I bought a car on my way to work today. Private party. I don't have the car yet, but I've got the seller's signature, and he has my down payment.
Back in November, my daughter was driving to her Bible study group, when a box truck changed lanes, cutting off the car in front of my daughter. That car slammed the brakes, my daughter slammed her brakes, but she didnt' have enough room to stop in time. She thunked the car in front of her, causing no damage to the other car, but buckling the hood of our minivan and pushing parts of the front around just enough to look wrong.
The insurance company totalled the minivan and, with the lethargy of bureaucracy, finally got me an estimate of what they'll pay me for it last week. It's about time, because the hood is latched shut, and I'm not about to unlatch it for an oil change, or I might never get it to stay shut again. So the minivan's been a burned-up engine in the making.
With an estimate of what the insurance company will pay (low, but Craig's List shows that they're within a few hundred dollars of what it would cost to replace it--bummer), I started looking for another car. Craig's List turned up a Honda Passport that looked like it was in good condition and that was at least $1000 under Blue Book, because they need to sell it fast. So I called last night and made an appointment to see the car this morning at 8:00. Then I ran a CarFax report on it, and it came up clean.
CarFax told me that, I'm sure out of the goodness of their hearts, they could send someone to inspect the car for me for a mere penny under $100. I looked at what their inspection consisted of: mostly looking at the engine and checking for leaks, and then driving and listening to the brakes and stuff. Heck, I've heard enough bad noises on cars (exhaust leaks, brakes that shriek or groan or scrape or shudder, whining belts) and seen and smelled enough leaks--especially that cooked-celery-gone-bad smell of coolant leaks--that I figured I could listen and smell and look for drippy spots for free. So that's what I did.
We met at a Lowe's parking lot that had a substantial hill behind it, so I drove it up the hill, and it didn't complain. Then I drove back down the hill and listened and felt the brakes. It drives beautifully. No shrieks. No drips. No bad smells. It's going to be mine, and I'll let my daughter drive it.
The seller will get it smogged and take care of his end of the paperwork, and later this week, I'll bring my daughter and my checkbook, and we'll get the car. And at some point, the insurance company will come and take away the minivan.
I don't usually accomplish things of this magnitude before 9:00am. It feels good.