It took (literal) months to find an affordable, reliable car and I am so glad that the search is over! I wanted to wrap up the story with a few quick reminders about the realities of car shopping, how to find a good deal, and things to avoid along the way. If you want to catch up on the saga here you go:
1st – Don’t be like me and think you are going to go car shopping once and come home with a reliable and affordable used car the same day. It really doesn’t seem to work that way. At least it didn’t for me. My mom and I spent many hours and many days driving around looking for a car. It took us months to find something and to be honest, I got really discouraged along the way.
2nd – Understand that used car salesmen have a bad reputation for a reason, unfortunately. I ran into guys who wouldn’t or couldn’t tell me the price of their cars, guys who left me standing around for more than 20 minutes waiting for them to find out the price of a car, and guys who did NOT understand the concept of personal space. I even had one salesman tell me that it would SAVE me money in insurance if I bought a brand new car instead of a used car. I am not kidding! Obviously, this isn’t true of everyone in the industry but you definitely need to be careful. And patient.
3rd – Although I did not end up making a purchase from them, I highly recommend CARMAX. I was so impressed with the customer service, the lack of pressure, the professional demeanor of the staff, and the relaxed atmosphere of the location I visited. After all the other horrible experiences I had, it was an amazing breath of fresh air. Let me caution you though – if you find a car you like and is what you are looking for you better make a quick decision. If you don’t, you may come back to the lot and find that someone else has your dream car. Ask me how I know….
After my first article came out about my great experience with CARMAX, I got a package in the mail. They noticed my article and send me a thank you box! It had CARMAX swag in it, some of the cutest scrapbooking supplies, and a thank you note! I was floored and so excited. I may have spent a few hours scrapbooking later that afternoon. Thank you CARMAX!
4th – Be even more cautious if you are considering purchasing a car from someone on Craigslist. I had a TERRIBLE experience with a lying Grandpa. I won’t go into all of it again but you can click here if you want to read my sad story. ‘Cause grandpa’s LIE ya’ll.
5th – Sometimes you find a great car when you least expect it. I had just about given up on finding anything when we went to a 121 Financial Credit Union used car event at their corporate headquarters. My plan was to learn about what they were doing so I could write about it here on TeensGotCents. But I went home with a great car from the Tom Bush AutoPlex courtesy of my credit union! You can read the details right here – but the short story is that my credit union partners with a dealership in town, negotiates the best price for their members, and makes it all simply and easy. Be sure to check with your local credit union to see if they offer some sort of similar program!
Overall I would say that the process of getting a car was a pretty stressful experience, but it ended well and I have a fabulous car that looks good and will last me for many years to come. I hope that my experiences will help you to be a little more prepared when you start looking for a car of your own!