Sunday, June 10, 2012

I Have the Worst Luck with Cars, Part III: Carmax Is Evil

Now, this story is not as exciting or death-defying as the others, but it is a morality tale of how Carmax is an evil entity and how you should never under any circumstances purchase a vehicle from them.

Anyway, remember that Mah-gret died? Well, now I needed a car because it's hard to go job searching and then to actual job without one. My parents had just purchased a car for my sister from Carmax and had a wonderful experience and blah blah blah, so they were encouraging me to do the same. They took me to the same store on July 4, 2007, and I found the perfect little car: a 2005 Saturn Ion that I named Izzie.

To be completely honest, I really loved this car. It was cheap; it was good on gas; it was small; etc etc etc. It was just basically made out of plastic, and we all know that Saturn went under shortly after I bought Izzie, so ... I guess I should have expected it, regardless of my past unluckiness with things of the transportation sort.

I had the damned thing for three weeks, and then one afternoon as I got into the car to drive to work, I noticed that the dash thingy was reading, "Low coolant" or something like that. I turned Izzie off, got on my hands and knees, and looked under the car for leaks. There were none. Um, okay? I thought maybe they just hadn't topped her off or something at Carmax and decided, alright, I'll go down to Walmart and buy some coolant. I got no more than maybe half a mile from work and I realized, "Shit, my tire is flat."

Hahahaha, oh, why does this always happen to me? I sardonically laughed to myself. I had a spare tire and proceeded to replace it at a gas station* and drove over to Walmart to pick up some coolant. I poured it in and thought, DONE!

Oh, but it would not be so. About a week later, the same message flashed across my dash AGAIN. I called up Carmax and they were all, "Oh, just bring it in and we'll look at it." Which I did. The girl at the front, Stephanie, I believe, asked me how long I'd had the car.

"I bought it on July 4th."

She looked at me and asked, "Last year?"

I shook my head. "THIS year."

She laughed sympathetically and offered to set me up with a rental car, for which they would pay. Now, it ended up being a fucking PT Cruiser that smelled like ass and a landfill, but at least it had coolant in it. I even let my friends smoke in the thing, which oddly enough made it smell better.

Carmax had Izzie for about a week when they called me to tell me that they had no idea what was wrong with the car but that she didn't seem to have any leaks and I could come pick her up whenever. I didn't have to wait too long when I got there, thankfully, and I was grateful that I worked nights, since this whole process would have been a nightmare otherwise. Again, I thought, DONE!


About a week and half later, the same message popped up. I leaned my head back and just screamed, "Are you FUCKING kidding me? Oh, no, you are NOT, you whore of a car." And I checked under the hood; the coolant reservoir was BONE DRY. After I'd filled it less than three weeks prior. Instead of waiting until I calmed down, I called Carmax right the hell then, which might or might not have been the best idea, but they told me to drive down again in the morning because it was 4P and they were closed. Thankfully, I had a bicycle to ride to work, and I was less than a ten minute ride away. When I got to work that day, my boss couldn't figure out why I wasn't wanting to talk to my tables, but once I explained the situation, he just let me run food the whole night. I couldn't sleep at all once I left work because, well, I couldn't leave until 4A, and it would be silly to get only three hours of sleep. When I showed up at Carmax's doors at 7:30A, I'm sure I looked a fright: all black clothing, overnight makeup, surly expression. I was not pleased.

In order to keep this from being a novel-length post, let's just say that this KEPT. ON. HAPPENING. Carmax couldn't figure it out. They even drove the car to the service manager's house (which I later found out was just car speak for "we have no idea what's going on so let's put some miles on this thing to pretend like we're doing something") and back to Carmax, but could not give me any answers.

Actual quote from me: "Look, if it's not leaking, where is this coolant going? Coolant heaven? Are there coolant eating gremlins that live in my driveway??"

Izzie had been in my possession for four months, only one of which I was actually driving her. Carmax eventually took away the PT Cruiser and my insurance helped get me in a rental car (a Mazda 6, which OMG, I STILL WANT ONE OF THOSE) for the remainder of the time. I was absolutely fed up with the whole situation and was about to get the general manager involved, when MAGICALNESS, the service manager called me up to tell me, "Oh, it's the head gasket. It's blown."

Um, what? How long had this been the case? Couldn't they have been able to tell that the head gasket was fucked up? She couldn't give me an explanation. Then she offered to give me a new engine.

"Like brand new, never been used or touched by you guys?"

"No, it's a used engine. It only has 21,000 miles on it, which is less than is on your engine."

I laughed at her. "You are kidding, right?"

"Ma'am, we stand behind this engine."

"Yeah, I'm sure you do. But you also stood behind the current one, and look where that got me."

She tried to haggle with me for about thirty minutes, and my brain was nearly roasting, I was so pissed. Eventually, I was just like, "Look, fine, put in the new engine, but I want a different car."

"I don't have anything to do with sales."

"Well, then who will I need to speak with about this?"

She could not remember anyone's names and just told me to call the main store. Okay, fine. Whatever. I try to get a hold of the general manager and leave several voicemails for him, but he never calls me back. About a week later (still hadn't heard about the outcome from the "new" engine), I stormed into the store, demanding to see the general manager, who I knew was there because thirty minutes before I called to see, and the secretary told me to wait in the little lobby area, which I did. Out came this older gentleman, who, as it turned out was NOT the general manager, but the something of sales or whatever. That was when it got amusing.

Remember Stephanie from the beginning of the story? She and I became good friends because I was at the store once a week at least, and she was impressed that I hadn't been a total bitch the whole time. Well, she called my cell phone in the middle of this meeting with George (I can't remember his real name), as he was trying to convince me that I didn't want a new car, just to let their service department do their jobs.

"Hey! It's Stephanie. Um, they just tried to start up the Ion with the new engine? And yeah, it doesn't work. So they wanted me to tell you that you can just select a new car."

I asked Stephanie to repeat that to the guy sitting beside me, who defeatedly sighed and showed me to the lot.

Now, I was not completely happy about this. If I had been who I am right now, I would have told them to fuck themselves and give me back my money so I could go buy a car elsewhere, but I was just so tired of having to drive a rental car that I was willing to just get a new car. I picked out a 2005 red Chevy Aveo, because 1) it was cheaper than the Ion and 2) my insurance would be cheaper.

As I drove away in Roxy, I vowed never EVER to shop at Carmax again. And I tell pretty much everyone that I meet, even if they don't ask, the same thing. The piece that really gets me is that they are all about advertising their 125 point or however many points inspection that ever car goes through. I'd think a warped or blown head gasket would have perked up someone's ears, but I'm starting to think that they're just liars. I'd rather deal with one of those shady buy-here-pay-here lots. At least then the general manager doesn't sit in his office, hoping you'll go away; oh, no, he comes out and FIGHTS you.

* Mind you, I work at a bar at this point, and I'm wearing a VERY short black dress, hoping that I'm not flashing anyone.
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