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We are now a minivan family.

June 8, 2014 by Mark McGlothlen 

Shortly after my wife and I were married back in 2003, the first thing on our agenda as a newly married couple was to go car shopping. It was time to replace my Mercury Tracer.

I went a little crazy with cars in my early years, thinking I needed a new one every year or so. I purchased one, but I wasn’t sure I liked it, so I traded it in for another. After about a year, that car did not seem to suit me, so on to another one. According to my wife, and there is some truth to the story, a friend of ours told me that my Chevy Crosica was an “old mans” car and that prompted me to trade it in.

As you can imagine, my bottom line suffered a little bit due to my actions. Because of my poor choices, I was bound and determined to drive my next car until it died as it was paid off and I quite enjoyed not having a car payment! But it was time to say goodbye for both economical and safety reasons!

As we walked into the dealership I saw the car that I wanted, pointed it out and said “I want it” before I even drove it. Heck, before I really even looked at it!

I obviously broke a cardinal rule in car shopping, which did not make my wife too happy.

Shopping for a new car can be an exciting, time consuming, frustrating and liberating experience all rolled into one nice package. Of course, in vehicle terms, a package may include heated seats, DVD player, 4-wheel drive and a built in espresso maker/cell phone charger/GPS dashboard unit. You take your pick as to which package suits you best!

I assume that the only people who actually enjoy looking for a new vehicle are those that can stroll into a dealership, point to a brand new “off the line” car, lay down a wad of cash on the salespersons desk and drive off the lot in their shiny new toy.

For the rest of us, it may not always be a certified good time, especially when you buy used, like we do. There can be a lot of haggling when it comes to used cars and fighting for the best deal.

In any event, with the impending birth of our third child coming in the next few months, the time had come for us to begin thinking about our next mode of transportation and start the process of shopping for one that would fit us all comfortably and safely. In other words, for the first time in 10 years, we were on the hunt for a new (used) car.

Figuring out the type of vehicle we wanted was the easy part. Since we are becoming a family of five, a minivan seemed like the most logical choice and it was something that my wife and I both agreed upon, so why tempt fate, right?

Once Christmas was out of the way, my wife hit the internet to search for our perfect van. With a wish list that included low miles and a great price as our top two factors, she hit just about every dealership site in southwest Michigan and northern Indiana, to help us narrow our search.

We were under a time crunch, but at the same time, we did not want to just take the first available van that caught our (my) eye. My wife still harbors a little resentment toward me regarding our previous purchase, so I agreed to be more cautious this time!

I know salespeople have a tough job, but we also like our space and to look around. As we pulled into one dealership to just look around, someone was already heading out to our car, and we were still driving around the lot! Not cool in our books.

At another dealership, the salesperson was talking to us about financing options before we even discussed whether we even LIKED the van that he had shown us.

We finally found what we were looking for at about the fifth dealership we went too. The salesperson asked what we were looking for, showed us to where to go and gave us time alone to look them over. I appreciated the very hands off approach that we were given. That might not be a good thing for some, but for us, we loved it. No pressure. When we were ready to talk, he was ready to listen.

For us, it made the whole process a much easier and almost enjoyable thing to go through. A good friend of mine laughed at me when I said that I actually do not mind driving a minivan. In fact, if we had the van during our trip to Florida last year, it would have been a much more comfortable trip!

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