Buying A New Car

My first car was far from new. And now that I am a parent myself, I realize that my parents were brilliant and insightful for buying me that $60 (yes, I said it…sixty dollar) hideous, gold, four-door Delta 88 Oldsmobile as my first experimental set of wheels. If they had purchased the new car that I really wanted, I probably wouldn’t be alive today and plunking out this blog. Every girl names their first car a pet name. My car’s name was The Embarrassment because I was so embarrassed to be seen behind the wheel in that beast, I would hardly ever go anywhere in it. My friends refused to ride with me for fear of tarnishing their reputation of being cool. I grew up in the Midwest where they use salt on the roads every winter, so the entire skirt of the car was rusted out. You needed a tetanus shot just to be near the thing. And the seats were the old sofa-type seats with fabric upholstery that smelled like an old bum’s bum, please don’t ask how I know what that smells like. Although I hardly remember driving that car, when it went to the junk yard, it was smashed in on all four sides. It looked like a Mini Cooper. The embarrassment and my collection of 8-Track tapes went to the grave together.

When my daughter was ready to own her first car, we searched used car lots and ads. Because we are both women and were more about the appearance of the car than the efficiency, we ended up with a lemon. That’s when I decided that she was responsible and experienced enough to consider buying a new car on her own. Of course, looking forward at her future use of this new car with driving to school and using this car throughout her college years, we were looking for a fuel-efficient, safe ride for her. Besides economy and safety, we needed to consider financing and maintenance.

When buying A New Car:
The Federal Trade Commission suggests these key steps to buying a new car:

  • Check publications and websites that discuss new car features and prices. These may provide information on the dealer’s costs for specific models and options.
  • Shop around to get the best possible price by comparing models and prices in ads and at dealer showrooms. You also may want to contact car-buying services and broker-buying services to make comparisons.
  • Plan to negotiate on price. Dealers may be willing to bargain on their profit margin, often between 10 and 20 percent. Usually, this is the difference between the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) and the invoice price.
  • Because the price is a factor in the dealer’s calculations regardless of whether you pay cash or finance your car — and also affects your monthly payments — negotiating the price can save you money.
  • Consider ordering your new car if you don’t see what you want on the dealer’s lot. This may involve a delay, but cars on the lot may have options you don’t want — and that can raise the price. However, dealers often want to sell their current inventory quickly, so you may be able to negotiate a good deal if an in-stock car meets your needs.

I believe we made the right decision when buying a new car for our teen. Now, just getting her to keep it upright will be a challenge.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist