Saturday, January 20, 2007

Minivan 2.0

So Willow's car accident just before Christmas totaled the car, our not-all-that-old minivan, which, despite being a big, ugly minivan, was really practical for us, and honestly not as ugly as all that.

In the interim we had an itty bitty rental that, because it was a rental, meant we didn't want to put carseats and the concomitant toddlers in it. which made it pretty much useless.

Well, the insurance check cleared on Wednesday, which meant it was time for that great American ritual--kick the tires. We knew we couldn't afford a new vehicle that was going to do what we wanted, so we went to a few dealerships with used cars, and settles on two at two different places that we thought would do the trick.

Now every single time I had gone car shopping before, I/we had gone with my dad, who, as a businessman, has a good sense of how to negotiate. Besides the "never let them see you excited" trick, I also learned the "always walk off the lot, even if you want to buy the car right now" trick, because the deal almost always gets sweeter overnight. Other tricks include the silent treatment for any numbers they put in front of you--sometimes, the salesperson will get nervous about the silence and start talking more, which often leads to a better deal. Finally, the trick that really did it for us was to play two sales people off of each other. When you have two cars you do actually want, a bidding war will help matter immensely.

By the time I walked in to sign the paperwork yesterday afternoon, we had gotten our deal at a 5.99% interest rate (better than our credit union), with the actual price of the vehicle about $300 over the NADA average trade-in price, and a full $2K under the NADA average retail price. So thanks, Dad.

The vehicle we ended up getting is almost exactly what we lost--we had a 2001 Grand Caravan, and now have a 2005 Chrysler Town and Country, which, I'm not kidding, looks exactly the same. Here are the all of ways that this new car is different (and better):
  • Traction control (important for our hilly neighborhood on snowy days like today)
  • Seats that fold under instead of lifting out when we need the room
  • The driver's side back door is automatic (the other ones are too, but we already had that)
  • The rearview mirror has some sort of automatic light sensing thing...I haven't paid much attention yet.
  • CD player and DVD player(which the munchkins love) in addition to the cassette player
  • Cool volume and radio preset buttons on the back of the steering wheel
  •'s blue.
So this must have been how Michael Knight felt after KITT was wrecked and rebuilt with a few new features (like super aerodynamic fins and a convertible option: I LOVED Knight Rider)--The thrill of a new car with all of the cosy familiarity of the old one. 'cept this one's a minivan. So it's a lot less cool than KITT.

My next car will be cooler. I swear.


undine said...

Good negotiating tips! I did not know them. The Town & Country should be really good in the snow.

Anonymous said...

Well, it may look almost the same with your last minivan but this new one is more safe. How is its mileage anyways?