We had to get rid of my beloved SUV last weekend. I adored this car and was so sad to see it go (I may or may not have cried while leaving the dealership!) This was totally unexpected as we just took the car in to be inspected — here in PA you have to have your car inspected every year in order to legally drive it.
Being the organized, on-top-of-it mom that I am, the car was already a month overdue for inspection so it was critical that we got those new stickers on there! Fast forward to the end of the inspection… a $3300 price tag! Gulp! I was thinking $500 max so I just about fell off my chair at work when Kevin called to tell me the bad news.
We had the car for four years and every year we put a couple thousand into it, on top of a car payment. I just couldn’t do it anymore and we needed something that was safe and reliable for the baby. So we picked the car up at the service station and walked over to the sales side. No luck in negotiating and we were totally unprepared for this so poor Lily was a little out of control and we had nothing to calm her down.
By day two and the third dealership, we had this car shopping with a toddler down pat! Here are my top 5 tips for car shopping with a toddler:
1. Do your homework before you go! I think this seems like common sense for some, but honestly the other cars we bought, we walked into the dealership, gave a price point and let them point us in the right direction. This time it was such a smooth transaction because we knew exactly what we wanted and exactly how much we were willing to pay.
2. Bring Snacks! Although most dealerships have some sort of vending machines and complimentary water bottles, it is so much easier to talk with the finance people when your child is happily stuffing goldfish in her face. And if you have a chatterbox like Lily, it’s a nice break from her trying to make her comments on the car as well!
3. Bring toys and/or books! I always have a few toys stuffed in our diaper bag, but I really blew it the last time. Luckily our dealership had a whole kids section with books, coloring books and crayons and puzzles. It was really great, but this is the only place I have ever been where they had something like this. Most places will only give you a blank piece of paper and a pen (and a nasty look for not being prepared to entertain your child!)
4. Remember the time it will take at the dealer and plan accordingly. I always seem to forget it takes a million hours to buy a car and that sometimes that throws your kid’s schedule off. Not only did we forget to feed Lily dinner one night (oops) but we also were there past her bedtime. Please learn from me, trying to sign your loan papers an hour after your kid’s normal bedtime while she wails in the background is not quite the car buying experience you want to have! Parents of the year right here!
5. Bring someone to help!!! This was seriously our life saver. We didn’t have the option to leave Lily at home with anyone, but we do have some awesome friends who love cars and were helping us make our decision. After we looked at the car, they entertained Lily while we talked with the sales guy and test drove the car. It made focusing on the car really easy instead of having to talk over our toddler. It also helped us avoid agreeing to something we weren’t 100% comfortable with just to move things along faster.
All in all we had a great car buying experience and we chose to stay with the same SUV we had, just the newer model. Hopefully we won’t have to car shop for a long time — also meaning we won’t have toddlers next time we go!
Here she is in all her glory — our new little Nisssan Murano SL.