One Car Shopping Adventure With Kids

Buying a new car before we had kids went something like this:

Commence the exciting adventure the moment our finances allowed. Spend hours driving from dealership to dealership comparing prices. Discuss options over a light salad and a glass of wine at a bistro for lunch.

Drive off the lot blaring our favorite music, stopping at Starbucks to celebrate. Then drive the new car around town, taking time to program everything and familiarize ourselves with the new features.

Stop at a friend’s house to show it off. Retrieve every single piece of trash, and all other belongings from the vehicle upon arriving home.

Buying a new car after kids went something like this:

Put off the exhausting ordeal for months because we couldn’t line up childcare. In an act of desperation, brought on by lack of sleep, decide to just bring all the kids with us because I might lose my mind if I have to hear them fight about touching each other in the car one more time.

Drive to the one and only car dealership that we are positive has the one and only car model we’re considering.

Decline the test drive because OMG could you even imagine trying to get 3 carseats in there while the kids keep putting their filthy hands inside the complimentary popcorn machine despite the half full bags of popcorn in their other filthy hand. And no, one of us is not leaving the other all alone to test drive the car in silence.

We are all suffering through this together, dammit. 

Rapidly nod and “uh huh” and smile while the extremely patient and kind salesman tries his best to walk us through the paperwork. All while reassuring him that, really, we are totally ok with not test-driving the car. We promise we really want that one. Yup. It’s perfect. We’ll take it. Please let us buy it. Now.

Meanwhile, our 2 year old fills the sink in the playhouse in their kids’ area with water… from her mouth.

Briefly and quietly discuss if we think we could negotiate any more money off the price of the vehicle after the salesman steps away. Mutually agree that WHATEVER. We are DONE. It is WORTH a few thousand dollars to just get the hell out of there in a  new vehicle as soon as possible.

Make our way to the finance office where we will take turns signing 1,547 papers while keeping kids from climbing the walls, taking them to the potty 11 times, and stopping them from scribbling over our signatures with crayon.

Head outside, elated to retrieve our new Honda Pilot, and positive the kids will be thrilled that they now have their own seats that not only keep them from touching each other, but also prevent them from even making eye contact. Not to mention the ability to watch any DVD at any time on a TV in our car.


Listen to our 2 oldest cry about how the new car is a “stupid car” and how sad they are to say goodbye to the old car. They are sobbing like our dog died. The baby chimes in because, bless his heart, I haven’t fed him in hours.

Blast children’s music the entire ride home in an unsuccessful effort to console the traumatized children.


We’ve had our Honda Pilot for over 2 months now, and I still have no idea how most of it works (beyond, like, the driving part). We left all the kids coats in the car the night we got home, and within a week there were bits of paper tossed around the floor boards.

Okay, if I’m being honest, there are also coffee cups and half eaten fruit snacks in there, too.

While I certainly don’t recommend shopping for a car with kids. EVER. I do think we still came away with a great deal on a car we love.

Don’t worry. We already did a 2 week test drive of the exact same model we purchased. So it’s not like we just randomly chose a car and drove off the lot with it. You can read more about our Honda Pilot test drive here. There’s a video there, too. We thought back then this would be a great car for a family of 5.

We were right. It’s wonderful.


I’ll try to take more pictures and do a more detailed post (maybe video?) in the coming weeks on how we all fit in there with plenty of room for everything else if y’all are interested.

HUGE thanks to David McDavid Honda of Frisco for patiently working with us on this process for nearly the last year, and for so gracefully handling the traveling circus that is our wild and crazy young family.

And don’t feel too bad for the kids. As you can see above, they eventually got over it.

I was going to title this Adventures In Car Shopping With Kids until I realized that was misleading. It’s just the one adventure. Just once. One time. That’s all the adventures we could handle. 

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  1. We recently bought a ‘new to us’ Honda Pilot and made the same mistake of bringing out 7 and 5 year old along figuring, hey, they are older, this won’t be so bad. Wrong! But they do love the ‘new’ car and especially the DVD player, which they want to watch on all trips, including the 5 minute trip to the Y. We love, love, LOVE our Pilot and are so glad we got it. My favorite part? The seat warmers, especially during this frigid winter! Enjoy the new car!!

  2. I remember when we got our fit 😉 Emmy was about 2.5 and Matt just about 12. I ended up leaving my ex there with the kids since we couldn’t fit 5 people in the Fit and since it was a manual he couldn’t drive it… oh that car handled so nicely. When we ended up signing all the paper work the kids were in the playroom… a nice room we could close the door on that’s childproof with toys a TV comfy chairs and all. We could see the kids in the room via TV while we were doing the signing. My daughter loved going to that dealer just due to the playroom.

  3. Lanette Artiles on

    Love the crying!!! Makes me feel a little better that it’s not just my kids. 6 months later my 4-yr-old still pouts on occasion that “we got the white one instead of the blue and [he] likes the blue one better”.

  4. We just got a Honda Pilot a couple of months back 🙂 We only have 2 kids, but hoping for more. Our dealership experience was similar BUT hubby first went by himself, talked them down as low as he could and then we went together to actually buy the car and sign papers. My favorite was the ‘quiet no cell phones’ room they had. Another mom there and myself officially made it the ‘nursing room’. 🙂

  5. Kelly Killingbeck on

    My son, who was 5 at the time hated our new car and cried and cried about getting the old car back. It took him months to get over it!!

  6. Sorry this is way too late for you, but there’s a website that has a strategy to do all the negotiating and so on through email. Yeah, you still have to go sign papers, but at least you’ve done most of the work up front. (You know, just in case you have to do this again…ever.)

  7. LOL that is EXACTLY what it’s like… right down to stopping at Starbucks and a friend’s place on the way home! Only we bought our last car with one 3yo and me 9 months pregnant… because damned if I was going to be driving around in a little sedan with 2 kids and their car seats. I went into labor the next day!

  8. Kathy Fuller Havins on

    The new car we bought when our 3rd child was 5 months old? We purchased it over the phone. Called dealerships until we found the model of car and the options we wanted, gave them the payment plans, told them to hold the car until the next day, drove to Ft Worth to get it the next day, paid for it and got in and I drove away with the kids while DH followed us in the “old” car.

    I think we were at the dealership less than 30 minutes, and yes, we purchased a car we had never seen, much less driven, that afternoon in June 1985.

  9. When we went car shopping this summer, we had our three in tow, 4, 3 and 4 months. What made our visit amazing is we woke our 3 year old up from a nap to go and my husband put him in the car. We arrive at the dealership and realize he didn’t have shoes. So did we go home? Nope. We carried him for the first half hour and made him sit in the chairs, but then it got to be too much, so he was running around the less than clean dealership with no shoes on gobbling up all the free popcorn he could get. Then we finally decide to make our purchase and an old lady not buying a car snuck into the finance office before we got there and we waited in the less than stellar kids play area for an extra half hour. We finally decided to call it quits and walked out of the dealership with no car. It was A-W-E-S-O-M-E. And yes we were those people that I used to cringe at pre-kids!

  10. Cassie Morren on

    Hi Jill,
    Now you have your Honda Pilot for awhile I was wondering what your thoughts were on it. I am starting my research on our future family vehicle. I’ve driven my Nissan Maxima for 13 years now and the thoughts of buying a new car stresses me out! I like my old Maxi and my no payment 🙂

    Would appreciate any insight you have!


    P.S. I stumbled upon your blog about three years ago now and ever since then my hubby likes to ask do you have the fever or is it rabies?! He’s not quite ready for the rabies to bite me just yet 🙂

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