How To Not Get Burned With Your Next Car

Car buying shouldn’t have to be a game of who blinks first:  you or the car salesperson. Nor should it have to feel like you’re being lured into something you have no business accepting.  Most any car buyer will tell you that there first experience was fairly difficult in areas, leaving a little portion open for second-guessing the decision.  More than likely, we were young and impulsive and didn’t mind that the exhaust was a little worse for the wear, that plumes of smoke billowed out from under the hood every once in a while…it got us where we needed to go.  Reliability and longevity weren’t much of a concern then because a set of wheels and the freedom to drive when we wanted trumped all.

Then the car breaks down suddenly.  That car’s value dips in the $1,000 or less range and major repairs are in order, meaning we probably were shelling out more to fix it.  But, this wasn’t the case for every first-time car buyer.  Some of us had (or still have) a wonderfully reliable car to get us around town and then some.  Chalk it up to either smart decision-making, luck or a little bit of both.  However it came about, you got a great deal.

And that leaves the group whose clunker bit the dust.  It’s time to get a new ride and you want to make it right this time with your search.  So here are a few reminders to try and get the best deal possible and drive away satisfied.

Scale Down Your Findings Through Dedicated Research

You’ve seen that commercial where a whole bunch of cars are racing down a colorful pipeline, getting cut down in size the further they go to where eventually, there’s one left standing?  If everyone’s search for the right car came about in that manner, it’d be joyous.

Sadly, it’s not the case.  Finding a good deal on a car takes patience, research and a keen eye for spotting all the fluff in between.  As a buyer, you need to take control of the situation and not let impulse and/or other influences point you to a regrettable choice.  Even if you might have your eye on a fairly popular model because that brand’s been able to pull off a handful of clever commercials doesn’t mean everything underneath the hood’s gonna stand the test of time over another popular brand that’s popular because of its tradition of reliability and durability.  One of the easiest ways to factor in why the value of a used Toyota might be higher than say, a Fiat, is because Kelley’s Blue Book, Edmunds, Car & Driver and other reputable automotive reviewers (let alone a loyal fan base) have helped make that claim through experience.

Sometimes it’s about determining a brand over a model at first, and then from there unearthing the value of whether to go with a new or used model.

Don’t Be Swindled

Easy enough, right?  Well, as is the case with great marketing, there’s gonna be a similar factor into how well you’re convinced to buy a car, more so than you feeling comfortable with the process to begin with.  And some of this may be a result of exactly where you search and purchase a car from.  It harks back to the previous suggestion with researching as much as possible, comparing dealership ratings, manufacturer trust and customer reviews and consensus on a particular brand and select model.

Although, it might be good to not go all in with the latter group sometimes…

Be Mindful Of Consumer Reviews…To An Extent

Customer reviews (especially online) can be hard to decipher as being honest or false.  If you happen upon reviews that are in “all caps” or use a bunch of exclamation points or just come off as too happy or too angry, it’s good to take those reviews with a grain of salt.  Some could be genuine viewpoints, but often times they just look phony.  And trusting reviews over experiencing the car dealership and sales process yourself can be setting yourself up for disappointment.

Be Thorough With What Your Deal States

As a buyer, you should try and have as firm a grip as possible on the entire purchase.  What does your warranty cover and how far does it extend?  How many previous owners has a particular used car gone through?  What’s the 5-year estimated value of the car in terms of fuel economy, repairs, maintenance and such?  Asking yourself and getting answers to most of these questions and others like it can make you buy with satisfaction instead of remorse.

Be Open-Minded, But Determined

Negotiating for the car is also an important piece to feeling like you settled on the right car.  No one ever says, “Wow, I’m glad I bought this car for $10k more than what was being offered!”.  Negotiating for a car should never turn that direction, nor should it be a game of trying to pry a car loose from a dealership with such an absurdly low offer.  Obviously it’s about getting the best bang for your buck, but you shouldn’t lose sight on the realistic chance of hitting your number if it’s going to set a record for the biggest steal ever in a dealership.  If so, congratulations!  But really,  there needs to be an equal understanding that you and the salesperson are going to negotiate.  Neither side is going to get the first offer accepted every single time.  Have a clear mind going into the process and be determined to get at or near what your desired number is.

And that’s just scratching the surface with tips on making your next car purchase a sound decision.  With some of us, mistakes happen the first go-around.  Being able to learn from your errors and get the next car right (or at least heavily improve upon) is what matters most.  Both for your means of transportation and your wallet.

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