Monday, August 6, 2012

Test Drive: A New Car

Actual date of this event: 3 Aug

Home Update: We are still waiting to hear back from our realtor. Hopefully we will know soon...

Friday was a big big big day for us! We finally had a full available day and it was designated for car shopping. We had heard many things going in to this experience which I will explain as we go along. We woke up at 7:30am because we wanted to be first there, and since we had a 2.1mi walk to the first set of dealerships, we needed to leave early. It was THE MOST BEAUTIFUL day again! Luke and I put on our walking shoes, jeans, a jacket, and head out. The jackets came off within 2 min of walking because it was actually very warm... but actually only about 55 degrees. Our walk was a fairly painful one because it was uphill until the last half mile. We were sweating a full bullets which was a bit unexpected - obviously!

When we arrived, we had about 5 dealerships to shop at. Luke had already done some previous research online, so he had some idea of what was out there. Our must haves: automatic, 4-door, and of course a price limit. Our wants: used, navigation, leather seats, not-a-goofy-clown-car, low mileage, under 3yr old. Automatic was the absolute top criteria, since I refuse to add learning how to drive a standard at the same time as learning how to drive in the UK (see 'Day One' post). I might as well go jump off the cliff down the road if Im going to sign up for that craziness! While looking around, we did NOT get attacked by salesmen. In the USA, salesmen work on commission and are by your side within 1 minute of you walking up to the lot. In Aberdeen, salesmen work on commission and stay sitting at their desk in side as you come to find them when you need them. Complete opposite in the two countries, so it was an interesting change. When we were finally ready to know more about a vehicle, we had to go inside where the men were cooped up on this beautiful day to ask for help. Strange. Automatics are very hard to find in the UK since everyone drives a standard so were very limited in choices. We were shown all of the automatics in all 5 lots, and only two made the cut of worthy to test drive.

Our first vehicle to test drive was a BMW 320d (the d means deisel). So Luke gets in the vehicle, I was told to get in the front passenger seat, and a 16 yr old sales trainee is the "dummy" for a test drive. The salesman did not go with us which was strange. Im not sure if salesmen dont usually go or if he was scared to ride with us first time UK drivers, but I will go with the former. Luke begins driving and I feel like he is trying to race down the road, even though he is only going 30mph. He tells the 16 yr old to speak up if he is doing something wrong since it is his first time and Luke might kill him. Luke does pretty well, and since the car was about out of gas, we could not go far. It was now my turn to drive. Eeeeek! So we switch sides and I am now sitting on the right side of the vehicle. Its very weird... the seatbelt is the other way, the lever needs to be used with my left hand not right hand and the rearview mirror is on my left. The gas and brake are still the same and to still be used with my right foot, and the blinker is still on the left of the steering wheel, thank God. So I struggle to put the car into drive because I am using my left hand, I never knew my right hand was more talented than my left :-/ I pull away from the curb (which Luke parked on the right side of the road which is wrong, BTW) and I apologize ahead of time to the 16 yr old that I will probably drive very slow. I come up to a turn where I have to turn left and luckily no cars are coming, so I am free to go onto the main road. I immediately get into the lane I need to be in for the next turn. I try my best to stay in the lane since it is easy to lose focus and veer left. Americans are so used to putting their own body in the left side of the lane, but here you have to place your body on the right. Its easy to hit a curb on the left and/or easy to cross over into the lane on the left. It was a very short test drive, and I am not responsible for making a right turn which will cross over the other side of the road and onto the left of a car turn from the road I am turning onto. All good, no problems. I turn back into the dealership parking lot which is really the size of one American lane. I have to pull as close to the left as possible, so that other cars can drive around me. I was no where close enough to the left, so Luke had to re-position the car... I was too scared I was going to hit something.

