Monday, July 11, 2005

The Odyssey

Originally uploaded by Disentangled.

So at long last I have posted a picture of our "new" car. The reason for the delay was a crazy fiasco over our smog certificate and the potential chance that we would have to cancel our sale. In California, the seller of a user vehicle is required to provide the buyer with a smog certification that is less than 90 days old. The buyer needs the smog certificate in order to register the car with the DMV. This is something that a lot of people don't know, especially if you are used to buying your cars from dealers. We learned about this rule because a week before we bought this car, we sold our Jeep and were required to smog it for the new owner.

When we brought this up with the seller of our car, he hadn't been aware of the rule. Once we showed him the print-out from the DMV website, he realized it was his responsibility, no big deal. Well, given that the car had just been smogged in January along with the installation of a new catalytic converter, his desire for us to take the car home that night, as well as our desire to take the car home that night, we agreed to take the cost of the smog certificate and test off the top of the selling price and smog it ourselves, again, no big deal, right? Wrong. Of course the car failed the test the next morning. Fortunately we were blessed with the greatest private party seller that has ever existed on the entire planet. He realized that it was his responsibility to pay for whatever needed to be done in order for the car to pass smog and facilitated the repairs as well. But first, there was a little "business" to take care of with the shop that had initially "fixed" the car back in January. We took it back there and they now said that it was an air flow meter that would cost $900. This part only costs $500 if you buy it directly from BMW and we all know dealers don't give you any breaks on the costs of their parts. So what was going on?

He ended up finding a smog repair facility that agreed to do the repairs at 1/2 the cost of what these other guys were going to charge, not because their work would be cheap, but because that was really how much it was supposed to cost - we called all over and no one else was charging $900 for an air flow meter. When we got the car to the new place, the guy looked at the new catalytic converter that had been put on and realized that it was too small!

So, here's the scam: Person comes in who needs a smog certificate. They are under a time constraint because they are trying to renew their registration. When a car doesn't pass smog the first time (and BTW there is a certain amount of tweaking that can be done to help a car pass, not lie, but help it along, which of course these guys don't do), they put on the new cat for which they charge full price, yet stick you with one too small for your car (and pocket the difference in the price of the part). The new small cat apparently will allow the car to pass the test, but not do its job thereafter. In essence, they force it to pass. They count on not seeing you for 2 years (smog certs are only required at registration time every 2 years), then when you come back (if you come back), they tell you the reason its not passing now is because of the air flow meter. They charge twice as much for the part, which a lot of people pay because they don't know how much it should cost and they are anxious to get it to pass. This allows them to cover the cost of a part you don't need as well as the new cat they have to put in your car to get it to pass smog again. All I know is I hope that the seller reports these guys because what this place is doing is theft.

Unfortunately, my story doesn't end here. To give you the time line, we bought the car, Monday, June 27th. We messed with the first smog repair place until Thursday. On Friday brought the car to the new place, but the guy who was driving our new cat down to the shop got stuck in the traffic for the last weekend of the San Diego County Fair - formerly known as the Del Mar Fair, a huge traffic problem during June in San Diego. So the car didn't get finished on Friday like it was supposed to. Then on Saturday, as our car was up on the lift, they ran out of welding gas! And because it was Saturday and a holiday weekend we wouldn't get the car back until Tuesday or Wednesday. On Wednesday morning, they ran the smog test again and, guess what? It didn't pass! Apparently, the new repair place was so excited about finding the "problem" with the small cat that he didn't check for other things that could also cause the car to fail, like the oxygen sensor. So, when the car failed again with the new cat, we had to wait while they put a new oxygen sensor in. Basically, what it came down to on Friday morning was that we were either going to have a car all smogged and ready to go to our DMV appointment that was scheduled for 2:00 that afternoon, or we would get all of our money back from the seller and have to start from square one all over again. We really didn't want to have to look because trying to find a good used car, that isn't trashed for about $3500 is not an easy thing to do. Fortunately, the new oxygen sensor did the trick and we were able to pick up the car that we can finally call our own 2 weeks after buying it!

My husband loves it and so do I. And the best part is that we found out we could legally (according to our condo association's rules) tandem park both of our cars in our assigned parking space as long as Wendell is in front since she's so short! This is a definite plus, since the parking can sometimes be an issue in our complex. So, I hope that no one goes through anything close to this, especially since our seller was truly amazing and made this situation much easier to deal with that it could have been. He realized his responsibility and took care of it like he was supposed to. Thank you!


Nonnahs said...

Congratulations! Excellent find! Has this vehicle been named yet?

Disentangled said...

Not yet. But it needs a name. Any suggestions?

Nonnahs said...