So you’ve decided its time to get a new car. Its a fun time but also one that can be stressful. Buying a car isn’t the easiest process and lots of little things tend to get in the way.
The problem when making a big decision like buying a car is people easily overlook details. Rather than telling you what you should do I’m going to make it easy, here’s a list of just two things not to do when purchasing a car. Why two? I feel people remember things they shouldn’t do better because the consequences sink in more making them think about their choices, and well, a list of two is just too small to forget.
Don’t Go Out To Buy Without Researching
With the internet revolution, gone are the days of having to physically go to dealerships just to get information about a vehicle. I tell people all the time that the internet is one giant encyclopedia. Luckily for cars its one of the biggest.
Automotive journalists write tons of reviews on all types of cars you maybe interested in. Furthermore, if you don’t have a specific car in mind, motoring websites have a plethora of educated suggestions that can steer you into the vehicle you need.
Youtube is my go to source for reviews on vehicles. There are literally thousands of hours of research, opinions and reviews by journalists as well as real owners. This information will save you tons of time and money plus give you key insights into ownership, maintenance and quality of vehicles.
Money is probably one of the main factors that make car purchasing complicated, especially when buying used. Knowing what a good price for your car is key in finding a good deal. Kelly Blue Book is probably the most ubiquitous car pricing website but a ton of others exist. Websites like CarGurus give you a range of selling prices for cars like yours based on mileage, trim, geographical location etc. letting you know instantly if you have a good deal or not.
After you’ve narrowed down some cars and checked them out online, you want to find out about the history. Carfax or Autocheck are prerequisites now a days. The more you know about history of your potential car the better. Maintenance reports are even better if you can get them but mostly you want to see that the car was fairly well cared for and doesn’t have hidden damage.
Accidents on cars aren’t always bad (cosmetic) but I tend to avoid them all together. The thing with accident damage cars is, you just don’t know how the vehicle was repaired or what parts were used. Even if you could get all that info, why would you want to take the risk? Same goes for Lemon buybacks. They’re out there but the discount doesn’t seem worthwhile for the potential headache. I would pay a little more for peace of mind and I think most people would too.
Research is the most important phase of buying a car. The more you know about what you want to buy the easier it is when you get there. Don’t go out to buy a car with out researching first. You’ll be handicapping yourself from the start.
Don’t Forget To Have A Plan
So after you’ve done your research, you want to come up with a plan. Narrowing down your search to a few select vehicles will help take the pressure off if one of them doesn’t check out. Cars may sell before you get to them or they just might not be the same as advertised, so having more than one to fall back on will keep you from starting over and wasting time.
Test drives are the fun phase of the purchase. You can learn a lot from test drives. Watch some videos online on how to test drive a car and what to look for. Looking for noises, shakes and unusual driving behavior is a crude summary of it but the information online is a lot more in-depth and thorough so it’s better that I not try to explain it. The question after getting through the basic checks is do you like the car? Do you like how it drives and does it fit your needs? If it doesn’t you may just want to move on.
Part, or perhaps the core, of the plan is a budget. Knowing how much you should pay for a car helps but having a “walk away” price will make deciding easier. A “walk away” price is the very highest you are willing to pay. That ceiling allows you to move on from a deal without feeling guilty.
Once you have decided this number it is very important you stick to your guns. Salesmen try to extract as much money as possible from you so without a ceiling price its a slippery slope and who knows how much you will over pay. Overpaying sours our purchase and takes away from it. We definitely don’t want that. That’s why sticking to a plan is so important.
In all, purchasing a car should be a fun and rewarding experience. Just don’t forget the two key points research + planning and everything should work out (mostly).