Sunday, November 01, 2009

That's not how we roll

Erik and I have been looking into buying a used car. We've been doing this with a fair bit of trepidation because we've heard used cars can be sketchy. Honestly, we've never bought a used car (the new car we bought in Singapore is the only one we've ever bought!) so we don't know what we're doing. We've hit a few used car lots but haven't found what we want.

The car we'd really like is called a Freeca. We have friends who own one (it's actually passed through three families of people we know) and they like it alot. We found two used Freecas at a lot in the south of town, so we borrowed a car and headed down there. Let me tell you a little bit about how things work at a Chinese used car lot. It might be different than what you have experienced in the States.

First of all, when you drive into a used lot, you will be inundated with people trying to buy YOUR car. I can't say how tempting it is to sell someone else's car, especially when you know they are actually trying to sell it. But we refrained.

We have yet to find someone who knew how to operate the car they were trying to sell. Rear defroster? No, that's a light! (No, sir, it's a rear defroster).

Safety standards are what we'd call "wanquan bu yiyang." (completely different). I kept examining the cars to see if the seatbelts worked or even existed. In one car that had two rows of back seats, there were none. I mentioned this to the woman and she said, "Shui yong?" (Who uses seatbelts??)

The whole idea of showing the car off well to the customer is a bit lost here. In one car, there was a jump seat in the back that was folded down. I asked the woman if she could put it up for me. She fiddled around for awhile trying to put the middle row down so she could do that, but she couldn't (see point #2). Finally she said, "It looks just like this one."
"Well, I'm going to have to see it."
"You can do it yourself when you buy it."
"How can I do it when you can't do it?"
Finally her friend who was smoking came over to help, leaning her cigarette precariously into the car while she did. I thought, "Lady, you might want to avoid leaving the smell and ashes from that thing IN the car" but I don't think it crossed her mind.

We did find a car called the Great Wall Hover, which we may buy new instead. Finding a used model was intriguing enough that we asked the man if we could test drive it. His response? "Are you going to buy it today?"
"Well, we don't know. We need to drive it first."
"Let's decide a price first. Then you can drive it."
"But we don't know if we want to buy it unless we drive it."
He was unmoved. So was the car. But we were moved to leave.

One thing I will say is that all the cars there look great from the outside. All of them were shiny and clean, even if inside some of them looked like they were 30 years old. I think we'll be buying new, but it was an interesting experience.

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