I finally got my new car after seemingly insurmountable odds against me. We’ve had a string of bad luck lately, but I hope that this and other recent events signify the end of all that. You may recall the details around the purchase of Amy’s car, the Honda Element. I swore I’d never go through that again, and I haven’t – sort of. I chose instead to take Sean’s advice and look to a credit union for a car loan. I had already put an application into LendingTree.com, though I soon learned that the credit union would be more rewarding. The interest rate they quoted me was pretty good, though not substantially lower than LendingTree’s offers. However, the credit union had a program called AutoChoice that basically functions as an auto broker. The service was free, and they worked very quickly in finding exactly what I wanted (which reminds me…I need to call her back and thank her). The problem came with the loan request. They needed some paperwork from me, though the credit union was slow in making the request to me. Once I got a request, I provided the information as soon as possible. That wasn’t always the same day, but it was within a day or two. After a week or so following my request, I was finally declined. It was crappy to get declined for their loan, but it was worse that it took them so long to figure it out. Especially since I had to provide paperwork to them. Since the whole thing is dependant upon approval from a supervisor, it seems like they might have been able to make an assumption on the paperwork (best-case scenario) and given me an educated guess up front. I don’t feel that they worked in my best interest. The auto broker, meanwhile, had already located a car for me to get into as soon as I had the money. I went back to LendingTree to finalize that loan offer, but they needed some final paperwork as well. No problem – I should have everything together for them. Their requirements were different, and they needed to verify my employment. That’s a little tricky, as I technically work for Synergis and contract for CheckFree. But I didn’t want to tell them that. I was afraid that the contract job would affect my approval, so I told them I worked for CheckFree. My boss offered to verify my employment with CheckFree, so I was saved there. The only problem was that my boss won’t answer his phone at work, and it seems his replies via voicemail were just ignored by the financing company. All the while, I’m planning on going to Pensacola Beach Saturday morning, so I kind of need a car to do so. I finally broke down yesterday around noon (when my check had still not arrived from the financing company) and contacted the dealership that was holding my car. I bluffed a little – as Carlos recommended – and told them I was being offered a better rate online, but I was still waiting on the check. I offered that I could buy the car that day if they could beat the offer I’ve been given. Of course, he agreed right over the phone and I was obligated to be on my way. We left and did some other errands on the way before heading out to Jim Ellis Mazda in Marietta. That’s a haul from the house, but it turns out it was worth it. I have to say, Mazda has the best customer service in a car-buying experience I’ve ever seen. On the other hand, this is the first time I’ve bought a new car – that could make a difference too. Amy dropped me off at the dealership (yeah, no ride home), and I went in to face the pains of dealing. Fortunately, the auto broker had already negotiated my price for me. In addition, I had already negotiated financing over the phone. When I arrived, it took less than 30 minutes to finish the deal and drive away happy. I was actually smiling when I left and didn’t have that sick feeling in my stomach. I should mention also that I test drove the Mazda3 at Moss Robertson in Gainesville before deciding. I would have bought it from them, but my auto broker located the car elsewhere. Regardless, both Mazda dealers treated me very well and did not over-pressure me to do anything. Even if you’re not interested in a Mazda, I’d recommend shopping a Mazda dealership first.