Thursday, March 29, 2012

Car Buying Tips From The Car Buyer Of The Family

Are you in the market for a new car? 

I am the car buyer in the family.
My old car was costing me more in gas and repairs than the cost of a new car. 
It just didn't make financial sense to keep it anymore. 
I tend to be the shopper for all our family's needs and car buying is no different.  If you do your research, car buying isn't much different than shopping for pair of shoes, or a new dishwasher, the price tag is just bigger and an impulsive decision can result in more long term regret.   I shopped around for a month before pulling the trigger and buying a new car.  I did most of my price negotiating on the phone.  I had the price set before I ever set foot in the dealer.  I am by no means an expert, but here are some things I've learned along the way.

Before I go into that, I chose to sell my old car as opposed to trading it in.  My car had become a money pit and I was never sure if it was going to start.  The lack of dependability and the terrible gas mileage were the tipping points for me being motivated to get a new car.  I will not buy a Chrysler ever again, but that is a whole other blog post.  I only mention my old car because I had a great experience selling it through the Auto Trader.   (I don't get paid by Auto Trader or any of the other companies I mention in this post, I'm just sharing my experience with you.)  It was so easy!  I got an online quote that was almost the same as Kelly Blue Book.  I took my quote to one of the Auto Trader Buying Centers and they cut me a check for my car on the spot. My car had some wear and tear, high mileage, and some major mechanical issue that I disclosed.  I was really shocked with how much they gave me for it.  I felt much better about selling it to a dealership as opposed to selling it to another family.  The dealership gave it a thorough mechanical inspection and they will be able to make the repairs before it is re-sold. 

 I decided to sell my car instead of trade it in because when buying a new car the dealership will try to make money off you at the front end of the deal(price of the car) or the back end of the deal (the trade in).  You will almost almost always get more money for your old car selling it on your own and not trading in.

The Internet is your best car buying tool.  I did many hours of reading about car buying on the Internet before I ever walked into a dealership.  The hardest part of the whole process was figuring out what I wanted?  I test drove seven different cars at four different car dealerships.  Not all in one day.  When I went to a dealership, I searched out a salesperson, introduced myself and told them what I wanted to test drive.  I was always friendly, but honest about "I'm still figuring out what I want." Have your driver license handy.

My advice would be, no matter how much you like the car, do not buy it at that point.  Unless you enjoy paying more money then you need to.  Once you narrow down your decision of what you want the real research begins.    I read countless reviews and searched several different car buying websites.  My two favorite are Edmunds and USAA but there a many more out there.  You need to be a USAA member to use their car buying service, but Edmunds is free. 
My criteria, dependability, safety, value, fuel efficiency, able to fit a family of four, and hold all my volleyball coaching equipment.  Casey will be driving soon, so I needed to factor in a new teenage driver into the equation. 
My heart wanted a MINI Cooper Countryman, but then I remembered I have a husband, two big kids, a dog, shop at Costco, and haul 20 volleyballs around in my trunk.
It's so cute, but I had a reality check.
I buy shoes because they are cute, not cars, repeat the mantra.

 white, Mini, Cooper ,Countryman, crossover,car

Instead my head said buy this.

2012 Honda CR V

It holds my family of four, 20 volleyballs plus more, very fuel efficient, great resale value, and it's small enough for Casey to drive, but big enough for hauling furniture finds.  I can still be included in the school carpool, but fit into the ever shrinking mall parking spaces.