We get out and are preparing to test drive our next vehicle. The salesman comes out and asks how the drive was. My response: "Well it my first time driving, so I cant tell whether or not I liked the way the vehicle drove." Its the truth. We get into our next vehicle, a Mercedes-Benz C Class. This time we had more gas, so we were able to test drive longer. Luke drives first again, and he heads the opposite direction of the our first drive. He goes through two round-abouts with ease :-) and while doing this, I am thinking "Oh great, I have to go through these on the way back." He turns around, and I doing a little reversing to practice. I am used to a back-up camera while reversing so not having one did not help this process. It was all good, but took about 5 minutes to do... ooops, sorry 16 yr old. I get moving on the road, and I am feeling it! I did get reminded at one point to move over because I was getting close to the left curb, but lets forget that one :-) I come up on a round-about, and I also do it with ease! Yeehaw! The second round-about I actually needed to do a left turn which ended up being a light. So a left turn here is like a right turn in America. In America, you can turn right on red. In the UK, you cannot turn left on red. So I wait for the green light, and I head back to the dealership. I do better pulling this car in toward the left... no one needed to move this one!

We now have the decision to make on a vehicle. Since, Luke had done previous research, he figured that this was the best we would do in automatics. If we were to keep looking, we would have to walk over 4mi to the other set of dealerships. We weight the pros and cons of both vehicles. The Mercedes drove better in my opinion, but that may be biased since I drove it second. It is 3yrs old, but has 33,000 miles. The BMW is  6yrs old but only has 12,000 miles. It also has reverse sensors and a sunroof. Both have about the same features other than that.

I really did not care which vehicle... and I left the decision up to Luke. We really could not choose. We stared at both vehicles for 20 minutes trying to find something wrong with one of them. The Mercedes was still parked along the path, and at one point, a vehicle drove by it. Deep down, I wished the car would get hit to make our decision easier. That didnt happen. Then, a man was checking out the BMW for a few minutes, and we secretly wished he would show serious interest in it to make our decision easier. And that didnt happen. So finally Luke chose the BMW. When I asked him, why, he said "(pause) Thats why." Does his reasoning make sense? No, but he has no reason as to why he chose... he just did.

We go inside to tell the salesman, who just did NOTHING for this sale... still making commission off of it. He reassures us it is a great car, and he has a BMW himself. He says it will take a while to get it to us. He asks when we want it, and Luke says this afternoon. HAHAHAHAHAHAH the salesman laughs and says that cannot happen. Because it is a Friday, the earliest we can get it is Monday. Even though it sucks, they will carefully clean it up and doing a service on it to make sure it is working well. I dont mind them doing so, but Luke it seriously bothered by it. He sucks it up, and we only have to put a deposit down. On Monday, Luke will go back to complete the sale and pick it up. We will finally be able to begin our driving practice, go to the grocery store without walking 4mi and continue/host the exploration of Scotland's country side in our vehicle rather than a friend's.

Before a stop light turns green, you are given a one second yellow light to prepare you for the green light.



  1. I think Luke made the right decision to choose the BMW. BMW is one of the most celebrated brands in the automobile industry right now, and for good reason: it produces some of the best quality cars. Is that the exact color of the BMW that you both wanted? Well, I think it’s just perfect for the both of you.

    *Tyra Shortino

    1. Hi Tyra,
      We weren't being picky with color because we had so many other things we were being picky with - automatic, used and four door - all of which are very difficult to find in Aberdeen. We've enjoyed the vehicle so far!

  2. I agree with the salesman. BMW is definitely a great car and you’ll love it even more once you get used to it. I’ve owned several models of BMW in the past years, and it never fails to give the best driving experience. In fact, I currently own a 2012 BMW 3 Series Convertible. Whenever I drive this car, it always gives me a luxurious driving experience. Good decision, Luke!

    >Carry Bacot

    1. Hi Carry,
      We have gotten used to the car, and its been good to us. Unfortunately, since we are both from the Southern part of the States, we were not thinking about the ice and snow in Aberdeen. We have had some traction problems, but we have both learned to take it easy when any snow falls.
      Glad you are enjoying your vehicle!


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