Getting a new car is exciting for everyone in the family, especially kids. For guys like me (I’ve personally owned over 40 cars), some of my fondest memories from childhood centered around negotiating and picking up a new car.
Here are some tips for making car shopping something everyone in the family can enjoy.
1. Fill in the family on your plan
Let the kids know that buying a new car is something special. It’s a big purchase for the family and something everyone can weigh in on. Discuss why you’re getting a new car and talk about why kind it will be, minivan, SUV, truck etc.
Show them a picture of the car type and talk about what colors everyone likes as well. This way, the kids can be on the look out for cars that fit the bill and point them out as you’re out driving.
2. Make it a game
When the kids see a vehicle they think would fit the description you’ve laid out for them, make it a game to find out what make and model the car is. This will be a little tough for kids who can’t read yet, but even if they can’t, they can still point out the cars that fit the description you talked about in your plan.
If one of the cars they spot indeed becomes the one the family buys, let them choose a movie or the dinner for the family after you bring the new car home.
3. Set the expectation for the dealership
Ideally, if your kids are really young, you won’t have to bring the kids with you to the dealership, but if you do set the expectation that you want their input when checking out the car, but then you’ll need some quiet time to work with the salesperson. It’s also important to make sure you set the expectation that you may not leave with a new car.
The deal might not be right or the car might not fit your needs. Let them know that sometimes it’s important to shop around for such a big purchase for the family to be sure you get it right.
4. For older kids, make it research project
First, if your kids are old enough to use the internet and you’re trading your car in, have them find out what your current car is worth. They can ask you the questions to be sure they’re picking the right options, but have them use KBB.com or some other site to get your car’s value.
You can also have them dig into the list of cars that they thought fit the bill a bit more deeply. For example, if you’re looking for an SUV with a 3rd row, have them look on the manufacturer websites at the vehicles in question to determine if they fit the criteria.
5. For older kids, explain negotiation
Bring them with you to see a negotiation in action. Before you go, set the expectation based on their research on what kind of deal you’re hoping to get to. It could be an amount for your trade you’d be happy with, or a monthly payment on the new vehicle that fits your family budget.
Explain to them that this is an important family purchase and you want to be sure the deal is right. Let them know if it doesn’t work out, you may just have to get up and leave and that’s okay.
All in all, buying a new car can really be a fun experience for the family if you make it participatory for everyone.
Also, maybe it’ll give the kid enough pride of ownership that they won’t throw their open apple sauce containers all over the floor. Probably not, but it’s worth a try.