Monday, March 19, 2012

We bought a car!

As I love to blog about everything in our lives, how could we buy a car and not blog about it!
We used to have two cars. A 1998 Subaru Outback and a 2004 Volkswagen Passat. About 4 months ago, the Subaru broke down and needed a new transmission. We had put a lot of money into repairing the Subaru so when the transmission went out, we decided not to fix it, and to make due with one car. That worked well enough, only needing to catch a ride a few times, but Andy just got a new job 50 miles away, so the one car thing isn't going to work anymore. We knew we would have to buy a car. With so many options out there, here is how we chose what we chose.

1. New or Used?
This is probably the first question you should ask yourself. Both have their merits, and both have setbacks. Lets start with New. The #1 benefit for me with a new car was the Warrantee. 10 yr/100,000 miles with no maintenance costs sounded like a dream! It would give us the security of knowing if the car broke, we could get it fixed at no cost. Another benefit was knowing it's history. When you buy a used car, you don't know how it was used. You can run a car very hard in not so many miles, so not knowing what might be wrong or going wrong in the near future is a gamble. Being the only owner of your car gives you the security of knowing where it's been. A setback of a new car is the depreciation of value. Unfortunately the minute you drive your car off the lot, your car isn't worth as much as you payed for it. This is a sucky truth of buying a new car. So lets look at the pros and cons of a Used car. With a used car, you are going to get a better deal. We looked at two cars, one was a 2012 and one was a 2011. Exact same car. The 2011 was $5,000 less because it was older. One year old to save that kind of money is not a bad trade. The pros of a new car are the cons of a used one. Miles you didn't get to drive on the car, not knowing the history, and usually no warrantee. So you really have to decide what is important to you and how much you are willing to pay. We decided we wanted something new. The warrantee was such a great benefit that it was worth all the cons.

2. Type of Car
Once you decide whether you are looking for something new or used, you should narrow down what kind of car you want. Take into account the number of people that will need to ride in the car, storage/ trunk space, and any other needs you may have (like hauling lumber for us). That should point you toward a sedan, midsize, suv or truck. knowing the type of car will help you decide on make and model. We decided we wanted a midsize. We need space in the back for Max so when we have kids he doesn't ride in the back seat with them. Speaking of kids, we wanted something big enough to hold two car seats because we plan to have this car for the next 10+ years. We also tend to purchase lumber to build furniture with. We need a car large enough to haul home lumber. The one thing we loved about the Subaru is that it had all of these things. We loved the hatch back and the large trunk space, so we knew we wanted something similar.

3. Make/ Model
Once you know what type of car you want, it's time to do a little research. We googled "best midsize suv's" and "most fuel efficient suv's" to get an idea of what was out there. We also turned to Facebook to ask out friends and family what they had and their recommendations. Our efforts turned up the Hyundai Tuscon, Kia Sorrento, Mitsubishi Outlander and the Ford Edge. We looked online for more information and listed eliminated the Ford Edge because of price. We wanted to stay under $25,000.

4. Go Shopping
The only way to decide what you really want is to sit in it and test drive it. Pick a dealership and start looking. Our first choice was Hyundai so we went to the dealership and started looking around. On our way to look at the Tuscon, we saw the Elantra Touring.

This wasn't a car that was even on our radar, but it fit what we were looking for, so we took a closer look. The price for the Elantra Touring was between $16,500 for a manual transmission base model and $21,500 for an automatic transmission Sport Edition (with all the bells and whistles). We sat in it, and test drove it and really liked what it had to offer and especially the price. After looking at that, we wanted to check out the Tuscon. We walked over and immediately saw the price difference (starting out at $23,000) and were kinda turned off. I hopped in to see if I liked how it felt and it sat up very high, more like a van and less like a car. I was unimpressed, so we moved on. We saw that they had two used 2011 Kia Sorentos for sale, so we asked to look at one of them. The price wasn't marked (which according to my Father in Law, is normal for a used car) and I sat in it and it wasn't as comfortable as the Elantra Touring. So we went back to the Elantras and decided to get an automatic transmission base model and we wanted it to have black interior. Unfortunately this car didn't exist at our dealership :( We asked the guy helping us if he could find one in the area at a different dealership and they couldn't find one. Because he couldn't find one, he offered us the Sports Edition (the fancy one) in Automatic for $19,000, $2,500 off the asking price. We jumped at the deal! We could get all the bells and whistles, black interior (in the SE it was leather, which is what we wanted to begin with) and it was a very reasonable price! We said  yes.

5. The long part...

No one ever told me how long it takes to buy a car. I assumed it took a little while to sign the papers and get everything official, but I had no idea how it would go. It took about 2 hours to get everything figured out. Long story short, the car was ours!

Here is our new baby!!!

We decided to go with a gray exterior and the black leather interior. Andy wanted a red exterior but I thought it looked cheap. The SE comes with all sorts of goodies like steering wheel radio controls, XM radio for 3 months free, a blue tooth hands free phone system, heated seats, a sun roof and leather! Definitely worth the extra money :)

So that is our car buying experience. Things I learned are you can negotiate a price. If there is something you really want, don't settle for what they have, ask. You might get what you really really want for a great deal! Be prepared to wait a while when all the loan stuff starts. We should have brought snacks. Bring someone who has bought a car with you. They will know what questions to ask and how to get you a good deal. Had we gone alone, we would have payed sticker price.

Any fun car buying stories out there? What do you think of our new car!?