After a comment from one of my readers regarding the color of our “new” previously owned car, I realized that I have left my followers hanging with a few of my posts. Over the next few weeks, I plan on reviewing some of these stories and let you know how things turned out.
After many months, we finally have a car! It’s a 2008 Renault Megane Hatchback. The biggest thing I don’t like about the car is the color. But it’s grown on me. Meggie is silver. All I can say is, at least she’s not white! A big concern here in Turkey is the paint on the car. Most resellers, both private and commercial, will tell you it’s the original paint on the car. Luckily, there are these little handheld do-dads that you can use to test the thickness of the paint. Most dealers will have one and if you find yourself shopping for a car here, insist that they check the paint. A new paint job indicates a prior accident. And I think I’ve told you enough about the way Turks drive! Accidents are inevitable.
The Megane is very reliable. She had only 50,000 km when we purchased her. Low mileage was my number one concern. We found this very difficult, in looking at used cars, because apparently it’s very easy here in Turkey to change the odometer. I think people may know how to stop it and start it again. For instance, we saw cars that were 8 years old and more, with similar mileage. The steering wheel covers were worn. The tires were worn. The seats and dashboard were faded. Yet we were supposed to believe the mileage.
Meggie is a basic model. The front window are electric. She has a basic fm radio with one cd player. She does have air conditioning! And she has a manual transmission. I have never owned an automatic car. When I purchased my first car, my sister’s friend drove it home for me. I’ve been driving a stick ever since! It reminds me of Speed Racer, my first love.
We bought Meggie for a very good price, approximately 18,000 TL (less than $12,000) including the tax. We bought her from a bank that had repossessed the car. That was quite a process. For reasons I can’t explain here, we were ineligible to buy the car. Eventually, another friend bought it, and then passed her on. It was at least 2 months from the time we found the car, found out that we couldn’t purchase it, and then in Turkish tradition, found another way to buy her.
Meggie originally only used benzene (that’s regular gas to my U.S. followers.) Benzene is about $10 or so for a gallon. If you plan on driving a car, benzene is not the way to go. Diesel was traditionally cheaper, but the car is more expensive. We added an LPG tank. LPG is a natural gas and is much cheaper than benzene. The tank is placed under the trunk, where the spare tire goes. Purchase and installation was only about 1000 TL. The only problem with it is the trunk is then full with the spare tire. This past weekend, I saw an old station wagon with the spare attached to the back of the car like a Jeep. I think that would be really cool to do to Meggie. We’ll see.
Getting Meggie onto the road took a considerable amount of time. Because she was repossessed, she was “pulled from traffic.” So additional paperwork needed to be done. Two sales were involved. And there were numerous trips to the police station, to notaries, to banks, back to the police station, and so forth to get the car in our name. Several more trips were requires to actually get a license plate. The first sale took place in another city. Plates indicate the city, so we needed a new one. Can you belive the police station actually took the old plate without issuing a new one? They sent us to a private office to get the new one on a Friday and we were told it wouldn’t be ready until Monday! Crazy. I can’t imagine explaining that one when pulled over by a cop. “uh, yes officer. I had a plate you see. But um, your main office took it and didn’t give me another. I’m sure you know how it works . . . ” Surely they would slam me with a big fine!
With Meggie came a few other minor problems. She has a “parking assistant.” It’s a really obnoxiously loud voice that is supposed to help you back up. It is super annoying and doesn’t speak English! For jiminy’s sake, I lived in the Borough of West Chester and in Philadelphia! I know how to park on the street! I used to fit my SUV into spaces 6 inches bigger than her! This is why God created bumpers – not that I needed them!
She also has some really good dings. Frankly, there aren’t dings at all. The wheel well on one side is smashed pretty good. Hopefully, we will get her fixed and painted. Of course, the resale value will not be good if we paint her. But I don’t care. I tend to keep my cars until they die. I sold my Nissan Xterra when I moved here. She was 7 years old and in fabulous condition. Apparently, I don’t drive like a Turk! Flying over potholes is just not my style.
Update: I received this from one of my readers: “LPG is Liquefied petroleum gas and it is more like propane rather than natural gas. The car had around 46k (a little less than 30k miles if you want to write it in US units). LPG is about $4.5 per gallon.”