I'm so proud of us. As I can now say we are so grown up that we can buy a car and not get screwed. See? You're shocked, I can tell. But it's true! So here are our steps to purchasing a car. And, remember, I am, by no means someone whose advice should ever be taken. What do I know?
Steps to car buying sans the remorse:
1. Pick out a few cars you like. Being stuck in traffic in your junker=a great place to shop for cars you like. It's the bar scene for cars that want to be seen. Just look around. Especially helpful if you're in the middle of Friday afternoon traffic on the 101, 110, 710, 10, 405, 55 or 5. (aka: Southern CA)
2. Check the cars out online. Preliminary research, prices, reviews, etc. Don't ignore it when people talk about maintenance issues and they love the car-it means that they don't care that it has issues and you might not want that kind of high-maintenance relationship. (See: e's first car)
3. Go to the dealer and actually look at them first hand.
4. Don't get attached. Do NOT buy the car the same day you looked at it. It might be great, it might be perfect but just Walk Away! Now!
5. Email dealerships nearby (and far, if you're willing to drive) for quotes.
6. When you get a low quote, ask the next dealer who emails if they can meet that quote. Then the next. Keep looking for that low price.
7. Remember there are things called "frills" or "extras" or "stuff they're going to add on in the end because, why not?" There's a destination charge (or at least there is, here in CA) of about $625 that is automatically added on, and that almost no one tells you about willingly. Ask every dealer whether their quote covers the destination charge, and other fees.
8. Once you have a low quote, get that dealer on the phone and ask if there are any extra charges that aren't included in that price. If there are, talk to another and another.
9. Go to the dealer with the lowest price to look at the car, pick out the color you like, and figure out the finances.
10. Go home with lovely new car.
Well, it worked for us and now we have a beautiful new car. Perfect for at least two car seats in the back. Ahh...nothing like a slightly bigger car that makes a girl think about babies.