Tuesday, June 02, 2009

New vehicle shopping

Seeing as how there's some interest in the cost of things, I present to you a minor follow-up. I brought the truck into the garage last week. She was being sluggish going up hills and I was worried something catastrophically bad was about to happen. Plus, she needed an oil change.

As it turns out, all she needed was some new spark plugs. And an oil change. Now, I don't know how much that pretty routine maintenance costs down south, but here in Iqaluit that's just over $500, thank you very much.

This has nicely accelerated an idea that Cathy mentioned a couple of weeks ago...we need a new vehicle. There's nothing really wrong with the current one. I'm just tired of going to the garage and they know my name. And spending at least $2,000 a year on just routine repairs and maintenance to make sure the truck is running all right. A new vehicle, assuming it isn't a lemon, gives us a few years grace on that front.

And finally, we haven't had a new vehicle in years. Cathy bought her last new car in 2000, the Hyundai Accent we got rid of last year (and which currently lies dead in front of some guy's house on Green Row) and I had a lease on a Cavalier. We're two adults both doing well for ourselves, so I'm trying to convince myself it's not an extravagance. It feels weird thinking about a new vehicle when we're going to Australia shortly, but contemplating it we are. The funds have already been budgeted and allocated for the trip and we do have enough money for a new vehicle.

The two we're looking at are a Honda CR-V and a Toyota RAV4. They have the highest ratings and, best of all, neither company is likely to go bankrupt like GM (Dad has been trying to convince me that GM going bankrupt would have no impact on buying a vehicle. He's not having much luck. If you can't run your company, I'm not having much faith in the quality of your vehicles right now.) And it needs to be a four-wheel drive given the state of roads up here. The problem is, how to buy a truck when you're thousands of kilometres from the nearest dealer, negotiate a fair price, arrange financing, get the features you need (block heater, battery blanket, remote starter, winter tires) and then get it shipped to Iqaluit without ever walking into the dealership.

Given my inexperience with buying new vehicles, this would be stressful at the best of times. Trying to do it from afar adds to things. I think we're actually contemplating flying one of our fathers to Montreal or Ottawa, getting him to buy it and put it on the sealift and then flying home. Or even buying it in St. John's, driving it to Montreal and shipping it from there.

We'll see. All of this depends on many factors and I strongly suspect it won't come together for this year. But, you know, if anybody out there has advice on how to go about doing these things from up here and not get gouged to within an inch of your life, I'd be curious to hear about it.

Last Five
1. Military wives - The Decemberists
2. Up on that cloud - Blue Rodeo
3. The infinite pet - Spoon
4. Mockingbird - Ryan Adams*
5. Silver road - Sarah Harmer and the Tragically Hip


K-9 Kompanion said...

Living in Labrador presents somewhat similar challenges. I spent a weekend in St. John's test driving what I wanted, decided on the RAV4, did all the paper work, etc., and pickup my new baby in Halifax and drove it back. Although you don't have that choice (driving back), you might contemplate spending an extra day somewhere on your way to (or from) Australia. By the way, I absolutely LOVE my RAV4!!! Can't say enough about it. Reliable, excellent starting in cold weather (especially with Command Start!), excellent handling in snow (no wipe outs coming around corners), etc. I had a Toyota before that I also bought new and had for 17 years with little to no major maintenance.

Clare said...

Probably your best bet is to take to do your research first and decide which one you want. Then take a day when you head south and go to a dealer and negotiate your price. If you can do that in Montreal then you can drive it to Valleyfield and deliver it yourself to the port. If not there are companies that will do that for you. Six years ago I believe it cost $1400 to have my vehicle shipped from Manitoba to the port at Valleyfield. If you know you're going to bring one up this sealift you can book the space on the boat now, sign the papers and eliminate that hassle before you go down.

And are you not due for a new header on the blog? What are Ivey Vic and Rosemarius going to be doing this month?

towniebastard said...

We do have a day in Ottawa on our way back. Granted, buying a vehicle when jetlagged out of my mind is hardly ideal, but it is an option. Although trying to buy a new car in something under 10 hours is a bit nerve-wracking. Plus, I hate getting taken to the cleaners when buying something this expensive, and I fear that's exactly what would happen.

And I've been meaning to get the new header up. I'll try and put it up this evening.

Kennie said...

I feel your "pain" Townie. I just successfully (and with the help of my Dad - as he was much better at the haggling than I was) bought a brand new Ford Ranger from the dealer in Whitehorse, without ever looking at it or test driving it (mind you, my dad has owned several Rangers over the years and I've driven them all except the first). I just can't wait to get to Whitehorse now and pick up my new toy on Aug 18!!

I have to put my vote in for the CR-V. My parents owned one for a while and it was just such a smooth ride (at least compared to my ass-dragging Neon). But, the RAV4 is a nice vehicle too. I guess it's gonna boil down to a) how much room you will need as the RAV is much smaller than the CR-V and b) cost.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

If you aren't set on "brand new," our 2007 Toyota FJ Cruiser is for sale. It's on nunavutonline.com. We bought it new last year, it's been a great vehicle up here for the last 7 months. We're moving though, and can't really take it with us.

MK in Iqaluit

tanker belle said...

Love the walrus shot. Boozie bonfire.

Karin said...

Craig I researched both of those models very extensively but in the end went with a Subaru. ;-)

Anonymous said...

You should look into a Suzuki SX4. I got one and am totally in love with it. Plus my husband worked for the Suzuki dealership in Halifax and they once shipped a car to St. Pierre!

Anonymous said...

I had the ability to do my own test drive, but would have let my dad do it if I hadn't been able to get it in. I bought the car through a dealership known to me in Nova Scotia, and they found my car at a dealership in Ontario. The dealership there gave me the number of the company that moves their trucks between dealers and they took my car to Valleyfield.

If you are bringing up a vehicle, book the space soon. It is getting tight.

The Perfect Storm said...

I've bought four vehicles in my time and only ever sat in front of a saleman once, the first time.

After that I've done it all by phone, having them bidding against one another for the sale. Drop all thoughts of you "getting the best deal" and put it to them to come through with their best price.

It's worked the last three times I bought cars (a Camry, a Corrolla, and a Highlander - yes I am a Toyota fan).

The idea is, don't call and ask for a salesman. Ask for a sales manager, or, pick out of town dealerships and ask for the owner (he's "the" sales manager in the end anyways).

Tell them exactly the model, features, colour, extras, everything. Flex only on the non-monitary items. You need to make sure apples are apples across all the bids.

In the greater Toronto area they all source from one another anyways. Anything that isn't on their lot they'll find and can promise (faithfully).

The idea is patience.

This takes about two weeks and one or two will recognize it's going to drive the price down to what the insiders know is the lowest acceptable profit margin and back out. Perhaps include a salesman if you want to see when that happens first (remember you pay both the salesman's and the sales manager's commissions when you buy face-to-face).

Each will ask that they get "another chance" once you have the rest of their competitors "best price". At a point they are going be nickel and dime-ing down the last few 100 dollars at most.

At a point they won't budge, even if the competition goes lower. Then you know you're there.

Make your choice and know you've invested probably an hour or so, two three times a week and no stress. They've done the pricing against each other so you are down to their lowest acceptable mark up.

Good luck.