My youngest daughter, an almost 20 year old college sophomore recently presented me with some observations and a conclusion. She had turned a corner on maturity, was becoming a serious student whose achievement was catching up with her aptitude, and she wanted the ability to seek part time employment. Her conclusion is that she needed and had earned getting a car.
I had to agree so we began what proved to be a very educational experience for her and an inspiration for me. From an experience perspective, I have bought and leased far more vehicles for corporate business use for employers and clients than for personal use. Even though we average a personal vehicle purchase every 4-5 years for family members, and because the market changes so quickly, especially in the area of internet information and sales resources, I chose to invest in live field research and actually buy a used vehicle. It drew my daughter and I closer together and inspired me to write my latest online course, How to Buy a New or Used Car.
The whole process from start to finish took about two months. For the first two weeks she did research, online and in person. She devoted two hours per day twice a week and sent the results, amply documented, to me for follow up. I chased down her leads for a few hours for another two weeks, made calls, corresponded via internet, etc. This work helped to clarify the questions of what kind of car she liked and filtered out cars we did not want or were clearly inapposite like high end BMWs, trucks, and imported sports coupes. (Yes, she looked at those too).
Using this research, we hit the road during her spring break to visit and test drive cars at half dozen dealers. We took notes, got the necessary documents, and entered all the data into a spread sheet for the cars that made the cut. We developed a cost per mile depreciation factor for mileage to adjust for the different odometer readings.
We had the first choice independently checked out at a reliable local auto shop and then negotiated with the dealer. We established a budget but ended up buying a car for 30% over budget due to mileage, age, and other considerations that made financial sense to us.
The online course thereby inspired is unique in that it is both a how-to guide and a reference resource. It has three primary goals.
- Meet and exceed the needs of virtually everyone from time to time in knowing how to acquire an automobile
- Provide step by step processes, lists, and actions that must be taken and/or avoided
- Contribute information resources to assist in on delving deeper into any specific content area
The ample background information included is intended to fill in the gaps, or explain why certain industry practices have evolved so that the car consumer, buyer or lessee, is fully informed of the unwieldy financial dimensions that circumscribe this important transaction. For example the galaxy of information that swirls around the Ethernet cries out for clarity, definition, and recommendation. There are many good online sources of information, advice, and unbiased third party counsel that are valuable to those seeking to acquire vehicles. Many more, however, are blatantly self serving institutions that blur the already faint lines between objective guidance and sales pitch.
In the online course, you will find numerous web site sources found to be useful for purposes as noted in the text. These are intended to be supplementary recourses, most of which can be consulted on a casual basis. The exceptions are mandatory sites such as Edmunds, Kelly Blue Book , and National Automobile Dealers Association , which are strongly recommended for all vehicle acquisition purposes.