Thanks everyone for sharing your experiences.
We actually ended up purchasing a van today. The van we ended up with: A 2014 Chrysler Town & Country with 125K miles.
We had previously looked at a 2019 Dodge Grand Caravan but with the $23,000 price tag, we felt it was not a good fit for our current financial situation.
We had discussed purchasing an older used van somewhere in the $6K-$7K range, using that for a year and then selling and upgrading once we had a nice chunk saved up for a newer van. But this van came on the market for $11,000, it was already priced $1,200 below KBB value so I went ahead an looked at it.
It is really kind of in between the cheap vans and the newer ones we were looking at which makes me think we might just hang onto it for bit longer than a year so maybe we can purchase a newer one cash.
We did end up financing this with $4,000 down but we were able to talk them down to $10,000 in the process, despite them showing us a list of all the other similar vans in a 500 mile radius of which theirs was the best priced.
While we technically could have purchased this car cash, financing it gives us a little bit of breathing room as I am currently in the process of getting a job that will allow us to hopefully pay it off in the next 6-8 months.
Lessons Learned for Buying At A Dealership:
Never take the first price at a dealership (there is always wiggle room)
Use anything you can to your advantage when negotiating (they will too so why shouldn’t you) [For example, I used the fact that we will be in Chicago later this month and were thinking of looking for cars there as a way to show them I wasn’t desperately in need of their specific van at that moment)
Always go with your gut, and have someone else there to talk to who is on your side
(I went by myself in the morning, then came back later with my wife and her sister. I let them take a test drive with the salesman without me in which my sister-in-law was able to get him to say they could possibly get it down to 10K. He came back after talking to his manager firm at 10.5K but after a little pushback from me he said how about we meet in the middle at 10,250. I told him we could look at the numbers. We went over them at which point he went to his manager and came back saying they were firm at 10.5. At that point I asked him to step away so I could talk to my wife, we both agreed we didn’t want to pay more than 10K. When he got back, I told him we were firm at 10K and reminded him that we would be in Chicago later looking at cars. After another brief meeting with his manager, he came back and we shook on the deal at $10K.) And that’s how I saved $1,000.
Sorry for the long reply but I do hope it may be helpful to someone in the future who may be looking to buy from a dealership. To be fair, I did actually purchase a car before from this exact dealership and used some of the same tactics mentioned above but in that case the negotiations spanned a couple of days. In this instance, I went in knowing the van was pretty decently priced already but knowing if I could get it down to $10K I would leave feeling like I had gotten a great deal.
Still looking for something to replace my wrecked Honda, will keep you posted on how that goes.