Friday, February 19, 2010

Car Shopping

We're in the market for a different van. It's sad. There's nothing wrong with our van. I love our van. We have a 2002 Mazda MPV with 100,000 miles. We've never had a problem with this van, but we don't really fit in it, anymore. We have five kids. While this is a seven person van, it's a little narrow and three kids shoved on a bench seat together is just asking for problems! We're looking for something a little wider that will give them a bit more space. Plus, when we're travelling, our oldest will need to be back in a booster to accommodate the laws of other states. We've had pretty good luck in the past getting great deals. It's not just luck- I have every reason to expect another great deal. Here's what we've done in the past to get the most van for our buck.

1. BUDGET- Since we've been married we have purchased three vehicles. We've managed to pay cash (or cash plus trade-in) for all of them. Don't look at vehicles you know you can't afford. If they're not willing to show you ones in that range, or reduce the price, just walk away. Talk them down to a low price, then ask how much they'll take off if you write out a check right now. (It's also funny to watch their jaw drop!) Continue saving money throughout the process and don't forget to factor in sales tax and licensing!

2. RESEARCH- It's important to know what you're looking at. Every model has different trim levels, and it's important for price comparison that you're looking at the same vehicle from lot to lot. Or at least know why one is priced so much differently than another. You can do most of your research online, but then you want to get out there and test drive your top picks. We'll be taking our car seats and sticking them in the vans to see how much space there is, too!

3. SHOP AROUND- Most people check out several dealers before making a purchase. But don't just visit the large chains. Check out the small ones hidden in the crevices of your town. Check out e-bay and craigslist. It's amazing what you can find. You can even mention the prices you've found at other places when you're talking with a salesperson. If they know you have a viable option for getting the same vehicle for less, they will be more likely to reduce the price so you'll make your purchase from them.

4. WALK AWAY- Walking away is a powerful bargaining tool. If you know your budget and are willing to wait, it's a lot easier to walk away. When we bought our current van they said there was no way they could take what we had budgeted. But we weren't in a hurry and we walked out. Two days later they called and accepted our offer. We got a great deal on a van simply because we knew how much we had and were willing to wait for something that we could afford.

In thinking back on our purchases, these are the things that have stood out to me that have helped us get some great deals. Do you have any other tips for getting a great price on a vehicle? We're in the market!

1 comment:

  1. Oh, car shopping! I posted all about our experience of buying our van. We are saving up and shopping around now as well for a commuter car for Hubby. One that fits 3 car seats in the back so we can grow into it a little. One with 4wd. We don't want to do another winter on THIS hill without it plus his commute is mountain switchbacks. The only thing I'd add is don't be afraid to be a 1 car family if at all possible to make the most of the deal (or to save up enough). With a previous car sale, we were offered $400 for a trade but we were able to sell it ourselves (a year and 12,000 miles later) for $1200! Oh - also, don't mention a trade until you have the purchase price haggled. Think of it as a separate transaction.