Saturday, May 25, 2013

My Jeep buying experience

The Jeep. I think its gonna change how I spend my summer, if not life. Now I can camp, travel, fish, and bike with everything inside. I'm planning to do more photography and I think this will give me more opportunities to get to places that I couldn't with my Accord coupe. In my mind, I have a picture that I hope to one day take. There is this red barn in the middle of the country with golden wheat fields surrounding it. Blue skies and white Simpsons like clouds float overheard. Yes, I have yet to find it. But will. And this winter, you bet I'm gonna cram snowboards and buddies in there and head to Colorado to hit the slopes and hot tubs!

A friend of mine asked if this was my garage. I WISH!

Took less than five minutes to get the two front panels off.

Buying this Jeep wasn't an easy process. Its about four years in the making. I started off wanting a Jeep Wrangler, switched to a Toyota Tacoma, then went back to the Jeep after deciding that a Tacoma wouldn't fit my bike inside while I was at work. The only problem is that pre 3.6L Jeeps had the older 3.8L engines in them. 200hp for a heavy four door Wrangler just wasn't enough power. I test drove it and just wasn't impressed with the power. I grew up driving an S10 Blazer and man that thing was underpowered and I didn't want to go through that again! So with word of a new 285hp / 260lb-ft of torque Pentastar engine being put in, I decided to wait.

This is on the wheels

Well fast forward to last year and I bought my house out in Bennington. The Honda has always done a good job getting me onto Maple Street from the apartment when its snowy. Seriously, its all about knowing how to drive in the snow. But now, living north of 156th and State would be a little more tricky getting to work. And my neighborhood street leading to my driveway...forget about it! I got stuck at the bottom of the hill one night after a blizzard. Luckily, I turned around and made it through the back entrance to the neighborhood. Surprisingly, the fatbike had better traction than my car that night in the neighborhood. Everyone at work joked the next day that I should have just biked to work. That was a riot, riding in the snow on a bike and having the neighbors look at you like you're crazy. All part of riding a fatbike!
Fitting things in the Honda was getting to be a headache

Great for traildays

And great for the trails. I can even keep my front tire on.

I started looking again for a Jeep late last year. Man that Orange Crush is a cool color. Throw some big tires on that thing and stand out like a sore thumb. That's what I wanted. I'm not one that usually likes to follow the crowd when it comes to things. Probably why I have so many hobbies. Photography, spinning turntables, riding a fatbike, fishing and now gardening. And how many Asian guys do you know that had a 6 inch mohawk and help run Lasik surgery? Ha! Got to be unique in the things you do! Anyway, I searched high and low for a new or used one for a good price. It was turning out that a 1 yr used Wrangler Sahara was about as much as buying new. My plan to buy used had just gone down the drain. Then come to find out that Orange was no longer offered! Dang. Jeep rolls out new colors every year with their Jeeps. From Gecko Green, Cosmos Blue, Dozer Yellow, to Rock Lobster Red. Yeah, pretty creative in their color schemes. But I didn't like any of them currently out. Deep Cherry Red or Billet silver were my two choices when I first arrived at Baxter a couple weeks ago. My salesman Eric Collins greeted me and helped me begin my search. None on the lot had the features I wanted, so time to look through their database of vehicles out there.

True Blue Pearlcoat! Its all about the metallic flakes!

How did I end up settling with the True Blue Pearlcoat? My dad had told me about the blue but without seeing it, it didn't appeal to me. Eric said they had one lifted and modified in the showroom. Well, maybe I'll take a look at the color. Yeah, damn them. That modified Jeep sold me. While I couldn't afford a Jeep already modded (they were asking $44k for a Sport model! Yikes), I found the color that I wanted. In the dimmer light, the blue looks closer to black. In the sunlight though, wow, the metallic color just pops out and catches your eye. Practically changes color in the sun. Find me one!

The little things that make you smile. This is the middle of the cupholder

On the windshield

IMO, both bike and Jeep are Trail rated!

Well Baxter did (a guy named Tyler came to help us out). Unfortunately all they told me was that it could be 100-500 miles away. And they wanted me to put down an offer, then they'll get the car to me within 5-10 days. Put down an offer on something I can't see or even test drive? Nah, not my kinda style. So I went home to do more research. Turns out that Jeep was at Performance Jeep out at LaVista. I was like what? So I emailed Eric and told him (he didn't know it was in town). He went and got the Jeep for me the next day and I drove it that evening. It was the Jeep I wanted, but he had stayed an hour after closing just to let me drive it. The deal would have to be made Saturday.

I originally wanted orange. This image is from the internet somewhere.

That next day was Saturday. Joel, Paul and I had gone riding at Calvin Crest that morning.. Then we stopped at Irv's in Fremont to eat. I drank a lot of beer. Think I passed out from a beer/food coma while Paul drove us back. Shoot, I was suppose to go talk money with Eric in an hour. I napped, showered, and was either hungover or still buzzing from the Lucky Bucket and Boulevard beer. Crap! I got to Baxter and Eric was helping a handicap couple. So I waited in the waiting room. Good chug a lug some water and try to get my game face on. I look down, my zipper was stuck, I forced it up. Broke the entire damn zipper. The two halves wouldn't join together! Ahhh! Luckily I had a jacket on. Well I zip up my jacket. The zipper on the jacket got stuck 1/4 of the way up. What! I was so embarassed. I pulled my jacket down as far as it would go (barely covered up the broken jeans zipper). Jeez. But I kept waiting and Eric knew I was there but couldn't break away. Finally I ended up leaving because I had stuff going on that night.

