It's time to shop for a new car. For the next few weeks I'm chronicling my search, reviewing the process, the products, the marketing, the sales experience and the transaction.
Day 5: Next week, we drive.
As I write this, I'm finishing up a week-long vacation in South Haven, Michigan and will soon return to Sheboygan where I can begin phase two of the search, visiting dealerships and test driving cars.
This morning I spent time online mapping the nearest dealerships for each brand on the list (the web is good for something when shopping for cars) and it brings up another question: how important is proximity of a dealer?
As you can imagine, Sheboygan, a city of about 50,000 people, has a Chevy, Ford, Cadillac, VW, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru and Hyundai dealer and each is conveniently located within a few minutes of the ramshackle beach cottage.
To shop, buy and service the other brands – Audi, BMW, Lexus, Infiniti, and Mini – I'll have to drive 45 minutes to an hour to Milwaukee. I realize this is not 1967, the era of planned obsolescence, where cars needed constant service and mechanical maladies were an expected part of the ownership experience for even the best cars. But will/should the inconvenience of having the nearest dealer an hour away factor in my purchase decision? We'll find out.
I'm going to start the process by visiting my local retailers, two or three per evening and then on Thursday, trundle down to Milwaukee and try to take in the other 5 in the course of a day. The hope is I will be able to drive and negotiate the deal for each product, so I can make my decision next Friday.
Wish me luck.