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Bought A Car

June 30th, 2015 at 05:55 am

& am so glad to be done with that chapter. HATE car shopping.

I know everyone probably thinks we meticulously research these things, but historically we trust our gut, stumble upon deals, and most our decisions tend to be pretty rash. (Usually lots of thought ahead of time, but when it comes down to it we make quick decisions).

We went out just to look but they were desperate to sell used cars for month-end sales. There was no one else at the dealership and we had no plans to buy a car and so we haggled fiercely.

We ended up paying about $14k for a 2013 Hyundai Elantra, fully loaded. 15k miles. (It was in total immaculate condition). They wouldn't lower the price any further on one car and I doubt we were going to come to any agreement, when some manager brings this beauty around. I liked it better than any we had looked at. We walked away for a while to be sure. But I think we both just wanted to be done with the least amount of time and hassle.

As much as I dread car shopping, I do admit they know our type. No one tried to over-sell us anything or throw too much BS at us. I was ready to go through the contract with a fine-tooth comb but there were no fees to argue about.

{It was a car dealership. Don't get me wrong. A very painful experience with lies lies lies. You just kind of tune it out and let the car and internet speak for itself}.

I think my dh was stressing more about it than necessary. I looked up trade-in and it was $12k-ish. When you pay cash for used cars you don't sweat these things. What's the worst case? We HATE the car and we trade it in later? *shrugs* (Clearly we don't want to do this, but I don't see the point in worrying about all the long-term worst case scenarios).

Oh, and I am so happy with the size. Dh has only been considering teeny tiny cars. In the end this is similar in size to our Ford Escort, but feels a lot more roomy inside. (& admittedly is a wee bit bigger). It is so roomy that we have discussed making this the long-term van replacement. A roomy car you can fill with people and camping gear and get 40mpg.

We had our eye on the 2016 Chevy Spark, which has not come out yet. We looked at an older model and I am so relieved dh admitted it was too small for now. I think maybe a used Spark in a few years will be a fine second car. But not as our main driver. 2016 should be vastly improved and we prefer used cars anyway, so would have to wait a while for that one.

I think what we wanted more than anything was something small and very fuel efficient (like we already had). BUT... Dh had to make some (size) concession for growing boys. He was driving me nuts looking at SMALLER cars. We share cars because the van is such a gas guzzler we never drive it anywhere. This is why I couldn't see ending up with a too-small car and a too-big car. We need a just-right-car for the here and now.

Oh, and could care less about anything the car came with. (I don't see us ever needing heated seats. This is California! & our cars are garaged). BUT... I think we maybe paid another $1k or so just to get the integrated blue tooth. We have after market blue tooth in our old cars, but the steering wheel controls are so nice (in new car) and we knew we'd have to pay a lot to get any of that after market. We could have got a much better deal otherwise. The premium package was so "all or nothing". Now we have all this stuff we probably don't want to get too used to.

Three thoughts on price parameters:

1 - We save $100/month endlessly/each for car replacements. So we had about $16,000 saved up for car replacement. (Had 13+ years to save).

The thing about doing this is we have never increased our car spending/budget. Waiting just gives us more time to save, and nicer cars with age. Lots of added luxury without *ever* increasing this line item in our budget.

2 - We've seemed to increase our budget $5k with every car purchase. First cars cost $1k. Second cars cost $5k. Last cars cost $10k. This time we have had the time and the means to amass much more. So $15k is the next logical step. Which of course goes in line with #1 since we bought newer cars that last longer and gave us more time to save, last round.

I think we'd both be happy with something in the $10k range again (our last cars were $10k - 1-year-old/15k miles). But there has been a fair amount of inflation, and with age and means you do entertain the fancier cars. Size was also more of a concern than in the past. (We bought the Ford long before we planned to have kids).

3 - I don't know that we would have bought a car this weekend but for my parents' generous gift to us. Let's face it - we got a free car. & it was more than we were expecting to buy. So I know that number heavily influenced us. Otherwise we may have been more inclined to save a couple of thousand dollars.

I was pleased though that (with taxes) we did not spend any more than the gift. (IT would have been easy to talk ourselves up a bit). I really thought the taxes would push us up further as we kept ruling out the tiny cars.

Another note:

We did just trade-in old car because it was worthless and saved a lot of hassle. Would be different if I thought we could actually sell it for more than dealership offered.

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Reasons we sold dh's car:

**It actually had absolutely no mechanical issues, but was just getting kind of loud and rattly. It was a 2001 that we had paid $7,800 for in 2002. It has 170k miles. It's not even leaking oil or anything (like any car I have ever had in the past with so many miles has). A random part did fall out of the engine recently, which is really weird, but I feel was probably a random/isolated event. The car is in such good repair otherwise.

But my spouse is half deaf and the noise was really bothering him. He is very cautious of the hearing in his good ear and puts a huge premium on QUIET these days.

We had decided 100% to junk this car this year but wanted to wait until next spring or winter when we were in a better cash position. We were maybe 90% there but went up to 100% when we recently took the car in. They looked over the whole engine trying to find where that part fell out and we talked to them about engine noise. We confirmed it was age/car quality and there wasn't much we can do. So we decided to close the chapter on that car.

