Monday, October 24, 2016

Luverne running boards for the Nissan NV 3500 (how to install video)

Once you get the vehicle you want then comes the fun of customizing it! The Nissan NV 3500 was a large jump up for our kids and older friends. So the running boards were the first thing we need to add.

After a bit of research we decided on the Luverne MegaSteps. The common application on the short long (36" and 98") but we wanted to do a long long on our van, meaning the 98" would be on both sides. We liked the look of it and it would make washing the car easier and if we ever needed to put anything on the roof.
Ignore the mustang reflection... look at the running boards!

Again I had to find a good deal... I highly recommend RadCo Truck Accessories they were fantastic! The customer service and shipping time were fast and very responsive (they did not pay me a penny to say this). They helped us get the best deal and custom order the 'long long' application like we wanted for the running boards.

The biggest issue is that no where could we find a 'How To' video on how to install the Luverne MegaSteps for the Nissan NV 3500, let alone a long long set! So what did we do? Made one!
Enjoy!


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Me vs. the dealership (how to get the best price on a car)



I am frugal. I am not ashamed to say it either! We live in a one income household that feeds and clothes 5 people (boys for that matter) and we are around the poverty line. We eat healthy and vegan for most of us and I buy used whenever possible, this included cars... until this car!


We have always ALWAYS bought used when it came to cars, the mere thought of buying a new car brought me to shutter thinking of the depreciation as soon as it left the lot. I could not and would not ever buy new. Alas, I ate my words this time. When we finally had decided on buying the Nissan NV 3500 I started looking for a used one. This proved to be a large problem, in a 150 mile radius there were 3 vans. 3!! One had 30k miles on it, the other 2 had 50k miles for a grand total of $1,000 less then the retail price new. 2 to 3 years old  and 30-50k miles on it and only a savings of $1,000. Why? That didn't seem worth it in our book. This van seems to keep its value and new it had a 5 year warranty with it. So reduced to eating my words we started the hunt for a new Nissan NV 3500 passenger van.
My first car 1967 Chevy Nova


My tried and true tactics were taken from another fellow deal hunter I just polished it and made it work for me. This deal worked with this van and the Honda Odyssey we got before this van. It makes the dealership not like you much because they are not making any or much money at all on you. But you walk away with equity in your car and knowing that you got the BEST deal. Ready?


  1.  Decide on the exact car you want, model, year (year range), trim level, preferred colors. Get prequalified with your credit union or bank.
  2. Find local dealers that have that car, I chose 12. Email them and say: "I am interested in your (insert car here) please email me your best out the door price. I am already prequalified with my credit union." The key here is OUT THE DOOR, every dealer has their fees and other things they tack on. You need to know how much you need to bring in as if you were buying with cash. Showing them you mean business by being prequalified helps.
  3. They will email and call you, be nice and pick up the phone. Explain to them exactly what you want "I am looking for a (insert car here) and I need your total out the door price. I am busy so getting it in email works best for me." I was truthfully able to say I have 3 kids and phone calls were near impossible. 
  4. They will want you to "come take a test drive" or "when can you see it in person?" To that tell them "I need to not waste my time or yours, please just give me your best out the door price over email and then we can talk more". Be kind yet firm... like raising kids huh?
  5. You will then have a slew of emails with prices! I found it useful to have a spread sheet with the dealer names and other details. Here is a template here.
  6. You will not likely hear back from all the dealers, but once you have heard back from most of them then take the lowest price and email the other dealers back and say "Thanks for your quote, I am looking for the best deal so I had another offer of (insert lowest out the door price) from another dealer are you able to beat that?" If it is a used car be sure to tell them that the competing car has less miles or more options or whatever it has as competition. Because they will try and say "well mine has leather or navigation" etc.. 
  7. The dealers will then start emailing back with their new lowest out the door price. Be sure to keep it on the spreadsheet and keep track. Slowly they will filter out, you will get no response back or others will start dropping and say they can't beat that price. They will trickle down to just a few dealerships left. If you are not hearing back, email the sales manager what your lowest price is and add in "If you can not beat this please let me know so I do not waste any more of your time".
  8. Once it is narrowed down to just a few left, let them know "I am trying to decide between you and (dealer name) can you do anything else for me?" They want your business, they will work for you! At this point they either say "good luck, I can't beat that" or "yes I will beat that price" or "I will throw in floor mats or other accessory".
  9. Once you have the winner or winners get them to email you a paper with the breakdown on it so you can clearly see the price. This will show you the dealer fees, tax, tag and title. Most of the time it will be signed by the sales man or the manager as well. Print that out with you when you go in. 
  10. Arrange a day and time to come in, have the view that if they try and pull anything funny on you that you will walk out! The other dealers wanted to work with you, they will welcome you with open arms if you walk out. Bring your qualification letter, the print out of the breakdown, licence and proof of car insurance. 
  11. They might try and add on things you don't need but make them stick to the out the door price!!

If you have a trade in and you have no other option but to trade it in, here is the way to get the most for your trade in.

