Finally Got A New Car

I’ve been speaking about getting a new car for a long time, something to replace my Honda Civic, and it looks like it finally happened. Initially I wanted an Audi. First the A4, then the Audi S4, and then Chris got me thinking about the Audi S5. I also looked at the Lexus IS250 / IS350 and even though tons of friends told me how fun that car was, a couple of friends (who I take car advice from) convinced me of otherwise (not that it wasn’t fun, but that there were deficiencies that made other cars better in its class). Then I started asking myself if I wanted new or used. Of course I would like something shiny and new, but in the class of cars I was looking at, they depreciated so fast I would save a lot of money buying used. Then I heard about the Tesla Model S and fell in love, but it wasn’t coming out until 2012. I figured my Civic could probably last me until then or until I could decide on something I wanted.

Due to unfortunate circumstances, I had to buy a car soon and that’s when I enlisted Derek’s help. He asked what my price range was and what type of cars I was interested. I decided I would have a budget of $50k and the types of cars I was interested were sporty small/medium sized cars. He suggested a new or used BMW 135i or BMW 335i would suit me. He also told me to start the process of getting approval for an auto loan. After comparing the costs of a new vs used vehicles and discussing with Derek, I think it made more sense for me to get used. I would be able to save ~40% if I bought a 2 year old BMW. Another interesting thing is the warranty is extended by 2 years if you buy BMW CPO (Certified Pre-Own) and the free maintenance will continue from when the original owner purchased it. That actually sold me on getting a BMW. I don’t have to worry about maintenance for 2 years and the warranty would last 4 more years.

After researching auto loans online, I went with PenFed which had a 3.25% rate for 60 months for used vehicles. I was able to apply for up to $50,000 which was convenient. Unfortunately I found out the next day that my loan was not ready, despite the fact I had expressed it. I called in to find out what was wrong and apparently they saw 2 mortgages on my credit report and asked if I had a rental property or had a co-signer. I explained I had recently refinanced and that may be why 2 mortgages were showing up. I faxed in proof that I had paid off my previous mortgage and my loan was pre-approved. I understand I may actually be able to get better financing at dealerships, but I wanted to have an alternative option to fall back on.

That weekend, Derek and I went car shopping. We hit up both BMW Northwest and BMW Seattle. BMW Bellevue didn’t really have any cars I wanted to look at, plus I’ve heard horror stories about how they treat customers. I had decided early on that the BMW 135i was a bit too tiny for my taste, but I did like the BMW 335i. Derek was trying to convince me to get the coupe, but after looking at the coupe vs the sedan, I preferred the look of the sedan more. It was unfortunate that it was raining the day we went, but I still had fun test driving. It’s weird that the 1st car we looked up ended up being the car I ultimately purchased. It was the right color and it had a really nice set of options. It came with the premium and sports packages, navigation, HD radio, iPod adapter, and some other nice perks. The only thing we figured it was missing was the cold weather package. And as Derek says, it’s also missing a nice set of wheels. I think it comes with the stock sports wheels.

BMW 335i

But we didn’t purchase that day since my auto-loan check hadn’t arrived yet, and I didn’t want to be cornered into using their financing. While I waited for my check to arrive, I continued to monitor for new cars. It’s funny how Derek was more worried about the car’s history than I was. He went through the Carfax report trying to figure out what everything meant and did a much better inspection of the car than I could ever have. I guess that’s why he’s the guy to look to for these kinds of things. He was definitely a better negotiator than I was as I probably would’ve admitted defeat a lot earlier on.

The check finally arrived and Derek and I scheduled to go down on Thursday. I confirmed Thursday morning that the car was still available and we drove down to BMW Northwest. This is the first time I actively participated in negotiating a car’s price, since my dad was the one who did all the negotiating for my Honda Civic. It was an interesting back and forth and my sales guy brought out the infamous 4 squares sheet. Though after our first round of negotiation, he pretty much scrapped that sheet as he knew we wouldn’t bother with it. All in all, I had a rather pleasant experience and it was a lot better than I had expected it to be. Derek and I were able to get the price knocked down by ~$2000, and got them to throw in some mats + fix the siding which popped out a bit more than normal. We were also trying to get them to replace one of the tires because the treading looked non-existent, but they wouldn’t budge on that.

Something else I found out about the car is that the original owner had purchased extended maintenance, which means not only do I have an extended warranty, but my free maintenance is also extended to 11/2014. We discussed financing and BMW was able to offer me 2.90% for 60 months which I took. Of course they tried to up sell the warranty and other protection plans, but they weren’t pushy at all. When I declined them, we just moved on. I had put $5,000 down and apparently I was able to charge $3,000 to my credit card (Derek found that out for me). At 2% cash back, that’s an extra $60 in savings! Another fun fact, BMW Northwest being in Tacoma has a lower sales tax than King County (9.6% vs 9.8%). That’s an additional ~$60 in savings.

