I just finished finalizing a deal for a newer minivan. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, the transmission in my current minivan is dying – and I’ve been looking for a good deal on a newer (slightly used) model that I can afford to pay cash for – and I found one. After searching through online auctions, automobile websites, and local dealerships, I finally found the van that I wanted at a price I was willing to pay. Here’s a quick overview of “what I did”.
- I sat down with my wife and we discussed what we wanted in the new van – and what we could live without – and then decided that we wanted to buy a newer model van – but neither one of us cared for many of bells and whistles. (In other words – we want a vehicle, not an entertainment center.)
- I began to do some research at various sites online, and I narrowed our search to those vans that were within our price range. I used sites like Edmunds and KBB.
- I decided on a “must get” price for our old van – the lowest amount that I would accept on trade or for sale.
- A couple of days I ago, I narrowed my search down to three possible vans – a gold one and two red ones – both near our price target and both available from reputable dealerships. (One hopes!)
- I emailed the dealerships and asked for price quotes – I found the advice from my buddies Nickel (who has an awesome form letter that he uses when emailing car dealerships) and FMF (who has a step by step guide to buying a car) to be invaluable.
- After receiving the initial quotes, we soon settled on one of the red vans. It fit our price range, so I called the Internet sales rep. I asked him how much he would give me for my Chrysler.
- After a few minutes, he called me back and gave me a quote. I was satisfied for the amount he offered, so I asked him to “bottom line” it – I wanted to know how much the entire deal was going to cost me, after fees and taxes, “out the door” so to speak.
- He called back and gave me the news – a few hundred dollars below our “this is what we want to pay” amount.
- I faxed a copy of my license to the dealership and the car will be delivered in the morning. The dealer will pick up my old van and drive it away – as soon as I sign some paperwork and give them the title. I initiated a transfer from my ING Direct account to my regular checking. The dealer is going to hold the check for 5 days while the funds move from ING to my checking account.
- I called my insurance company and they said to call back as soon as the deal is done. I’ll do that in the morning.
Possible issues – I am buying the car “sight unseen” – but I can change my mind after it gets here in the morning. The van is a “program car” and is certified used from Chrysler.
The coolest part of this entire thing is that I’m paying for the newer car with cash. For the first time in my life, I’ll be driving an automobile that I didn’t have to finance. It’s strange – I’ll be paying less for this automobile than I did for some of the other automobiles I’ve purchased in the past – but it “feels” like I’m paying more. Why? Because, I’m spending real money – not borrowed money – but real money – and it hurts! But, it’s awesome to know that my wife will be safe, that we’ll have plenty of room for the kids – and no car payments!
I’m sure that there are savvier shoppers out there. I would never, ever purport to be an expert when it comes to buying or selling automobiles – but I think I did a pretty good job of finding a nice automobile at a decent price – so I’m happy.