By Alan Sorensen
Havre High School business law students are finishing out fall semester with a visit to the real world of used car sales.
Business law teacher Vicky Proctor split her class into groups of four to go about the business of buying a car or truck.
The students began researching the major purchase their first day back after the holiday break and began making their dealership visits Monday.
Each group was assigned a different dealership. They visited Liberty Auto, Tilleman Motors, G&B Toyota and North Star Dodge on Monday and Havre Ford on Tuesday.
Each group of students sets up its own preliminary budget based on the salaries the group members supposedly make in their chosen professions. And they had to consider all of the costs involved with car ownership.
Captain Dana Kjersem and her teammates Michelle Sangrey, Nick Heninger and Renata Shoptese made their shopping trip to G&B Toyota Monday afternoon. They had already visited the dealership, stopping by Friday afternoon to check on what vehicles were on the lot.
"I got here late and they said they didn't need me," salesman Jim Burrington said. Burrington was able to make himself useful, though, so the students could read some of the odometers.
"I had to turn some of them on because they have digital readouts for mileage."
The students returned for their official shopping and dickering trip Monday.
"We've got five picked out," Sangrey said as the group warmed up next to a new $14,894 Echo 2000 inside the showroom before heading into the lot to check out their five selections.
"My friend has one like this," Shoptese said, indicating the Echo. "Her mom bought it for her for her birthday."
Asked what kind of car he was looking for, Heninger said he'd prefer a two-door.
"You lost out," Kjersem told Heninger, who responded by saying, "It doesn't really matter."
The students showed expertise and savvy at their first stop on the lot, a 1984 Mercedes Benz with an automatic transmission. They started it up and got inside to check the seats and electrical windows and other gadgets. Under the hood, they checked the oil and automatic transmission.
"Oh, they're smelling the automatic transmission fluid to make sure it isn't burnt?" Burrington said when he noticed them passing the dip stick around.
Proctor noted that the students use what they learned from the Buyers' Guide. They've also studied the "as is" clause and how it affects implied and express warranties that may or may not be available on a used vehicle.
They're research also includes contacting the previous owner and looking up the vehicle identification number on the Internet for the car's repair and wreck history.
"Dealers actually sell them the car," Proctor said.
The students must visit with bankers to set up their loans, dicker with dealers about which vehicle they can afford, and make allowances for any extras they may want or need. They'll check what mock ups they need and what is essential and nonessential to their needs.
The students have to contact an insurance agent to work out what kind of insurance they want and what they're willing to spend. Insurance can involve shopping around, just like the car purchase can.
Once they've gotten their loan, purchased their car, and arranged for insurance, the students have to go to the Hill County Treasurer's Office to license their dream vehicle.
A couple of local business people will speak to her class, Denice Ladenburg of First Security Bank and insurance agent Carrie Aageson.
Proctor said the intent of the course is to teach the students to be better consumers "so they know what they're getting into." She said they also may apply aspects of the class -- extension of implied and expresses warranties and contracts -- in their professional lives.
The end result of the course will be the production of a "Teenager's Guide to Producing a Used Vehicle."
"This has been fun," Proctor said. "I've really had fun with these guys."