Good Morning everybody! I know, I know, it has been far too long since I last posted on here. Hopefully, today’s post will be worth your while. This past weekend, I bought a car! And not just any old car, I bought a brand-new 2017 Mazda CX-5! I am beyond excited to share with you what I learned during this process and hopefully it will help some of you out in the future!
My new baby’s name is Anastasia (after the Russian princess), and she is a beautiful blue (Eternal Blue, to be exact). See photo below for reference:
I will be the first to admit that I was incredibly stressed at the beginning of this process because I had NO IDEA what I was doing. Luckily enough for me, my dad has purchased many cars in his lifetime and was willing to help (with the searching and negotiating, not the paying part).
Let me take this step-by-step and share the bit of information I learned along the way.
First, figure out what you want to drive. You do not need a make or model just yet, but do you want to drive a coupe, sedan, crossover, SUV, minivan, truck, etc.? I knew I wanted to drive a crossover, which led me to the leading brands in the class – Mazda, Honda, Nissan, and Toyota.
Now that you have narrowed down your search, you need to browse around and maybe test drive. I did not test drive any cars on my first visit. I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of cars and just needed some time to look and figure out what prices I was looking at. I walked around the dealerships and asked questions about new and used cars to figure out what I was going to be comfortable with paying.
- Note: if the salesperson/sales manager is too pushy, walk away. There are plenty of dealerships around and you do not want to deal with someone who will make your experience uncomfortable. When we were looking at the Nissan Rogue, we left because the sales manager was trying too hard to make me buy a car (ON THE FIRST DAY, AT 8:00pm!). We ended up ruling the Rogue out anyway because we were not a fan of the quality of the vehicle.
Once you figured out the price you are willing to pay for a car, NOW you choose specifics and test drive. I originally wanted to buy a used car, until I realized how awful the blind spots are in a crossover. I need the technology to help me drive my car, which narrowed my search to new crossovers, specifically the CX-5, CR-V, and RAV4.
- Note: when test driving, make sure you try everything. Play music, step on the gas, slam on the brakes, ask to pull into a parking lot and practice parking the car, etc. You need to make sure you can live with all aspects of the car, and test driving is the only way to figure that out.
After test driving, the uncomfortable part comes: negotiation. I cannot stress enough how important it is to go in well-informed. Research the car online. Look at the value on Kelley Blue Book. Talk to friends who have bought a car recently. And, if possible, talk to your parents.
- Note: do not go in with the expectation of buying a car that day. Go in with the mentality that you are gathering information and will be coming back another time or shopping around. That helps calm the nerves a bit and also makes it easier to walk away if they really cannot cut you a good deal. When I was negotiating a RAV4, they did not make ANY adjustments to the pricing for me, and my dad and I walked out and did not go back.
Now that you have negotiated and gathered information on a couple of cars, it is up to you to make a decision. Which car do you want? You need to weigh all the factors, including price, to figure out what works best for you. I was stuck between the Mazda CX-5 and the Honda CR-V when it got to this point. The CR-V was cheaper, but they did not offer 0% APR and Mazda did, making the monthly cost of owning the Mazda lower. Like I said, you need to take everything into account!
Next, if you are still teetering between two, you need to test drive again. I knew what I wanted and still test drove again. Ultimately, you need to find the best fit for you. Do NOT rush into a decision because you think you are wasting a salesperson’s time. They are there to help.
- Note: make sure you are always asking for the same salesperson. They are dedicating their time to you to find you the best fit. Sometimes they are talking to you for multiple days. When you are taking up their time to make a decision, respect that they should get the sale in the end.
Finally, you need to enter into a final negotiation. Come prepared with what you are going to ask and stand firm. If you have a trade-in, bring it with you so that they can look over it and determine value. BUT, make sure you have a trade-in value in mind as well. We wanted $1,000 for my car and told our salesperson that if he could give us $500 off the price and $1,000 for the trade, we would buy the car that day. He disappeared for a bit, and came back with exactly what we wanted. We had done our research and knew what was reasonable and it benefitted me greatly!
- Note: if your salesperson was incredibly helpful like mine was (shout out to Nick at the John Kennedy Mazda in Pottstown!), be sure to tell their manager. They deserve credit for all the hard work they did to help you make your decision and get the best price possible.
Then, you just sign all the paperwork!!
A few extra notes:
- Fill out the survey that gets sent out when you make a purchase.
- Do not be afraid to take a long time to make a choice. This is a huge purchase and you need to think it all through.
- Make sure you go in with a plan.
- The nicer you are, the more-likely they are going to want to help you. I know you need to play hard-ball with the prices, but do not be an ass about it.
- Take time to enjoy your purchase after you make it. I bought my car on a cold, snowy day, but it did not stop me from taking my car for a little spin.
I hope you enjoyed following my purchasing journey and I hope some of this comes in handy for you one day too!!