The Stupidest Thing I’ve Ever Done

…was to buy a Hyundai. I have no problem with the company, mind you. They’ve made pretty damn good cars for the past few years, with the best warranty you can find. The Accent, which is what I bought, even looks kind of cute.

But none of that matters when you buy a lemon.

This is an exceptionally long story, so I’ll do my best to keep it a reasonable length. It’s long, but it’s entertaining, in a Meet the Parents sort of way. To set the stage a bit: I was without a car throughout college. I simply didn’t need one at the time, and I don’t have the money or the patience for such a ridiculous machine unless it’s absolutely necessary. And now it is necessary because I’m moving to LA. Which is a really poorly planned city.

So I started searching. I didn’t have a job, so I searched every day. For hours, every day. For three weeks, for hours, every day.

And found nothing.

There was always a problem. This car had already sold, that car wasn’t for the price advertised, this other car’s VIN wasn’t clean, etc. Every day, a new problem.

So after three weeks of this, I find a car that checks out okay. My Hyundai. Clean VIN, it drives well, a mechanic said it looks to be in good shape. The guy selling it seemed a bit sleazy, but the car’s fine, so I bite. I’m tired of looking.

What follows is a much abbreviated chronology of the horrible events that followed:

June 15: Pay for car, get keys and title.

June 20: Attempt to register car. The DMV doesn’t like the way the reassignment forms are filled out. They look the dealer up and find out he’s had his NJ dealer’s license revoked. Apparently he had some tax trouble or something.

June 21: Dealer insists it’s all done right. He says they get nervous whenever there’s a stack of papers, and that I should try a different DMV office.

June 22: Against my better judgment, I try a different DMV office. Same result. Afterward, I demand my money back from the dealer. He agrees to meet me on the 24th with a cashier’s check.

June 23: Dealer calls, says he won’t have the money till the 27th. Says he already spent it.

June 27: Dealer calls, says he won’t have the money till the 4th. I bang my head against a wall. Dealer says he guarantees he can get me a clean Pennsylvania title if I bring it over there. It’s a choice between waiting a week for my money or trying to get the car in two days. And the car still seems fine.

June 29: Against my better judgment, I head to PA. But our meeting spot is underwater. The Delaware River flooded the night before. To its highest levels in 50 years. Or something. And Dealer doesn’t have a cell phone. Finally, I track him down, hours later. And spend all day with him going to notaries and DMVs and all sorts of shit. And he smells and is a racist and sexist and an idiot. But I end up with a clean PA title.

June 30: Try to register car in NJ again. Everything goes through okay, except they find a typo in their system during the VIN check.
“We can’t register this till we fix the typo,” they say.
So fix it.
“Only Trenton can fix typos.”
That’s ridiculous.
“But true.”
So call Trenton.
“Trenton is underwater.”
Oh.
“Come back Monday.”

June 31: The NJ government shuts down due to a budget crisis. I bang my head against a wall.

July 10: NJ government reopens 5 days later than anyone expected it to. Car gets re-titled and registered in under 10 minutes.

July 17: Car fails inspection. Apparently it has misfiring cylinders and a missing “Check Engine” light bulb.

July 18. Car’s under warranty, right? I go to a Hyundai dealer to get the problems fixed.
“Can’t do emissions here. We’re not registered to.”
It isn’t emissions.
“It’s under the emissions category of inspection.”
But it isn’t emissions.
“Sorry.”
I’d bang my head against a wall, but there aren’t any, so I bang my head against some Hyundais and get dragged off the lot.

July 20: Find a different Hyundai dealer that can do emissions work. They work for 4 hours and then tell me the cylinders aren’t misfiring. Huh? Oh, but there’s been significant hidden water damage, a few plugs are blown, the airbag module is missing (probably removed intentionally because – they assume – there’s no airbag), and the dashboard instrument panel has been tampered with. And the warranty is probably void ’cause of all the preventable damage. Oh boy. I bang my head against the mechanic, which wasn’t very nice, because he was just doing his job.

And that’s tonight. I just left Dealer a message on his machine, and finished writing a strongly worded letter that basically says he’ll refund me and reimburse all my expenses or I’ll take him to small claims court, file criminal charges for consumer fraud, and notify the DMV offices in both PA and NJ. And then stab him repeatedly in the face.

I’d keep banging my head against the wall, but it’s starting to bruise, and the wall doesn’t look so good either.

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