Monday, August 13, 2012

Car Shopping, Part 2

Continuing the story of my quest for a new car...

As I mentioned in Part 1, I had intended to go shopping, but got sick. The cough that had kept me in lasted through the first part of the week and while I did go to work, I didn't really feel like doing anything else. By Friday I had mentioned to a couple people at work that I was going car shopping on the weekend so I was pretty much committing myself to the quest.

Throughout the past year or so my dad has been telling me he'd like to see me drive a Ford Fusion. While I wasn't opposed to the idea, I really never did any searches for a Fusion until Friday night. I crashed at my sister's house to use some Internet and began a hunt for cars and to try to make some kind of plan of attack for Saturday.

Now normally I like to sleep in until I wake up on days that I don't have to be anywhere at any appointed time, but late in my search I had emailed one of the dealers in regards to a 2010 Fusion I found online. Since I didn't know when they would call me, I planned to be up and ready by 9 when the dealerships opened. I had also emailed myself 6 different cars that I wanted to look at. They were at several different dealerships so that was another reason I would need to start early.

Sure enough on Saturday morning I got a call from a salesman at 9:03. Since I wasn't quite ready for the day I made an appointment with him at 10 am. A bit later I saw an email on my phone from the same dealership but a different salesman.

When I arrived at the Ford dealer I wasn't able to speak with the person who had called, but I did get the person who had emailed me. We began our conversation and he seemed nice enough. We discussed that I was looking for a used Fusion with low mileage and I told him the specific car I had found online.

He then took me out on a walk through the lot and eventually a test drive. At some point he asked me what amount of monthly payment I was looking for, but instead of answering his question directly I told him the dollar amount of the car ($10-12k) and he indicated he understood. I really don't know if this is where I went wrong or not, but from what happened later, I think it is.

After test driving a used Fusion and more discussion, he had me drive a brand new Focus. It was a dream - with all the bells and whistles - technology is great, huh?! He must have thought he had me - I was gushing and excited about it  :-) When we returned from the test drive, the salesman had the finance guy figure out what they would give me for my trade-in and then run the numbers.

At this point he had been back and forth from his desk to the finance guys enough that I had been able to text my family and that started the support from afar. Which totally helped me get through what happened next.

When he told me my trade-in value was $100, I just laughed! I knew my car was in rough shape, but I really thought $500 would be the lowest. Oh, and then the best monthly payment on the page was $310, the worst $330. Um, not even close to my $200 so I told him that if he could get to $200 we would be somewhere. I kind of shocked myself at how direct and specific I was.

At this point he said he was sorry that he hadn't asked me for the goal of my monthly payment previously (even though he had) and he said he was not wanting me to get excited about a car that was not going to work for my budget. He then went back to work on his computer to find me a used vehicle that he thought I would be more comfortable with.

We went and test drove a red Cobalt Chevy and a black 2011 Ford Focus. Ewwhhh...on the Cobalt! It was like driving a cardboard box (or a Plymouth Reliant - good comparison, huh, Jen?!). No offense to anyone who has a Cobalt, but this ride was not for me. On to the Focus. It had a closer feel to the Fusion I had already driven, but the size was more like Jess's Mazda3, and I felt comfortable in it; however, it had two major flaws in my book: manual transmission, no cruise control. The best thing was that the mileage was under 10k.

As I was thinking about the test drive and still sitting in the Focus, the salesman went to park the Cobalt. When he got back in I proposed that he throw in cruise control and I would consider overlooking the manual transmission. He said why don't we pull the car back up to the front and we can go in and run some numbers.

While I waited I was able to get in more texting and some phone calls to family members.

The numbers came back at $234 as best and $276 as worst (different lengths of loan, estimated APR, cash down amount...). By this time I felt a little more experienced in looking at the numbers and we discussed how the interest rate was a just a estimate and we wouldn't know the real rate until I decided that I wanted to buy the car and they would send my info to banks. I felt pretty confident that the rate would be lower, I just didn't know how much lower. Oh, and to get the better numbers they had upped my trade-in value to $500.

The salesman said I should take the car on my own and let my family take a look and see what they said. I agreed that this was a good idea so I headed out. By this time it was almost 1pm. 3 hours at one dealer was a long time, I was getting weary.

Everyone who saw the car seemed to like it. We discussed some pros and cons, but no one seemed to have anything negative to say about the car. I went back to the dealership with one thought: I don't like driving stick all the time. It's fun for a minute, but not all around town and in winter...

Determined not to buy a car on my first day out, I went back to the dealership to return the Focus and see what their best offer would be. After 2 more tries (picture me pushing the paper back toward them and saying, "try again"), they came back with their "final and best" offer of $205/mo at 1.99% APR including cruise control as I requested. I thanked them and said I would let them know on Monday as I wanted to sleep on it.

It was now about 3pm. I wasn't sure what my next move would be, but I had learned dealerships closed at 6 on Saturday so I was running out of daylight if I was going to check out any of the other cars that I had picked out Friday night.

As this is getting quite lengthy, I think I'll save the rest for another post. Sorry, but there will be Part 3 to this car quest!

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