Shopping Wisely for a New Car as a Single Female

Cars are a topic I normally don’t talk about on my blog, but since I’ve been blogging for 10 years now, most subjects are fair game around here.  If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you’ll know that I recently bought a new car, the first in over 11 years.

Let me start out by prefacing this post with how much I love cars, which is probably something you may not know about me.  I have been a car lover for a long time now, back to my teen years when I got my driver’s license as soon as I turned 16.  Driving a car and having freedom was a fun rite of passage for me and the kind of car I drove was always at the forefront. I’ve always loved sporty cars and have had a couple of sporty ones, including a new black 1986 Dodge Daytona, which was pretty neat back in the day. I wish I could remember how much that car was new, but it’s slipped my memory. Cars sure are expensive now, aren’t they? That’s why we have to be so wise in shopping new cars these days and have to make smart choices. Let me also say this post is in no way sponsored by Nissan, I just wanted to share my car buying experience with y’all!

After I went through the car shopping process, I thought you all might enjoy my perspective and what all transpired to get me to the actual buying of my car.  I was treated very respectfully at the dealership I bought from….but it took 3 dealerships to do my deal.  I didn’t buy from the first one and ended up walking out of that one and another dealership, for different reasons before I felt like I had a good deal and was working with good people.  I had a few hiccups along the way and I’ll share all of that too.  It wasn’t a perfect process of car shopping and there is good and bad with buying a car as a female.  Some might question whether typical car salesmen treat women differently, but I totally believe they do in many cases.  Not all, but some. They may think that women are more than likely to go along with a transaction than a man will, but that’s certainly not the case with me if I have second thoughts about what is going on.

So back to cars in general!  You might not be surprised to hear that my dad has always bought purely practical and functional cars and never went for looks so much.  He is a pragmatic guy all the way, so he always {tried to} influence my car buying for many years.  But I did manage to get a few neat cars along the way.  I counted back and this is only my 4th new car in my lifetime that I’ve bought for myself.  I had used cars from the beginning and always bought my own cars and a few other used cars in between new ones, but now it’s new for me all the way.  My last car (that I still own) is a 2006 Toyota Solara bought at the end of 2005 and purchased new in Birmingham.  I love that car and still have it, but will probably go ahead and sell it soon.  It has 150K miles on it and has been a great car, but since I’ve saved my money and can afford to buy a new car, I decided it was time.

Car fever has struck once again!  I will blame it on my boyfriend, Mark…haha!  He just bought a 2017 Honda Civic 2 door, in a sporty red and when I went with him to get it, it did make me want to start looking.  By the way if you’re looking for a good looking sporty 2 door or 4 door really affordable car, those Honda Civics are so cute and much improved from the old style!  I was already planning to buy a new car this year, it just moved up a few months when car fever struck!

I thought long and hard about what car I wanted this time around.  I am sold on Japanese cars now after owning my Toyota Solara. They have so much reliability and the style of them in general has increased greatly over the years, so it’s not hard to find one I love.  My dad drives a Nissan Altima, my sister and brother-in-law drive Hondas and Mark drives a Honda, so I know all about the reliability of those cars as well.  My roommate, Rhonda, has a Honda Accord with over 240K miles on it, so she should be in a commercial for Honda! Another friend, Karen, drives a Nissan Maxima with 185K miles on it, so I know that any of these 3 car manufacturers would be a good choice.

I worked for Nissan here in Atlanta back in 2004 to 2005 and enjoyed working for a well respected car company.  I remember when the Nissan Murano was introduced in 2003 and one was added to the company fleet when I was working at the Nissan SE Regional office here in Atlanta.  It was super stylish and I loved how it looked even back then and took it home for the weekend one time.

