Buying a new car?


I’m going to go test drive one today. I’m just making absolutely certain that this is the car I want. I’m not going to buy from this person, since he’s offering it to me for MSRP plus “dealer add-ons”.


@Sig and I have been talking minivans for a month or so. Now that he’s home, we were able to put our sleuthing skills together and look for used Toyota Siennas, using USAA’s Car Buying Service.

Our last purchase was a Ford Focus from a “dealer” (mostly of cars, perhaps also of other things), and turned out not to be our smartest financial decision. We got a decent discount, and once we ended up pouring enough money into it, it became a great little econobox. But that thing barely seats all four of us, and feels like a clown car if we try to add the dog. We want to go on a road trip in a few months, and it WILL NOT be an acceptable vehicle for that activity. We’re not too thrilled about borrowing a car from someone, either.

We’ve narrowed our choices down, and found what we think is The One at a dealership over the bridge. We’re going to go look at it tomorrow, financing in hand. It will be good timing, since we’re going to be picking the kids and dog up at my parents’ on Saturday, and it will be a tight squeeze if we all had to fit in the Focus to get home. Wouldn’t be as big a deal if it wasn’t a 30-minute drive… And Sig needs to have a reliable commuter vehicle when he goes back to work, and the other two vehicles we have are not good choices for that, anymore.

Neither of us are great negotiators, but from everything we’ve seen, we’re getting a bargain, compared to same-age Siennas being sold in our region. There’s one much farther north than we’re willing to drive this week that has similar mileage and is being sold for $300 less (and is a prettier color, but I will resist—it’s also not available in the Car Buying Service search engine), so I might be able to use that as a bargaining chip to reduce the price a bit.

Good luck, @Nabiki! I hope you find the car of your dreams! :smiley:


Good luck with your car shopping!

After my test drive, I’m sure that I want the SI. The problem is, it is a rare enough car that the dealer wasn’t willing to bargain at all. :frowning: I’m going to have to take a good, hard look at financing and decide if I want to spend about 3K more than I’d planned.


Mini-van life is awesome. Getting everyone in the same vehicle without anyone being in anyone’s body bag is incredible. Then, you can pop the seats out and load it with stuff!

I loved mine on long road trips, and it didn’t hurt that it had a premium 8 speaker stereo. But move all the music forward and let the back of the van sleep while you drive.I loved taking road trips with my kids, but when you start at 4 AM you don’t really want to hear the griping. It makes it nicer when the sun does come up and you’ve got several hours under your belt.

That all being said, I couldn’t tow my trailer with any kind of mini-van. Maybe an Econoline 350, but might as well get a truck then. Except I could get a wizard air brushed on the side of a van.


I sicced my credit union on the dealer. We’ll see what kind of price they come back with. I found out that the reason they hadn’t called me back on the car was because they were looking for the specific color I’d said was my first choice, even though I’d said that color wasn’t all that important. The one they’re negotiating on is black instead of blue.

Why do dealers assume that color is the most important thing in a car when the buyer is a woman? I had one dealer have me drive the car up next to a mirror so I could see what I looked like driving it. :roll_eyes:


Not only a female issue. Though when I say I don’t care what color it is I get listened to. When I was younger I had the pull up in it thing pulled on me. It’s not a coat dude, I don’t care how I look in it.

So your Credit Union will negotiate for you with the dealer? I hadn’t looked into that.


Yep. My CU does all the headachy stuff for me. They found one in the original color that I wanted without all of the extras the dealer in Marin County added on to his. Still no negotiation on the price since there are only like three of them in northern CA, but they’ll give me a deal on the extended service contract.

Looks like I’m going to have a new car today.


Post it in the “new shiny” thread once it’s all finalized.


The color is one of those “want” items that people will pay extra for. “It’s my favorite color, gotta have it!” For me, there’s a color I like better than the others, but I think there’s about three or four I could be happy with, so I’ve got some flexibility. I won’t discuss that until much later in my search. My favorite color is one that would require a custom paint job from the factory, and I don’t have the money to spend on that.

