An action packed day today. First we were off to a wedding fair. I'm not getting married, but I know someone who is..... Anyhoo, it was fun. Lots of free cake.
Then, after lunch, it was on to look at second hand cars. Again, not for me, but apparently I'm the "car expert" in the family, mainly because I used to drive a very old, first generation Mini, and you had to become a bit of a car expert just to keep those kinds of cars going. So it was my job to kick tyres and wear a leather jacket in a knowledgeable way.
Times have moved on a bit. In my time in this part of the market the principle question you had to consider was "How much of this car is actually metal?" as the vehicles of the age tended to turn back into iron ore (or rust as it is more commonly known) really easily. The cars that we saw today, although they were at the lower end of the market, seemed to have all of their metal still present, which is the good news. The bad news is that a modern cars have very expensive engine management systems and other fancy electronic gizmos that are pretty much impossible to fix and very expensive to replace. My Mini had fewer electrical things in it than you could find in the door of a car today. So rules about low mileage and as new as you can get it still apply in spades.
We took a car for a test drive. That was fun. The car was being sold as low mileage. As in "freakishly low". As in "we replaced the speedometer last year low". The garage staff had definitely read "Pro-tips for car buyers" Chapter 1, where it is written that "You can tell mileage of a car by wear on things like the top of the gear stick and the foot pedals." This car had a brand new gear lever and shiny pedals, which shows enterprise on the part of the sales team, but the amount of wobble in the gear linkage and rattles from under the bonnet told a story quite at odds with the number on the dial.
As we were leaving, promising to think about the purchase, a chap came out with another salesman and examined the car we had just tested. We left with him looking around the vehicle with evident enthusiasm, opening the bonnet, peering inside and looking genuinely interested. I got to thinking that perhaps, if a sale looks like it is teetering on the brink, they get someone to come and do that in front of a prospective customer. But then I am very cynical.
I only know two things about buying cars. One is that it is a lottery and the other is that it is expensive one way or another. You reach a point where you just have to take a deep breath and take the lowest risk that you can afford. Bit like life really.