The first few months of this year were a little depressing in one area of my life. (#firstworldproblems) Mom and I started looking for my first car. I had no idea that it would be such an ordeal. When we first started our search this is what I thought would happen:
Find a beautiful car (or at least a reliable one!)
Arrive at a reasonable price
Go home the happiest girl on earth
Did I mention that all of this was supposed to happen on the same day? Ahem. Looking back on it I realize how silly it sounds, but that is really what I thought would happen. What actually happened was this:
Mom and I set aside about 4 hours one afternoon to go and look at used cars. We went to several different dealerships and I had my very first experience with used car salesmen. Remember. My mom won’t do any of the talking or anything in a situation like this. She stands there and makes me do it myself. Ugh.
1st dealership: The salesmen didn’t know the prices of any of the used cars. He LITERALLY had to walk back into the office every time I asked him the price of one of the cars. I am not kidding. We finally gave up and went to the next place.
2nd dealership: I let the salesman know upfront that I had a specific budget of about $10,000 thanks to my grandparents and my dad. He told me that he would go inside, find out the prices of the cars, then come back out and show me the ones in my range. He went inside. I stood outside in the heat. Mom wandered off some where. I kept waiting. After 20 minutes he still had not reappeared. So we got back in the car to go to the next place. At that point he walked outside and let us know that they didn’t even own any cars in my price range but if I wanted to spend another 5 – 7 THOUSAND dollars he MIGHT be able to help me out. Wow. Thanks dude…
3rd dealership: Hmmmm. How do I put this? The salesman was creepy. And by creepy I mean that he didn’t really understand the concept of personal space. He showed us one car that was about $4,000 more that I could spend. And continued to creep. Mom told me we were leaving so….we left.
After repeating the above process several more times at different dealerships on different days we finally ended up at a CARMAX. What an incredible difference! The salesmen were polite and professional. The cars actually had the prices marked on them! (shocking I know) It was such a different atmosphere and I immediately felt at ease.
There are a few things that I liked about CARMAX that we just didn’t find at the other places:
1 – The salesmen are not pushy. They sit down with you and help you find the vehicles at their location that fit into your price range. They don’t try to get you to spend more money but rather help you find the very best car that you can get for the budget you have to spend. One of the reasons for this is the sales consultants are paid the same, no matter what you purchase. They don’t make more money if you buy a more expensive car so they have no reason to get you to buy more than you can afford.
2 – The prices are the prices. They don’t negotiate. So you don’t have to worry about haggling for a good deal and risk finding out later that you got taken. Car’s are so expensive but the CARMAX prices were reasonable compared to what we saw at other places.
3 – Most of the cars had fairly low mileage, had not been smoked in, and looked very clean inside and out. I’m no expert but most of the cars just seemed better than the other lots we visited.
4 – There is a warranty with every car. I was surprised to find out that most used cars come with no warranty at all. CARMAX offers a 5 day money back guarantee and limited 30 day warrantee (longer in some states). This was a much better offer than most of the places I looked.
If you are in the market for a used car I highly recommend taking a look at your local CARMAX! I also recommend going in with a lot of patience, more money than you ever thought you would need for a reliable no-frills car, and more patience. It took us more than 3 months to find a car. I did not think I was going to survive the process and it seemed like 3 decades instead of 3 months.
Mom and I also took a look at several used cars owned by private individuals…but that is Part Two of my series on buying your first car. Part Three will be all about how your local credit union can help you with getting a great deal on a car. Until recently I didn’t even know that was a possibility. My credit union 121 Financial has an amazing program and I can’t wait to tell you all about it!
You can also check out 121’s Facebook page!