Day 1: Car Buying – Nissan

My husband, daughter, and I went to the Nissan dealership today in hopes of finding my husband’s new car.  Someone rear-ended him forcing him into the car in front of him last month and the other insurance company considered our car totaled, paid us, and towed away our old car.  Our old car and the car my husband has been driving/commuting in for the last 11 years was a 1995 Honda Civic DX.  We paid off the car many years ago and have driven that thing from coast to coast multiple times and have hauled way more in it than the car was designed for (think patio furniture and lumber).

We’ve been contemplating buying another Civic or a Honda Accord or Nissan Altima.  We found a really good deal on an Altima and that’s the car we were going to visit today.  The used and new dealerships are in separate locations (within a few blocks of each other) so we ended up at the new dealership before being redirected.  When we finally got there, Cakes took off like a mad woman while we located the sales person and located the car we were there to see – a 2008 Nissan Altima.

While the new car will be my husband’s for the most part, if there’s ever a time when my truck needs an oil change or something like that, we need to make sure a car seat (or two when the next baby comes along) will fit.  So my husband uninstalled the car seat and we all took it on a test drive.  This was a definite departure from our experience with Infiniti (their sister company).  Nissan doesn’t just jot down your license and insurance information and let you go on your way.  Oh no, the sales person has to go with you and sit in the front seat.  But I guess it beats our last experience with a Nissan dealer when they were adamant about driving the vehicle off the lot before the test drive could even begin.

We really ended up liking the Altima and the way it performed but figured we owed it to ourselves to look at what else was available before making a decision. We found a 2006 Nissan Maxima for the same price but with 65k miles versus the 40k the Altima had.  The age, mileage, and size/gas mpg weren’t what we were looking for but it had some of the options that our FX has that we enjoy, that the Altima didn’t have.  I guess the sales person trusted us more after the initial test drive and he just let the three of us go out in the car.

When we got back to the dealership Cakes was getting fussy and restless (the witching hour) and her and I went back to the Infiniti to eat Goldfish while my husband went back to talk to the sales person.  My husband made an offer, they countered, he countered, and eventually we came to an agreement.  Or so we thought.  Apparently somewhere along the way there was a miscommunication and they were charging us more than we had originally thought.  We told them that wouldn’t work for us and gave them a lowball general number that we wanted to drive the car off the lot for (with taxes, title, registration, and fees) and thanked them for their time.

Then, as we were getting Cakes in her seat, I asked my husband how long he thought it’d take before they contacted us again and he said not very long.  Well at that exact moment, the manager walks up and asks us if we knew about the Maxima they had and THAT car (being 2 years older than the Altima, 25 miles more on it, and 5 years old overall) we could drive off the lot for what we wanted.  We admitted it was a good price, thanked them again, and said we’d sleep on it and be in touch.

This is totally not Dave Ramsey advocated practice, I know.  According to him, we should save up the cash and buy a beater car.  We have a pretty significant amount to put down on the car we choose (about half) but I know it’s still not what Dave would say is the best bet.  He’d want us to use that cash and buy the best car we could, then save awhile longer and trade up again.  In fact, I’ll bet that if it were up to him we’d trade in the Infiniti for something else and use cash for both vehicles. In theory this is a great idea, but just won’t work for us.  Sorry Dave, I know we might regret this.

We’re not really the type that trades our cars all the time and I don’t want to buy a crappy car that we don’t know anything about and most likely either has deferred maintenance needed or even something major.  So yet another reason I want to be absolutely sure about the car we purchase because we’re going to be driving it for a long while.  I want it to be as sound of investment as a vehicle can be.  I’d much rather spend a little more and get something that we can drive for a long while until it dies.  Or until we reach Baby Step 7 (live like no one else) which I doubt will happen in the amount of time we’ll own the next car.

Now we’re torn on what to do.  As exhausting as it is, buying a car is a major purchase/decision/stressor and I want to shop around to find the ideal car for us and to fit our needs/wants/budget.  I found a 2006 Volvo S60 that we are going to go look at in the morning and then maybe go back to the Nissan dealership if that doesn’t work out.  All the Hondas (Accords, at least) are more than the Maxima or Altima and just don’t seem like as good of a deal.  So hopefully tomorrow some time we’ll be a two car family again.  Now we just need to clean out the garage.

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