Monday, May 11, 2009

Car Buying Basics - Take One

And so begins the series on car buying. My husband and I tend to research any major purchase we make to the point of overkill. I take that back. Overkill is an understatement. We do A LOT of research. This week I will write about what we learned through our car buying experiences. I feel like we got a good deal. I'll start with that and let you decide.

Our deal. We got a base model 2005 Nissan Quest minivan with 71,000 miles on it. The asking price was $9100. We paid $8000. The offer for our trade was $2000. We got $3250 for the trade. We got a minor engine repair covered before the purchase plus have free tires and oil changes for the life of the car plus an engine warranty as long as we follow the strict rules on the oil change program. The only thing we need to pay to stay in the oil/engine/tire program is $35 every 6000 miles for a tire rotation. After all our research, we saw this as a pretty good deal. We have a very reliable vehicle that suits our needs and will grow with our family.

Now, step by step, how did we get to that deal? I'll start with the first step - Know Your Needs. This step may seem obvious. This may seem easy. For us, this may have been the hardest step. Ask yourself:
  • What is my price range? (I highly recommend paying cash for all cars - more on that later)
  • What type of vehicle do I need? (sedan, coupe, SUV, minivan, truck, etc.)
  • What size do I need of that type?
  • What features do I need? (4WD, AWD, manual, automatic, etc)
  • What bells and whistles would I like to have?
Once you narrow down your needs/wants, you can start your research. Spend a little time learning what vehicles are available in your price range. Get to know what is a good price for the vehicles on your list. Here are some websites that can be great help in this step:
Another part of this step is deciding if you will be trading in a vehicle or selling one yourself. Now is a good time to get to know what your vehicle is worth. Use those same sites above to get a good realistic idea of what your vehicle is worth. If you are trading, this information can save you a lot of money. If you are selling it yourself, you will be able to price it appropriately for a quick sale.

Check back tomorrow for step two!


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