The night I got stuck in my neighborhood in the Accord. The Jeep was an expensive fix to that problem!

I had read good reviews online about Pro Chrysler down in Plattsmouth. And they had a billet silver Jeep. Just no leather. Well, doesn't hurt to look. Greg Larsen helped me out down there. Super laid back, showing me pictures of where he use to live. Good guy. No presssure to buy. Loved the experience. But the Jeep was lacking the leather and heated seats/mirrors, but had other options that the blue one did not. No deal, even though they gave me a very good price on it. So far, dealing with the salesman was a good experience.

The Baxter showroom Jeep that had me sold on the color

Well then came Woodhouse Jeep up in Blair. They only had the green baby poop colored Jeep along with the tan looking one in the Sahara models. Definitely not what I was looking for. Matt Braun was courteous and a good guy to work with. We tried a dealer search to find other Jeeps. He came back with a higher up person and I wasn't impressed. Guy came back and was pushing me to make an offer on a Jeep that wasn't there. Then he said just build one. They would give me invoice pricing (even though I told them that Pro Chrysler gave me under invoice pricing). Even said that he wouldn't be able to give me a great price. Just a good price. I was like huh? Stunned, I listened more. He said well you live in Bennington, super close to Blair. We'll treat you like a neighbor. Need anything, we'll even pick up your Jeep for you and give you a loaner. What can we do to get you to sign today? Make an offer today. What's your next step? Pretty pushy, almost wouldn't let me leave the tiny cubicle that they had me in. Not impressed by the other guy that walked in to assist Matt and I.

Eric Collins and I after the deal was signed

Well my mind was made up after that. I was going to go with the blue one. Back to Baxter to meet with Eric. It took 2 hrs of negotiating to get to the price I wanted. At first they couldn't do it. I spoke to my parents an hour into the process (who have been helping me to look in the Michigan/Chicago area). They told me to walk. They MIGHT call me back. Well I stayed and Eric and another guy were able to get to the price I wanted. After the other guy left, I thanked Eric and we just laughed. I didn't think the price I wanted was going to be doable for them, either did Eric! But we got it done...I had a tow package installed and picked the Jeep up a couple days later.

Leather and navigation were a must for me. I get lost alot. Haha. And muddy bikes and clothes go with riding singletrack, so figured leather would be easier to wipe clean.

My first new car buying experience was a success! Eric was a great guy to work with. Always courteous and follows up with phone calls. I had gone in to get my spare key and bought some touch up paint just in case. Eric greeted me and was in the middle of helping another customer (who happened to be buying the 10 year anniversary Rubicon edition in the Anvil color). He ran out and got my VIN to match the paint. I bought my paint and left. He even called me an hour later to make sure I got what I needed. What a great guy!

Why did I buy a Jeep? They are known to be unreliable, ride rough, etc. Well I needed a 4x4 for winter biking and just to get home from work. But why a Wrangler and not a 4Runner, Grand Cherokee, Honda, etc? I've always wanted a convertible, so why not kill two birds with one stone? Also, how many vehicles have accessories galore that you can modify and add on to make it truly your own?  Now I need to save up some money before I start dropping money into the Jeep. Tires, wheels, small lift, bumpers, winch (there you go Paul!), etc. It'll slowly come about. I plan to own this vehicle for a long time so its all good.

Yeah, no way I can get two vehicles in here. And I wanted to keep Paul's donated workbench in my garage

4 hours later.

After almost a week of ownership, I'm super happy with my Jeep. My weedwacker fits in there, bike, everything. I took off the front Freedom panels the other day after work when it was super nice. Only took 5 minutes to get them off and they fit in a storage bag in the back. Huge smile as I drove home. Drove to lunch one day with the girls from work. Now two of them want a Wrangler, and they even asked me to borrow it for lunch yesterday. Said sorry, drove the Honda! I did have to spend 4 hours last weekend tearing down shelving in my stupidly small garage in order to accommodate two vehicles. But they fit! All in all, a great experience so far! Oh yeah, and finally being able to sit in the back of MY vehicle at the trail has been a long time dream of mine. Did it after weed wacking Tranquility. Felt great!


  1. Great patience waiting four years for what you wanted/needed. These are long term purchases, our current vehicles are 13 years (230K miles) and 7 years old (130K). Actually getting to the deal (last couple weeks of your story) is one reason I don't want to buy. I had to read the zipper episode to my wife, we both were almost crying from laughing. Your Jeep looks and sounds like a great vehicle!

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  3. That's quite an adventure for you. Buying a car is really challenging. You have to look for the right one that suits your needs and please you in the eye at the same time. I know this is quite late, but still, congratulations on your jeep. I hope you're still loving the experience of driving it until now. #Ashely @

  4. What a fun experience! It'll be easier to find the car that suits your needs especially when you've listed your desired features before going to a dealer. I may be five months late, but still, congratulations on your new jeep. Enjoy every ride and maintain its good condition. :)

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