A Ticket to Ride (well… Drive)

Now that I am legal to drive in Spain, and Jeff is knee deep in studying to take his exam, it’s time to start looking at cars and understanding the car buying process. SHOPPING. It’s my one and only super power!

I know foreigners in Spain – even without the NIE – can purchase cars under certain conditions. But once you are a resident with a license you can purchase a car the same as any Spaniard. At least this is what we have been told by a few car dealerships. I have been advised to purchase new because if you buy a used car in Spain, it may have encumbrances like violations or missed payments by the previous owner, that you don’t know about and have no way of finding out. The new owner takes all these on when they purchase the car. I want none of that nonsense.

The process of looking at cars is fun. I actually like this part. But if you want to test drive the car you must make arrangements 24 hours in advance. In other words, they will chat you up in the show room. They’ll let you sit in the car. They’ll give you brochures and water or coffee, like in the US. But if you want to take it out for a spin so you can start the negotiations? No. This must wait until the following day. You must make an appointment. It’s the ‘Appointment to make the Appointment’ all over again.

We were surprised they would let a fish off the hook so easily. What is the chance we wouldn’t come back? Probably pretty high due to my limited attention span and penchant for chasing other shiny objects. But in the US, this would never happen. If you went to ‘just look’ at a car, you will be there FOREVER – its Dog Years. They will let you, your husband, your 10 year old drive it (OK, a bit of an exaggeration, but they’ll give him a toy car to drive) all so you don’t leave. It’s just shy of hostage taking. And it’s Jeff’s least favorite thing. He’s their target in the negotiations because he’s worn down hours before me. The last time – Audi Scottsdale – he actually left me there. He couldn’t take it. Luckily, I knew I’d have a car to drive myself home after wearing down the sales manager.

And speaking of negotiations, here you negotiate the price, etc. So that’s fine. But in the US, if you walk in with a check book and say you’ll be paying cash, you have all the leverage. They can’t use the ‘Well your credit is excellent but we really can’t give you our best rate due to some other piece of nonsense we just made up’. Then they start drawing the four boxes. Idiocy. No, with cash it goes right to price and perks. They hate that.

But in Spain, they give you discounts to finance the car. Of course they’re getting your 8+% interest (it’s super high here), but I guess I don’t really get why they wouldn’t want to get their money up front = Time/value of money. So while we have the money to purchase the car in cash, we will most likely finance it for 12 months so we get the lower price and then make larger payments to pay it off early (but I need to check if there is an early payment penalty). Either way we’ll come out ahead.

We’re also educating ourselves about cars here. So many brands either weren’t sold in the US, or they were pretty rare to see. I’d like to stick with the old stand by – Audi. Any of ours never did me wrong. But I’m not sure I can talk El Jefe into that. We passed one parked on the street on the way from the Peugeot dealer. He just pointed to its scratched, dented bumper and grunted.

But I’m going to thoroughly enjoy the process. We’ll take however long we need to take to get the right car. We have a bunch of travel coming up next month (Fallas refugees) so if we don’t find something before then, it will have to wait until April. But how wonderful that we live in a city like Valencia where the transit is so good that the urgency for our own wheels isn’t was it was in the US.

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