We recently bought a new minivan (my dream my minivan 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, if it can fit 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 that our new vehicle was able to accommodate. We actually had our list narrowed down to the specific vehicles we wanted beforehand, making things so much easier.
Here's a few tips that really helped us out in choosing our new minivan:
- 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 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!
- Have everything ready to do when signing the paperwork. After we test drove and came to the conclusion that we wanted to buy that van (after much discussing), 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.
- Think about if you're planning 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?
- 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. Borrow from a friend if you're just thinking about kids (some sales people actually have car seats at the dealership for you to try out in vehicles too). I can't recommend enough seeing how the car seats fit in a vehicle and how much leg room you'll actually have. We've known a lot of couples who purchase a vehicle right before having kids, only to find it's not car seat friendly at all.
- Get a cover for car seats on leather seats. So, I actually hated leather seats and worried the kids would tear the leather easily. Of course, our new minivan has all leather (and I'll admit, it's not as terrible as I once thought). We hadn't prepared with seat covers or anything when we picked up the van, so we improvised with towels on the seats. I highly recommend using a towel or some kind of cover as car seats/booster seats can dig into the leather and risk tearing it open.
- Work with a sales person who values your time. Not only were we crazy busy when we bought our newest vehicle, but we had to work around nap times. Our sales person did nearly everything by email, had everything ready to sign for us when we got there, and had us out the door, driving away in our new minivan in less than 45 minutes.
- Think about what features you want in your new vehicle. We had special features we wanted our newest vehicle to have. DVD players in the car 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, but 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 a lot for our upcoming road trips, we thought a lot about our past road trips and what we found ourselves wishing we had.
- What is the main use for this vehicle? Driving to and from work? Long road trips? As a second vehicle? As a family ride? We needed a second vehicle, also to become our new family car, something we could take on our upcoming road trip adventures, but it's also a vehicle that will be sitting in our driveway during the days as I work from home. Because of this, we went with a used minivan that is a couple of years old. That way I didn't feel quite as guilty for letting it sit during the days, but something that will last us for our family road trips.