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We recently bought a new minivan (my dream car actually, but I won’t brag) for our family vehicle.
Car shopping changes when you have kids. You need to think about things such as how car seats fit in a vehicle, space for strollers, and what kind of storage a vehicle has. It can get pretty complicated. Luckily, my husband and I had a list of what was important to us so that our new vehicle was able to accommodate our needs. We narrowed down our list to the specific vehicles we wanted beforehand, making things so much easier.
Here are a few tips that really helped us out in choosing our new minivan:
1. Do your car research BEFORE going to dealerships.
We knew we wanted a minivan and did a lot of online comparisons. We knew what kind of features we wanted our new vehicle to have and our price range ahead of time. We even knew what make and model of minivan we wanted before we got to the dealership. Literally, all we had to do was take it for a test drive, fill out our financial application, and drive away in our new vehicle. It was really easy because we were prepared and we had an awesome salesman!
2. Have everything ready to go when signing the paperwork.
After we test drove and came to the conclusion that we wanted to buy that van. We did everything online and by email. It made everything super easy and when we went in to pick up the minivan, all we needed to do was sign paperwork and we were off. We were lucky that we didn’t have the kids with us at the time, but if we did, since everything was done ahead of time, it would have been painless to bring them.
3. Think about whether you plan on expanding your family and how much room you’ll /want need for bags, car seats, strollers, etc.
Will you need to fit more than one stroller in the vehicle? A double stroller? Will you be using the vehicle for any road trips or other travel?
4. Try out car seats and booster seats in the vehicle you wish to purchase.
No joke. Bring them to the dealership with you when you test drive. Some sales people actually have car seats at the dealership for you to try out in vehicles as well. I can’t stress it enough about seeing how the car seats fit in a vehicle you are considering buying, leg room, etc. We’ve met a lot of couples who purchase a vehicle right before having kids, only to find their new car isn’t “kid-friendly” at all.
5. Get a cover for car seats on leather seats.
So, I actually hated leather seats and worried the kids would tear through the leather easily. Of course, our new minivan is fully equipped with all leather seats (and I’ll admit, it’s not as terrible as I once thought). We weren’t prepared for needing seat covers when we picked up the van, so we improvised with using towels. If you don’t have seat covers, I highly recommend using a towels or some kind of cover as car seats/booster seats can dig into the leather and completely destroy the material.
6. Work with a sales person who values your time.
Not only were we crazy busy when we bought our latest vehicle, but we had to work around nap times. Our sales person handled everything by email and had all paperwork ready to sign for us when we arrived. We were out the door driving away in our new minivan in less than 45 minutes.
7. Think about what features you want in your new vehicle.
We had special features we wanted our vehicle to have. DVD players were a huge plus for us, but not completely necessary since we already had a portable DVD player set. We also wanted “stow-and-go” seating. Luckily for us, we got a fully loaded vehicle and all of our wishes came true. Honestly, think about what you can and can’t live without especially if you spend a lot of your time in your car driving to and from work, daycare, school, appointments, road trips, etc. Since we’ll be using this vehicle for our upcoming road trips, we thought a lot about our past road trips and what we found ourselves wishing we had.
8. Figure out the main use for your new vehicle.
Is it driving to and from work? Long road trips? As a second vehicle? As a family ride? We needed a second vehicle to become our new family car and something we could take on our upcoming road trip adventures. Also, we needed a vehicle that will be sitting in our driveway during the days that I work from home. Because of this, we decided to purchase a used minivan that is few years old. This way, I didn’t feel quite as guilty for letting it sit and deemed it as something that will last us for our future family road trips.