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SPECIAL GUEST BLOGGER – Author J.L. Wilson talks about Trading Cars

As I write this, the snow is flying outside -- not much but enough to make me appreciate the fire in the fireplace, that's for sure.

On a gloomy day like this, I often snuggle in to write, but today I'm going to venture out to car shop. The frugal part of me balks at this activity, but the practical side of me says I should. My current car isn't that old, but I feel I need an all-wheel drive car in the snowy North. I had one a few years back but traded 'up' for a front-wheel drive car.

Big mistake. I've sweated through three winters, worrying about my commute. So I've decided to learn my lesson, take the trade-in, and get a car that will get me through my winters. I'm somewhat consoled by the fact the trade-in will be good (already got an estimate) so I'm not going to be out of pocket too much.

So here's what I've learned from this experience:

1. Don't be swayed by what dealers tell you. No, a FWD car isn't the same as an AWD car and no, I won't get accustomed to a FWD car easily.

2. Go with your gut instinct. Do you love the car? Does it feel right? Does it fit you?

3. Take the spouse with you to test drive it and DEMAND that he tell you how it feels to him. I took the Spouse with me to test drive the last car, but he didn't give me his opinion until AFTER I've bought it -- too late to inform that 'gee, it's not very comfortable for me in the passenger seat.' Since I do most of the driving in the family in my car, this was an ISSUE. Sigh. This time he has to come with me to give it a try.

4. Be prepared to walk away. The sales people will try to do their jobs -- put you in a car that might be outside your $$ comfort zone. Walk away if needed. Explain gently but firmly that you want to spend $X.XX and really no more. Smile, be polite, and leave if needed. I did that yesterday. I drove the car, loved it, said I'd think about it. I'll call 'em back today and dicker over the phone ('do you have an older model one? I'd really like to shave some money off the price.')

5. Give them contact info that won't interfere with your life. I gave them my cell phone # (I seldom turn on my phone) and my 'spare' email address. Messages can merrily pile up and I won't care.

For more useful advice, check this out:

This is sort of my one-stop-shopping spot for info about cars.

Wish me luck!

J. L. Wilson


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