I’ve had a dream of getting a new RAV4 for a while now. For eight years, I drove a 2005 Nissan Altima. I was lucky enough to purchase the vehicle from my dad for a very small price, so I definitely can’t complain. I’ve never had a car payment, and my insurance stayed reasonably low as the car grew older. However, over the last five years, the Altima had it’s share of problems. It visited the shop about two times a year for major repair work. It also was very loud, and at times untrustworthy. I was definitely at the point where I didn’t feel comfortable driving long distances or being out of cell phone range.
A couple weeks ago my check engine light came on after having just spent two days in the shop. I was over it and immediately decided I was ready to take that leap into my first new car. Fortunately, I’m in a great position for car buying and the marketing agency I work for has mostly car dealerships. I had plenty of people I could talk to that I trusted to help me make a decision. Here are the top 5 things I learned for my car buying experience.
- It’s ok to ask a lot of questions and not immediately trust what people are telling you. A new car is a big deal and a lot of money and these decisions should not be made lightly. I was 95% sure from the beginning which car dealership I would purchase my car from, however I still took the time to visit two other car dealerships. I asked the salesperson, finance person, and management teams at each dealership a lot of the same questions. I was interested in how different people would respond and I learned a lot more about the process. The more I asked questions, and the more I understood how the whole process worked, the more comfortable I became.
- It was important for me to know what my budget was and what features I wanted. The top two things I knew I wanted going in were a small SUV and heated seats. As I went along, my list also gained a couple other features like power seats and auto windows. These were small features that I’d taken for granted in my Altima and never even realized I would need to add them to my list. I drive a lot of miles living so far from work, so it was very important to me that I be comfortable in my new car. I did end up spending a little more than I originally budgeted for, so I decided to make some choices and cut a few other memberships I had to subsidize.
- Leasing vs buying. I’m not going to say I still fully understand this process and which option is better, but I do feel comfortable with my decision to lease. This is why I asked a ton of questions. Everyone was telling me leasing was the best option, but I didn’t understand the process. I didn’t understand what happens after three years, especially if I went over my miles like I fully expect to. But as I went along and asked my various questions, and formed new questions, I gained a lot of knowledge and know more about leasing a vehicle than I ever thought I would.
- Car salesman are not scary or shady, they are just people trying to do their jobs. Dealing with salesmen is something I’ve always been afraid of. You hear the horror stories and you feel like you need to avoid them at all costs. But this is not what I found as I was searching for my vehicle. Everyone I came across was very nice and willing to answer any of my questions. They asked me questions and never tried to sell me something I didn’t need. And the salesman who I actually ended up leasing my RAV4 from has followed up with me several times to make sure everything is going well. He sat in the vehicle with me three separate times to show my all the features. I feel confident that if I ever need to figure something out, or have a problem I can give him a call and he’ll be happy to help.
- And the last thing I learned is how accomplished and excited I could feel about my new RAV4. Even though I talked to a ton of people about my decision and got plenty of advice, I made my own decision. I learned what questions to ask and I gained my own knowledge of the car buying process. I know more now than I ever thought I would and every time I see my new car, I am reminded of everything I learned.
Leasing my new RAV4 is probably one the scariest decisions I’ve ever made. It’s a pretty big financial commitment, in fact it’s the biggest I’ve ever had. Fortunately, the dealership did take care of me and they cover the first month’s payment. That means I have until August 1st, and two paychecks to really go through my budget again and prepare for this new cost. My insurance premium also went up, but again I have until August 1st to pay that. Previous to buying a vehicle, I thought I would need a substantial amount of money to even get started. Turns out, I drove off the lot without giving them a penny.
I’m not here to sell on the dealership, but if you are considering purchasing a vehicle and you live in Utah, I do highly suggest Larry H. Miller Toyota Murray. My entire experience with them was easy and pleasant and I’d do it all over again if I had to.