Life Lessons While Car Shopping
This past weekend, I went car shopping. Just to give you some immediate background, this was the 3rd time I've been in the market to purchase a car. Of all three times, this was the most stressful. When you know better, you do better and there was a lot of pressure I put on myself to do better. You see, the first time I purchased a car in 2009, I paid cash for a 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee. I loved that truck and had it for 6 years. In 2015, I financed my first car which was a 2012 Acura MDX. To be honest, it wasn't my preferred purchase but more of a compromise purchase. Still, it was the first deal I negotiated and financed on my own. I left the dealership feeling proud and accomplished. A little more than a year later when faced with the opportunity to refinance, I made the decision to car shop instead.
Saturday I left my apartment with a vehicle carrying about 6k in negative equity and a steep car note. I've always been an SUV person and did some research about new SUVs on the market. I had plans to look at Cherokees, Rouges, and other small to midsize SUVs. My first stop to a Jeep dealership proved to be a bit underwhelming because of the price of Jeep Grand Cherokee and I was not initially impressed with the Cherokee or other models of smaller SUVs.
Not knowing what I truly wanted after that, I went to a CarMax dealership. The goal in going to CarMax was to look at as many different makes/models as possible. I left CarMax not knowing at all what I wanted. I even entertained getting a car (in lieu of SUV) by the time I left. After trying so many cars, I felt strongly that I was still interested in the ol faithful; Jeep Grand Cherokee.
When I arrived at the second Jeep dealership, I test drove a Jeep Grand Cherokees and loved it. The numbers however did not help my financial situation. I should note I went looking to purchase a used Grand Cherokee and was encouraged by the dealer to get a new car due to the rebates that could dramatically reduce the price of the car. This was an attractive option with all the negative equity on my 2012 Acura MDX. I was counseled by a friend to ensure that I get top dollar for my current car and negotiate an amazing price on the new car. I was anxious about my ability to accomplish both.
At first the dealer quoted me 16k on my Acura, a light quote in my opinion. The Kelly Blue Book value on my car was anywhere from 20-17k. I did have a dent in my car from scraping it on the garage wall. It was rusted and kind of ugly but not 3k worth in trade value ugly. I could tell my dealer really wanted to sell me a car because when it was all said and done, I got 18.5k. The sticker price on my new Jeep Cherokee was 34k and I got it for 27k (7 grand off sticker price). That pricing naturalized the negative equity of my Acura. In the end, after speaking to 3 different finance mangers, I got a brand new car, with way more bells and whistles, and a cheaper car note. Here are my life lessons:
1. Trust your gut. When I purchased my Acura, there were signs that I should have given it a bit more thought. I also wasn't head over heels about the actual car.
2. Don't let "them" pressure you. You are the only person paying that car note. Get the deal you want on the car you want...no matter what they say.
3. Negotiate. Don't be deterred and be willing to walk away.
Many thanks to the 2nd Jeep dealership, Lustine Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM. Everyone from my sales person to the finance team (yep 3 of them) made sure I was comfortable with my purchase. I test drove many (seriously like 5) different Jeeps and cars. I own a new car, a cheaper car note, killer maintenance package, and kissed that 6k in negative equity goodbye.