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Car Shopping

February 21, 2010

Earlier this week, my beloved boyfriend flipped my beloved car and while the boy is okay, the car is not. The physics of the crash on their own are quite fascinating (he managed to flip an excessively lowered honda civic equipped with sway bars, a feat in itself, and did this by lifting the front of the car, engine and all, up and over the back wheels, landing it on its roof without scratching the sides of the car at all) but what I’ve been finding this week is yet another amazing application for the internet, which I have never really had to use before – shopping. This is not your mother’s internet shopping either. I’ve been doing some intense information gathering on a ton of cars I’m looking into purchasing (well… making the boyfriend purchase). It really is amazing – the amount of information out there for anyone with the ability to type the word “google” into their browser.

I remember when I went shopping for my Civic – back when I was 17, recovering from the destruction of my first car (I pretty much blew it up) and in search of the ideal car (to a 17 year old, of course). I was pouring over auto trader magazines and classified adds, hoping to find something cool. I had my poor parents driving all over western Washington and parts of Oregon for the better part of three weeks, going out on test drives, getting a feel for what was out there, and getting some sort of idea of what a “good” car was. Ultimately, I decided on the purple civic with a super loud muffler and a bunch of modifications to the engine that I didn’t know anything about (at the time). In subsequent years, and with many a google search and a tuning forum, I discovered words like “sway bars” “cold air intake” “DOHC V-Tec” “Turbocharger” and, my personal favorite “Customization”, as well as what these things meant and how they worked in my car. I learned about what my car was capable of, what else could be done to it, and how to accomplish these projects. I was hooked, and I’ve loved fast cars ever since.

I never imagined giving up my Civic – I had some idealistic dream of handing it off to my kids one day, all tuned-to-shit and awesome. But, the time has come to replace it (Everyone keeps telling me my idea of chopping the portion of the roof that is compromised and turning it into a convertible is a bad idea) and I’m finding the Internet to be a better resource than I ever imagined. Beyond finding the best deal, which is very helpful, and finding maps on how to get to where that best deal is (even more helpful – I can’t even tell north from south out here for some reason) I’m able to take my somewhat limited knowledge of what to look for in a car and run with it. I’m checking up horsepower ratings, safety ratings (mostly for the boyfriend) consumer ratings, all that stuff. I’m getting into forums for custom tuning jobs and finding out which cars can be enhanced more easily than others, and how much the parts for such enhancements cost. All in all, I’m feeling like I have a pretty good idea about what I’m doing, what I want, and what I should get (pretty much settled on a Mini Cooper S, for those interested). And as an extra bonus, I know enough about the cars I’m checking out that when some pompous, sexist car salesman tries to tell me there’s a turbocharged engine in a car that looks completely stock, I can call him on it, and get a better deal.

So that’s been my week – shopping for cars and haggling. All thanks to the internet.

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