What I learned about buying our new cars

Written by Sean Wallbridge.


image thumb7 What I learned about buying our new cars

We recently bought two new cars.  Well, mostly new. Both were Demo’s (cars used typically by staff at the car lot, typically with 3000 to 8000km on it – more about that below). I won’t comment too much on what we bought (a Mini Cooper Countryman and a Ford Flex – loving them both by the way) or where we bought them to protect the (mostly) innocent but I thought I’d share what I learned about buying cars, in case it helps others.

All in all, both car purchases were positive experiences.  I loved my Range Rover and our Kia Sedona Van served us admirably as well.  But we decided we no longer wanted to be “van people” and the Range Rover, well, it was always thirsty for gas and it was very expensive to maintain. I’ll miss her, but not that much.

My dad was a big part of my learning process and while the decisions to buy were my own (Wendy preferred to defer to me on this), his experience and support was invaluable. Thanks Dad.

So here’s what I learned:

  1. Salespeople are not looking to be your friend or your pal.  Sure, they are chummy, very likeable but that is their jobto make the experience an emotional one for you.  Post sales, the guys I have dealt with were still good guys, but it is important to remember they simply want to get as much margin out of you, as you want to save on buying a car
  • Demo’s are a good thing.  I wanted a “new” car but to be honest, I’m quite thrilled with the fact that I saved a bunch of money (15% or so) by getting a vehicle that has been “burned in” a little.  There are the smallest of scratches and things like that on both vehicles but it would be only 2 weeks before I got them myself – and now I don’t have to sweat “earning” those scratches and agonizing over them. That little bit of drama is gone.  Both vehicles look like new, they just don’t smell like new.  And they aren’t lemons … they have driven well for 6000 and 11000 km’s each, respectively. Happy Bunny.
  • If you are buying a Demo (and the other advantages include no freight charges, etc.), be sure to check the VIN number to ensure there was no damage. One of my new vehicles had a minor fender bender but because it was under $2000, they didn’t have to disclose it. Now, in this case, I actually believe due to the nature of the one transaction (Bosses wife’s car/demo, was a quick exchange), that they didn’t mean to not disclose it – but once I found out, I got a bunch of free oil changes and a little extra attention wlEmoticon winkingsmile3 What I learned about buying our new cars
  • Be prepared to walk away. In fact … have NO PLANS (browse with no intention on buying) the first time you make contact with the sales guy or gal – check out cars for an hour or so and then have “an appointment somewhere”.  They know their best chance at a sale is the first visit and they will try to get you to commit on that first visit.  When you leave, they will absolutely be in touch, but plan on taking your time to get back to them.  I had the one guy “sharpen his pencil” for me some 4 or 5 times. I got a great deal in the end and more than fair on my trade-in, but it took effort and patience


  • Be prepared for a long, drawn out afternoon on the day of the big purchase (at this point, I’m assuming you have already negotiated to a price you are prepared to pay).  No matter how quick they are (or pretend to be), you are going to be there for a while, being escorted from waiting area, to offices, etc.  You know, financing options, extended warranties, undercoating (ha! in Victoria?).  In fact, if you want any of those things, research them before being put on the spot to make a decision – And make sure you know what each item is and you are allowed to say no, to all of them. Budget at least 3 hours for this “handover”. Saying no doesn’t make it go any faster it would appear…
  • Don’t kiss the car after the test drive.  You might be in love with what you just drove, but don’t let on… Remember, the salesperson is counting on this being an emotional experience for you
  • Negotiate the price before you offer up how you want to pay. I thought, as I’m sure a lot of people do, that by having my financing in order (we borrowed against our mortgage, we like 1 payment to make, each month), I would get a great deal, with less hassle for the sales guy.  Nope, they want you to finance with them.  The fact that you are going to just/only pay the sticker price is not exciting to them. They don’t mind the paperwork, it is more money for them.  So negotiate your price, and then and only then, if you plan on paying without financing, give them the bad news
  • Anyways, I’m sure there are things I’m missing or have forgotten and I’m sure others have more to share, but this was off the top of my head.  Vrrrroooommmm…