I haven’t even set foot on a car lot and I’ve already dealt with a pushy salesperson. In this case, it’s someone that was looking to get some extra repair work. I got low-speed rear-ended several years ago and it pushed the bumper down on one side a few inches. Then last week, I backed into a protective barrier at about 10 mph, so there’s one more dent in it. But this is one of the 1990s bumpers that’s made out of sturdy metal, so it’s rugged.

The conversation goes like this:

Guy is driving through the parking lot, stops and says he could fix the bumper and doesn’t charge much. I tell him I’m not concerned about it. He repeats he doesn’t charge much. I say it’s been like that for a decade, so I don’t really care. He presses one more time, so I start to say it isn’t worth much and I’m replacing it.

This is the point where he pounces. Cuts me off and tells me he’ll buy it and will pay cash. I tell him very firmly I’m not going to continue this right now. Luckily, he realizes he shouldn’t pursue this and heads out. I see him a minute later, still driving through the parking lot, maybe trying to find other repair opportunities.

This salesperson was a salesperson for himself and not a dealership, but he made several mistakes in dealing with me.

  1. He interrupted me. That is a really irritating thing that I have to deal with far too often.
  2. When he pounced on trying to buy my truck, he made an assumption that replacing the truck automatically meant getting rid of it. Had he not interrupted me and made an assumption, I would have finished with “but I’m keeping it as a backup”.
  3. He made me very uncomfortable. I know that salespeople of any kind have to get past the natural resistance to what they’re trying to sell, but in less than three minutes, I was being pushed into talking about money with someone I had never met before. That’s how a lot of scams operate.

All of these have confirmed that I want to deal with a salesperson who will let me go at my own pace. I already know that this is going to take a couple of months to get the research done and things lined up. The ones that try to push me and get the sale faster are going to the bottom of the pile.


Oh, I did. :smiley:


So, in my opinion after this experience? Use your credit union’s car broker service! They don’t charge you for it, you get the best loan rates, they find the car for you, and they negotiate with the dealer so you don’t have to put up with their tricks and hard sales techniques.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do research first, though!

Edit: I bet my broker is a bit embarrassed. I spent about 45 minutes in the parking lot familiarizing myself with all of the controls, syncing my phone, etc, but was halfway home before I realised that we’d forgotten to process my down payment on the car. I sent him an e-mail as soon as I got home, so that will get taken care of this morning. :sweat:


I have car model/color combos I veto when I look at cars, but in most cases there’s several colors of a specific model I’d consider, at least.


Right, I won’t do white, or shades of white, thanks Chrysler. And a friend of mine always goes with black, which is the only color worse than white.


For example, Jeep Wranglers can get away with the bright green/neon/yellow offered, but I’d have trouble buying a sedan in one of those colors. Probably not even a pickup truck.


Finished my first trip to dealers this weekend for the brands I wanted to check out, so here’s a few things I learned.

All brands have the hazard lights separate from the brakes. They all figured out that was a good safety design a long time ago.

A lot of cars let you control what happens when you activate/deactivate the alarm. Typically, it’s how you press the button(s) on the key fob. For example, press once to have the lights flash and press it twice in a row for the horn. One brand had a separate beeper that was nice and quiet instead of using the horn for that function. If you’re testing it out, don’t do it with the car that’s inside the showroom. I didn’t even think about that before I tried it. No one got upset, thankfully.

Likewise, if you want to run the fan without starting the engine, you leave your foot off the brake or you tap on the button for the cars that have push-button start.

Regarding whether doors unlock simply because you put it in park or if you shut off the engine, you can just reach over and push the button to lock them again. Not as big a deal as I was making it out to be.

