Brent Epps needed a loan. A high interest rate would be a deal-breaker.
"So you wanted a truck, right," Strassman asked.
"Badly," Epps said.
A Chevy Silverado is the truck he wants - but not so badly he'll blow the family budget.
"Something would have to go if I couldn't make this note," he said. "I can't walk to work, and the family's gotta have a place to live, so that's what wins."
These days, having good credit just isn't good enough.
It has to be perfect - or there's a new type of sticker shock on the car lots. Not the price of the cars - but the interest rate on the loan.
Take a $26,000 new car loan over five years. A great credit score - 700 or higher - might mean an interest rate of 7.5 percent - a payment of $522 a month.
Same loan, with a more typical credit score of 650 - and the interest rate and monthly payment both soar to $592 a month.
Even worse credit, and banks are denying the loan altogether - unless customers have a down payment of at least $2,000 to $3,000.
"The car industry is definitely in a credit freeze right now," said Micheline Maynard, auto analyst and author. "And for the automakers, this is a disaster."
Already this year, dropping sales have shuttered roughly 600 dealers, with hundreds more expected to close.
"It's very difficult to have a business model or to adjust to a 30 or 40 percent drop, particularly if it occurs very abruptly," said Jimmy Ellis, who owns a car dealership.
Brent Epps got a good deal - with a great credit score of more than 750.
Now he owns a new truck.
"Everything is automatic," he said. "And idiot-proof. And how can you deny that smell?"
The thrill of that new car smell.
The whole car industry wants to experience it.