Thursday, March 17, 2016

Bought my first car–it took me 31 years!


Last October when we visited Australia for our first visit after getting the PR, we could see a clear picture of the situation with public transport in Melbourne. It is OK, but for someone who has spent the last 5 years in Japan, it was a huge let down. In Japan, you don't need a car if you live in a metropolitan area. Even in Sri Lanka, you don't need a car unless you live in a rural place. Australia is not an efficient country. It probably is because Australia has a lot of resources with a very little population density. So, they do not seem to care much about improving the public transport system , hence roads are the main medium of transportation.

That means, I needed a car. And I needed to buy one soon, as I would need my cousin’s help as he knows about cars. And after I move to my apartment, I would be far away from him, and it would not be practical for him to come look for cars.

I was originally planning to get a cheap car and get a decent one later on, but after talking to my cousin, I felt that I had to spend at least $6,000 on a car if I did not want any immediate repair work. You can get a 10 year old car with that amount, but they would have travelled over 200,000 km. Australia is a large country, and to travel about 60km a day is not unusual. Some travel even farther. The roads are good and very (VERY) wide with 3-4-5 tracks on each direction, so if you can avoid the city, you can get to your destination pretty quickly.

My target was to get a car with less than 100,000 km on the clock and below the $7,500 price tag. I found few cars that fit the criteria, but obviously I was not the only one who was looking at similar cars. Unfortunately, I only could check out the cars during the weekend because that is both my cousin and I would be free. So I missed out on few opportunities.

One of them was a 2007 Honda CRV, but ironically that happened on a Saturday. It had been done only like 100,000km and the owner was asking about $10,000, but we could not make it in the morning and someone grabbed it before we could check it out. There was a 2005 Honda Accord which had done only 57,000 km for $8,400 and sadly that was also grabbed by someone else.

We allocated next Saturday completely for hunting cars. The first one was a 2005 Nissan Pulsar for $6,000. The photos looked decent, but in reality, it was a mess. It was in a very bad shape; the owner had used it like a trash bin. My cousin drove the car and he said it felt very bad.

Then we went to see a 2004 Honda Accord for $7,400. It was a very good price for a Accord, but when we saw it, the body of it seemed as if it was used for sharpening knives. There were so many scratches on the body, that despite the low price tag and the engine looking good, I did not want to get it.

On the way, I checked the advertisements out and there was a new one that showed an 2007 Toyota Aurion AT-X (that’s the base model and Aurions are only available in Australia) for $9,990 at a Toyota dealership. I was not going to spend that much, but that was the drive away price, which included the price of the car and transfer fees which is like 3% of the value of the card. It had done only 95,000 km and for an Aurion, that was pretty low. My cousin took it for a ride, and he was impressed with it. The previous owner had not done the 90,000 km service which was a major service which would cost in excess of $500, and we told them that we would buy it only if they performed the test and still sold it for $9,9990. They agreed to it saying that it was a reasonable request. And we decided to buy the car!

We paid a $1,000 deposit and told them we will come on the 12th to pick up the car. This was on the 5th.

We had a 2008 Camry and a 2010 Yaris in the list of cars to check in the evening, as well as a 2009 Civic, but I messaged them that I would not be coming.

On the 12th afternoon, we went to pick up the car. We came to the apartment and parked my cousin's car there, and we took a taxi to the dealership. They had performed the 90,000 km service. The car was detailed and was looking shiny. Of course there are scratch marks here, both inside and outside, but that is to be expected from a car that had been used for almost 10 years. I paid the deficit with a cheque and my cousin drove the car back to the apartment.

Aurion Dashboard

On the next day, I took it for a ride around the road. The car is much bigger than my dad's Corolla and it took me a bit to get used to the semi-automatic gear lever and the accelerator pedal, but now I am confident that I can control it. And it accelerates really well with the 3.4 litre engine, but I am very gentle with it. It is not an economical car, and it should do like 10km to the litre on average, but I do not have to drive much. It would mostly be used for grocery shopping like a couple of times a week, as I do not need it to commute to work. I should be fine!

I have 3 months warranty for the car, which is a statutory requirement if sold by a dealer for cars than are less than 10 years old and have done less than 150,000 km. If I find any issues with the car, I better find it within that period.

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