Since they had to fix the siding, I was unable to take the car home that same day. It’s a bit sad after buying such a nice toy that you can’t take it home immediately. Fortunately my sales guy called me up early this morning and told me my car was ready. I wouldn’t be able to get down there before he left, so he offered to drive it up to me, which worked out great. Interestingly, they replaced the tire that we had requested but was denied during negotiations. Both Derek and I found that to be very weird, since when have you heard the dealer throwing in such a big bonus after he’s already sold you the car. Either he really wanted to make me happy or my only other explanation was that the tire really didn’t meet CPO specification and they were required to replace it.

I’ve been going through the owner’s manual and this is one complicated beautiful piece of machine. There’s SO MANY buttons. While driving over to Derek’s after I got the car today, I accidentally hit the paddle shifts and it went into manual mode. I didn’t know how to change it back to D. I shifted from M5 down to M2 and then back up to M5. At a stop light, I ended up shifting to N and then back to D and things worked normally afterwards. I would later find out that my gear stick can move left and right while on D, which is how you switch between manual and automatic.

The car comes with navigation, but it turns out in order to use it, you have to have the navigation DVD in the system. I found that a bit weird, but it’s not like I’m going to use the DVD player for anything else. Another interesting thing is the cruise control stick is completely different from any other system I’ve used previously.

It took me forever to figure out how to program the garage opener. Apparently hold the remote 4-12″ away really means hold remote right next to it. I also found it a bit weird that my car has to be on in order to use the garage door openers. It’s nice now that I have both doors programmed into it.

BMW keys (couple)
I found it really cute that there's a Mr and Mrs key pair

Derek’s been teaching me lessons in the art of owning a BMW. Here’s what I remembered so far:

  • Never touch the paint.
  • Never go through a car wash.
  • Don’t rev car beyond the moving target in the tachometer.
  • Get 3 sets of wheels, one for each season + a spare set.
  • Don’t ever drive in the snow.
  • Park far away from everyone.

Now I’m afraid to go to Costco. ;p

After replacing this car in my Progressive auto insurance plan, my 6-month rate increased from $403 to ~$750, almost doubling it. Most of the increase came from the collision, which itself was almost $400. I increased my deductibles for collision and comprehensive from $500 to $1000 and my insurance rate is now ~$650. Still quite high, but I guess that’s what you get for owning an expensive car.

Bad Vibrations

sunlight through clouds Finally got around to fixing my Honda Civic’s brake rotors. If you’ve sat in my car in the past few years, you’ve probably noticed that it tends to vibrate whenever I use the brakes. And recently (as in the past year) it’s been making screeching noises whenever I use them, and it’s only gotten louder. The last time I took it into Bellevue Honda for a recall issue, they told me the vibration/noise issue was due to bad suspensions and would cost over ~$750 to fix. When I took my car into Autohaus Vick when my engine light turned on, they told me the issue was because my brake rotor had bent/morphed, which made a lot more sense. To fix that, they told me it would cost ~$350. They told me I still had 40% of my brake pads left and I should come back when I wanted to get them replaced and they can fix it then.

I finally decided that I didn’t want to deal with these vibrations and screeching noises anymore and took it in to get my brake rotors and pads replaced. After prime discount and sales tax, it came out to be $368. The ride is definitely a lot smoother and quieter now. And I’m no longer afraid to use the brakes!

All in all, I think it’s time for a new car.

Throttle Module Malfunction

So late last week on my way into work, my engine light came on, and it scared the bejesus out of me. I pulled off into a side road and tried turning my car off and back on. Nope, engine light is still on. Reading the manual, it said I should drive moderately and get my car checked out as soon as possible. The car didn’t feel any different while driving, but I decided I’d have the service center take a look when I went in to get my timing belt replaced. However on Friday, the light suddenly turned off and I thought oh well, no longer need to rush.

On Monday morning, the light suddenly came back on and this time I was definitely feeling something was wrong with my car. It would rev a lot higher before switching to a higher gear. After I got into work, I started calling up AAA approved service centers that had Microsoft Prime discounts and asked them for a quote for my timing belt + water pump replacement. Most of them told me they’d call me back with a quote. Only 2 gave me a quote immediately. I decided I wanted the car looked at the same day and ended up going with Autohaus Vick, the cheaper one at $434 – 10% off.

I took my car in and told them that I’d also like them to take a look at why the engine light is on and described the issue I noticed this morning. They said they’d take a look and let me know what’s wrong.

I got a call in the afternoon and was told my engine’s throttle module had malfunction and needed to be replaced. Apparently this part is only carried by the dealer and costs $375. Ouch! Given I didn’t want to experience the weird revving issue and wanted my car fixed as soon as possible, I told them to go ahead and fix it too, but made sure that I could get my car back the same day. They told me they would be able to fix it by 4pm.

