Going car shopping with no money in your pocket, having emptied out your purse and wallet, can really put things into perspective. I personally prefer to shop this way, especially when looking to make a substantial purchase as a vehicle.
I like doing this as it allows me to “shop” my salesperson to see who is “worthy” of their commission/sale. It also allows me to truly get a better view of how that particular car lot does business; the mindset of the company or atleast management and the sales floor.
I remember my very first, solo, car buying experience. I say solo, since I was by myself, but I did have my brother-like figure helping to negotiate the pricing on my car (virtually mind you). It was a crazy experience and one I will never forget. I had shopped several lots, seeing every single thing I did NOT want and being prompted and prodded to just get this or that. Me being relentless in my thinking and knowing that I would be seriously peeved if I purchased something just to have a new set of wheels, but did not actually enjoy it, just left each lot. You see, in my mind I had plotted and planned and could see myself in a luxury sports sedan, even though I felt that I did not have that type of money and certainly not that type of credit. But I believed in prayer and in my own ability to “think things possible”.
My 12-Step Process
- Deal Breaker List – I planned by creating a list of all the amenities and features I “had to have/deal-breakers”.
- Nice but Not Need List – Next I created a “niceties but not necessities” list.
- Specs Check – Then I went on the internet to see which makes and models had my specs and I started pulling up the KBB (Kelly Blue Book) value on all as well as checking the gas mileage, emissions and other data on fueleconomy.gov (I truly treasure this site).
- Virtual Car Shopping – Next I started virtually shopping the various dealerships and car lots via the web.
- Phone Dealer to see if Car is Still There – Once I saw a vehicle I liked I would call, to see if it was still available (this step is tricky as they will say, oh yeah it’s here, and when you get there, it was sold “right before you came” (hoax alert and automatic disqualifier).
- Onsite Browsing – I started to make visits to the lots on Sunday’s (Ha, most dealerships are closed on Sunday’s so no hassle, no fuss, just plenty of time for my analytical mind to evaluate in peace).
- Test Drive and Vehicle Inspection – I visited the lots when open, so I could inspect and test drive my prospective vehicles.
- Inspection – This step is so very important, as I am a very particular person. I want quality, comfort, space and practicality, bundled into a cute n’ sexy design – with great gas mileage of course. So I did my standard checks for cup holders, headrest positioning, back seat comfort, seat belt types, storage placement and space, trunk space, rear leg room, rear hip room (need this for the “she/he is touching me” children issues), controls, multi-disc cd changer, stereo system (Bose is a must) etc. I take a look under the hood to see if all the things I have to keep up with (fluid levels and such) are easily accessible and not a hassle to open and close. I literally check all of these things, to name a few!
- Safety – I checked out all of the safety ratings, including the fact that my vehicle of choice was built on an airliners frame! Oh, yes, safe and secure for my precious cargo (my babies).
- Test Drive -Manual transmission is my “go-to” decision factor, love me some stick-shifts. So I check for shift ease, steering (too loose or too stiff = a “no”), pickup speed, on dash visuals, how it takes corners, how it handles bumps on the road, quick turning and how it responds to stops. Seat adjustments are key for comfort, love our road trips. We carry our own electronics so the only other creature feature I desire is a jack for my phone, with connection to car speaker system and a usb connection for all else.
- Review All My Data – After I have completed my test drives I go home, review and write down all of my thoughts and true feelings. I make a pro’s and con’s list and think over it for a few days to a week or two. Generally if it takes this long I have not found the car I am satisfied with enough and I then begin my search again, with refined parameters and specs, or a new dealer, cause they’ve made me mad.
- Vehicle Report – Eureka! I’ve found my vehicle, now at this stage I generally order my own Carfax report on it.
