Monday, August 17, 2009

Cash for Momz Clunker!!!

Unbelievable! A government program that functions! Not for me, of course. My own 1995 Ford Taurus, which everyone who sees it proclaims a clunker, gets too good mpg to qualify for the program. Figures.

But because of the new program called "Cash for Clunkers" or actually, my mother celebrates her upcoming 67th birthday with her first brand new car! She deserves it.

Here's how it happened.

I had immediately researched the CARS program to see if my Ford qualified. Of course not. But then I thought of mom's 1999 Jeep Wrangler. Gas hog? Duh. The jeep definitely qualified.

So we thought about going and talked about going and were thinking about going when the news informed us that the program was out of money. We correctly assumed that they would re-fund it since it was helping the auto industry and low n behold, they did! This time we acted a bit quicker and mom cleaned out the car, looked around for what we roughly believed would be the right paperwork, etc.

Finally this past weekend, we went. I had seen an add for a Nissan (the Versa) that would cost under $6000 if you got the full $4500 back. So I drove a relunctant mom to the nearest Nissan dealer - Darling's in Bangor.

Mom was not eager to face off with a lot full of car salespeople, which I could understand. I have been car shopping lately and had such an awful time that we both had a pretty bad taste in our mouths. We decided not to even take the Jeep on our first trip. We figured that would give us a safety net to just gather info and then take a step back if we were getting the full court press from some salesjockey. So we took my Taurus and a google map to the dealership and off we went.

When we first got there, I had to do all the talking. Mom was so nervous she was appearing hostile and glaring at everybody so I had to pave the way. I was surprised not to be encountered by a salesperson as soon as we got there. In fact we had walked around the lot and the showroom and I finally had to go to the front desk and ask a receptionist to get a salesperson for us! How wyrd is that?

So a woman came to talk to us about cars. Talk to me. Mom wasn't talking. I told her our interest and asked for some info. At first it was a bit rough because mom looked sulky and the woman wasn't taking us as serious buyers. But she finally looked up the jeep on the and discovered what I already told her from my own research - that the jeep swapped for a versa would qualify for the full $4500. To my surprise, they had some versas on the lot. I was afraid from what I'd seen on the news that they would be gone and the salesperson did say they could run out at any time (which I took to be sales talk but I also think was true).

She asked if we wanted to take a test drive. Mom scowled. I said, yes please. The saleswoman scowled. I beamed. The saleswoman said rather sharply, "is that a yes or a no?!"


I grinned ear to ear and said, "Yes, please." She took my license, left some paperwork, and went to get a car. At this point I figured the whole trip had been nothing but one of those really memorable disasters. But by goddess I had driven over there and I was gonna push it.

While she was gone I looked at the pile of paperwork and then to mom and was like, "are you seriously gonna make me do this?"

First she grinned and nodded, but after a couple of seconds of watching me do the paperwork she gave in to the process and took over.

Things were all uphill from there. For whatever reason the saleswoman seemed nicer when she came back with the car. Mom took the very short test drive (she wouldn't leave the car lot) and was interested in the car.

We then got a list of the stuff the car dealer would need for the trade in. For those of you interested, it was the following:

*Ummm, the jeep
*the title for the jeep
*the last two years registration for the jeep (but since it was due for re-registration this month mom only needed one slip cause all you really have to prove for the program is that you've owned it a full year)
*proof it's been insured by you and continuously for a full year (again one or two insurance cards or the statements they send in the mail w your little cards, so on. she said some people get it online or have the insurer print it out but we were trying to get everything done on a saturday so we were lucky mom had her old letters).
*uhhh, I think that was it.
*but for financing they said it might be safe to bring back last year's taxes so we did.

The saleslady was warming up to us by then. She even offered to let us take one of their rentals home to get the jeep so I didn't have to burn my own gas. But that was too much niceness for me to deal with so I said no. Partly this was because I wasn't sure the financing would pan out and I didn't want to feel beholden to anyone if they turned us down. See mom has been working really hard to clear her debt through a debt management program for the past five years. Even though she is basically done (and has basically no debt thanks to her hard work and some of my support) - we were afraid they wouldn't like that she was in a program.

So anyway we drove back home to get everything. It took about an hour and a half and it was muggy hot and gross out. We weren't sure what size the jeep engine was and were putting wayyy to much work into that (since some mechanic apparently took the manual out and lost it, thanks very much). Finally I discovered thru the magic of the internet that there is a vehicle emissions sticker on the top of the inside of the hood that tells engine size. You may need to know that if you do the program. So we called the saleswoman to double check that we had everything and she was very cheerful. She had already started the financing and still wanted us to come back so we had reason to be optimistic as we took both jeep and taurus back.

So. The rest is history. Momz financing passed w flying colors! They loved how good her credit was and that her old jeep loan had been payed up early (put on a credit card, tee hee). But all her hard work on her debt has payed off because now she has an economical car for a low monthly payment and it's her first new car ever! Things are looking up and it was very encouraging for both of us. Just the look on her face when we left the lot with that car was one for the annals of herstory. It was a good, good day.

We were having trouble remembering the name of the car so we came up with a device that seems fitting when one considers that mom now gets fully DOUBLE the gas mileage she did and is covered by a full, six year warranty: "It's not a vice. It's a Versa."

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