I bought a new car because the interest rates are so low right now.  Like I said, I shopped around, I searched out the best deal and then used that deal to secure a better deal.  I got online quotes first and then used those quotes to start the negotiations.   I was not emotionally attached to this car.  I was very willing to buy something else if the deal was better.  I didn't sit in a dealership while the salesperson made me wait while he went back and forth between their sales manager.  I don't have the time or patience for that.  I dealt with the fleet manager when I bought my last car and this time I dealt with the Internet Sales Manager.  Yes, I test drove with the on the lot sales people, but I let them know right up front I'm still looking.  I only had one negative experience with a sales person.  One guy was dismissive when I asked him about different features and mechanical questions.  I figured he wasn't familiar with the car?  After the test drive he asked, "so when can your husband come back so we can run some numbers?"  I figured out the problem real fast, It was because I was a woman!  He seemed shocked when I told him I would be purchasing the car without my husband because he doesn't like to shop, even for cars. 
He then proceeded to tell me "women don't like to buy cars."
(No, women don't like to buy cars from YOU!)
Needless to say, I didn't go back.
For more car buying tips from the experts go here.
If you are getting a loan use a payment calculator to figure out your monthly payment.
I secured a loan before I went to the dealer, but ended up getting a better interest rate through the dealer.  Some dealerships have .09% interest rates right now.
The only part of the negotiations I did face to face with the sales person was for the extended warranty, sealant, and chip repair.  All these things are negotiable add ons.  Figure out what you want before you go in so you aren't over whelmed once you get to the dealership.  The only extra I bought was the extended warranty.  My mechanic for my old car told me, whatever new car I purchased, buy the extended warranty.  Why do you need this with a new car, especially a dependable one like Honda?  Because almost everything is electrical and computerized.  Computers and electrical tend to have more issues than engines and we tend to keep our cars for a very long time.

I've had my new CRV for two weeks and I'm getting an average of 28 miles to the gallon.
It's so nice to have a dependable car that starts every time I turn the key!  I've ready taken it on a long road trip to a volleyball tournament and I love it.  

Are you in the market for a new car?
I would love to hear what you're going to get.
Thanks for checking it out.


  1. I am currently driving a 1994 (can you say single income?) honda civic with over 400,000 km- it starting to rust in spots but man, that engine keeps going and it still drives like it's new. My husband does our maintenance but other than tires & brakes, he doesn't have to touch it. Can't beat that for a car that's 18 years old.
    Hope you Honda is as reliable as our oldie!

  2. My husband and I are Honda lovers!!! My next car will be the CR-V but my car only has 42,000 miles on it so it will be awhile. Thanks for all of the info on buying cars.

  3. We have a 15 year old crv and it still runs without any trouble . Great car, great choice and great tips!

  4. That's awesome. Love the tips! Not looking for a car at the moment but when I do will definitely keep the Honda in mind : )

  5. great tips. great story. yes, in the car market as we speak. time to pass down our 14 year old car to the teens and get mama new wheels.
    thanks for adding to my checklist. this is more appropriate timing.

  6. This blog is really informative. I like this post
    Honda's are always my favorite car, plus the car i like the most is Honda civic.

    sell my house

  7. Getting a car is one of the investments that most people are trying to have. With this, people will be able to get a good place to live in for their entire life. One can use simple loans in fulfilling these dreams.

  8. Though, you don’t need to be an expert, it would help if we know a thing or two about cars. What matters most is that we know how to be a smart buyer, in terms of a car’s practicality and purpose in relation to our personal needs. Buying a brand new car can be costly, but would be less stressful because there is an assurance that the car would function right. But if you want to save more money, and you are also ready to be more particular with its parts, buying a second hand car is also a good idea.

  9. These tips are very helpful as we all have to save money when we can. Getting a quality car with a cheaper price is possible with some searching.

  10. I agree with Liam. In choosing a car, you should consider its function. There are lots of cars available in the market. I am sure that with patience, you can get a car that is right for you. It doesn’t matter if it’s brand new or pre-owned. What matters is that you can be safe while you are on the road.

  11. Hi!Excellent article.Helpful tips.Research plays an important role in car buying.You can have a great deal for sure.You need to be smart and never rush in buying a car.

  12. Good tips. You know I saw similarities between this post and the way I bought my car for the first time. I had all such tips in mind :)



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  13. Being a smart buyer does not require you to be an expert with cars. A little knowledge compared to knowing nothing at all is already a big help. Before purchasing one, be sure to consider all the important factors like, your purpose, and your budget as well. Know your options first. Make a wise decision and invest your money well.

    -Dewey Setlak

  14. Thanks for sharing! I recently just bought a new buick in grand rapids and it was a great experience. I'm glad I did some research first so I could know what to look for. Thanks!


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