Car-Shopping Experience

Now that we own this baby for three days and I have overcome the initial shock of owing more debts, let’s reflect on the buying experience.

Dana and I have wanted to buy a minivan for over a year now. We knew that we wanted a big, comfortable car for our little family, but we pushed off buying because we didn’t think we really need it. If we keep on thinking that way we would never get the car. A couple of weeks ago, the minivan came up again in our conversation so we decided to go ahead and proceed with our plan since we drive to New Jersey and Pennsylvania almost every two weeks. Our small cars are doing fine, but why not make our road trips more comfortable?

It didn’t take us very long to decide on the Sienna because we don’t have that much choice when it comes to Japanese minivan. It’s either a Toyota Sienna or Honda Odyssey. I am an Acura fan, but the MDX is out of the picture. It’s not roomy enough for the family and it is too pricy for us. My sister has the Odyssey and I am not too fond of it. In addition, my wife is all for Toyota. We took a test drive on the Sienna and that was it.

Dana did research online and found out how much people are paying for their minivans. The nice things about the web is that people share information. She also put in quotes to all Toyota dealers in our area and found quite a wide range. With the price in our hands, it was time for me to do the negotiation. I am not a good negotiator at all so it is helpful that I have a price in hand. I hit several dealers and they gave me such a high price. I asked them to not waste our time and just give me their best offer. Instead of giving me their best deal, they ask me to give them my price. So I wrote down about $500 below the lowest price we were quoted. Then they would asked me how did I come up with that price as if I just came from another planet.

Finally I came to the dealer that offered us the lowest deal. The salesman seemed honest and he also seemed to know that he has offered the best price on the Internet. We went back and forth and I was able to lower $300 off his offer and it was a deal.

After we signed the agreement, the fun part began. He offered me insurance on the smart key system, which costs $500 a piece if I lose one. I passed on the offer and thought to myself if he told me that from the beginning I would have chosen a regular key. Before we made our payment, more offers were thrown at our way from the financial guy. Extended warranties for all the electronics in the car. I passed on the offer as well and said if that was the case then maybe I should just go with the CE for less electronics. Extended warranties on mechanics up to 100,000 miles. I fell for this the last time I bought my Acura TL. I paid $1,200 and the only time I used the warrantee was when I accidentally locked the doors and left the key in the trunk of the car. My TL now is clocking in around 150,000 miles and she still runs as smooth as when I first acquired her. The financial guy dropped the price on the plan almost half and still I didn’t take it. He was not too happy about it.

Anyone who owns a Toyota or an Acura knows that the first 100,000 miles do nothing to the car if you change oil regularly and tune up once in a while. I drove my TL for seven years and I hardly pop the hood to see if anything goes wrong. I am hoping that the Sienna would be the same in term of reliability. So now that I just increased more debts for comfort, I need to get more freelance gigs to pay off my loan.