Hertz Presidents Circle – Only Good for Points

If my recent experienes with Hertz is any example of how Presidents Circle members are treated, then the only good thing about having that high status are the points.  The points bonuses aren’t even that good most of the time.  I would say more than 50% of the time, I don’t get to walk to the Presidents Circle area to get a car.  Two weeks in a row I was supposed to rent a car that had over 50K miles.  This week I asked to get another car and that one smelled a little like cigarettes.

The overall quality of what cars I’m assigned has been steadily going down.  That might be attributed to me renting from La Guardia.  NY cars tend to get the shit kicked out of them but thats really not a good excuse since the cars are supposed to be washed and serviced before they’re given out.  Chicago was much better at giving good cars out but I also took a lot of cars from Gold Choice because my assigned car was garbage.

Avis seems to have better cars overall and a better experience, the only thing that brings me back all the time is the points and the fact I can use them during the week instead of just on the weekends.  Either way I have to stay with Hertz, I’ve accumulated too many points already to stop now.  I’ve used my points successfully to get a 2 week rental this year and I can see when I would need another rental soon while on vacation or something.  Come on Hertz, time to step up your game and give your most frequent renters some awesome cars!

Buying new cars suck

After a 12 year run my trust worthy 2002 Nissan Altima 2.5S finally developed a problem that was too expensive to justify fixing. I bought the car when my previous car, a 1988 Acura Legend, died after I blew its transmission. My Altima was about to have the same problem so I decided to sell it and use the money to get a new car.

The entire process of buying a car is pretty painful. I recall doing this exact same process when I had to replace my wife’s car with out Honda Odyssey only 2 years ago. I wasn’t expecting my Altima to fail me this soon, I really did think I could keep it going for a few more years so I could get my mid life crisis car. I did keep my promise to my father though when I first bought the Altima, I promised to keep the car for at least 10 years so he would let me get the car I wanted back then.

I originally wanted a 2015 VW GTI because I’ll admit it was a cool car, fast as hell, and it reminded me of my fathers 1979 VW Rabbit. Being the internet age, I started doing research on pricing and options on several sites regarding the GTI but I also did some research on the Honda Accord just in case. After doing some research and determining a price I wanted to pay I decided to take a test drive of the GTI. I went to my local dealer and asked to take a spin. They didn’t have a GTI to test but they had a Rabbit which is essentially the same car but with a smaller engine. So why not, I took a spin and was impressed with how it drove. Now the thing I hate is all the people you have to deal with in buying a car. Using my previous experience I got out of the dealership quickly so I wouldn’t be trapped there for hours negotiating. That’s what email and the internet is for. I did this successfully with the Honda so I should be able to do this for a VW.

I decided to use TrueCar to get some quotes and once you hit that “submit” button the emails start flying and my phone started ringing in minutes. I decided to negotiate with the closest dealership for the car. My wife and I decided on a price target for the car and I did almost everything online via email. It was the last day of the month so they were real eager beavers to sell me a car so they could show a strong month in sales. Whatever I didn’t really care about that. Th sales guy I dealt with was pretty cool, I definitely liked him a lot since he was willing to work with me but the finance/general manager was a total dick since he wouldn’t budge on price or financing. After a few hours of back and forth I decided to abandon the idea of the GTI since the other dealers I called didn’t have the car in the color or options I wanted since it was so new.

I decided to try the back up car on encouragement from my wife and found a 2013 Honda Accord V6 at a dealership near our house. I knew what I wanted to pay for the car and this time I tried Edmunds to get a guaranteed price from the dealership. I got a call from the dealer asking me to come in but since it was late I decided to try on Friday to get the car. The salesman again was very nice and I liked the car. Now for the pain…… the real shitty part about buying a car from a dealer is the negotiation on price and all the other people you have to deal with. All the people at this dealership though were willing to work with me unlike the VW one I went to. The maddening part was all the waiting I had to do as they tried to meet my requirements. Th first problem was the price which they thought was a little on the low side but eventually they gave in on that one, only took 20-30 minutes for that part. The next was the credit check and financing since I wanted to get a certain financing option that was available for 2014 models but not 2013 models. Since I already pay Honda a kings ransom for my Odyssey I thought this would be a breeze but this part took at least another 40 or so minutes. After looking at the paper work and negotiating the payment a little more I signed on the dotted line to agree to purchase the car. Now the next part was the real kick in the balls. I had to wait for a finance manager to be free to do the rest of the paper work. Enter another hour of just sitting on my ass with my family in the near empty dealership waiting for one dude to be free. You would think that in this day and age the process would be way quicker. Anyway, off to the finance managers office I go for 15-20 minutes of signing paper work to agree to pay more cash to American Honda for my brand new car. After almost two hours of being at the dealership I could see daylight, or in this case my new car parked outside since it was closing time.

Now normally the sales guy takes you through every button and feature in the car. I did that with the Odyssey when I bought it and that almost took another hour but it’s part of the service right? This time I just waved him off and said I could figure it out, it’s a Honda and I already own the most tricked out Odyssey they made in 2012, an Accord won’t give me any problems. He looked a little concerned since it was part of his job but I gave him a pass since it was late, the family was hungry, and I wanted to just get out of there with my car. Needless to say I have a new car to drive for the next 10 years probably. Honda still owes me my deck lid spoiler and the body side molding but I can get that this weekend.

