How I Am Planning My New Car Purchase for 2012

My husband and I have a 2008 Dodge Caliber we’re looking to trade in after the first of the year. When we bought it, we were a small family of three, and the car has very little extras. Now that our family is a little bigger, we are looking to trade it in and buy a new car that has more conveniences, like power locks and an in-car DVD system.

We’re using the Kelly Blue Book as the source to determine our vehicle’s worth and expect to get almost $6,000 for the trade in. We’ve taken good car of our Caliber, and the trade-in value is about what we still owe on the vehicle, so it’s an ideal time for us to trade it in. We already have some SUV choices, but before we decide on one, we will use the same source to determine the car’s trade-in value. The more we can get out of it later, the better. Our fairly inexpensive Caliber has paid off well in that regard.

Since we have a growing family, a car’s safety is important to us. gives lists of the safest cars to aid us in our choice. We will be researching crash and rollover safety ratings, looking for 4 or 5 star ratings.

A vehicle’s amenities will also play a role in our choice. Our Caliber doesn’t even have power locks and windows. When you’ve got a baby in one arm and bags of groceries in another, having manual locks can be a pain. It also lacks cruise control. Too many long road trips have taught me that this is a must-have feature in our new vehicle. We would like to have an in-car video system, but those are easy enough to purchase and snap on the back of the front seat for the kids.

Price will be one of the most significant factors for our purchase. To make the most out of it, we plan to buy around tax season, when many dealerships in my area are offering to match tax refunds for the down payment. That, with our trade in, would give us a very good deal. We also want something that has special financing or rebates to lower our overall cost. We will also be going with a Dodge dealership so we can get our loyalty bonus for being Dodge owners.

One thing I learned about my Dodge purchase is to “say no” to dealers who are trying to get me to add on the extended warranty. That was a complete waste of my money, only adding onto my car finance bill every month.

My first car purchase was a learning experience. This time, I will definitely go into the dealership knowing exactly what I’m looking for.

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