I’ve been meaning to change my car since December, but my research didn’t get very far. Before starting, I always think it’s exciting buying a car,. But really, apart from a new car where you can spec it yourself, it’s tedious unless you know exactly what you want. I knew the type of car (there were around 4 or 5 options), I was debating a 4×4 or AWD, and I had an idea of budget.
But going to dealers and trying out cars is a bit scary. Where we live I can’t just go to one place and blitz it in a day, I need to go to 5 different towns/cities.
When I’m buying something large (and I’m talking from electrical gadgets up to cars) I usually have done a bit of research first, but I do want to be sold to. I’ll happily share my thought processes, and what I’m after but then I expect the salesperson to relate to me and tell me about the items that are available and how they fit with my needs. I doesn’t always work like that.
Last time I shopped for cars I quite enjoyed it. I had 3 cars I wanted to try, all 3 dealers were very good, but there was one who really stood out at listening to what I was after and what I didn’t like. I didn’t end up buying the car she had but I’d have happily done so if it had matched everything.
Car buying this time round
My first visit was at Mazda. This car was my front runner but they only had one nearly new car in and it wasn’t a 4 wheel drive. The salesman totally fitted the stereotype of a middle aged man who obviously thought I shouldn’t be out shopping for a car on my own and didn’t offer to help or try to sell me anything. Usually you can’t shut salesmen up, this one just wouldn’t speak to me. The only thing he said was ‘this is the only one and other people are looking at it’. No suggestion that he’d look up what else was available in their branch in a nearby town, no attempt to up sell me a new car or to let me take a test drive. I guess I’ll be trying to find another dealer because there’s no way I’d give him my money.
Next stop Volvo where it couldn’t have been more different. I was approached straight away, shown a new car to see what was included and what they were like to sit in, then we went to have a look what was available nearly new. I was talked through the differences between manual and automatic (because I still want manual but they don’t have many), the safety features and various other answers to my questions. They thought they had on suitable car in which needed taxing but offered to do that overnight to do a test drive the next day, but it turned out the car had been sold the night before. So they’ll call me with any that come in. The salesman was a really nice (keen without being overly so) guy, and his boss also popped over to meet me and say he’d keep an eye out too. But I wanted to go back and test drive one so I headed to a dealer in a different town and got treated well there too.
The next day I had a day without N because he wanted to go out on the farm again, so I decided to nip to look at other cars. I ended up at Land Rover. The OH is convinced I need a Discovery Sport…he’s just fussy and hates my Qashqai – he always moans about my cars I choose! So I humoured him and said I’d have a look. It turns out that some cars if used for the business can have the VAT claimed back, so it brings them (along with a trade in) nearer a more realistic price. Land Rover dealers are a totally different experience. The receptionist took my name and went and got a salesperson, even in BMW you just turn up and wait for someone to rock up and speak to you.
I thought I’d be there half an hour, nearly 2 hours later I was done, having taken a car out for a test drive (I can see why people buy them, the drive is really nice), and chatted through the options, got a trade in price (poor and below what the estimates online are), and looked at what was around. The salesman knew his stuff (although I’m not convinced by him saying their automatic was more economical than manual), was chatty and offered alternative recommendations. But I really couldn’t justify the ongoing costs what with much higher insurance, tax, servicing, and cost to run. He has offered to look in their group for any other cars should they have any of the one I choose to go with.
It amazes me how the experience can be so different. The Mazda experience was similar to one last time round where they just said ‘we only have 1’ and that was it, no other suggestions. It feels like they didn’t want me to buy their cars, and is certainly going to put me off going there in future. Obviously if I end up buying a Mazda elsewhere, that would be my nearest servicing dealer.
So it’s back to the research to work out realistically what cars and models I’m after, and then find somewhere to test drive them. I’m hoping I’ll have a moment like last time where I find a car on the off chance and I end up liking it. Although after the niggles I’ve had with this one, maybe I should stick with my spreadsheets and head over heart.
Car buying checklist
For those of you who like a list, here’s my checklist points for my spreadsheet. Just copy into your own document (I love excel and I red, amber, green them based on whether each car performs better than my current car) and sort according to what’s important to you:
- Engine size
- 2WD, 4WD, AWD
- Boot size
- Fuel economy mpg
- Tank range
- Tax cost
- Cost per mile
- Servicing costs/intervals
Ease of parking
- Width (ease of parking)
- Parking sensor/camera
- Nearest garage
- Feedback from owners
- Air con/climate control
- Additional luxuries
- Music access
How do you go about buying a car? What experiences have you had? Do you have any tips on buying cars?
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