But now, the body style is even sleeker and sportier and I just fell in love with it.  I knew I wanted a small to medium SUV this time around and a 4 door.  In my Solara, I can’t haul people around very well and forget taking my parents in my Toyota.  It just wasn’t practical to ride people in the backseat, even my friends (no one wants to climb in my backseat!), so I knew this time a 4 door was what I needed.  And since I tend to haul things, I wanted something with back seats that fold down for extra cargo space.  I’ve hauled many things in my Toyota car and many times wished for something bigger. So that’s how I made the decision to get a 4 door small to medium SUV.  The style of the Nissan Murano is one that has caught my eye for awhile now and I knew it would be at the top of the list when I began car shopping. I’m still 16 when it comes to stylish cars.  I like what I like and that’s just how it is.  I wanted something that was stylish, sporty, reliable, and affordable, so I found that in the Murano.

So, I’m going to share the process of how I went about buying my car.  As I mentioned, I had one bad experience and I’ll tell you about that too. I’m sure there are a lot of different ways and avenues that people use to buy cars, but this is what I did and how it worked for me. I don’t know that I got a rock bottom price for my car, but I feel very good that I got about the best price I could get in the Atlanta area for the car I wanted.  My boyfriend, Mark, coached me through the process and told me how he buys cars by starting online first and he’s done that for himself and his daughters.

First things first, decide what make and model car you are interested in buying. If you don’t have that narrowed down yet, then by all means go and test drive the cars that are on your list.  I will confess that I only test drove the Murano and had already made that car my choice when I did the test drive, so I didn’t go anywhere else and look.  That might not be how you do things, but it was good for me, since that was the car I had my eye on for a very long time.

Next, after you test drive and decide on the car you want, go online and start looking at dealer inventory in your area for that car, right down to the car color, interior and any features you want added, like a sunroof package, which I added to mine. You’ll see this listed on the car specs, so be sure and choose all the add-ons you want added.  That of course, will affect the price of the car and what the dealer will quote on the car.

After I test drove the car, I went home and did just that. I looked at the inventory of all the dealers in the Atlanta area and found several Pearl White Nissan Muranos in the SL and Platinum package.  I narrowed down my choice to either of those styles with the Technology package added, which was sunroof and some other features.  You can fill out forms online and have the dealers email you with their prices.  I actually left my phone number too, in addition to my email and Mark and I were sitting at my house after I filled out those forms and my phone immediately started ringing.  Mark showed me how to do all of this online to start getting online prices before I even went to the dealerships.  That helps a lot and you don’t have to run all over town to get your prices.  When my phone started ringing, he said….you gave them your phone number?  I said, yeah they asked for it, so lesson learned. If you don’t want them to call you, don’t fill out your phone number.  It wasn’t that bad, but I did get a few calls.  I told every one of them that I wanted their best price emailed to me, along with a breakdown of the MSRP, all the discounts, plus dealers fees, tax, tag, and everything itemized, with a drive out price listed at the bottom.  I wanted to know exactly what they were giving me price wise and I would compare them all.  Mark even suggested I do a spreadsheet and list everything out by dealer, so I did that too and it made it easier to see who was offering what and I didn’t have to go back and dig out the emails.  It was obvious immediately who was giving the best deal on the car I wanted.  Mark couldn’t go with me during the week days to the dealers, so I took girl friends. He was a text and phone call away though.

The best deal came from a dealership south of Atlanta on I-85.  This is where my bad experience happened. I’m not going to share the dealer name, even though I left them a negative Google review, but if anyone wants to know, I’ll share it with you on a private email.

Here’s what happened with that dealer.  I had them listed as the lowest price on the Platinum Murano (the top of the line), so I talked to a girl there on the phone and asked for a little better price than what she had emailed me.  She called back and said she could give me the price I wanted and then emailed me with an even lower price than I was expecting.  That was a shocker and I should have known something was up then, but the specs looked good.  Their emailed price was $1k lower than the quote I got from her on the phone and way lower than anyone else was offering, so I said you’ve got yourself a deal and I’ll be down there tomorrow to get the car.  The sales guy assured me that the price quoted was the drive out price and wouldn’t change at all.

