Since arriving in the U.S a little over three weeks ago, the Lord has blessed us immensely and it has been a lot of fun (and hard work) setting up our house and the doing things we need to have organised before we settle down to homeschooling for the kids and Seminary study for me.
One of the ways in which we have been blessed was in the form of a car that had been loaned to us to enable us to get around. One thing is for sure, if you don’t have a car in California, it is makes it virtually impossible to get out and about.
Californians drive everywhere and they do lots of miles to get there.
So began our quest to find the perfect car.
In looking for a car, we had two schools of thought: We are in the U.S – let’s get an American car or let’s get a reliable, safe Japanese car.
We have always owned a Toyota car in NZ and have never experienced a breakdown, so we naturally (and wisely) leaned toward the latter. We asked a lot of people to seek their advice. I even asked a tow-truck driver (my thinking was that surely he would have the best idea since he is picking up broken-down cars?). His response was a firm, “Don’t buy American cars, buy a Toyota”.
Perfect. I am student with no income. I needed a reliable car with good MPG (miles per gallon). Toyota it was.
The next question was do I buy privately or from a dealership?
Cars are a funny thing and there are never any guarantee’s with them, but we decided to buy a certified car from the Toyota dealership in Valencia.
Buying a certified car also meant that I have a 125,000 mile warranty and road-side assistance – good for about three years. This gives me peace of mind. Sure, I could possibly have paid a little less if I bought privately but I wouldn’t have had the warranty and road-side assistance option.
The buying experience at Frontier Toyota in Valencia was generally a pleasant one. They were very accommodating regarding price and I am very satisfied with the car (I’m sure the Lord was at work here as I managed to pay much less than the Kelley Blue Book value).
Just for the record, we ended up buying a 2007 Toyota Camry LE. One of the most popular sedans in the U.S.
While looking for a car, we needed to get auto insurance. You can’t buy a car (or even take your practical driving test to gain your license) without it.
In the U.S, the auto insurance works a bit differently than in NZ. Here, you are not just insuring your car against loss or damage caused in a collision, but you are also insuring yourself against someone suing the pants of you.
According to Californian law, every driver must have some basic level of auto insurance and there are various options to your insurance that is designed to protect you but which also means that getting insurance can be a very costly business.
For instance, there is a ‘Comprehensive’ which insures your car against damage or loss other than a collision (e.g. fire, theft etc). There is ‘Collision’ which insures your car against damage in the event of a collision. There is also the ‘Bodily Injury Liability’ and ‘Property Damage Liability’ options which insures you in the event of causing injury to someone else or their property respectively and will provide a legal defence if lawsuits are brought against you. Scary stuff!
There are further options such as ‘Medical’, ‘Uninsured’ and ‘Rental’ which can provide you with various protections against every possible scenario.
The general rule of thumb here is that you should pay less than $100 per month on auto insurance.
We got our insurance through (and joined) the ‘AAA’ (The Automobile Club Southern California). The insurance was reasonably priced and members also enjoy many benefits and various discounts.
We are pleased to finally have a car we can call our own and are praying for several years of trouble-free motoring.