My life has changed a lot since I bought my first car. I wouldn’t even be able to fit my family in my first car. It was a lime green 1978 VW Rabbit that I became the owner of in 1996. These days I drive a 2014 Dodge Caravan minivan. I’m pretty sure my car buying tips have changed just as much as the car I drive!
I’ve partnered with CarMax to share some of the things I’ve learned over the years as my family has grown and we’ve turned into a busy sports family! The features I look for in a car these days is a lot different from when I was 16!
Simple Car Buying Tips for Busy Families
When Carrigan was born, I was driving a Hyundai Sante Fe that I absolutely loved. It was 11 years old and had less than 100,000 miles on it. I planned to drive that baby until she wouldn’t roll down the road anymore.
Grambo was already living with us so baby made five. And suddenly my dear Sante Fe didn’t work quite as well for us. The adult who had to sit in the backseat with the kids had to squish uncomfortably between two car seats.
Enter the minivan life.
3 Family Car Buying Tips
I was never against the minivan and since we bought ours, life has been good. It works really well for us, especially now that I’m a baseball mom and a dance mom!
So when it comes to finding a car that works for your family, I have a few simple car buying tips that should make it easy to find a great vehicle that works for you!
1. Know Before You Go
You don’t have to know everything before you go in to shop for a car. But I highly recommend sitting down and making a list of features you really need (and ones you want) in your vehicle.
We did this before we went shopping for our van and it helped me stay focused on what we really wanted. There are a lot of fancy things out there and it’s easy to get wooed. But if you go in with an idea, you have a better chance of coming home with a vehicle that will work best for your family.
Not all car buying tips are complicated! This is one of the easiest. Here are some things we thought about before we went to look at cars:
- Vehicle Size – How many people do you need your car to seat comfortably? We needed a third row so we knew we were looking at something a bit bigger than we already had.
- Car Seats – Consider how your car seats need to be installed. You can even take them with you to make sure they work in the vehicles you’re considering.
- Storage – This is a big one for me as a sports mom. I love some of the crossover SUVs with the third row but I’ve noticed that the storage is often limited. One thing I love about our van is how much room we have to put all of our gear. We went camping recently and all I had to do was fold down the back seats and pack all of our stuff in before we hit the road. Our family is definitely one that needs the back of our car to have space for our stuff!
- Entertainment & Technology – A great thing to add to your list is the kind of entertainment and technology features you’re most interested in having. The top thing on our list was a built-in DVD player. I also wanted a backup camera. I didn’t need anything outside of those two things. I knew that going in and it helped keep me in check as I looked at vehicles with so many bells and whistles!
You don’t have to know exactly which car models you want to look at, though it will save you time if you can come up with a short list and not have to spend your days visiting dealerships. (If you don’t want to do that, one of our easy car buying tips will help you out! Just scroll down to #3!)
If you need a bit of guidance figuring out some of the features you’re looking for, learn more about some of the best family cars!
2. Buy Used
I’ve heard the advice to buy a used car many times in my life. I think now that I am a parent with a budget to balance, I finally understand! It’s a good way to get great value out of a car that works best for your family.
But I’ll admit that I used to have a bit of fear when thinking about buying a used car. Doesn’t everyone have a friend who’s bought a used car and ended up with a lemon? Maybe it’s just a legend that has gotten passed around with the details changed, but it always worries me.
That’s one reason I loved having the opportunity to visit our local CarMax and learn more about the process so I could offer even more insight into these car buying tips!
When I first walked into my local CarMax store, I was immediately put at ease by the employees who greeted me. They didn’t descend upon me like I was prey. I’ve had that experience at a local car dealership and it’s one thing I was worried about. Everyone was friendly and welcoming, but it wasn’t overwhelming at all.
CarMax revolutionized the auto industry by delivering a no-pressure shopping and buying experience. I was ready to learn about the CarMax car buying process and how they make buying a used car easy for parents!
They walked me through the car buying process and how it works when you visit your CarMax store. Sales Manager Byron asked me about what I would be looking for in a car for my family. We talked about the things I had on my list of wants and needs. We also talked about how my family uses our current vehicles. Byron even asked about car seats and my kids!
He wanted to know about all of the things that really matter to me as a mom. It set me at ease and made me feel good about the used car buying process.
Knowing that CarMax stands behind every car with things like a 5-day money back guarantee, 30-day warranty, and free vehicle history reports gave me even more confidence. Buying your family’s next vehicle used at CarMax is definitely one of the best car buying tips I can share!
3. Keep It Low Stress
As a baseball mom with a busy schedule, keeping things as stress-free as possible is always my goal.
When you think of car buying tips, you might not think about stress as being part of it. But getting a new vehicle is a huge purchase and it’s bound to be a bit stressful. By preparing your list of wants and needs, you can help keep the stress levels lower.
If you’re a busy sports mom, then you probably have a list of places you need to be and things you need to get done running through your mind at all times. I know I do. Figuring out which car makes and models might work is actually the part of buying a new vehicle that usually gets me a little overwhelmed.
CarMax is a great place to shop because instead of having to go from dealership to dealership to test drive different cars, you can try more than one model right at your local CarMax lot! Talk about saving time (which always helps me feel less stressed out) and keeping your stress levels down.
The lot at CarMax is organized by vehicles that are similar. Instead of just visiting on brand and seeing every vehicle they have. You can browse all of the store’s minivans or crossover SUVs parked right next to each other! They make it easy to compare different makes that have similar features to see what really works for you and your family.
Approximately 90% of CarMax purchasers start on CarMax.com or the CarMax mobile app where you can browse the nationwide inventory of nearly 50,000 vehicles! Then you can even hold a vehicle for a test drive, schedule an appraisal, and get pre-qualified for financing before you head into the store!
CarMax offers convenience that I think many of us need these days. It’s all about a no-pressure shopping and buying experience when you visit them!
Why Buy Your Next Car at CarMax?
There are more reasons to buy your next car at CarMax. Getting great value by buying used and keeping the stressfulness of the situation down are my top two reasons but I love so many of the other things I learned during my visit including:
- Stress-Free Financing – It’s quick, you can choose the available offer that works best for you, and there are no obligations. You can actually change your financing within three days without a penalty!
- No-Haggle Pricing – The price is on display in the window of each vehicle and it’s the price you’ll pay. The price won’t suddenly change when you sit down in the office to figure out financing.
- Vehicle Transfer – Found a vehicle that’s perfect for you, but it’s located at a CarMax location on the opposite end of the country? No problem! You can request a transfer from almost any CarMax location, with no obligation to buy the car. It makes the CarMax website an even bigger resource!
- Selling Your Car to CarMax – We’ve sold one of our old cars to CarMax and Justin said it was one of the easiest things he’s ever done! Did you know they’ll buy your car even if you don’t buy one of theirs?
- Buy with confidence: CarMax stands behind every car with a 5-day money back guarantee and 30-day warranty to help you feel confident about your decision. CarMax is also very transparent and provides customers with a free vehicle history report on the car they are interested in buying.
If you need some more tips for keeping your car clean once you get it home, check out some of our favorite car cleaning hacks!
Then find your closest CarMax store and start the process of finding a new car that works great for your family! You’ll be happy you did!