Bird in Hand Farm

Bird in Hand Farm is an imaginary place.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Buying a Car: Steps 1-9

We need a second car.  We have lived with only one for the past 6 years and it has worked fairly well.  I bet we saved a ton of money.  Sometimes it took some creative planning, but we made it work.  But, all good things come to an end.  This Autumn we will all be heading in different directions and it is finally time to go car shopping.  

Here is the Bird In Hand process of buying a car.  We have many, many dumb mistakes in purchasing previous vehicles.  Lets see how well we do this time.

Step 1: Think about it for a really long time...

Step 2: Look at the bank accounts and play with loan calculators on line.

Step 3: Get pre-approved for a used car loan through the credit union.  3.9% interest for 36 moths.  no penalty for prepayment.  My credit is pretty darn good.

Step4: Contact car buying service offered through the credit union.  They will help research and find the vehicle we want and negotiate the deal.  They cost $200, but if we purchase with credit union financing within 30 days the credit union reimburses us.  Sweet.

Step 5: Go to Library and copy Consumer Reports Used Car Buying Guide.

Step 6: Test drives begin...
'08 Hyundai Elantra:It was better than I thought.  Decent ride, basic, responsive.
07 Honda Fit:  It looks like a cartoon car.  Inside and out.  It is designed to appeal to someone 20 years younger than me...  But, it was fun to drive.  It was a stick.  I like sticks.  The kid likes it.  I like the flexibility of hatchbacks.
'0? Honda Civic Coup: The Kid HATED it.  The dash was weird.  It handles like a Honda, which is all good.  But it is off the list.
'09 Kia Optima: Again, better than I expected.  Still basic.  I did not like that I could not see any of the instrumentation from the passenger seat.  The best thing it has going for it is the Consumer Reports ratings and the warranty.

Step 7: Get overwhelmed.  Go back to Consumer Reports and make a top 10 list.  Items in italics have been test driven so far.  In no particular order. 
1. Toyota Corolla
2. ScionXB:
3. Mazda 3
4. Mercury Milan
5. Honda Fit
6. Honda Civic
7. Hyundai Sonata: The Farmer pronounces it like "snot."  I am not driving the booger-mobile.
8. Kia Optima
9. Totota Yaris
10. Pontiac Vibe (Toyota drive train)

Step 8: Restart Test drives.
 '07 Mazda 3: It was cramped.  Tiny trunk opening.  Black interior.  Kid was not impressed.  Farmer said the handling was awkward.
'08 Scion XB: It was purple and looked like a shoe box.  It drives well.  It's nimble.  Good pick up.  Feels roomy inside.

Step 9: Remember how much I hate car shopping.  Maybe showing up on the lot on a whim and signing the paperwork 3 hours later for our last vehicle purchase was not such a bad thing.

Guess what we are doing today?  More test drives.  Yippie.

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