Tag Archives: automobile

Toyota New Westminster Workshop

As a new owner of a Toyota vehicle, I was invited for an evening on learning more about the car. About a dozen or so people attended, which I think was beneficial for everyone.

I didn’t know that there was a jack under the driver’s seat! Or the child saftey lock for my rear doors, though I guess with no kids, it wasn’t too much of a concern for me. In fact, no one has yet sat in the rear seats since buying it three months ago. LOL.

idearabbit-toyota_newwestThere were donuts, coffee and tea at break, and we all got swag bags (or goodies bag) with 2 pens, a pressure gauge, mini medical kit with bandages, alcohol wipes, scissors and tape, a nice snow brush with scraper, travel mug, letter and a booklet. which were all branded with Toyota.

It was very informative though the speaker had a soft voice which was really hard to hear. I saw a few people lean in to pick out what he was saying as the Skytrains going by made it even more difficult to understand. But overall, it was very helpful, and I’m glad that I went. I must say that I was quite a bit younger than everyone else, though that wasn’t a problem. I just wondered if young people didn’t attend due to lack of interest? or time?

I’ve never been a car person, but since becoming more influenced by Sheepie who comes from Germany with a must-know-all-knowledge attitude, I have been increasingly eager to learn more on pretty much anything. And feeling like an idiot at car shops because I didn’t know anything about a car other than it drives you from point A and B was no longer. Of course I am faaaaar from becoming an expert, but knowing just a little helps.

Thanks Toyota New Westminster! I’m really glad I’ve bought my car from this dealer (no I don’t get sponsorship or deals on my car for this post- LOL). It’s on the complete other side of the city where I live, and definitely not efficient to bring in for repairs since I have a Toyota dealership/services few blocks from my home, but it has been a very positive experience from the first email I received from my inquiry. Great work!

To read my initial experience with Toyota New Westminster, read my Yelp review.
Or my decision to get rid of my old Corolla ’97 for a new 2014 Yaris, read here.

Goodbye Corolla ’97, Hello Yaris 2014

Buying a New Car

So my old 1997 Corolla from Toyota failed the AirCare test. It’s the final year of AirCarein BC, but with some problems (like stalling while driving) this year and the windshield being quite scratched making it a hazard to drive in rain,  I finally decided that it was time to get a new car. Of course, I could continue to drive the car after the AirCare is gone. But although I wouldn’t call myself a ‘tree hugger’ or super ‘green’, I do recycle as much as possible and try to reduce my waste (ie. donating items instead of throwing things away, taking reusable bags when shopping, reusing the backside of printed paper, etc).

The diagnostic test to see why it failed AirCare cost me $180 + tax. It was the catalytic converter that had over the years become clogged and needed to be replaced. The car is still safe to drive and it’s not a problem except it’s just exhausting a bit over the acceptable levels of hydrocarbons determined by AirCare. They told me that the Toyota replacement part would cost $970 + labour $200 and so on, totaling well over $1100. For a car I bought for $1000 in 2009 from my parents, this seemed ridiculous.

But buying a car is no easy task. It’s not a shopping decision that if you don’t like it, you can just keep it in the closet as some clothes that you thought looked good in store but not when you came home. It takes a lot of time. I would be able to extend the insurance from ICBC by 3 months to give me some time to do as much research as possible should I not be able to get a new car in time.

Phase one: Deciding what kind of car you want.
Since I don’t have kids and live in the city, I wanted something that was compact, fuel efficient, easy to maintain and affordable. With gas prices always going up, I was definitely looking for a compact car from the beginning. With budget in mind, I started looking at used cars. I found prices that were really likeable, but there was a downfall – most of them were 2001-2004, meaning not much newer than my ’97, and the odometers were in the 200,000km which was way more than my 130,000km on my Corolla. Most used the same amount of gas so there weren’t going to be any savings from gas usage and not very friendly to the environment either. I was stuck in this stage for a while since the price was so attractive. However, thinking of the future of the vehicle and how it would likely cost more just to maintain it and repair as it gets even older (as I found out with the Corolla), I moved myself into getting a car that was 2 years or newer.

Phase 2: Used or New?
As I started to look at newer (but still used) vehicles, I saw that the prices weren’t that much cheaper than a brand new one. I figured that if I was going to pay that much already, why not add $2000 or so to get a new one instead. It would eliminate the possibility of the used car having through accidents or problems that the dealer may not be honest about. You would be starting at 0 mileage and super clean. The price was still a bit of a deterrent, but when I saw that many were offering 0-0.9% interest and allowing up to 84 months to pay it off, it didn’t seem too big of a monetary issue that I could handle. I figured that I paying $200-$300 per month was doable. So I finally decided that buying a new car was the way to go.

