Saturday, September 3, 2011

My Experience In Getting A Car

What a crazy past few days. Literally, I thought I was going crazy during the process of getting a car.

I have been looking on Kijiji {like Craig's list in America} for a car since the beginning of summer, but nothing really panned out. Well, my brother offered to sell me his car, but I'm not a huge fan of Pontiac Sunfires and didn't really want to get it. I eventually gave in and this past Tuesday went through the process of changing the ownership over to me.

What a N.I.G.H.T.M.A.R.E.

In Ontario you have to get an emissions test as well as a safety anytime you change ownership. Drive Clean is Ontario's mandatory vehicle emissions inspection and maintenance program. It improves our health and environment by reducing smog-causing pollutants through testing and repairing vehicle emissions systems. I suppose it is good for the environment and all, but the mechanic bill sure racks up if your car fails the e-test! The real sinker is the safety test. Basically, you have to get everything that is wrong with your car fixed before you can get ownership. And, if you get an older car or a previous owner didn't take care of the car, you'll have major problems.

On Monday, my brother and I went to Service Ontario to see what exactly we needed to do in order to have the ownership transferred over to me. The lady at the counter told us the right spots to sign on the back, said I would need to get insurance, and that the car need to be safetied as the certificate is only good for 30 days. Nothing about getting another e-test done.

My brother left for college that night leaving me to wade through all government requirements.

I started looking for the best insurance rates on Tuesday and made an appointment for Wednesday morning. I talked to the insurance lady {which, incidentally, is the same one my Dad has dealt with and one I used when I was a secondary driver before I went away to college} and we got everything set up. Since there is history between her and my family, we talked and one thing brought up was getting the safety done on my car. Notice, I never told her definitely I was going to take my car that day to get it safetied.

Now that I had insurance, I could get my temporary plates and drive the car to get it safetied and so on. Upon receiving my temps, I was told I had 10 days to get the safety done. Alright, that gives me enough time to figure out which mechanic to use. I asked around and the general consensus was to NOT got to Canadian Tire which is what I was going to do originally since my brother had taken it there. Apparently, they have a bad record of over charging and finding things to fix.

I ended up taking it to Ultra Care Auto upon recommendation and they did a quick look at the framework--so a pre-pre-safety. They said the car looked pretty good but that I would definitely have to change the front two tires.

I planned on visiting several body shops to find the best deal, but matters were taken out of my hands when I got a call from my insurance lady asking me for "the papers". I was really confused as to what she wanted from me seeing as I had a full 9 days before my temps expired. That's what I understood, but apparently--which the insurance lady failed to inform me--the insurance company requires new policy holders to bring a copy of ownership and safety to the office within 24 hours. Based off of our hour+ talk when I got my insurance, she assumed I would get my safety done immediately and therefore saw no need to tell me of their 24 hour policy.

So, I did what any young-doing-this-for-the-first-time-single lady would do: I panicked. Looking back, that was my first big, BIG, mistake. With pressure from my insurance lady to get this done {since what she had done could get her fired} ASAP, I parked my car at the mechanic's around 2:00 Thursday afternoon. The mechanic was doing me a favor since they were pretty busy until the following Tuesday.

I called to let my insurance lady {IL} know I had it parked and would bring her the papers as soon as I could. She told me she wanted them by noon the next day {Friday} since the office people would be mad at her if she gave them paperwork at 3:00 in the afternoon on a long weekend. And also, she would have to re-do the insurance policy if the present one became null and void.

My second big mistake was accepting blame that all of this was MY fault and rushing around trying to rectify the problem without thinking through the situation.

Friday morning T was gracious enough to pick me up in the morning so I could pick up my car from the mechanics. The print shop is just down the street a little ways so I was going to help out until the car was finished. The mechanic had assured me it would be well before noon, but the closer it got to 12:00 and no phone call, the more my stomach started to be queasy and I was losing concentration on my task at hand {packaging some books for Reformer's Unanimous}. I recounted the box twice because L & A didn't think I had counted right. The first time they thought there wasn't enough in the box; when I recounted into a different box--I reached 500 before the first box was empty!! While A--the expert packer--was sorting through, L, seeing that I was far away in my thoughts and terribly worried about the strict timetable I was on, gently suggested I go call the mechanic to get an update. I threw her a grateful smile and walked up to the front of the building where Mr. K gave them a quick call for me. They would be done in 15 minutes and not a minute to spare. The IL was not going to get her papers before noon.

After leaving the auto body shop, I went over to the Service Ontario to get my permanent plates and ownership. I looked in dismay at the long line of people, and settled in to wait. It went surprisingly fast, and soon I was at the counter and told the lady what I needed. She asked me for a paper  and after a blank look from me, gave me a form to fill out. While I was doing that she punched some info into the computer, asked for my driver's license, temporary ownership, safety, and e-test. I showed her the only paper the mechanic gave me. She shook her head. I showed her the e-test paper my brother had gotten when he got his done, thinking that is what she wanted. Nope. She wanted a current one. I almost told her that I was told by her people that all I had to get was the safety. But, there was a long line of people behind me and I just didn't want to get into it with her. So, I packed up my papers and left.

I went back to the mechanic to ask him if they could do a quick e-test. They didn't, but he referred me to a mechanic over at....Canadian Tire. By this time it was nearing after 1 so I asked the CT guy if they could do it before 3. He said yes, but it might be about an hour before anyone could look at my car. I told him I would wait in the waiting area and sat in a spot where I could see my car. Bad move. Every few seconds I looked up only to see my car still in its parked spot. I tried reading, and even writing a letter to my friend but nothing worked. I was super conscious of the time and knew it was getting later and later in the day. By 2:00, I realized that my car might not even pass the e-test. But, I still couldn't relax until I knew for sure whether it failed or not and my all day running around and stressing out and being sick to my stomach was all for naught.

Finally I saw a mechanic pull my car into the body shop and anxiously watched through the window. He would do something and scribble on a piece of paper and test something else. His face didn't give me one clue as to whether or not my car would pass. "This is ridiculous" I told my self  and I didn't care whether or not I was on time at my IL's office. Of course, I wanted my car to pass the e-test, but I was done catering to my IL. If things worked out, they worked out; if not? so be it.

I watched as the mechanic slipped the paper into a protective sheet and walked to the entrance of the service center. I quickly got up out of my seat and went to be checked out. I pulled out my wallet ready to pay, when the words of the cashier stopped me cold: She didn't pass.

I knew it was a possibility, but I didn't think the car would actually fail the e-test. I paid for the service and drove away. As soon as I could, I called the IL to let her know that I wasn't going to be coming in. By this time it was 3:00. She told me for a fee of $200 I could get plates for my car for this year--overriding the failed e-test. I asked her how much it was to get my plates after re-doing the e-test, but she didn't know. I agreed to call Service Ontario to see if I could do as she suggested.

Third big mistake. Why I kept pursuing it after all that had gone on during the day, I have no idea.

I couldn't do it {which I already had my suspicions} and learned the normal fee is around $75. I called my IL back and told her there was nothing more I could do and I was not coming in on Tuesday {as she kept saying for me to do} and told her I would think about it and see what my options are this weekend.

I better hurry...time is running short.

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