My Car, My Life: Buying Cars, Dating Men: Same Rules Apply

The Automotive Blog for Independent Women...

We’ve all heard of the three-date rule, right? Never go to bed with a man before the third date. Violate that rule and you risk ending up like Brittany Spears – hungover and married. “What was your name again? And why are you in bed with me?…WE DID WHAAT!?!”


Luckily, she was able to undo her “indiscretion” and move on. But fall in love with a car upon walking into a dealership? You’re committed to that relationship for the full term of the deal. And if the love is quickly lost, writing that check every month is more annoying than seeing the What-was-I-thinking Ex’s phone number in your caller ID list.

How do you avoid such unpleasantness? By following the same rules you’ve drilled into your head and heart when it comes to dating. How is this good advice? Because, bottom line, whether cars or men, we’re talking emotional decisions and the “C”-word – Commitment. And when those two factors intersect on your radar, it’s always best to: Follow the tried and true rules.

There are only two. And here’s the great thing about them – if you steadfastly hold to Rule #2, you’ll never have to worry about Rule #1 which is: Never ever “fall in love and go to bed on the first date.” Rule #2? No less than three dates before any sheet diving is allowed.

Now here’s how this all plays out in the world of new car shopping…


Date #1: Exploration. This is the time you go dealership hopping. You’re exploring. You kinda know what you want, but not exactly, so you’re in shopping mode. If during this time you find something you really like – Perfect! Check it out. Take it for a test drive. Soak in the experience, then tell the sales person, “Thanks, I’ll be in touch.” Take a business card and leave. Don’t talk deal. Don’t let the sales person talk deal. Say, “thanks,” then leave.

Back home, you’re immediately on the internet, checking out all the trim levels and features. You decide what you want – color, features, accessories. You check price.

You may have found several vehicles that caught your eye and made your heart flutter during your day of exploration. Do the research on these models and narrow the list of contenders.

When you know exactly what model or models you want, you’re ready for…


Date #2: Examination. Go back to the dealership. See the same sales person, if possible. Let him/her know exactly what model you want and what color. If they don’t have the exact model on the lot, then mix and match. Check out the color on one. Experience all your desired accessories and features on another. Make certain you drive the model that is equipped as you want. Take a good LONG test drive-- city, open road, freeway.

When you’re done, thank the sales person – again – then leave. Tell him you have other models you need to put through the test. What ever you do, don’t talk deal. Don’t listen to deal.

Go back home and do more research. Check out sites like Kelley Blue Book (www.kbb.com) and www.edmunds.com. Read what other owners are saying about your model. Check out the reliability reports. See what people are saying who have purchased your model as a used vehicle (unless it is the first year of a new model).

To determine exactly what you want to pay for your dream machine, go to www.truecar.com. This is a great site for finding the best possible deal on your exact model.

Once you know exactly what you want and you’ve set the price you’re willing to pay, you’re now ready for the third date. You’re now ready to play, pay and commit – if you get the deal you want.


Date #3: Execution. You’ve done your homework. You know what vehicle you want, down to the floor mats. You know what you want to pay. And you realize you might have to give a little on that point, but you know your “parameters of comfort.”

You’re ready to execute the commitment – but, again, only on your terms. This is one relationship in which being totally selfish is the best course of action. Remember, no matter how nice the sales person, they aren’t the one writing the check every month. You need to know you got the best deal.

If you don’t get the deal you want, walk. You’ve done your homework. You know what is possible and reasonable. When buying a brand new car, just walk if the deal isn’t to your liking…then go directly to a local competitor. Tell them what just happened. Offer them the deal. You’ll get it this time. Dealers love to pick up broken deals from competitors. Competition is the operative word in car sales. They are competitive and they love to win. Winning a deal over a competitor makes up for lost profit margin.

Walking away from a used car deal is a little harder. In these cases, you aren’t guaranteed the exact same vehicle will be available, so tread delicately. Come back the next day and try again.

In either case, always make your purchase execution trip toward the end of the month. It is true what they say – dealers need to make their monthly numbers. Deals are better at month’s end.

Granted, following these rules is time consuming. But remember, when the “C” word is involved, time is your friend. How many second and even third dates have you experienced that made you glad you didn’t get too wrapped up and carried away in the euphoria of a great first date? So, whether men or cars, the three date minimum rule is always the best course of action.

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