Kelly Stumpe, aka the Car Mom

Top Picks: Favorite Models and Why High Mileage Vehicles Are Nothing to Fear

Meet Kelly Stumpe, aka the Car Mom! With a background in the family dealership group, she brings extensive knowledge and experience to the world of car reviews. As a mother of two, Kelly shifted her focus to help moms navigate the car-buying process and find the perfect family vehicle.

Through her blog and advice, she empowers everyday moms to make informed decisions. Kelly is also a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician, ensuring the safety of little passengers on the road.

Kelly Stumpe, aka the Car Mom

With five car dealerships in St. Louis owned by my family, I naturally gravitated towards the automotive industry after college. Selling cars became my passion, but the demanding retail hours posed a challenge. When I became a mom, I knew I needed to find a balance. It was then that my husband suggested a brilliant idea: selling cars to moms. This sparked a new journey for me, as I began to focus on helping fellow moms find the perfect vehicles. Parenthood brings unique needs, and I wanted to provide guidance and support through the car-buying process.

It all began when I started creating content showcasing my day-to-day experiences at the dealership and featuring the used cars available on our lot. Surprisingly, the content gained tremendous popularity, opening my eyes to a nationwide demand for car reviews and car-buying advice specifically tailored to women and families. This realization motivated me to dive deeper into providing valuable insights and tips to empower women and families throughout their car-buying journey.

Many women don’t feel like they can go to a dealership without a man

A Toyota dealership in Florida

I have found a strong connection with my audience because I understand the challenges they face when buying a car, as I encountered similar difficulties when I was a 22-year-old selling cars. It was an intimidating experience, and I empathize with their concerns. Drawing from my own experiences, I aim to highlight that while there may be some negative aspects in the industry, there are also many trustworthy and reputable individuals in the automotive field.

I have dedicated my focus to guiding people on finding trustworthy salespeople, establishing connections with them, understanding what is acceptable and what is not, and setting realistic expectations. On the dealer side, there is a need for better customer education throughout the car-buying process. It is crucial for dealers to embrace this approach, as failure to do so could potentially lead to the decline of the dealer market.

Buying cars online isn’t ideal for families

As a professional car seat installer, I strongly advocate for mothers to test their specific car seat, considering their height and individual requirements, before purchasing a vehicle. When it comes to buying a family car, it’s not solely about personal preferences regarding the driving experience. It’s about practical considerations such as fitting three car seats side by side. What if the situation changes, like expecting twins? Adaptation becomes necessary, leading to the need for a new car.

While online research is valuable, I am eagerly awaiting the return of abundant inventory and the opportunity for people to physically visit dealerships and test drive cars. It’s essential to experience the vehicle firsthand because buyer’s remorse is a genuine concern. It can be incredibly challenging when you realize that the car you purchased doesn’t accommodate three car seats or your family is expanding faster than anticipated.

It’s important to try to forecast your family’s growth

Kelly Stumpe, aka the Car Mom

Parents, particularly first-time moms, often find themselves upgrading from a Corolla to a Hyundai Santa Fe, thinking it’s the perfect fit. However, families soon realize that their needs evolve rapidly. I can personally relate to this scenario. Within a span of four years, I had three children, and the car that suited my needs in 2019 drastically differs from the one that suits me now in 2023. Back then, I drove a Nissan Rogue, but currently, I rely on a Ford Expedition to accommodate my growing family.

Many parents underestimate the number of children they want to have, the pace at which their family grows, and the space required to accommodate kids. There is a significant amount of misinformation surrounding car seat installation. It’s not as straightforward as assuming any car with a seatbelt can accommodate a car seat. Proper installation involves specific guidelines and considerations that shouldn’t be overlooked.

The Toyota Sequoia only has one tether anchor in the middle seat, which limits the placement of a forward-facing car seat to that specific location. In contrast, my Ford Expedition offers three tether anchors in the third row, allowing me to install a forward-facing seat in any of the seats. This flexibility means that I can accommodate another child in the car who still requires a car seat without any issues.

Considering the long-term commitment of financing a car for 60 or 72 months, it’s important to envision the future beyond the initial stages. When you reach month 71, it’s crucial to consider the space requirements for your growing family. Will there be enough seating capacity to accommodate all the kids you might have by then? Planning ahead ensures that you make a wise decision that aligns with your family’s needs and avoids potential inconveniences down the road.

