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Narrowing the Car Search

April 29, 2014

I’m on a mission to buy a new car. Well new-to-me, most likely. The world, however, is working against me.

A little word to the wise: if you’re searching for a car to buy and you want it to be a manual, plan ahead. Plan far, far ahead. They are few and far between. Ugh.

I’ve been using a couple different apps to search for a car from the comfort of my bed or couch in an effort to combat the frustration of the whole process. Screenshots in this post are from the app which I actually do recommend.

Here’s my search for used cars: all makes and all models under $25,000 within 150 miles of where I live (York PA). You’ll notice the search comes back with 114,205 results, automatically sorted by highest price first, of course.

searching for a car - all results

Right about here is where I decide that I’m living in the wrong decade:

searching for a car - automatic vs manualMore than 89,000 automatic cars and I get a measly 7k manuals to choose from. I haven’t figured out what “other/unknown” is (I’m hoping more “unknown” than “other”). Still, I’m down to 6% of my original options. SIX PERCENT!!! Yes, that warrants all caps and a hundred exclamation points. I spared you from 97 of those.

At this point, I start losing hope in the American population and wondering why the hell we became automatic-lovers. (Although, I do understand if you have kids or do a lot of city/traffic driving). Not me. I’ve been temporarily borrowing an automatic while my cars’ issues are getting diagnosed and/or fixed and it’s borrrring. Snoozefest. You totally lose the thrill of driving! Driving becomes a method to get you from point A to point B instead of an enjoyable thing to do. Guys, if you never learned to drive stick, go ask someone to teach you! It’s so much more fun! Alright, off my soap box and back to (severely) narrowing the car search.

Since I’m generally a pain in the ass anyway because I know what I want, of course I just had to go and make this harder… I want a sunroof. You know how common that is? Notsomuch. I’ve had a sunroof in all three of my cars since I started driving and I love having it. I know it’s a shocker that this pale freckled girl would want to let more sun in but… believe it.

Here’s where we end up after filtering for a sunroof: 1,650 cars. Not many but still enough to hopefully find one that works for me!

searching for a car - sunroof

Oh by the way, hilariously, all of the car-search apps I’ve been using have recommended I get a MINI. Hellz yeah! If I could afford two cars, I’d get a MINI for the Most Fun Driving Ever and then a more practical car for lugging stuff (and my butt) around.

I further narrow the selection by choosing my door count. (FYI: 5-door is typically a hatchback). John currently has a two-door and it bugs the crap out of me. Never again… until I’m an empty-nester!

searching for a car - doors

I proceed to really screw myself into a limited selection by preferring a hatchback and/or wagon body style. It’s what I have now and it works really well for trips and transporting items that would not fit in a regular trunk. You could probably translate that as “it enables my compulsion to overpack for trips.” Whatevs.

searching for a car - bodytype

So far we’ve narrowed our selection of used cars from all makes and all models under $25k within 150 miles of me to: manual transmission, sunroof, four or five door, hatchback or wagon. And that leaves me with a grand total of…

searching for a car - end results

92 options. I actually can’t stand white so if I filtered that out, I’d be left with even less. If I was really being honest, I’d filter for 75,000 miles or less and dark interior. I wouldn’t be surprised if that left me with a whopping one option that I was then forced to buy :)

Recently my brother purchased a car in California and drove cross-country, stopping at different points to visit parks and car clubs and other destinations. That idea sounded a bit crazy at the time but now I’m thinking he might’ve been onto something…

Anyone up for a road trip?

I’ll keep you posted on the car search and in the meantime, please let me know if you’re selling a car that fits my criteria. Hell, if you want to buy me a new car, I’d be okay with that too. In that case, I wouldn’t mind a Subaru or an Audi. Just sayin.

Have you had to search for a new-to-you car in the last few years? Got any tips for me? What was your experience like?

6 Comments leave one →
  1. April 29, 2014 10:40 am

    Maybe unknown/other is a space ship!!!
    Also, I find the unknown option pretty funny when it comes to the # of doors. How is that unknown? “I haven’t had time to go count the number of doors on this car I’m selling.” OR “I can’t count any higher than three and I know the car has more than that so I’ll put unknown.” I don’t get it.
    I am an automatic driver. Unless it’s a tractor on my parents farm, of course. When I was a teenager I drove our manual truck into the wall of the barn and they never made me drive a manual again.
    I am totes in favor of the road trip to get a car! Come through New Mexico!

    • April 29, 2014 8:19 pm

      You’re so right. haha. I wouldn’t mind owning a spaceship I guess!

      I think I’d buy a car in CA and travel along the south, stopping in NM. Sounds good to me!

  2. April 29, 2014 11:29 pm

    Well, at least on the upside, you know what you want. It maybe doesn’t seem like an upside when you can’t find what you want, but when you find THE car, you’ll know.

    Our last car buying experience was exhausting because there were so many options! We had a price range and mileage range we were interested in, but we were pretty open minded about make, model, year, etc. etc. etc. It didn’t help that we had a very tiny window of time (the rental car was due!). It was paiiiiiiinful. We eventually settled on “The Blue Goose” (a blue Impala), but I’m not crazy about it. Something about the seat feels funny and the pedals aren’t even. So that is Stephen’s car and I drive our Volvo, lovingly nicknamed “The Gold Nugget.” Of course, since he’s not around, I’ve been switching between both cars regularly to make sure they both stay in working order.

    • April 30, 2014 7:23 pm

      haha. First part of your comment: are we still talking about cars? Could totally apply to men.

      Even if I went for an automatic, I’m not sure I’d ever have too many options because I’m too darn picky. Maybe some day! I hope you’ll be able to some day soon trade in The Blue Goose and get something you like better! I didn’t realize The Gold Nugget was a Volvo! Those have come a long way… Volvos are kinda sexy now.


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