In the meantime dh's car started to get louder again. I don't know if it maybe needed a repair or if that is how loud it was last summer in the heat (I think it was).

So then we get a cash infusion. & we car shopped more seriously. & here we are.

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Edited to add: We don't finance cars. The primary reason at this point in our lives is the PITA factor. I just don't want to deal with all that (not getting title right away, loan application, getting insurance involved, AND worst of all the endless monthly payments). That's really all there is to it. When we were younger and felt we couldn't afford car payments it was more about living with a $1k or $5k car and not tying up any of our potential wealth in car payments that we didn't really have the money for anyway. I guess there is still some of that as we have never spent more than $15k (including taxes) on a vehicle. Anything beyond that is taking away too much from our future. But at this point in our lives we could certainly finance $10k or $15k at a great rate. The reason we don't is the PITA factor.

I do find that people greatly exaggerate the benefits of car loans. Maybe this is obvious to me because we've never had a car loan? But I'd had to substantially reduce our investments and redirect to car payments. It's not so simple as you would be better off investing versus paying cash. The money has to come from somewhere and no matter how you slice it it would come from our investments. It's just a shell game, in my opinion. I think the cash method is just largely misunderstood. I don't literally tie up all my cash for 15 years while I save for a car and I've never cashed out an investment to pay for a car. We more manage cash flow in different ways. The $100/month for a car that we don't intend to replace for 10-15 years now? It's obviously going to be invested. & in 10 years I will probably start working towards keeping a cash buffer for a car replacement. It's usually more how it works out. But just to be clear, taking a car loan would be a huge hit to our monthly investment contributions. We could also invest the cash up front and that's not a bad thing. You will just never convince me that is *always* and *obviously* smarter to go the loan route. The truth is that it is flip a coin territory. The PITA factor will always leave us preferring to just pay cash and moving on. I will never again think about paying for this car. That is PRICELESS.

12 Responses to “Bought A Car”

  1. scfr Says:

    Congratulations. It sounds like you did great!

    I hear you about the dread of car shopping. We are all set to get (pay cash for) a new car whenever DH's 1999 w/ 165K?? miles goes kaput, but with a possible move on the horizon it would probably make more sense to NOT get a replacement so we don't have to ship it. If we do move, we'll probably try having just one car and see how that goes (that is what we did after when we moved to TX).

  2. creditcardfree Says:

    Sounds like a great move! Did you get any cash for the trade in?

  3. CB in the City Says:

    Sounds like a great car! I have to admit, that's how I usually make such decisions, too. Just go with my gut. When I bought my RAV4, I knew it was the one when I walked onto the lot. Fourteen years later, I'm still happy. The only thing it LACKS, which I will get if I buy a car again, is HEATED SEATS! (A necessity in Chicago, I think). Smile

  4. Carol Says:

    It was smart to consider size with your growing boys-- we nixed a car once after we test drove it with the teenage boy in it!

  5. snafu Says:

    Enjoy your new car! Hyundai has very good warranties on their various models and the dealership can do the transfer at no cost. I suggest checking to see if there have been any recalls n your particular model.

  6. Kiki Says:

    I loved my elantra. It was 12 years old when I turned it in when I bought a new car in 2013. Had 200k miles and never really had any work done. Loved it and the gas mileage was so much better than my previous car.

  7. MonkeyMama Says:

    @ccfree - We got $500, which seems to be the standard "old car trade-in". I did check kbb before we went out, just in case it would fetch more than that by private sale.

    @CB - I could probably not live most anywhere else in the world *without* heated seats. Big Grin
    @Carol - I don't know that we gave it enough consideration. I just knew an even smaller car wasn't going to be very helpful. Big Grin But if my kids end up both well over 6' tall and we have to make a lateral car trade, eventually, whatever. Have done it before and will probably do it again at some point in our lives. I just don't think it's likely enough to be an issue to push for anything bigger than this.

    I do think this was one reason that I just wanted to buy the car. I couldn't believe my dh wasn't complaining about how big it was! By far the biggest car he has ever owned. It probably helped that I said I could take it for the long run.

  8. VS_ozgirl Says:

    Congratulations! I had a Hyundai once - it was an affordable car (paid $13k for it, but happily only borrowed about half to pay for it, not full cash but better than nothing) and very fuel economical, which was important as I was driving a long commute to the job I was in. No mechanical problems - I had one expensive service when the timing belt got replaced. We sold it because my husband got a company car with his job so we sold both cars and got one good car that we both like (he doesn't like small cars). My only negative comment about the car was the lack of power in acceleration, although this was a long time ago (talking 2002) and improvements have probably been made since then. Hope you enjoy it!

  9. FrugalTexan75 Says:

    Congrats! My first car was a Hundayi - don't remember what kind. It was a great little car. Hope you get many years of enjoyment out of your new car! Smile

  10. rob62521 Says:

    Congrats...sounds like you did well.

  11. rommelverain Says:

    much better if you just loan the car so that you are not pressured in paying it in cash. but still enjoy your new car!

  12. livingalmostlarge Says:

    Enjoy! We are doing a new car to us next summer.

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