Reposted from last year because a friend who couldn't find this post asked me to.
P.S.: Sensitive men with a weak heart or a huge ego should not read this post.
Buying a car is like finding a husband. Now potential husbands should take this with a pinch of salt, especially if they are potential car sellers too. You see, the process begins with visual estimation. You go to car selling websites and put a certain number of search criteria you are looking for- make, model, mileage, and price. The same happens in a matrimonial website, or in any potential mate hunting arena- bars, friend’s birthday party, dandiya celebrations, anywhere you can find a reasonable number of men showcased to take a look. You are still looking at the same parameters- make, model, mileage and price, be it a car or a man.
Which year’s model? If you are buying a used car, you probably don’t want to go below a 2005 model. Or maybe anything beyond a 1977 model is going to be too old and age-wise incompatible for you. Just an example based on personal preference.
Make? Want to go for a big, fat, spacious SUV man? Or a flashy convertible man? You can stick to the common “sedan” man of course – boring but dependable - moderate looks, moderate qualifications, neither rich and spacious like the SUV nor flashy like the convertible.
Of course the carfax record has to be clean when you put the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). You prefer not to have any previous accidents, fender benders, or wrecked titles. Just like you don’t want any history of troublemaking, divorcees, unwed fathers, or “only married for a few days” models if you are aiming for a new one. The carfax provides a total history of vehicles, and so does Google, sneaking into his profile in facebook or orkut without his knowledge, or finding his colleagues, common friends or ex-girlfriends and getting them talking. It is amazing how much information a search engine, social networking website, or a drunk friend can provide.
Carfax clean? Of course you know by now what the car looks like from the website. You don’t want to waste your time with profiles without pictures, who claim that they will send you pictures once they “get to know you well”. This is pretty intimidating frankly, my parents have known each other for more than 30 years now, and they could vouch for the fact that they still “don’t know each other well”. For all you know, the person at the other end whose voice turns you on might be a bald, huge man in need of a facial plastic surgery and contact lenses.
The Kelly Blue Book (KBB) price is a different ballgame altogether. Certain features like power windows, the presence of sunroofs, and the music player system add value to the car. Similar attributes add up to the guy’s profile in the KBB – IITian? Doctor or computer professional? Works in the US? Owns a condo or drives a Ferrari? Single child without the hassle of dealing with dominating moms or interfering sisters in the family? This goes a long way in escalating his KBB value in the market.
And then you meet for the first time, and visual appraisal (or checking out) happens. The first date is like the test drive. Look for the slightest, weirdest sounds in the engine, no matter how much the owner claims otherwise. Look for tiny glitches, look for the weird things he does. Maybe he picks his nose while working on an analytical problem. Maybe he doesn’t have sexy, dependable hands with well trimmed nails. Maybe he is trying to be a cool smartass which he is far from. Maybe you spotted that little patch of baldness he has been trying to hide all this while with his hair neatly combed. Maybe he doesn’t share your sentiments with equal fervor when you say you are passionate about animal rights or babies or appears bored while you explain to him why pink is your favorite color. Maybe he talks a lot about his mom. You have every right to “check him out” for these glitches. Remember, once you decide to go for it, it is safe to assume you would be stuck with him for a good chunk of the rest of your life. The moment you commit, your own KBB value has gone down.
The mechanic check is like going on subsequent dates when you get to know the person more thoroughly. Test drive as much as you want. Act indifferently. See if the seller is too eager to sell it. Look bored when he says he went to school in MIT. Yawn when he talks animatedly about his research focus. Drive him and push him to the limits. Text your friends pretending not to listen while he tries to make conversation. Let him pay if he offers to. Don’t call him for the next 2 weeks. Chances are he will end the conversation with an “It was nice meeting you, call me sometime” catch phrase. Chances are your acting difficult will turn him on. Who knows what these men like?
Make a list of compulsory criteria that he must absolutely have (looks, height, chivalry, a US degree, a sexy smile) and a list of secondary criteria that are not necessarily deal breakers (can’t think of any right on the top of my head). Depending on your budget, see if you want to compromise for certain attributes. These are secondary of course. You prefer the car is red with a sunroof. You prefer the guy can dances salsa or play the guitar. You prefer a V6 engine guy instead of V4. You decide on the trade offs of having a high maintenance versus a low maintenance man. Scan the market and go for a model upgrade if possible.
Look for mileage. Ask cryptic questions to see how many relationships he has had in the past and why they did not work out. Look for previous owners- how many women have driven him before. Get in touch with them and compare notes. Okay, not that far maybe, but still.
Look for how well it is maintained. Regular oil changes, 90k plus servicing. Is the man well maintained? Does he gym regularly and do yoga and meditation classes? Does he hog like a glutton or eats sensibly, especially after he is 30? Look for the kind of food he orders on a date.
Of course if you are divorced, previously taken, or above 35, chances are more you will end up with a lemon (a car/relationship that can die in the middle of the road any day). And remember, we usually end up buying “used” cars. Finding “new” cars is hard and expensive. If it is a 1972 model but still a “new car”, he is either not straight, or has been a social embarrassment in the past.
Some deals are very suspicious and too good to be true and need to be flagged right away. These are the ones where the in laws claims they will give you all their jewelry and property back in India once you agree to marry the lad. A background check confirms that he is not straight, or has had a child from a previously annulled marriage. These are highly fraud deals.
Usually Japanese models are very reliable and run forever. German models are on the same lines. American ones are shitty in terms of efficiency. Bengali models are usually reliable as long as you can live with the fact that his mommy is the best and mommy will always come first, even before you. South Indian models are reliable as long as you accept that these will all be computer engineers who think they are the most culturally inclined species and will not communicate with you in any other language. Marwari models tend to go high on dowry. Stereotypical and racist, I know, but true nevertheless.
But beyond all these comes the most important factor- The kind of insurance you can buy for the car. See what kind of insurance the man is willing to offer. See if he is committing to marry, or giving you funde on the bliss of a live-in relationship. If you still find his matrimonial profile up there in public even after the 6th date, if he says he needs more time to figure out things (and does not specify how much time) or is hesitant to make you meet his parents, consider yourself uninsured. For a non-committal relationship where the guy doesn’t know what he wants or shows clear signs of commitment-phobia, prepare to live with the knowledge that your relationship is going to be totaled any day something hits it. Start looking for another car before that happens to you. Dump the car before the car dumps you. Euphemistically said.
Push. Bargain. Negotiate. Don’t be afraid to go for the attributes you are looking for. And no matter how much friends, family, or well wishers advice for or against a particular model, go with your gut feeling. It is you who will live with it. Drive him (insane). Feel his attitude. Don’t be afraid to explore the expansiveness of the relationship. Sometimes, everything right does not sum up to feeling right overall. Sometimes, one look and you know that this is the one. Judge. Use brains instead of emotions. Play hard to get. Car hunting and mate hunting is as much of a process as it is an outcome.