- Financing – I either have secured financing or will secure financing. I prefer the online method for securing financing, that way several companies can bid for your business at once and the one that has the most favorable bid, you choose and they literally send you a check; with in 2 days, to your home. I think I went through LendingTree. When you shop via this method, it is less stressful, in my opinion, and it is like shopping with cash. Please note: I had done all of my due diligence earlier in the year, working on my credit, had a good paying job, etc, which made this process simple for me. These days, anyone, no matter their situation can get financing. The terms may not be as favorable, but if you have to do it, there are options out there. And if you are paying with cash, go for it. Congrats and No car payment for you! There are also programs out there, in various cities; some are called “Wheels to Work”. These is a government funded programs, so to find one in your area is a good thing. Each program may be named a little bit different and through different entities, so be creative and diligent in your search; if this option is for you. Note – During this process, I forgot to add that I already, since I had researched first, knew what the price is that I desired to pay for my vehicle. So I knew full well and was not willing to go outside of that figure/price point; unless that vehicle was truly worth it. (This is the step that I like to have a male friend or male family member – who is good at sales and negotiation – do the price talk on my behalf). I also allowed “my car” to sit on the lot for nearly a month, joys of being a manual shift driver, I guess, lol. And a side note, I purchased my car, my “Audi” from the actual “Volkswagen/Audi” dealer lot, made me feel more comfortable and confident buying direct and it came with a warranty so I knew they knew what to do and how to fix it like new, if anything happened to it.
- Prayer – I look at it this way, I had prayed over my list of specifications prior to me even stepping out the door. I knew that the Lord was going to bless me with exactly what I needed, and even “…exceedingly abundantly, above all that we ask or think according to the power that worketh in us” Ephesians 6:20 kjv. So I had the faith that He [God] was going to move and bless in my favor; in accordance with His will for my life. So I prayed continuously over my vehicle and each week, or day I checked the price on it, on the internet (yes the lot had it online too) the price was literally dropping thousands of dollars each time. The listing price was $26,000 for a certified pre-owned 2005.5 Audi A4 2.0T, in 2007. By the time I went to collect “my” vehicle (claimed it, in Jesus name), a month later, it was $20,000. Yes! God did it, just for me! And He WILL do it for you too; and NO this does not just apply to material or monetary things. This belief and faith action applies to ALL things. By the time I was ready to pick up my car, they had it pulled to the side, for me, off the lot and they were waiting for me with my keys in their hands. They had already prepared to accept my $16,000 check… Yes, $10,000 off the list price folks…. I know, I’ll just let that sink in…
- Last Minute Checks and Fixes – Now, prior to making the handover of the check I had seen somethings that I felt needed to be fixed, the glass on the vehicle was allowing condensation, under the windshield (they replaced the windshield completely), there were dings and things from small, seemingly miniscule rocks on the hood (they filled all holes with same color hood paint), etc, etc, etc… not a whole lot of fixing but my pet peeve, “I’m investing, I want the absolute best for my investment” issues had to be satisfied. Pushy, I know, but the squeaky wheel, GOT the oil.
My vehicle, we lovingly named her “silver”, yes she was silver, was a blessing to my children and I for many years. She was exceptional on the road. My children loved road trips, as she was ultra comfy, smooth ride with hushed interior and oh….. that BOSE sound…. ummmm, ummmm! Sweeeeeeet!
I did have to replace the clutch about 1.5 years later ($1,500 – yes, *cough, choke, gag*) but that was the only major issue I had and the only issue I had with her for the entire time she was mine; and she drove beautifully.
Many trips 700 miles each way, sometimes every other weekend even, where taken in her and she took to the road like we were going around the corner. Gas mileage on those trips was amazing as I only had to fill up 1.5 times each way! Yes! As you can see I truly enjoyed EVERY aspect of my vehicle, even down to the trunk space. That trunk space was exceptional. You see, they took into account the wheels so that there was not that awkward wheel shape eating up the trunk space; so maximum cargo area in the trunk!!! NICE for strollers and diaper bags snacks, extra clothes, shoes, etc… (my babies where much younger back then…. *sigh*)
So, in closing, take your time. Having cash on hand right then, is not a necessity and helps to keep you in the proper frame of mind, seeing all things as they should be seen. Pray and ask God to give you what is best for you. Do your research. Don’t be bullied. Take your time some more. Weigh all of your options. Extend your research and work with the people that are the most attentive and respectful of your time; regardless of whether they think you’ve got money or not. Take a friend with you that has your best interest at heart. And, most importantly believe you can achieve the object of your dreams… Audi was my dream car and I got exactly what I wanted, Plus a few cool extras!
To your health, wealth and continued success. Be blessed, don’t stress, pursue happiness!