A quest for quality… a mission yet unfulfilled… a pilgrimage to find inner peace and heated seats.

In case you can’t tell, I’m trying to define what it really means to go car shopping today.

This saga began three months ago when my wife’s gas-guzzling, high-step SUV blew an engine for the second time.

Three agonizing weeks later, she and our daughter found her a “gently used” van that had features I had coveted for years.

Those include remote start, heated seats, heated steering wheel, factory GPS, comfy seats, and wide doors.

I was convinced that my 12-year-old mini-SUV also should be replaced because I had not purchased a brand-new car since 2005.

Suddenly, I was feeling left out and said so. No one really cared but three of my kids tried to tell me how to find and buy the “sweet ride” of my dreams.

At my age and stage of life, I assured them I could get the best deal possible on my own.

I learned quickly that you should never respond to one of those popup ads on the Internet promoting a great price on a new car.

If you do, expect to be contacted by every dealership within 100 miles that sells the same make and model. I’m still hearing from folks whose offers I rejected three months ago.

I have friends and a family member who sold cars years ago but I forgot how tenacious they can be about selling you something the same day they trap you on the lot.

In one situation, two other salespersons and the sales manager came into the tiny office where I was trying to get away from the first sales guy. One dealership had a pretty, young woman out front to greet prospective buyers. I commented about her appearance and – you guessed it – she called or emailed me the next three days. My wife laughed each time, thank goodness.

Perhaps the most compelling sales pitch came from the salesman who had this sign on his desk: “Help feed our hungry children. Buy a car here today.”

Yep, I’m still looking for that “sweet ride.”

Keith Kappes can be reached at keithkappes@gmail.com or by telephone at 356-0912.

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