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6 Mistakes You Will Make When Buying Your Next Car

In a perfect world, the only "commuting" we'd do would be over Skype, pants would be illegal, and the only time we'd use the phrase "boss" would be when we wanted to say something was awesome but also that we were getting old. But we don't live in a perfect world. We live in a world with jobs and cars. In case you're not on the up-and-up, cars are big metal boxes that cost over a third of all our money and become totally useless if they get bumped ever, which is why we drive them at high speeds down narrow roads within inches of each other and then leave them outside all day with no one even watching them while we're at work.

But you have to buy one or everyone will think you're making some kind of comment about society or whatever, so let's just make this whole thing as easy as possible: Here's how you will fuck everything up.

#6. Test Driving the Car You Can't Afford

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Let's be clear about this: You are not a "gearhead." The closest you ever came to working on a car engine was when you broke a PlayStation 2 controller playing Grand Theft Auto 3 and duct taped it back together before the cops could bust you. You're so out of touch with car culture that if someone glued a dream catcher to the front of a Hyundai and told you it was a vintage Mercedes, you'd not only believe them, you'd pretend you already knew that. Everyone already knew that. What kind of idiot wouldn't know that?

But that doesn't matter, because this will happen to you anyway. You will go on Craigslist and see a BMW M5 that costs roughly three times the budget you allotted to yourself, and you will do some research and see that it's hilariously expensive to maintain. But it will speak to something inside you, something that has been asleep for years, something that feels strange and exciting and more than a little confusing, so you'll go test drive it anyway, and it'll go like this:

You climb into that leather seat, trying to hide how self-conscious you feel. You shift into third by accident while you're still in the owner's driveway and then mumble some excuse about how you're just checking to see if the clutch slips. Then you start making faces that you hope look like they're coming from thoughts like "I wonder if the crank is shafting" and "How's the tranny?" Finally, you're on the highway, and you really get that machine moving, and it is the greatest thing you've ever experienced. You burn through the cynicism from this article's intro faster than this 4.9-liter V8 engine burns through expensive synthetic motor oil.

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"Hey look, my bank account's empty."

But you can't actually remember if those are words, so instead you say, "It sounds like the suspension is squeaking." Then you glide to a stop at a red light and nod to yourself in satisfaction. "The brakes work," you think smartly.

"You hear squeaking?" the car-owner man asks, confused. "Do you mean the air suspension? That's not ... that's a good thing." He doesn't actually say "you fucking idiot," but the words are crammed into every syllable like empty, rusted Natty Lite cans in the cab of the pick-up truck you bought in high school.

"Oh."

Is he lying to you? You don't know. Hell, you don't even know what to Google in order to figure it out. But whatever he's talking about sounds pretty fucking cool. Air suspension! The Millennium Falcon probably has that.

"I'll go talk to my bank," you say, somehow convinced that you can make this work. But as that beautiful car-demon disappears around the corner, so too does your dream of a rad future with a dope car that sounds like an angry dragon when you start it up. Your strength leaves you, you fall to your knees next to that shitty rental Hyundai, and you cry. You cry like a little wussy baby man.

#5. Going to a Used-Car Dealership

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So you go to the used-car dealership. Again, you do some research, and you try to employ the skills you've learned there, but you never stood a chance. It was all over the minute the manager set his eyes on you, grinned a grinny grin, and said, "Let's let the new kid take this one." Remember who you're dealing with here. These are people who play mind-chess against good-natured suckers for a living, and you're someone who apologizes to grocery store cashiers when your diet isn't properly balanced. These are people who can imbue their conversation voice with a high-frequency sequence of clicks that Morse-codes your credit card into signing up for the extended warranty; you're the kind of person who screws up your taxes because you can't remember if you're supposed to count yourself as a dependent. These are people who could sell a ketchup Popsicle to a woman in white gloves; you're a man who recognizes that as a reference to Tommy Boy. The game is over before you even realize it's afoot, you fucking half-stack.

"Here, have some coffee," the salesman tells you, and as your hands wrap around the smooth, warm cup, you feel your willpower diminish, your steely resolve melt into warm generosity, because of science that they understand and you don't.

"Why don't you take off those sunglasses and go over this rental agreement?" the salesman asks you. You comply. Your power to resist weakens further. You're falling under his spell, and you know it. You have to escape, but his tricks are multitude, and yours aren't even oneitude. Your eyes dart around the room, searching for an exit. In your panic and distraction, you spill your coffee all over his nice, clean white shirt. But before you can even apologize, he hits you with the atom bomb of used-car negotiation:

"No worries," he says, grinning like a fucking snake, "I forgive you."

It's too much. "I'll suck your cock and buy every car you have," you scream. Everyone stares. Your mind goes blank, instinct takes over, and you wet yourself as your last line of defense and run outside. This is an emotionally exhausting day.

#4. Going to a New-Car Dealership

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Ha! Whoa there, Elon Musk. Maybe check your bank account before you wander through those revolving doors.

Yes, your limited funds do devalue you as a person, which leads right to ...

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J. F. Sargent

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