4pm comes around and I don’t receive a call. I called them up and they told me it’s taking them a bit longer than expected, and I most likely won’t get my car back until tomorrow morning. They agreed to give me a rental car for the night. Thanks to Chad for dropping me off. I ended up getting a Ford Focus at Hertz. Car was actually rather nice. Definitely had more toys in it than my Honda Civic.

I called them this morning and my car is ready. I had also previously asked them if they could take a look my suspension and what it’ll cost to fix/replace it. Apparently my left outer CV boot was leaking as well as my right rear shock. What does it mean to be leaking? Do shocks have liquid in them? Anyway, they quoted me ~$250 to replace it (which is $250 cheaper than the Honda Service Center). Probably going to let them fix it sometime later this month.

I also inquired about the throttle module and why it would malfunction. He said the throttle module is the computer that controls how fast the car goes and when to change gears and so on. That would explain why I was seeing the gear/revving issue. As to why it went bad, it’s electronics. Maybe it got too hot/cold?

So I’ve been driving my car around for a bit today and maybe the engine hasn’t gotten used to the new timing belt, or maybe it’s the new throttle module, but it feels my car is a bit less responsive. Hopefully I’ll get used to it soon enough.

Wrong Restroom and $500 of Repairs Required for My Car

Today I went to get my Honda Civic serviced. There was a recall noticed and they needed to replace my airbag. I actually received this notice some time last year, just never really got around to acting on it. Anyway, the service was going to take 4 hours, so I decided to drop by Factoria mall and hang around there. Turns out there’s really not much to do there or I just suck at shopping.

I got Jamba Juice for lunch; went to Big 5 and purchased some knee pads; even went to Target and purchased some workout gloves (I was getting blisters from lifting weights). With that all said and done, I had only spent an hour so far. 3 more to kill.

Anyway, when I was about to leave the main Factoria mall and try other stores on that street, I needed to use the restroom. Found the restrooms on their map and went for it. I was sure I saw the men’s sign before entering the restroom, but once opening the door I noticed something strange. There were only stalls, no urinals. I stepped back outside and looked at the sign again. Turns out I entered the women’s restroom. %$#@! Good thing no one was around or outside the stalls. I quickly left and went further down and found the men’s restroom.

I walked around some more. Turns out they were selling girl scout cookies in front of QFC, so I purchased 2 boxes of thin mints. I felt bad that I didn’t have $8 and needed them to break a $50, but all in all, I now have 2 boxes of thin mints in my freezer.

Anyway, walking around aimlessly for 1 more hour, I explored all of Factoria and found many stores/restaurants I never knew existed. But even then I still had 2 hours to kill. I thought next time this happens I should bring a laptop and find a coffee shop. I found a plaza across from Factoria that had 2 Star Bucks, literally ~10 stores apart. I would’ve expected that in a major downtown city, but Factoria? I ended up playing games on my cell phone to kill another hour.

For the last hour, hoping they would be done early as I’ve got to be somewhere later tonight, I walked back and sat in the customer lounge. My car was ready around 1:45pm, but there was some bad news. Apparently they found tears in my suspension as well as tears in some boot. Cost to fix is ~$500. He also suggested with my car’s age, I should probably consider getting my timing belt replaced (usually every 7 years or 110,000 miles, whichever comes first; my car is 10 years old, but has less than 70k miles on it). He said that would cost around $500-700 depending on the package I select. I scheduled an appointment for Tuesday to get all this stuff done.

2008 Gasoline Statistics

So 2008 ended a week or so ago and I finally got around tallying up my last few gasoline receipts. Here’s my overall gasoline statistics for 2008 on my Honda Civic EX Coupe 2001:

Total Miles: 7456.6
Total Gallons: 264.245
Total Cost: $899.53

Average Cost Per Gallon: $3.40
Average MPG: 28.2
Average Miles Per Dollar: 8.3
Average Daily Cost: $2.46
Average Daily Mileage: 20.4

Here’s some nice pretty charts that charts the averages across the year:

2008 Gasoline Statistics

Nothing too surprising about the graphs. My MPG is pretty flat along the 28MPG line, while several charts were mostly affected by the cost of gasoline hitting over $4.00, then dropping back below $2.00.

Update: Noticed one of my graphs included stats from 2007. Fixed.

Shopping (Un)Luck

I must have the worse shopping luck ever today. So I get up early today (yes, 12pm is early for a Saturday) to go get my haircut. The place I like is all the way in RTC (Redmond Town Center) and they’re only open till 2pm on Saturday and closed on Sunday.


