So my family and I did a thing this week… we bought a new family vehicle. I was not looking forward to this at all because the process is so time consuming. Adding kids into that process makes it feel like torture. This is my first time buying a car in thirteen years and my first time buying a car while entertaining kids. I have no idea what to expect, yet I’m already dreading it.
My poor sweet “Silver Mint” as my kids called my silver SUV, was on her last flimsy wheels. The tires kept losing air, the 6 disc CD changer broke many years ago. The brakes squeaked, something clunked when I backed up and all my neighbors knew the exact sound of our sad little muffler. I almost felt guilty taking the cash trade in. I saw them opening the doors of my old SUV for inspection and I knew it was only a matter of minutes before they found out we didn’t even have a car jack to leave behind. I literally floored the gas pedal of our new car as we left the dealership lot.
After FIVE HOURS we finally had a new car with actual safety standards and some serious technology upgrades. What exists in cars today did not exist in cars thirteen years ago. It’s crazy! I don’t even need keys to start my car anymore. What futuristic world are we living in? Anyway, I learned a whole lot about buying a car and having to take the kids with us. And I’m going to share that with you now.
Yes, you can transfer your child’s car seats into the vehicle you are test driving. This is the only part that had me freaking out the most. I didn’t want to drive around with a stranger in my car listening to my kids argue for any length of time. I also didn’t want my husband to hang back at the dealership alone with two crabby kids. Thankfully, we were able to put the car seats in the test vehicle and drive away as a family. And now I am writing this blog from Mexico.
Tips on Installing Your Car Seat
Pack snacks. Lots of snacks. The last thing you need is a hangry kid screaming for snacks while trying to do maths. It’s annoying and it’s hard to ignore. Bring something they are rarely allowed to have and hold that until the very end. Bribe the heck out of them with that giant Hershey bar they can only have if they can convince the sales team you are a totally normal family.
Go right after a full meal and everyone has used the bathroom. There is way less complaining if everyone’s blood sugar is stable and at least 50 less interruptions if everyone has a completely empty bladder. We chose to go after lunch so we were all ready to make important life choices.
Pack your kids iPad and chargers. Make sure your phone is fully charged and you have an extra charger on hand for that too. Today is not the day to be the “screen time is the new heroine” mom. You’ve got a car to buy, you need the silence to negotiate.
Research the heck out of your car options. Narrow it down to only the top three. Remember you are carting around car seats and tiny humans so you’re going to want to get through test drives quickly. If you leave it up to the sales person to tell you every last detail about your future car, you could be trapped there for hours. Go online, compare prices, packages and styles. Know what you want and what will fit your needs. Then go for a test drive.
Know your budget from highest to lowest. Most car sites today offer online payment calculators. You can type in the amount you plan to use as a down payment and the terms of a car loan with the anticipated interest rate. It will spit out a hypothetical payment for you. This is only hypothetical and does not include the extra $800 extended warranty, the scotch guard coating to protect against kids, the taxes and title, etc. But knowing the highest payment amount you can afford each month will help you decide in the end which car you drive away with.
Shop sales events, used prices and dealership specials in advance. This way you can narrow down which dealers to hit up first.
Be ready to roll. Bring your title, registration and insurance card in the event you are ready to purchase that day. It may not speed up the process, but it will guarantee you are riding away with a sweet ride that day. That means one less trip back to the dealer with kids and car seats.
Clean out all of your personal things before you leave home. Try to vacuum if you can. Less cheerios and cheesy poof crumbs on the floor can add a little extra value to your trade in amount. Plus, you won’t have to transfer all your sticky possessions into the nice clean new car.
So after 30 hours of research, two financial flow charts, a meeting with the bank president, a credit history search, consulting with two different mechanics and using my mom intuition, I was ready to spend the next five hours with my kids at the car dealership. They aced it. Our sales rep even commented, “they are the calmest kids I’ve ever seen.” I did not lose my $#@! one time. I didn’t have to grit my teeth and whisper yell, I didn’t have to snap my fingers even once. We walked out of that dealership with our heads held high. I had pride in my heart while my kids were so jacked on MSG and cookies they may have thought we got our car for free.
I highly recommend following these 9 easy tips to keep your sanity while buying a car with your children. It is an experience you will never forget, nor want to do again quickly.
The Whatever Mom is a twin mom learning to let go of perfection. She shares her real life struggles with parenting through her blog and contributes her time and talents as a writer to Hudson Valley Parent and Masshole Mommy. When she isn’t writing you can find her chugging coffee, folding laundry and not judging other parents. Don’t forget to subscribe via email so you never miss a blog post again! You can also find her work featured on Mamapedia