Phase 3: Narrowing down your options
After much research online and talking to people, I narrowed down my options to a Prius C, Yaris, Kia Rio and Honda Fit. There are pros and cons of each which you can read about, but the only way to find out if they’re really fit for you is to go see the actual cars and test drive them. It’s a good idea to go to different dealers even for the same vehicle as each dealer may have different pricing and incentives, not to mention service by the actual staff.

Phase 4: Haggle
I started by emailing local dealers for the Yaris 2014. Let me tell you that none of them would give a straight out price. They wanted me to come in to test drive (even after I had already done that at a local dealer), and still come in, or talk over the phone. I tried, but since the margin for the dealerships on small compact cars is so minimal, all I could get was $150-$200 off. Though I know a friend who haggled and got close to $5000 off of her BMW…but then BMW are more expensive in the first place. I didn’t want to deal with trying to sell the Corolla on my own. Although I frequently resell my old stuff on Craigslist and such, I only had 2.5 months left before my insurance ran out. Also, I was going to be away in Europe for a month, cutting down the time even more. I traded in the Corolla instead.

Phase 5: Final Decision!
After you’ve tried them all out, went to different dealers and continue to look for reviews and videos online, it’s time to make the final decision into which one you want to get. Mine came sort of abruptly. I was pretty sure of getting the Yaris, and started to ask for a white colour. When I found out that there weren’t any whites left in the Lower Mainland, I started to panic. When I went to see a dealer, he also mentioned that the reds were also all sold out. My second colour choice was dark grey, and there was only 1 left. I knew for sure that I didn’t want the ugly 2015 model. So I decided right there (after another test drive, lol) to buy.

Farewell Corolla
Awww…I’m not really into cars, and don’t really get attached to them, yet it was still a little sad to see the car go after it had been with me since I was a teenager. It had been a really good car.



Check back for my review on my Yaris 2014!

Mobil 1 Lube Express in Richmond


So a friend of mine gave me a voucher – $19 for premium oil change and 25 point inspection (a $78 value). It’s a long No.3 road in Richmond, right across from Landsdowne Station. With a very small entrance, it’s easy to miss. I’m glad that I had familiarized myself with Google street view to see what was around it so I knew what the area would look like. Also, there was a guy waving a sign to the oncoming traffic. Wah…must be hot with the summer sun blazing down onto him…

The guy who greeted me was friendly, he told me to park behind a vehicle that was being serviced and said that it would be about a 15 minute wait. I was already happy to come to Mobil instead of Autobot – another voucher for oil change that I had bought. The one guy was friendly, and no appointment was necessary. Last year with Autobot, I needed to drop it off and take the skytrain home, and do the same to come pick up. This year, when I called in to make an appointment, they said that since I was only able to come in on Saturday, my appointment would be 4 weeks away! With Mobil 1 Lube Express, it was serviced right away, and could drive off with a repaired car. How convenient!

The guy doing my service was really hard to understand. He had a higher voice, and talked fast – perhaps unclear. I was also nervous because when it came to cars, I didn’t know much. I know how to check my oil level, fill it up, add coolants and fill gas, but that was about it. I stumbled whenever a question was asked about the car.

As he inspected, the bill grew bigger and bigger. I needed to replace my transmission, flush out my oil, this and that, coming to a total of $210. Because I don’t know much about cars, I can’t say if I’m being scammed or something. But the staff did show me the parts and explained why it needed changing or renewing. But most auto repair places have been good. And when 2 places tell you the same thing (not like you need to change your oil, or something generic), but the same specific problems, then you know you have a problem that needs fixing.

I drive my car to work and back 5 days a week, so I figured $210 was reasonable, and it’s just good to know that the car is in good working condition, especially since the car was already 16 years old, and for the first decade, it was never routinely checked or serviced.

Perhaps the guy could sense my unwillingness to pay $210…he suggested that I keep the receipt with all the details on what was done to the car, so that if I do bring the car back, or take it elsewhere and they say that I need another transmission change, I can prove to them that it was already done recently.

Because I had a bit more replacing and cleaning to do, it took longer than other people, but still around 30-40 minutes. Not bad. I rather wait for that amount of time than be without the use of a car.

Unfortunately, I can’t return the Autobot voucher…but it will be the last time, since now that I know about Mobil, I’m certainly going back again to Mobil :)