I've had excellent dealer experiences with Larsen Motors in McMinnville, OR. This is a small town, family-owned (60+ years) dealership that sells Cadillac, Buick, Pontiac and GMC. They're close enough to Portland/Vancouver and Salem to be worth the drive (and check out all the wineries in the area).

I bought my '01 Seville there in February. I found the car online and spoke with the salesman before driving up. He had the car ready for me, and for a 2001, it didn't look like it was more than two years old.

I got to take it on a 30-minute test drive, so I could really get a feel for the car and any potential problems. Although the Northstar's head gasket issue was supposed to fixed in 2000, I still wanted to drive the car long enough to monitor the temperature gauge. It went to the midpoint and parked.

When it was time to talk price, I had done research, getting NADA and Kelly Blue Book values. I also had financing already approved by my credit union. The sticker was $7,900; I offered $7,500, which was closer to Blue Book retail. We went back and forth a bit, but there was no pressure at all, either from my salesman, an old-school gentleman in his 60s, nor from the sales manager. I counter offered $7,750, and they accepted. I took the car home that night.

Shortly after buying the car, I received a Larsen Rewards card with points (like frequent flier miles) for service work, plus a discount on service and parts. I have a trusted mechanic in Corvallis (where I work), so I'll still go there in most cases.

However, should I need to go to the dealer, I won't hesitate to visit Larsen Motors. I get periodic e-mails from them about their service specials, and last week, there was one for an A/C and cooling system check: $34.95.

Although the A/C is working fine and the temperature gauge goes to the midpoint and parks there, I figured it wouldn't hurt to check everything out with a long road trip coming up next month. And their service department is open on Saturday; very convenient.

When I brought the car in, I asked the service adviser if their records might show when the coolant was last changed. I know Dex-Cool is supposed to be a long-life coolant, but considering the car is 8 years old, I would hope it has been changed at least once. He wasn't sure if they had service records beyond what was done when the car was traded in, but he said they can test the coolant to make sure its anti-corrosion and other properties are still within spec, and they were.

Here's where Larsen Motors wins major points in my book: they did not try to sell my one damn thing that I didn't need. Both the A/C and cooling system checked out A-OK.

Truth be told, I was a little apprehensive about taking Sabrina to a dealer since these bargain specials are often used as a bait-and-switch to sell you more services that you may not need. So I was impressed that they did not do that.

I would not hesitate to go back to Larsen Motors and I recommend them to anybody within an hour or so of McMinnville. Go see the Spruce Goose while you're in town.