I can now see why there is so much fear regarding Tesla. Tesla totally takes the dealer experience and throws it away. The cars are all built to order so you have to wait but here’s the kicker, there is no price negotiation, the financing can be done online through their website or at their stores (not dealerships) and once the car is ready they bring the thing to you. That’s how car buying should be! The reason I hate the car buying experience is because of all the needless waiting and time spent talking to multiple people to get something. The dealer way of selling cars is old and antiquated. When you buy from a dealer you’re enriching the dealer, not the car manufacturer since the dealer bought the car from the manufacturer! Reported car sales are really about what did dealers or fleets bought not consumers and of course they do all these little gimmicks to get you to buy from them like free oil changes, car washes, reduced gas, etc. buying direct from the manufacturer is the way to go. Think of how awesome it would be to just go to a store, pick out the car you want with the options you ask for and then have the car manufacturer either build it for you or take it from their inventory and deliver the thing. Sheer awesomeness! I suppose this model wouldn’t work well for used cars but places like Carmax do something similar.

I hope I don’t have to but another car for a long time because it’s way too time consuming and stressful. This was an extra long post but I guess it’s to make up for the months I haven’t posted anything.

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Fixing vs Buying a Car

The decision to fix an ailing car or to buy a new one with no problems at all seems to be rearing its ugly head in my household again. Not too long ago (almost a year now) I had the same dilemma with my wife’s car which was a 2000 Nissan XTerra. At the time we had two cars that were almost or over 10 years old so it was just about time to replace a car. The XTerra was just approaching 100K in mileage but it never really was driven anywhere for close to a year since my wife stayed at home all the time for her job and we didn’t put my daughter in day care. But there were enough problems with the car that I wanted my wife to have a reliable car at home while I was away at work that we decided to replace her car with a new van. Also the repairs were starting to add up and I was getting tired of bringing her car to the shop on the weekends and ruining any plans we might have had because we had to wait for repair estimates and then had to go get the car at the shop when it was done.

My car is starting to get on in age as well like my wifes car but the decision to buy a new car vs fixing it is a little different than when we decided to get my wife a new car. For one thing, my car is now an airport car for the most part. I drive it to and from the airport for work so it maybe gets 60 miles a week, maybe a little more if my wife uses my car on the weekends for her yoga classes but other than that there aren’t a lot of miles being put on it. We also don’t use my car on the weekends when we go out, thats what the new van is for since it has way more creature comforts and its easier to get the baby in and out of the car with the sliding doors. Finally, it just doesn’t make a lot of economical sense to get a new car since I only have an airport car and my car also sits outside so it almost seems like a waste to pay a lot of money for a car that doesn’t go anywhere.

Right now my car is currently in the shop and it needs a lot of work done to the rear end area (sounds a bit dirty doesn’t it?). The rear shocks need replacement, I need 2 new tires, and one of the bearings in the rear also need to be replaced.  Thats on top of all the gaskets  that were replaced in October, the engine mounts, a wheel alignment/rotation/balance, and 4 sensors to make sure that my car actually cranks.  Even totaling both jobs it still hasn’t totaled my car.  It’s really really close but not quite there yet.  If my car can last me another 3-5 years, I think I’ll be good.  I’d prefer it last another 6 years so I can get my mid life crisis car when I turn 40.  By that time my car should be pretty worthless but if its still running its probably going to continue to be my airport car for quite a while unless something happens (like me getting a fat raise or something) in which I will invest in getting myself a sweet ride to take me to the airport.

Hybrid cars suck

Last week I had the opportunity to drive a co-workers Toyota Camry hybrid and I can say that the experience was…… lacking. I know it’s environmentally friendly and all that good stuff but the driving experience just sucks! I drove a Prius before a cowpoke of years ago and I thought that experience was weird but I attributed that to it being a Prius. I thought that the Camry would be different since it was adapted from a regular car. Nope WRONG! The car drives ok but there is no power in the thing. I step on the gas and it kicks in kind of late with the power. The acceleration is Wally bad, but that might be due to the under powered engine and the extra weight of the battery.

This week I’m driving a regular Camry and the experience is way better than the hybrid. I also noticed that a lot of the trunk room was used up for the battery pack on the hybrid. It looks like I won’t be getting a hybrid any time soon until it drives more like a regular gas only car. It needs the get up and go of a gas car and needs more horsepower to get up to speed in a short amount of time. Maybe I’m just spoiled but that’s just my opinion. Now I just need to save for the next 8 years so I can get my mid life crisis German sports car.

Superior Tint is Awesome

In 2004, my wife Claire got me tints for my 2002 Nissan Altima so that my car would look awesome and also to block out the heat rays of the crazy Florida sun. I went with a tint made by Solar Guard since it was one of the better tints out there. I also got it because it had a limited life time warranty just in case something happened to the tint.

During my trip to Key West, the tint on the rear window of my car started to peel off. I’m assuming it’s because my car spent so much time in the sun, the heat eventually killed the adhesive that made the tint stick to the window. I looked online and I found s place in Boca Raton that would honor the Solar Guard warranty called Superior Tint (superiortint.net). Just like the place I went to in Tampa to get the tints on my car done, Superior Tint used a machine to cut the tint instead of using razors to cut the tint after it’s put on the glass.

I went there recently and they were able to replace the tint on the rear window and one of my side windows in a matter of a couple of hours. They needed to get the old tint off without damaging the rear defroster and then they had to apply the new tint. From what I’ve seen, they did a really good job. If I get a new car and it needs tints, I’m going back to Superior Tint together the job done even though it is quite far from my house. Now I have to wait a couple of days before I can use my side windows so I don’t ruin the new tint. Time to watch some South Park to pass the time tonight.