My roommate, Rhonda, went down there with me and thank goodness I didn’t let her leave.  I felt a little uneasy from the beginning when the sales guy wasn’t there yet and I had to wait a bit to even see the car.  Finally, another sales guy took me out to see the car and we got inside and took it for a test drive.  I noticed before we left that there was a small scratch on the leather seat in the back. That was the first red flag.  As I was driving the car, something made me look down at the odometer and check it out. It said 4,400 miles on this car!  I immediately said to the guy in the backseat, how does this brand new car have over 4K miles on it already.  He mumbled something about telling them that I wasn’t happy with this when we got back.  My radar went way up after that and we went inside to find my sales guy, who had finally arrived.  After I told him about the mileage, he insisted it was an oversight and he didn’t realize that it was a demo car with mileage for the quote he gave me.  Technically, he said they could still call the car new, but really, they should have said that on the phone!

They were giving me a good deal, but it absolutely should have been disclosed to me on the phone before I drove down there. I just didn’t like how it went down and felt like they were trying to take advantage of me.  Supposedly, this demo car was being offered at $1k less than the brand new version and it just didn’t sit well with me.  I wanted a brand new car!  If it had been presented in a different way and with more of a discount, I might have been open to it but under the circumstances, I wanted nothing to do with that car!  I told the sales guy in no uncertain terms that I didn’t want that car and if he had another one just like it and could offer me the exact same deal on IT, then I would be good to go. If not, I was leaving. He stammered around about not being able to do the same deal on another car and I was so aggravated that no one had bothered to tell me all of this before I drove over an hour to get there.  He was all apologetic and continued to apologize over and over for the error and misunderstanding and went and checked with the powers that be (typical car sales procedure) and then came back and told me he COULD do the same deal.  Now this is where I made a mistake and didn’t get out my phone with my email with the price that they had promised me originally in writing.  I should have done that, but instead went on his word that the price would be what I was quoted and he could do that deal.  Lesson learned on that, clarify what they mean when they say something.

So, during a 2 hour process later he had the new car brought around which I inspected and looked at top to bottom giving it thumbs up. After filling out all the dealer paperwork for the car,  I was sitting with the finance guy talking about how much money he had on his paperwork for this car deal and he gave me a number that was $600 more than the deal I was promised by email.  I said no, that’s not right.  He immediately got up and got the upper powers that be involved with the General Manager coming in to talk to me. He emphatically stated that he JUST COULD NOT do that same exact deal on the new car…but could on that demo car. He then proceeded to throw the young girl I had talked to on the phone (and had been emailing with the final deal information), completely under the bus like it was her fault the numbers didn’t match up.   I was so mad that they had done this to me, making me drive down there, stay for 4 hours and NO DEAL after all!  I stood up and said no thanks, I’m done and I’m leaving. I should have told them all off, but I was so frustrated and angry that this had fallen apart after 4 hours, that I just got my roommate and we left.  All over $600!  It was the principle of the thing for me.  I knew if I got up and left that I would probably pay more for this same exact car from another dealer, but I wasn’t about to deal with these guys after all that.  They lost me over $600 and mistrust! I never heard from the sales guy after leaving the dealership (he wasn’t there when all this blew up and I walked out) and none of them begged me to stay.  I ended up going with an SL model which was a couple thousand dollars less anyway, so it was all good.  Even though I was mad and frustrated, I was happy to get out of there and deal with someone else.

So the next day, I went back to the dealer near me in Kennesaw where I first test drove the Murano the previous weekend.  The young car sales guy was there and I told him I was coming by to try to do a deal.  I had told him earlier to send me a quote, but I didn’t get it in time before I went to the first dealer.  They had the SL model I wanted on the lot and we went for another test drive.  I had another quote from yet another dealer via email on this model and knew what I could get it for at Stone Mountain Nissan.  Get it all in writing and then you’ve got ammunition for bargaining for a lower price.

