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My Nontraditional Approach to Buying a New Used Car: An Editorial

Published May 9, 2019

In my most recent quest to buy a new car, I was counseled and advised by many on how best to navigate the process. The notion of, “getting a good deal,” and “not paying too much,” monopolized the conversation and price seemed to be the overall focal point. Some encouraged me to pay the most attention to mileage and car history — touting off information about Carfax and credit scores — and others directed me towards maintenance costs and specs. Of course, all of this information was helpful and necessary to consider as I searched for the right used car for me, but there were a few other things I needed to consider outside the preliminaries of warranties, insurance, and cost.
Of course, I wanted a car that was not only reliable and durable (with little to no previous damage), but it occurred to me that it needed to be practical in other, less obvious ways too. Though I was less concerned about cosmetics and more about safety, I still wanted a vehicle that looked nice on the outside and had the right amenities, accessories, shapes, and sizes on the inside. That is to say: a nice upholstery means nothing if it can’t withstand the ongoings of everyday actives (and let’s face it, more activities take place in our cars than we might even like to admit). In thinking of this, I found myself less concerned with how nice leather looks, or how convenient nylon is, and more interested in which one would be easier to clean if my daughter spilled her apple juice or one of our three dogs got extra slobbery. Additionally, and for the first time, I started thinking about the interior less in terms of aesthetics and more in terms of comfort (leather against the skin is so hot in the summer!)

After my auto interior revelation, I decided I was going to take my quest for a new car a step further. Once I established my budget and began actually looking specific makes and models, I started considering what (while a little outside-of-the-box in the norm of car-shopping) was actually completely within the realm of possibility and almost necessary to consider. For example, our yellow Labrador is more than 2 feet long and encroaching on 80lbs — would he fit in the backseat? Would his crate fit in the back of an SUV; or the back seat of a Sedan? What about car seats? While I envisioned myself driving chicly down the main street, I also wanted to make sure my daughter’s forward-facing booster seat would fit comfortably in the car. If we were to have another baby, or I needed to lug my newborn nephew around — would there be room for two car seats? What about two car seats and a dog and a husband and myself? (We are keen on exploring Michigan in the warmer months).

Then I got technical. How wide was the console? How low was the hood? How big was the glove compartment and would it fit all of the necessities (registration, insurance, manual) as well as the amenities I insist on having on hand for road trips (flashlight, travel first aid kit, copies of the title, an extra phone charger and a map in case all else fails)? Did the doors open wide enough? I’m sure others have at times considered these realities, but it was a real truth I wanted to consider. I appreciated the notions of safety tests and years-long warranties and again, found them necessary, but more than that, I wanted to ensure that whatever I chose was going to be the “right fit” not just for me but for my family and all of our activities, adventures, mishaps, fun and occasional emergencies (flat tires, trips to the Urgent Care, stand-still traffic). My new vehicle would need to hold everything, including all the things it is stocked with throughout the varying seasons.

Upon my contemplating, I decided I was not going to be shy about the things I wanted to know (outside of a test drive and review of the vehicle history). So, with a tremendous amount of hope that the friendly folks at the used car lot would eventually see the method to my seeming madness, I headed to the dealership (kid, car seat, an extra car seat, and a giant stuffed animal about the size of our dog in tow). In advance of this, I measured the things I often load up in the car and wrote them down for reference. I brought along water bottles and our favorite travel coffee mugs to test the cupholders and the folder of documents I currently keep in the glove box. I even made a mental note to look at the material of the floor mats in each of the vehicles I considered. (It would be relatively quick and painless to hose off the rubber, but a whole other ball game of time (that I don’t have) to clean fabric mats.

All in all, it made for a great (rather funny and only mildly embarrassing) experience and my advice to anyone looking to buy a new car is to also consider some of this stuff. Secure financing, become familiar with your insurance, understand trade-in deals, and definitely consult with a professional about all of your options, but also: don’t be afraid to test out all of the specs yourself. I think sometimes we become so consumed with the process and “numbers” of a buying a car that we are distracted from what we really want to know which is: is this thousands of pounds machine going to conveniently, safely, readily get us all where we have to go? If we do our unconventional research, yes.

If you are in the market for a new used car and wanting to discuss your options with an expert, contact the professionals at Best Buy Used Cars today!
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