A Little Bit Western


Pedal to the Metal

Dec 1, 2015

There is nothing quite like buying a vehicle. Some people may actually view a vehicle purchase with excitement but for the record, I am not one of those people. I can’t help but experience that gnawing feeling that I’m about to drop a lot of money on something that actually loses value the nanosecond I drive away. But like it or not, vehicles are sort of mandatory for ranchers, and I’ve come to accept that purchasing said vehicles are a necessary part of life.

I’ve imported vehicles and exported vehicles, I’ve bought used ones and new ones. Some trucks I truly missed after I traded them in and others I may have burned rubber in an effort to distance myself as quickly as possible.

Over the years, I’ve developed a bit of a strategy when shopping for vehicles. I want to get the most money possible out of my trade-in, while spending the absolute least amount of money possible on a replacement. That’s my big secret. I’ve also made a few observations along the way:

1. Bring a wingman, but choose the right wingman. Having a co-conspirator along is helpful for many reasons. You need someone to buoy you when your spirits flag or provide a strategic distraction when you need a moment to collect yourself. In my case, my little girl and I have successfully purchased two vehicles now so she is my current wingwoman, and will insist on a potty break at precisely the right time.

2. Know your numbers. Do your homework ahead of time so you know what you can and will spend, and write it down. This will save you much pain and confusion when trying to decide if a “Doorcrasher Deal!” or a “Major Blowout!” is indeed the deal of a lifetime when spread over the recommended 96* monthly** payments.

*Nothing is ever a deal when another several dozen months are added on.

**Ranchers don’t get monthly paychecks. Monthly payments can be sort of irrelevant.

3. Communicate what you want. This was a good reminder for me during my last foray to dealerships. I started looking over trucks that the salesman recommended but nothing fit. I asked about a few others in the line and his response was that they were pretty bare bones models. “They don’t even have carpet in them!” he exclaimed. Well now, my interest was piqued. It turned out the basic models he thought wouldn’t suit me were exactly what I wanted. Manure-caked truck upholstery is the bane of my existence, he had me at “no carpet.

4. Don’t look desperate. If you wait until you need to buy a vehicle, salesmen will be all over you like a bloodhound tracking a fox. I learned this little tip while waddling the lots (eight months pregnant with twins) with my husband on a crisp -45C day. We weren’t just kicking tires and boosting test drives, we were there because we weren’t going home until we purchased a vehicle. It perhaps was not the best negotiation strategy.

5. Be ready to pull the pin. This is closely related to the previous point, but it’s an important one. If you’re unsure, indecisive, or waffling even a bit, walk away. You may actually invite a better deal if you start to walk, or you may simply walk away from a ride that isn’t right for you. Either way, you won’t regret it. Just don’t bluff, save this move for when you really don’t mind leaving that vehicle behind.

Our recent truck shopping experience was fruitful and we found something that worked for our family. The only trouble is, it’s so darn clean and the windows chip-free that I’m not quite sure I know what to do with it. My solution? Pack it full of snacks, car seats, a tow rope, chore clothes, stock medicine, my camera, fencing tools, and anything else I need…. and drive it like I own it.

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