I was hoping to drop by Evergreen Autoglass afterwards to get my rock chip in my windshield patched. However when I get there, it’s now an empty shop with the sign: “We have moved, please call this #.” I called the # and it turns out they’ve moved to Monroe and won’t be open till Monday. Unfortunately I’m not willing to drive all the way to Monroe to get my windshield repaired, but apparently they offer mobile repair service for $25 more ($15 for the rock chip repair and $25 for the mobile service, totaling $40). I could’ve probably found another place, but being lazy and the fact they did good jobs the previous 2x, I decided to take them up on this offer and scheduled for them to drop by my work place on Monday. Yes, my car’s windshield appears to attract rocks like a magnet. I’ve gotten 3 rock chips since I moved to Washington.


Next I did my weekly Costco run (more Mexican Coke!). I was also there to pick up some windshield wipers, since apparently mine were starting to tear. Looking at the chart, it showed:

01 Civic D.S. 20″
01 Civic P.S. 18″

I had previously measured my windshield wiper blade and it was about 21″. I looked down and found out that D.S. = driver side and P.S. = passenger side. I didn’t think they were 2 different sizes and didn’t measure the passenger size. Worse of all, these windshield wipers came in packs of 2s. So there were 2x 18″, 2x 20″, and 2x 22″. Did that mean I needed to get 2 18″s and 2 20″s? Why the heck aren’t they selling in singles when many of the cars on that chart don’t have the same length blades on each side. Since this was Costco, I decided I would just get a spare for later on. When I get home, I find out that the measurements they gave me were incorrect. The passenger side is actually 20″. So I decided I would install the 20″s and return the 18″s. But wait… apparently these blades which listed my car’s make and model don’t actually fit the stupid hook. I tried jamming it in and even tried to ply apart the hook to make it wider. I finally gave up after 30 minutes or so.

I started researching online and it turns out that people don’t actually recommend replacing the entire blade, just the rubber insert, and those cost like only $6 a piece at Honda dealerships. I gave my Honda dealership a call, but unfortunately their service department that sold it was closed and won’t be open till Monday. Grrrr.

I then remember I still had my previous windshield wiper inserts that I had removed and they were fine when I removed them. I went digging through my car parts box and found them. I replaced the inserts and now my windshield wipers are working fine again. Looks like I don’t need new windshield wiper inserts after all. I’ll be returning the windshield wiper blades to Costco, probably next week.


I finally started searching for a new bed/bedroom set. For those who know me, I’m not that big on furniture as all my bedrooms are pretty bare and I still sleep on my twin bed I had in college (or I may have exchanged it with my brother’s twin bed). Anyway, my mom’s been telling me to get a dresser since I still store my undergarment in my suitcase. She said I also need more beds for when they come visit me, they’ll have a place to sleep too. So I’ve been meaning to check out beds and given that I went to the Kirkland Costco today, I dropped by Costco Home. I was surprised by how expensive these bedroom sets were. There was really only 1 set I liked at Costco Home and it was $1099 excluding the mattress. The mattress I liked (Sealy Posturepedic Sterlingshire Firm) would cost another $699. Who knew mattresses were this expensive! Delivery included assembly and that would cost an additional $129 for 1st item + $19 for each additional item. The idea of spending my entire tax refund on a bedroom set did not sit well with me.

I then dropped by Dania Furniture (another couple blocks away from Costco Home) and I was much more fond of their designs and the bedroom sets were relatively the same price as Costco. The ones I liked ranged from $800 to $1100, but they weren’t really a mattress store and only carried Simmons. The mattresses were also scattered all around the store so it was hard to compare. The few that I tried didn’t really feel that great and their mattresses were more expensive than Costco. However, I didn’t want to order just a mattress from Costco and be charged $129 for delivery. Delivery at Dania was only $75 for everything, but assembly would be an additional $20-30/item.

I’ve checked IKEA awhile back and they had some decent designs. I should probably drop by there again. Also, if anyone of you have good suggestions on which stores to check out, please do let me know.

Argggghh… That’s why I hate furniture shopping. I’d rather spend my money on toys and electronics.

So after contemplating it over the night, I’m thinking of just going the Costco route since it’s the path of least resistance. I’ve uploaded the pictures I’ve taken with my cell phone:

Costco Home – Modus Furniture 5pc Queen Bedroom Set Nouveau II:
costco home - modus furniture 5pc queen bedroom set nouveau IIcostco home - modus furniture 5pc queen bedroom set nouveau IIcostco home - modus furniture 5pc queen bedroom set nouveau IIcostco home - modus furniture 5pc queen bedroom set nouveau II
I’ll probably end up getting this set.

Dania Furniture:
dania furniture bedroom setdania furniture bedroom set

dania furniture bedroom setdania furniture bedroom set
I really like this set ($1049 for Queen / $1099 for King). The image of the bed shown is a Full size, but they offer it in a Queen size too. I’ve given up on the King sizes since King mattress sets apparently cost $250-300 more)

dania furniture bedroom setdania furniture bedroom set