We went back inside to try to get the deal done, yet again.  He came back with a price of $1K more than the Stone Mountain price I had gotten by email.  I said, nope, I can get it for less elsewhere. He went back twice to the powers that be, finally bringing his big sales manager down to meet me.  We shook hands and he sat down and we talked.  I told him I had a quote for $1K less than his quote, could he match it?  He went into the “oh you’re killing us” mode, but I stuck to my guns and said, I will drive across town to save $1K.  He couldn’t argue with that and actually said he didn’t blame me for that. Then of course, they questioned whether I’d really get that price once I went there.  So, I called the Stone Mountain guy on the phone while I was sitting there and asked him again, this is drive out price, nothing added on this, right?  He also had an extra internet discount on my quote that was supposed to expire that exact day and he said if I came in the next day, he would still honor it (it was for a $1K extra discount, by the way).  So I said I’ll be there tomorrow.   The Kennesaw sales manager wouldn’t budge on his price, even after I told him I had confirmed that I could get that lower price elsewhere, so I said thank you very much, smiled and walked out.  The poor young sales guy, I really wanted him to get a deal, but it just didn’t work out.  I wasn’t about to pass up a $1K savings.  He asked at one time, couldn’t I be flexible?  Nope, not over $1K!  That’s a lot of money to me!

So, day 3 of my car shopping experience, I drove over to Stone Mountain from my side of town with another friend of mine (bless my friends!) and the deal was DONE!  It went super smoothly and I have to give a huge shout-out to Eugene Richardson of Stone Mountain Nissan for all of his help on the phone with my internet quote, talking to me about the deal on the phone and keeping his word and not trying to pull any stunts once I got in there. Everything went as smoothly as it possibly could on my car purchase this time!  I was so appreciative that he and his other guys treated me very respectfully and made sure I knew what I was signing every step of the way.

I drove out of Stone Mountain Nissan a very happy woman and I would highly recommend them to any of you!  Eugene is a very down to earth car salesman, very knowledgable and made the process so easy for me.  His finance guy, Chris, was great to work with too and we got it all done and I was out the door in just over 2 hours, which is not a bad experience at all.  I was never so happy to be behind the wheel of a new car and drove home like an old lady with both hands firmly clutched to the steering wheel!

So, after all that, I’m going to break down my tips on how I did my deal and felt good about buying my new car. I think I got about as good a price on my new Nissan Murano as I could expect in my area and I felt good about the outcome.

  1. Choose your car, model and make, color and interior before you get started online shopping. Test drive the car and inspect the car interiors so you know exactly what you are getting. My car came in black and cashmere, a lighter tan color leather, and I chose the lighter one with my Pearl White exterior.
  2. I can’t stress this enough!  Start online to do your car shopping.  Once you have your car picked out, then go online and find inventory that matches what you are looking for in your area (you can ask for 50 mile radius or whatever), with all the packages added on.  Be sure and specify exactly what you want on the car so they can get the pricing right and you’ll know what you are getting back from each dealer is apples to apples.  Upgraded wheels, leather interior packages, sunroof packages, all of those add to the cost.
  3. Ask for a detailed breakdown of pricing from every dealer that you can find in your area who has the car you are looking for.  Be sure to ask for MSRP and even invoice cost if they will share that (my guy did), dealer discounts, car manufacturers discounts and rebates, as well as add ons like dealer fees (these might say different things on a list, but they all have them), tax, and tag/title fees.  They can get down to the penny on this, so whatever they quote you should be accurate.  Ask for the bottom line DRIVE OUT price.  That will tell you what you are going to pay for that car and it’s the best way to compare costs across the board between all the dealers.  You will see a difference in quotes of a few hundred to a few thousand and then you’ll know what is going to be the best deal.
  4. Ask them on the phone to confirm that this is drive out price and no other fees will be added before you go in person and do the deal!  Once you know you are going to deal with them, tell them when you are coming and what time to expect you. I even had Eugene check the mileage on my new car for me and it was 36 miles, which I was happy to hear!
  5. Don’t be afraid to walk!  If for any reason you do not feel comfortable with what’s going on or you feel like they are trying to jerk you around, get up and walk out! This isn’t personal, it’s business and there are numerous other cars just like the one you fell in love with!

