It looked so good in the dealer’s used car lot. Green
exterior, tan leather interior, not a scratch on it. A ’95, it had about
the right amount of mileage for its age.
My wife was enthused, but not that enthused. The
problem was this particular model was not what she originally had in mind.
So I did what any small-minded husband who hates car
shopping would do—I talked her into it.
Our thoroughly impulsive behavior saved us a day or two
of dealing with multiple car salesmen. We had found an automobile that
would get my wife from Point A to Point B in relative comfort. We signed
the papers, gave the giddy salesman a check, and drove it home.
Within three days she absolutely hated the car.
The performance was fine. It was the looks that
bothered her. The sedan style, the color---it made her feel old. And it
was all my fault.
I told her to relax, drive it for awhile, and it would
grow on her.
And it might have, if she hadn’t run into that
Safeway truck on I-80, done a 360, bounced off a pickup, smashed into the
guardrail and come to rest on the shoulder.
Miraculously, no one was hurt. But the car was, shall
we say, structurally impaired.
No problem, I told my wife, who now clearly never
wanted to see the car again.. That’s why we have insurance. We’d get
it fixed, good as new, and then sell it to some 90 year old who would
appreciate the look. We’d lose a little on the sales tax we paid, but
that’s the price we’d pay for being impulsive.
Then I learned about FRAME DAMAGE.
Our miserable car had suffered some slight frame
damage. It was branded for life.
It came back from the shop after six weeks, good as
new. It drove beautifully and looked majestic, if you like geezer cars.
And the body shop guys insisted the new repair technology made the old
issue of frame damage obsolete.
So we were faced with a moral dilemna. How do we sell
it without mentioning it was in an accident? If someone asks, we won’t
lie. But don’t ask, don’t tell? It works for gays in the military, it
ought to work for minor frame damage.
Then I found an easier way—consignment. Let someone
else sell the car for us. The cost of the commission was surely worth the
peace of mind we would get from not having to directly deal with the frame
So down we went to the consignment lot where we
incoherently mumbled something about an accident to the salesman, who
obviously didn’t want to listen anyway. Then we waited for our check.
And waited, and waited. Four months went by. It seemed
anyone who might have been interested in this car had died of old age.
Frustrated, I picked up the car from the consignment
lot and drove it over to the dealer who sold it to us. They made me an
offer of about 70% of what I had paid seven months earlier.
How insulting, I thought, as I shook hands with the
sales manager, cementing the deal. And the car would have been gone,
except for that paper I learned dealers routinely have you sign that
states under penalty of perjury you swear the car has never been in an
accident and sufferred FRAME DAMAGE!.
I fessed up. The sales manager reacted as though I had
leprosy. He wouldn’t touch a car that had frame damage, he said, not at
any price. I was back on the streets.
No one would take us, not with our terrible secret.
Finally, we found a broker who reluctantly said he’d shop it around.
After a few weeks, he sheepishly told us he had only one offer, amounting
to 55% of what we paid. That was the best he could do for a car with FRAME
Impulsively, we took his offer.