  1. Clean it up! Take to the car wash, get it shiny and pretty. Clean the inside as best as possible, empty out as many personal items as you can. You want the dealer to have little to nothing to complain about. 
  2. Take your car to Car Max and ask them to do a estimate on it of what they would give you for it. That will be your bottom line price. They would cut you a check for that amount if you decided to sell it to them. However they will give you a written appraisal for your trade in as well if you don't sell it to them right there which is valid for at least a week. 
  3. Take that written appraisal with you to the dealer that you have chosen from your list and hold on to that wild card for when you need it.
  4. The dealer will want your trade in and want to make money off it, of course, so they will try to low ball you.
  5. They want to know how much you owe on it and come back with a new out the door price for you that includes the trade in.
  6. Do not let them give you less then Car Max would!! If they try, pull out that paper from Car Max and show them. Tell them "I will accept nothing less than this for my car. They even have a car I want and are going to take $$$ off in taxes if I buy from them." Its most likely true, Car Max has a million cars so they likely have one you want.
At this point they are already losing money on you by selling the car to you for under their price, now they are trying to make that money back by low balling you on the trade in. Don't let them! This isn't personal, its business. After that, you can sign the papers and ride home in your fought-for gold trophy. 

Do you feel ready now? Its not that hard!! I promise! If you have any other questions or feel like I missed a step please let me know :) Happy car hunting! 


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Nissan NV 3500 Van aka: The Big Blue Beast .... how we picked it

We finally did it... we got a bigger vehicle. Its the one that people look at and then look for the line up of stick figures on the back of your car wondering how many kids you have. Its the one that you can't lose in the parking lot. Its the vehicle that you could live in if all else failed. We got a: Nissan NV 3500 Passenger van or Nissan NVP.






Why? We don't have 10 children its true, we don't own a transport business either. So why would a family with 3 kids want a 12 passenger van?
Well, we have plans to travel with our family in the next year and having the space for bags or other friends or family to come with us was something we wanted. We are also out a few times a week in our ministry and always have other people with us. We are always taking family or friends with us as well. The mini van (Honda Odyssey) was getting cramped quickly!! So the next size up was a full size van. Those options are small we had the choices  of a Ford Transit, Nissan NV 3500, Mercedes Sprinter or Chevy Express (GMC Savana).
2016 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Passenger Vans
Mercedes Sprinter
2016 Ford Transit Wagon
Ford Transit

2016 Chevrolet Express Passenger
Chevy Express

Our requirements were few: Leather interior, V8 engine and not overly expensive. 
The leather was a MUST! I know from experience that cloth seats would be trashed in a short time and we didn't want that. The V8 was a bit of a back and forth, V6 for the MPG or V8 for the better towing capacity? The V8 won! The research we did was helpful in pointing us to the V8 for our future needs. (more on that later).
The price was HUGE deal, I am a bargain hunter. There was no way I was going to let us pay more per month then we were with the Honda Odyssey.  

That negotiation process is worthy of another post.

So the comparisons I am doing below were for our needs more then anything else, maybe you can relate to it when shopping for a passenger van.


Price:  When you look at the rundown on 'starts at price' the Mercedes was the winner/looser for that category. No surprise right? They were the most expensive for sure! So that brought us to 3. Chevy, Ford, Nissan. All in the $30k region for starting price. Most people think "bigger car, bigger price" but not this time. Considering the Honda Odyssey we drove was starting price of $37,000 before options. 

V8 Engine: So now you are looking at us thinking, "V8 really? Horrible MPG! Why would you do that to yourself?"
Valid point, we heard you... Our Odyssey did get 20+ MPG on a daily basis so even the thought of 12-18 MPG sounds like suffering and woe for anyone. But here is the thing, we had a GMC Yukon XL before the Odyssey and personally we liked the pep and go those engines had. If you needed to pull onto the highway into traffic there was no doubt it would get you there and not let you down. A V8 will allow you to pull pop up trailer, a luggage trailer or just about anything! The idea of a V6 in a large vehicle full of people and luggage or trailers just sounds like you are straining the little 6 cylinder engine unnecessarily. The power out weighted the MPG in our mind. 

I'm not going to throw a bunch or stats and engine sizes at you here, if you want to know specifics you can google it :) But it happened that we had driven a Ford Explorer with the same size engine as the Ford Transit could come with (they offer Diesel but we didn't want that) on our trip to PA. As it was a rental car my husband wanted to see what kind of guts it had an tried to punch it as one point. FAIL! A gutless little engine that took forever to get up to speed and no real pep at all! This was in a smaller SUV not in a full size van. Once we realized that, the Ford was off the table. No guts, no Ford.

Then there were 2...  Chevy Vs. Nissan

Leather interior: This was a no brainier for us! Chevy (GMC) did not offer leather in any trim level! Really Chevy? Really? Not even the GMC version! Ok no way am I getting the dealer to leather cover 12 seats nope, not happening. So the clear winner was....




Image result for Nissan NV 3500
Nissan NV 3500 passenger van (Nissan NVP)

This baby had it all! Decent price, V8 engine and leather interior with the SL trim.
So there you are, the new vehicle in the family and for many many years to come.

I will be doing a You Tube video review of it soon and also a post on how I got the best deal on a brand new one. 

If you have any questions on the Nissan NV 3500 just message me below!