I’m a big fan of leasing for growing families 

Leasing offers numerous advantages, especially considering that two of my children are still rear-facing. In such cases, the vents located at the back of the center console don’t provide them with adequate airflow. That’s why I greatly appreciate ceiling vents, as they ensure proper ventilation for all passengers. Additionally, I find sunshades to be beneficial. Moreover, some cars are equipped with a feature known as car seat tilt, which enables access to the third row even when a car seat is installed. These features contribute to a more comfortable and convenient family driving experience.

I highly appreciate the inclusion of crash prevention technology in vehicles. Additionally, I find the fun features to be quite appealing. As mothers, we spend a significant amount of time in our cars, and sometimes it feels like we sacrifice a part of our identity in the process. That’s why I believe it’s important to have features and amenities that can enhance the driving experience and make it more enjoyable for moms. It’s about providing them with anything that can add a touch of comfort and pleasure to their journeys.

Choose your salesperson

DealerRater is a valuable platform where you can access reviews about specific salespeople, allowing you to make an informed decision on who you would like to work with. As an advisor, I always emphasize to my audience the importance of avoiding peak hours, such as showing up at the dealership on a busy Saturday afternoon at 3:00 PM. Planning ahead and choosing a less hectic time can greatly contribute to having a more positive and satisfactory car-buying experience.

Typically, the best salespeople are not readily available on a busy Saturday afternoon as they often have appointments with clients. To truly empower yourself during the car-buying process, it’s essential to take control and be selective about who you choose to work with. By proactively choosing the right salesperson, you can ensure a more personalized and satisfactory experience that aligns with your needs and preferences.

If you want to pay less, you have to justify your offer

You can accomplish this by utilizing platforms like Autotrader, Edmunds, or to find vehicles in a similar price range, whether they are located 100 miles away or 500 miles away. Additionally, it’s important not to hesitate in expressing your genuine interest to the salesperson. Acting disinterested can be counterproductive, as it may discourage them from selling you a car. The best approach is to confidently communicate your intention to purchase a car and present your desired price, emphasizing your reasons behind it. By doing so, you assert your position as a serious buyer and provide clarity on your expectations.

I often encounter women who express their fear of visiting a dealership while being nine months pregnant, concerned that they may be taken advantage of due to their urgent need for a car. While there may be some truth to such concerns, it’s important to remember that not everyone is out to exploit you. You possess a secret weapon in this situation: knowledge of the car’s value and the ability to negotiate. By understanding the vehicle’s worth and engaging in negotiation, you can assert yourself confidently. It’s essential to recognize that not every dealer is looking to deceive you, and approaching the process with this mindset can help alleviate fears and empower you as a buyer.

The Ford Expedition is the best full-sized SUV out there

The 2021 Ford Expedition

The car I’m referring to has an exceptional car seat configuration, numerous advanced safety features, impressive driving performance, and a well-suited size. When comparing it to General Motors vehicles like the Yukon, Tahoe, and Suburban, while those models are also commendable, they lack certain crucial features. In terms of minivans, they are all fantastic options. I’m particularly thrilled about the new Sienna being a hybrid. This is a significant victory for families who have often been overlooked in conversations about fuel efficiency. It addresses the need for more environmentally friendly options in the family vehicle segment.

There are lots of great options in the midsize market. I like the Honda Pilot, the Palisade, and the Atlas. 

The 2021 Ford Expedition

Don’t be scared of a used car with 100,000 miles on it

The perception of 100,000 miles has shifted as vehicles now have a longer lifespan. Every mom desires an affordable monthly payment, typically in the range of $300 to $400. However, when it comes to three-row vehicles, achieving this becomes even more challenging. Nevertheless, a car with 100,000 miles on it can still offer reliable performance based on its proven track record of durability.

People often overlook the importance of considering their long-term ownership of a car. Many dismiss the idea of a vehicle with 100,000 miles, assuming it’s too high. However, it’s crucial to evaluate one’s annual mileage. If you drive around 10,000 miles per year and intend to keep the car for approximately five years, by the end of your ownership period, it would only accumulate around 150,000 miles. This perspective helps put the mileage into context and reveals that it can still be a viable option for your needs.

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