I took my 20-year-old son car shopping last night for his first car. When he first got his license, he drove a hand-me-down the ex and I had at home. Since the divorce, he’s been driving my car or using Uber. Now that he has a good job, it was time for his own.
He originally started in the 8K-10K range. He wanted something to get him to and from work and the gym. He also wanted to finance it so he can start to build a credit rating.
We started at a used car lot. At the first one, we drove into the lot and drove out. The building itself was derelict. While it may not reflect on the condition of the cars, our thinking was, “If they can’t look after their building, do they really look after the cars?”
The second used car lot told us we wouldn’t be able to find anything decent under $20,000. Since neither of us are mechanically inclined, and the people selling cars privately wouldn’t allow us to have them inspected by a mechanic, we then decided to go to the reputable car companies and see what they had for used cars, knowing the budget would increase.
At the first dealership, they had nothing. But, the woman was the same age as my son, clearly smitten, and tried her best to sell him something. She had to “go talk to her manager” so many times, we finally got up and left. (It wasn’t lost on me that, after she commented on his braids, he took off his jacket so she could see the results he’s been getting working out at the gym!)
At the second dealership, there was a fully loaded, 2017 Chevy Cruze with two sets of tires (important here in Canada where we need winter and summer tires), still some warranty and the salesman would sell it for $20,000 taxes and fees included. However, there was hail damage on the car. I could tell my son wasn’t impressed. The salesman, sensing there wasn’t going to be a sale, started the hard sell – “We had a lady looking at this yesterday. I can’t guarantee it’ll be here tomorrow”, then “Let me run the numbers…OK, if you finance for 7 years….”
He held firm. He knew what he was prepared to spend, what length of time he wanted the financing, and this car wasn’t it. The more I suggested we keep looking, the more frantic the salesman got. I finally said I needed to go make a call in my car. My son was too polite to simply say, “Thanks for your time and walk away” when the salesman started to show him even more cars he wasn’t interested in, I made the call. To my son. I told him what to say so it sounded like he had to leave immediately.
I took him to the Mazda dealership where I bought my car a year ago. That’s where he found the car of his dreams. Having grown up with BMWs, he has an affinity for German cars. He test drove a 2015 Mercedes Benz C-300 and immediately fell in love. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so happy.
When we went back inside to talk numbers, the total came to over $27,000. He was devastated. That was too much. So, he started negotiating. By the end of the night, he got the car for $21,000 taxes and fees included. We’re waiting on financing to go through but, since I co-signed, I don’t think that’ll be a problem.
I am so proud of my son. His football coaches have always told me he’s a leader. I didn’t see it at home. I live with an introverted young man who doesn’t care to talk much. He seems content to go with the flow of whatever his friends want to do.
Yesterday, I saw a young man who can stand up for himself. A young man who looked at his overall financial situation and decided what he was comfortable spending. A young man who saw the car he wanted, had the down payment, and did what he had to do to get it. A young man on the cusp of adulthood making his own decisions.
As good a negotiator as he is, he won’t win the last battle. My car parks in our single garage. Momma pays the mortgage.