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Steve Lunetta: Full tank, empty promises

Posted: November 18, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: November 18, 2013 2:00 a.m.

I love buying a new car. Yes, I know. Buying a used car makes better financial sense since new cars lose about 30 percent of their value when you drive them off the lot.

But I am a cheapskate. I hold a car for over 10 years so I wind up beating the daylights out of it. Folks who buy a used car may wind up turning over cars every three to four years.

Also, I don’t want to buy someone else’s problems. That low-mileage, one-year-old car you are looking at may seem like quite a steal until you find out someone died in it, it was totaled, or it has been in the shop for 26 weeks out of the past 52.

So, out I go into the fun world of auto dealerships. Our local car dealers are a pretty good bunch. But, let’s face it. This is a dirty business.

“Sure, I’ll show you my invoice,” says one salesman. Then, you never see it or the “invoice” you get is really the sticker price.

“You have to make the deal tonight, otherwise, they won’t take you seriously.” My friend, if it’s a good deal tonight, it will be a good deal tomorrow.

“I’m only making a hundred bucks on this deal.” Then if you make it, you are an idiot and will soon be unemployed.

Actually, I find this process quite entertaining. I enjoy doing the homework, knowing the options, costs, engine displacement, design advantages and flaws, and what other people say.

I can’t imagine ever buying a car and not knowing what I am getting. “Sure, Mr. Lunetta, let us show you a 2014 Toyota ACA. But, on second thought, why don’t we just tell you about it? We can’t talk about fuel economy — just trust us. It’s good.”

Well, can I know more about the engine? “Mr. Lunetta, this ACA has one of the most powerful motors ever placed into an economical car. Why, some might say that you will gain 2,500 horsepower over the first year.” 2,500 horsepower? That doesn’t seem realistic.

“Why sure! And on top of that, there will be absolutely no loss in cargo or passenger space. Yep, you can keep all of the room that you have now without any fear of losing space.” That is wonderful.

But what is the shape of the ACA? Is it aerodynamic? Is it boxy? How will it look in my driveway?

“Mr. Lunetta, let me assure you that it will look great no matter where it is parked! If you need it to be sporty, it will be sporty. If you need it to haul lumber and sheets of plywood, it can do that. Have 10 kids? No issue. Its got child seats for every one of those tykes.”

It almost seems too good to be true. Is there a reason I can’t see it?

“Actually, there is. You can’t see the ACA until you buy it! Our upper level management made that very clear when they released the owner’s manual. Reading about it would ruin the excitement and anticipation! Trust us — you will love it when it comes out.”

But what if I have a problem with it? I mean, does it have a warranty or something?

“Warranty? My goodness, Mr. Lunetta, the new ACA will be the greatest thing since sliced bread! You will never need to return it since it is designed perfectly and nothing can ever go wrong! But, just in case, we have an online website that can guide you through the process of understanding why your concerns are not real.”

Oh. Can I take it for a test drive? I should be able to experience the car before I buy it.

“You don’t need a test drive! We know what is good for you and you will like it. Your potential initial discomfort will be replaced with the warming realization that we have taken care of you and given you exactly what you need. We got your back, Jack!”

I am certainly glad that there is never a scenario where I would buy a car or something sight-unseen. Consider what a disastrous situation that would be if we bought something and had no idea what we were getting.

Steve Lunetta is a resident of Santa Clarita and is probably going to wind up with another Honda or Toyota. He also gets to keep his health plan- for now. He can be reached at


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