Buying a new car is so traumatic

Buying a new car is so traumatic
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Buying a new car is so traumatic

Seven years is about the most you should expect to keep a car because cars are made to fall apart to help generate more profits for the automobile industry. They don’t make them to last any more. There’s just too much money at stake for the auto industry CEOs and robber barons. I spent weeks looking for a car and found one I liked, but went through hell at one dealership, Hawkinson, finally finding total satisfaction at another dealership, Zeigler. I’m glad I’m finally through it.

By Ray Hanania

I hate buying a new car, but I don’t have much choice.

They are outrageously expensive and the dealerships put so much effort into finding ways to profit off of your ignorance that it’s painful to experience.

My wife and I walked into several dealerships this past week to check out a few cars. The one I have is passing 7 years and I figure I should get rid of it before something happens.

It doesn’t matter whether it is a “foreign made” or “American made” car because all cars are both, these days. It used to be simple. It could be a really American made Chevrolet, rather than a foreign made Toyota. These days, it’s not so clear.



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Cars are not made to last long. Cars are made to make the manufacturers a lot of money. Why else are the CEOs of the automotive companies among the nation’s richest people?

The pearl white Nissan Murano I fell in love with at Hawkinson, was yanked from me as I was sitting down trying to buy it from the salesman. Test drove. Found it (way in the back), and had my own car evaluated for a trade-in. But it still didn't matter. Fortunately Zeigler was able to help me salvage my sanity. Photo courtesy of Ray Hanania

The pearl white Nissan Murano I fell in love with at Hawkinson, was yanked from me as I was sitting down trying to buy it from the salesman. Test drove. Found it (way in the back), and had my own car evaluated for a trade-in. But it still didn’t matter. Fortunately Zeigler was able to help me salvage my sanity. Photo courtesy of Ray Hanania

There are three things you have to keep in mind when buying a car. The dealer prices are high because they expect you to negotiate them down. So, even if the sticker price says one thing, it doesn’t mean that’s the bottom line.

But those three factors are important. First, how much are you hoping to spend on a car? Second, how much of that will be cash and how much will be a loan? And most importantly of all, how much do you expect on your trade-in, if, like most people you have a car you want to unload.

Sure, you can sell the car to someone in the public and make money by charging more. That’s what the dealership is going to do. But for you, it’s tougher. They send their trade-ins to a wholesaler that auctions them off to buyers who run smaller lots.

The first thing the dealership will do once you pick a car you like is offer you a price.  Make sure it includes ALL of the costs like the taxes you will pay and other fees that might exist.

Tell them you want that total cost, something they will hesitate to offer. Write it down when you talk because when they say a car costs so much, later you might find that doesn’t include certain fees you thought were included.

Take your time to figure out what it will really cost you, after the trade in.

Dealerships offer either cash back credits ($500 to $10,000), or you can get an interest-free loan.

I like the interest-free loans, myself. But I don’t like the way they have been keeping the monthly payment down under $500 by extending the length of the loan. It’s a lot like the misleading price of gasoline.

It used to be that there was only a 10-cent spread between the three different versions of gasoline grade (regular, unleaded and premium unleaded). Last year, the gasoline companies raised the spread to 20 cents and when no one complained, they raised the spread to 30 cents.

That’s what happens when the public “bleats” like sheep instead screaming like taxpayers who work hard and care about that money they earn.

Another problem to worry about is your credit rating. Tell the salesman not to check your credit rating until AFTER you decide to buy the car. If the dealership makes a check, it will “ding” your credit rating and bring it down. You might go to four dealerships and your credit rating will drop even more

Never mind the costs of cars these days. You want a decent car with some of the neat accessories? $50,000!

Honestly, I wish there was a better way to buy a new car.

It’s so nerve racking. I feel like I have to be wearing football gear readying for the final five yard push to the goal line.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist, author and former Chicago City Hall reporter. Share your experience and email him at

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at, and at, and at He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper,, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.

The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.

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