We finally found the car and pulled the trigger. A “brand-new-to-us” Rav4!
This car is absolutely perfect for us in so many ways! First of all, it’s a certified used car through Toyota of Santa Maria, which means we still have the original powertrain warranty, along with 12 months of comprehensive already included. Having a certified used car is, I think, the way to go when buying a used car. They have to meet very strict standards to be certified– for instance, our Corolla would not have been eligible for certification, since we would’ve had to replace a few exterior panels due to hail damage before selling! Basically, a certified vehicle has not only never been in an accident, but it also hasn’t had anything original replaced, including exterior panels.
It’s a 2008, so it has just over 40k miles on it (a baby, when it comes to a Honda or Toyota!). Someone leased it for 3 years, turned it in, and now it’s ours! Our Toyota had 30k+ on it when it got totalled, so we are basically in the same boat, but with a MUCH MUCH lower car payment, due to the lower price and due to the fact that we had a big down payment.
It’s also the perfect kind of car for us. The more and more we researched, the more and more we kept coming back to the Rav4. It has the most cargo room of any of the crossovers. It has a trunk door that swings out instead of being a hatchback (so much easier! wow!). It sits up higher so it will be perfect for buckling in two carseats on a day to day basis (I didn’t even find this important until we borrowed a higher-sitting car for 4 months…it’s sooo much easier!). It’s got extremely peppy acceleration– we were uber-impressed. This particular model even has a couple of things we weren’t counting on– 4 Wheel Dr for the snow and ice (too bad we’re no longer in Dallas!), and roof racks!
Part of our journey towards this car was deciding that even if we could afford to pay cash, to purposefully finance instead. The reasons for this are two-fold and can be better explained in another post, one that I’ve been dying to write, about our “plan” for moving out, etc. The first reason, in short hand, is that we are trying to bump Jesse’s credit score up into a new bracket. It’s not the “Dave Ramsey Way”, but then again, we follow Jesus, not good ole Dave. 🙂 The second reason is that because we got such good financing, the APR on this car is the SAME or LOWER than ALL of our student loans. Some of our student loans are triple what the interest rate is on this car. Any extra money not needed will first go towards those.
How did we settle on this car? We first looked into buying a few older (2004, 2005) civics or corollas. Turns out, however, that banks get really stingy about financing that old of a vehicle. After trying for about 2 weeks to make that happen, it looked as though we were going to have to go 2006 or newer, which pushed everything into a whole new price bracket. This car ended up being about the same cost as a 2006 civic, but with many fewer miles.
After Jesse and I sat on the decision to get a certified used Rav 4 for a few days, we both felt confident that it was the right move. He was never too thrilled about the civic idea (he’s such a Toyota guy now, it’s scary), and since we only drive about 5 minutes to school, buying a car purely for the gas efficiency didn’t seem to be wise, especially with Baby #2 on the way.
I found the best deals, not surprisingly, in the LA area. We are already going down to LA this weekend to see David and the Berrys (just realized…”Dave Barry”…haha!), so it seemed like good timing. I started emailing a few dealers to see if they would “deal”.
And then we found this car at the Toyota dealer in Santa Maria. It was more expensive than the ones in LA, but I’ve heard stories of the “legend” that my dad is when it comes to haggling for a car, so Jesse and I decided that I would go with him last night to check this one out. If anything, I thought, it would be good to test drive a 4 cylinder (the one we test drove in TX was V6). Jesse didn’t come because he’s now coaching basketball most evenings for an hour or two– a dream come true 🙂
From the time I picked my dad up at work in SLO until the time we pulled up to the dealer in Santa Maria, he pepped talked me into how we would “battle”. He even quoted General Patton. It was intense. 🙂
We played everything just right. We test drove the car, took time off to “talk” on the side of the building, making them wait a long time, etc. I called Jesse, and we agreed that we would set the bar really high. If I could talk this guy down thousands of dollars off of the asking price, we would buy the car tonight. Both of us, however, didn’t believe that that was possible.
We haggled for a while with the dealer. He left and came back 3 times. Each time he left, I called Jesse, enabling me to say to the guy that he needed to beat the price of another dealer in LA or my husband wouldn’t let us buy the car 🙂 Blame it on Jesse!
But it worked! The 3rd time, he came back and shook our hands and said congratulations! In the end, we got the car for 2 thousand dollars less than the KBB value (the dealer’s asking price). Plus, we don’t have to spend valuable time this weekend buying a car instead of hanging out with friends. Trenna just had surgery and David won’t be coming home for Thanksgiving, so this is kind of important!
Jesse has to drive down today to sign a few papers (since we purposefully put it into his credit instead of mine) and deliver our down payment check, but it’s ours!
Overall, this experience was really valuable. I was shocked to find how easy it is to start knocking tons of $ off an asking price (I’ve done it at garage sales, but never with a moving vehicle!). I also learned some really good bargaining techniques from my Dad. While not quite a legend, he’s close 😉
It really is quite a testimony to Jesse’s and my working relationship. Since I’m the researcher (and apparently, now a graduate of the School of Car Haggling!), it made sense that I do the leg work on this one. I actually enjoy stuff like this, as does my dad (hmmm, wonder where I get it from?). But Jesse still made every important decision over the phone, down to even the small details like whether we would get additional maintenance coverage or GAP insurance (we turned down the GAP insurance, even in spite of our accident, because we were already buying the car for thousands less than an insurance company would appraise it for). Overall, we made quite the team. Jesse said he felt like he was completely in control the entire time, even though my dad and I were the ones doing the bargaining. And I feel an entirely new sense of ownership on this car, seeing as I sort of made it happen 🙂
More later! Gotta go get ready for “Nickelodeon
Invades Rocks Your School”!