How I didn’t go broke or crazy buying a car (and how YOU can save on one, too)
Lola (pictured below) is the newest member of our family. She’s expected to be a workhorse — to lug our bikes and skis, make possible simultaneous playdates for Tessa and Reed, and make me downright happy to be in the chauffeur stage of parenting.
We plan to rely on Lola for years to come. She’ll be the car that hauls our children’s stuff to college some day.
Oh, wait. Lola consumed our kids’ college funds.
Kidding. Kind of.
We were at that decision point. Our 12 year-old beloved Honda CR-V, in which we strapped two teeny infants back in the day, had begun to show her age. Betty had taken good care of us, but she was bound to begin needing attention (read: $$$) soon. Plus, with growing kids as well as the accompanying friends and bigger toys of said kids, we had begun to outgrow Betty.
So. Do we pour money into Betty? Or do we replace her?
We decided on the latter. But that opens up dozens of other decisions. New or used? What make, model, trimline? And from whom should we buy?
New or used?
Conventional Wisdom says that a new car depreciates deeply the minute you drive it off the lot, and that buying a 1- or 2-year old car gets you the most bang for your buck.
Conventional Wisdom never factored in Cash for Clunkers. The depreciation rule still holds, but the alternative of buying a very young used car has nearly evaporated, thanks to disruption in the free market.
So minus that choice, we decided that we might as well go new.
Consumer Reports helped us narrow our focus to a Toyota Highlander, a Honda Pilot or an Acura MDX. I was NOT looking forward to visiting a bunch of dealers, people who are experts at selling a car when I am a mere dabbler in buying a car.
But then I found Jim at AutoSearch USA. As a broker, Jim was able to arrange to have our three top choices available for a test drive, all at the same time. So my husband, my children and I went to Jim’s office in Louisville (other offices are in Colorado Springs and Longmont) and took three test drives.
The Honda Pilot was our winner, unanimously.
Jim helped us decide on the right trimline for us and explained the available options. Once we clarified what we wanted — top of my list was the car’s color — Jim set out to find The Perfect Car.
Jim snagged us a highly-sought after brand-spankin’ new blue Honda Pilot that had been in the possession of a local Honda dealer, and he made it ours. It took a little paperwork and lot of zeros, but Jim’s involvement made our new car buy as painless as possible.
Jim did the scouting. He didn’t sell us high-markup items involving undercarriages and extended warranties. He was able to provide us with a fantastic interest rate offered by the dealer. He was even able to get a significant discount off the dealer’s MSRP.
Once I got my car home I had difficulty programming the button that would open my garage door. When I alerted my contact at the Honda dealership, know what she did? She and a colleague CAME TO MY HOUSE and programmed it for me. They also helped me work out all my issues in using the navigation system and on other bells and whistles that cars now offer. Spectacular customer service. I love Honda, for this reason and more.
The only sad part of our changing of the cars episode was leaving behind our dear Betty on the lot. May she serve another family as well as she served us.
How YOU can save on a new car: Jim of AutoSearch USA will waive the $379 Dealer Handling fee for any MileHighMama reader purchasing a new car by the end of 2010. Jim is often able to offer dealer financing, and also is able to take care of people seeking a pre-owned cars or trade-in. Contact Jim directly to find the right new or used car for you.
When was the last time you bought a car? How did you decide new/used, make/model, from where to buy?