Blind spot sensors: even if a car has it, I’m going to add those 1"x3" rectangular stick-on mirrors to supplement the sensors. With those mirrors, I can see not only into the lane next to me, but the one beyond. Comes in handy for spotting the ones in that second lane over that are thinking “There’s an open spot! DIVE! DIVE! DIVE” and jerk the wheel to move into it without warning.

No SUVs or CUVs have removable seats. It’s all fold-down to increase the cargo area. The “turn the engine off at an intersection to save gas” is variable as to whether some have it or it’s selectable. I did have to clarify that I meant gasoline engines after a couple of salespeople described how hybrid engines work.

Here’s a new tip: create a new email account just for giving to the salespeople. That way, it’s easier to see the messages dealing with this purchase.


As for dealing with the salespeople themselves, all were very nice and weren’t pushy. My unconventional approach of “all I want to do right now is sit in the car and look at the cargo area” took a few of them by surprise, and some of them tried to go through their usual routine of describing safety features, trim levels, etc.

A couple of them sent their managers out to talk with me when they went back in for a business card. If I’m being kind, it’s because my approach threw them off their stride so much they didn’t know how to handle me, but I realize that’s probably a standard procedure: send out the big guns to see if they can get a better feel for what the customer wants.

For a few (the regular salespeople), they seemed to expect that because I walked onto their lot, I was ready to buy a car right then and there. I had to tell them no test drives were necessary at this time and it’s going to be a couple of months before I buy it. However, if I continue to have problems with my truck not starting correctly, I may move it up a few weeks to avoid getting to the point where the ignition module fries again.

I did weed out a few cars that are too small and I’ve got a better idea of what size is appropriate for me. Now I can start researching features online.


Keep an eye out for cars that shut down extra cylinders too. My Ram runs on 4 cylinders half the time I’m on the highway.

When the doors lock was a bigger deal for me. Thankfully I could set my truck to lock as I speed up. I think they lock at like 15mph. Which is perfect for dropping someone off in a line, or when I put it in drive early. I used to lock the door on my daughter all the time when I would pick her up, she walks up to the car, I put it in drive, and the door locks…

I never really had any issues crawling around in the cars. A couple times sales people would unlock the car and go away, other times they wanted to play tour guide, and at least once I drafted one to sit behind me to check space.


Whatever car you get, find out about the key fob codes! My new car has a feature that if I hit the unlock twice then hold it down, all of the windows and sunroof open up. This is really nice on a hot day to let some of the hot air out before I get in.


It took me like a year to realize that my Mini Clubman had a feature where holding down the ‘hatch’ button (note: car is not a hatchback) pops the back-right “barn door”.

It also has the feature @Nabiki mentions where the unlock button can be held down to lower windows and open the sunroof.


I mentioned Costco as a way of buying a car, so here’s details on that versus what you can get from a credit union.

Check the website to see which dealers are participating. You pick one and they’ll call to set an appointment with you. When you arrive for your appointment, you have someone specific to work with you on selecting a car. You look at the “Costco Member-Only Price Sheet” for the prearranged price on the car you want. Then you add in any rebates or promotional financing.

Credit Union:
What they offer will vary, but the one I belong to has a website where you can put in as many or as few of the details on the type of car you want so you can check inventory. Or you can do like Nabiki did and make use of the service where you give one of the people working in this group the same details and they’ll find which place has the best deal, get the loan arranged with the credit union, and then find out how you want to pick up the vehicle (at home, work, the CU branch or the dealership).

So I think the Costco method is you pick the brand of car you want and then you see what’s available in that brand at the prearranged pricing. With this credit union, you can have as wide a search as you want to begin with (mini-van, large SUV, etc.) or you can be very specific, and a person will go through the search and negotiating for you.

Forgot a couple of things on the Costco side. The membership also provides a 15% off for parts, service and accessories when you need work on your car. There’s a $25 discount on glass replacement through Safelite. Both of these are separate from any purchase and you have to go through the Costco website to make arrangements for both discounts (pick a repair shop, get the discount code, etc.).