Car Stew - 5/6/04
I’m trying to sell my Grandmother’s car. The Spacemobile is starting to get jealous, ’85 Buick LeSabres aren’t really my thing, and frankly, my Grandmother and I could use the money.

I posted an add on Carsoup.com. It’s pretty nifty – you get check it out if you want, or forward it to someone who might actually want to buy it. Some people have looked at it, but nobody’s made an offer yet. It’s hard to know what to price a car like that. On one hand if you price it too high nobody’s going to be interested in a used car from the mid-80’s, and if they were they’d probably be expecting a lot more than it actually is. On the other hand you don’t want to price too low because you might get taken for a ride, especially since there are much worse cars on Carsoup than this one. I’ve learned that you should be suspicious of any car that lists “full tank of gas" as a key feature.

This ad thing has turned out to be the least of my problems, though. The process of selling an out-of-state car in California is highly complex – only a detailed graphic schematic could really do it justice. I’ll work on one for tomorrow.

To start, the procedure involved me spending some time at the DMV, which actually wasn’t too bad, at first. I was able to make an appointment and thus only had to wait about an hour or so to have some woman look at my paperwork and have guy look at my car and say “Yup. It’s a car.” Then I went back inside to wait for another woman to look at my paperwork. That’s when things got ugly.

To backtrack a second, this is what reconfirmed my belief that the DMV is the worst place on Earth. When I scheduled my appointment online (wow, technology!), I looked around to see if there was any sort of checklist to see what I should bring. I found one, then called them just to make sure, at which point they mentioned a few other things that somehow hadn’t been mentioned on the website, including a letter from my Grandmother stating that no money had been exchanged for the car. None had, but I didn’t have a week for my Grandmother to send me a letter, so I promptly forged one. But nowhere did they tell me I needed to have a smog test done before going to the DMV. I assumed they’d take care of it there, since nobody told me otherwise.

But this was not the case (I’m not sure exactly what that guy was looking for if not smog. Smuggled Mexicans?). So I got yelled at by this lady for not being ready, then she yelled at me again and fined me for taking longer than 10 days (despite the fact that it took me 10 days to get the car insured then 12 days to schedule an appointment with them). Then she really yelled at me because one of my Arizona documents had the date scribbled-over, as if it had been illegally altered. “Look,” I said. “If I was going to alter that date, don’t you think I’d change it to something that wouldn’t get me a fine?” She yelled at me for mouthing off, then yelled at me a fourth time for asking why all this was costing me $110 dollars when the fine was 30 and the registration was 20.

Anyway I left there a smog-test short of registration, and, well… that’s going to have to be another post. That’s when things got real ugly. I’ll leave it at this:

- In order to sell the LeSabre it has to be registered in California.
- In order to be registered in California it has to pass a smog test.
- In order to pass a smog test it needs 500 dollars worth of repairs.

And now the kicker…

- In order for me to afford 500 dollars worth of repairs, I need to sell the LeSabre.

Son of a bitch. Thank god for credit cards.

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