door car (for road trips)
- No glaring mechanical problems (because we don't know how to fix them)
- Japanese (to avoid future glaring mechanical problems)
- Working Air Conditioning (because it's California and summer is coming)
- Decent fuel economy.
In what later turned out to be a mistake, we agreed to meet up at a mall near the sellers house. We spent 45 thouroughly confused minutes trying to find him before realising that despite his insistance that he was "almost there", he had actually had to call a friend to jump-start the car. It hadn't been driven for four months.
Luckily it was worth the wait. Every major problem (the battery was dead, one of the seats wasn't bolted in correctly, the rear speakers hadn't been screwed in) was immediately accepted by the seller and he promised to fix them all. He even pointed out that the rubber on the engine mounts had worn thin (something we never would have noticed) and offered to pay for replacements. By the time we went to pick it up on Monday, he had fixed all the problems except the battery, which he and his dad went to replace while his mum gave us tea and biscuits. You can't ask for much more than that.
The only drama of the day was when we excitedly drove our new purchase onto the freeway home, and then realised that the fuel guage was on empty and we were 2 miles from the next exit. Needless to say, we were very happy that "Empty" doesn't actually mean "Empty".
Here's a few snaps of the car, now safely back at our apartment complex. And yes, we are going to take the stripes off (they are cop magnets, and the idea of racing strips on a Galant is somewhat amusing).
There are still a few problems that need to be sorted out. The suspension needs to be changed back to the original set (the current set makes for a bumpy ride, even on the freeway), the drivers-side window doesn't roll quite all the way up, and replacing the engine mounts should make it alot quieter. But overall we're very pleased with our first auto purchase... now we just have to figure out the security system. More on that later.