Again, I wasn’t planning to share my new car with y’all, didn’t want it to come across as….hey, look at me and my new car, but after sharing it on Instagram and Facebook, I had several women who said they were very interested hearing about my new car buying experience, so I figured it might be a good post to write and document.  I know that car buying can be very intimidating for women, we just automatically assume that these car salesmen are going to see us coming and try to take advantage, so I was determined to stick to my guns and negotiate well when appropriate.  After doing all these steps of car shopping in Atlanta, I know I got a very decent price for this car and felt very comfortable that I had shopping wisely and got the most competitive price out there.

I’m so very grateful that I am able to buy a new car and these last 6 years of saving money paid off in a big way.  God has truly blessed me and my blog efforts and I couldn’t feel more blessed than I do right now.  This post is to share that experience with all of you and I know I have lots of single women who read my blog, so this is for you!  I go off topic all the time on my blog and I’m so glad y’all don’t mind that and you seem to be interested in all of these extra topics I throw in from time to time.  This was a real life car buying experience so why not share it with my readers?  I hope it helps some other women out there who need to buy a car and want a few tips on what worked for me.

- Rhoda

Comments

  1. Hey Rhoda, I am just now reading this post. I have been buying cars on my own since the 1970’s. I could write a book on Do’s and Don’t of car buying.
    It is so much easier now. All the pricing information you want is online AND so are the dealerships. There are also a myriad of sites that give advice on buying. Before internet, I used a fax machine. After deciding which car I wanted, I sent a fax to all the dealerships in the Atlanta area detailing exactly what I wanted. Then I sat back and waited for the calls….it didn’t even take an hour for the calls to start.
    Remember, too, that dealerships swap cars. That is why I email every dealership in the area. If they don’t have exactly what you want in stock, they will be able to check the area inventory and see what dealership has it. Also, you don’t have to spend time checking inventory. I dealt with a dealer in Kennesaw but he got the car from a dealer elsewhere in the area. Not all dealers are part of this network but now days most are.
    Also, remember this is a business deal. Keep emotion out of it. Remember, regardless of how much you may want this car, they need to know that if the deal isn’t good enough, you will not be buying. That is one reason its a good idea to drive your selection of cars before you start any bargaining. You should keep control of the process.
    One other thing, and I don’t know if anyone mentioned it, I ask for the Drive Out price. This means the price must include all tax, tag, title, fees, etc. I also make certain that the proposal sent to me states that it is a Drive Out price. This way, you don’t have to worry about what fees and stuff each one is charging as long as the bottom line price is acceptable. Most dealerships have their own way of handling, or adding, fees but I don’t intend to tire my brain (and it would) trying to figure it all out. If I arrive to sign the papers and pick up the car and any items were added or the cost has any change from the proposal I accepted, its time to leave. And I have walked out of a dealership once because of this. Its dishonest and you don’t want to deal with a dishonest business.
    Now, once its all over, you can be as emotional as you wish, so pop that cork on the champagne your friend brought over and celebrate.

  2. Thank you for the tips. I have been considering buying my first new car and feel like I won’t get a good deal.

  3. How do you shop online though? Is there an actual website for this, or do you go to each dealer page and…do what, exactly?? Each dealer has a website that allows you to plug in what you want or something? Sorry, clueless!!! Great car!!!

    • HI, Kate, yes you can go online and search in your area all the dealers. You can narrow down your particular car make, color, etc. and it will show you what’s available in your area from different dealers. Then you can send them emails asking for their best prices to get it in writing. Have them break it down for you. If you start searching online you’ll see what I’m talking about. All dealers have their websites online now and you can walk through the process of what I explained.

  4. Thank you for this post! Just experienced the “$500” bump up on a car that was firmly quoted by email. Lots of good information here, I appreciate you taking the time to share with others!

  5. Nicole Smith says

    Hello Rhoda, I am seconds ago perusing this post. I have been purchasing autos all alone since the 1995’s. I could compose a book on Do’s and Don’t of auto purchasing. It is so substantially simpler at this point. All the valuing data you need is on the web AND so are the dealerships. There are likewise a bunch of locales that give guidance on purchasing. Before web, I utilized a fax machine. In the wake of choosing which auto I needed, I sent a fax to every one of the dealerships in the Atlanta zone enumerating precisely what I needed.

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